Home / Pool Cleaning / How to Vacuum an Above Ground Pool? – A Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

How to Vacuum an Above Ground Pool? – A Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

by  Lawrence -  Last updated on March 3, 2022

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There is nothing more relaxing than spending the summer days by your backyard pool. It is a great way to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones. It is also a great way to blow off steam, enjoy the weather, and really give yourself a vacation – while staying at home.

There is a reason so many people love having pools in their backyards: it’s the fastest way to have a little piece of paradise that you own. But there are drawbacks to having a pool too. In fact, the upkeep and maintenance that a pool needs can be almost enough to convince people not to buy one.

The water has been processed and cleaned, the outside of the pool has to be well kept, and the amount of equipment and items you have to buy for your pool can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars. Then there is the added confusion when it comes to certain things about owning a pool.

For example, some people don’t know when to clean it. Some people don’t know how to clean it. Owning a pool isn’t just about floating around in it. It’s about keeping it in perfect condition, for the sake of everyone swimming inside it.

One of the biggest questions people have when they own a pool is how does it get vacuumed and cleaned? This is doubly true for folks who own an above ground pool. Above ground pools are less expensive than a built-in one but they present their very own set of challenges and vacuuming is just one of them.

How is it done? When should it be done? What do you need to accomplish the task and how much time will it take? There are many questions about vacuuming an above ground pool. Thankfully, there are many answers too.

Before you vacuum

Before you get started vacuuming your above ground pool, there are a few things you need handy and at your disposal. You can find most of these items at your local pool supply store. Hopefully you already have access to them so you can get started on the cleaning project as soon as possible.

You will definitely need a vacuum hose that is specifically designed to work in a pool. You will of course also need a vacuum head that fits on your device. You will also need a pool leaf rake or skimmer to get rid of the fallen leaves that float on the top of the pool.

You will also have to have an extension pole to get to those hard-to-reach places.

What you need:

  • Vacuum
  • Vacuum head
  • Pool leaf rake
  • Pool skimmer
  • Extension pole

The vacuuming process

Step one – Skim

The first step involves that skimmer.

You will use it to remove the bugs, leaves, and any other undesirable items that are floating on the top of the water. You will want to pull the skimmer out multiple times, clear it, and then use it again. This may take a while but it will be the first important step to getting your pool vacuumed and spotless.

Make sure that the pump is on and water is running through the filter as you use the skimmer.

Step two – Prepare the vacuum

Following that, it is time for you to pull the actual pool vacuum out and put it to good use. You need to attach the hose and the vacuum head and then attach the head to the extension pole.

After that is done, you will then lower the hose and the head into the pool. Extend the pole as much as you need to in order to reach the bottom of the pool and every corner. Once it has reached the right length, lock it into place so you can then use it all over the entire length of the pool. Continue to hold the free end of the hose in front of the water-return-outlet to fill the hose with water.

Keep one of your hands secured onto the pole to stop the vacuum head from continually floating to the surface. Keep priming the hose until it is completely full of water and there are no more bubbles rising.

Step three – Attach the skimmer disc (if you have one)

Do you own a skimmer? This step is optional but it is also helpful if you have access to one.

Keep the hose deep in the water and then attach the skimmer disc. Slip that disk into the skimmer on the suction port to start the vacuum. This isn’t always necessary. Some vacuums require that you plug the hose directly into the suction port. If you have to pull the hose out of the water to attach the skimmer disc, do it quickly so that very little air gets back into the hose.

Step four – Vacuum

The vacuuming will continue.

You will stand in a spot where you can see the entire pool, especially the bottom of it. As you stay in that position, move the vacuum head slowly around the bottom of the pool. Try to follow a path and then repeat that path again and again every time you pass by with the vacuum head. Make sure that the head of the vacuum stays under the water at all times, otherwise it will lose its prime.

You will see progress being made at the bottom of the pool. A good rule of thumb is that when you think it looks complete, you should give it one or two more passes, just to make sure you have vacuumed up all of the junk, debris, and build-up that you might not be able to see from your vantage point. The entire process shouldn’t take too long but you need to be very methodical and careful during it.

As mentioned, do not let the vacuum head leave the water and make sure you keep a firm grasp on the extension pole at all times. You want to stand in a spot and position that is comfortable but also gives you access to a perfect view of the entire pool. You are able to move from that position, but do not move to a spot that loses sight of some of the pool corners.

Tips for vacuuming your pool

There are some other things you can do to help the entire cleaning process work better and move faster too.

  • Make sure that you thoroughly brush the sides of the pool the night before you vacuum it to loosen up all debris. This will help because by the time you vacuum the next day, all of that clingy debris will make its way to the bottom of the pool where it will quickly be sucked up by your vacuum.
  • Another thing you can do to improve the experience is adjust your water returns in the pool so that it moves in a circular pattern. What this does is help concentrate all of the debris and trash into the center of the pool. Again, this makes the vacuuming much more effective and easy, as most of the rubbish will be in one central location and will be instantly swallowed up by the vacuum.
  • There are other things you should keep in mind too. Notably, do not stand out in the sun for too long without applying the right amount of sunscreen. This is even more important when vacuuming because you will be receiving UV rays from the sun above you and will also be receiving the sun that is reflecting off of the pool too.
  • You should also be very careful to keep a strong footing if you are standing on a ladder or on any sort of porch or platform when you are vacuuming. Do not put too much pressure or weight on the vacuum so you don’t slip into the pool. It is also a smart decision to let someone in your family know that you are cleaning the pool, just in case an accident happens and you fall in and need to be retrieved.
  • Additionally, do not store any of your cleaning equipment in the sun or in any area that can be affected by the elements. While the extension pole can probably survive its time in the sun or rain, the vacuum and its accessories certainly need to be stored in a safe, dry, neat place. These items can be very expensive and losing them because of weather is a huge set back to keeping your pool clean. It is vital that you take great care of them otherwise your pool will suffer – and so will your wallet when you have to replace them.


Perhaps one of the biggest questions about vacuuming your above-ground pool is: how often should it be done? You should clean your pool daily, at least making sure it is free of debris and clear of any major build-ups.

But you should vacuum your pool once a week to ensure that it is functioning well and staying clean. This is doubly important in the warm, bright days of summer when people want to use it often.

More people in the pool means more debris and, eventually, more trouble. You should stick to a strict schedule and always make sure that your pool is in the best shape possible.

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