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Pool Cleaning and Vacuuming

Every pool gets dirty, whether it’s from patrons tracking dirt indoors, or with an outdoor pool, from mother nature, it’s an inevitability. Whatever the source of the dirt and debris, there needs to be a solution.

In our last post about maintenance procedures, we talked about developing plans to keep your pool and facility running clean and safe. Along with all the maintenance we talked about previously, there is one we didn’t cover yet. That is of the pools themselves. Not chemically, like we’ve talked about before, but physically cleaning the main body of water at your facility.

Cleaning Your Pool

When we talk about cleaning your pool, we’re talking about removing any debris that comes with having patrons visit your pool. Often times it can be dirt, or even pebbles brought in on the water shoes of patrons, or picked up on the decks of your facility.

If your facility is outdoors, the debris is constant, aside from additional dust and dirt kicked into the pool from the elements. Nature can deposit insects, leaves and vegetation, and even pollen directly into your pool water. And there are a number of ways to get rid of these things.

Sweeping and Skimming Your Pool Clean

Aside from passive systems included in the design of your pool there are manual ways to clean your pool that don’t require fancy or expensive equipment.

Pool Skimming

For larger debris, such as leaves and insects, one of the easiest ways to remove them quickly is through the use of a pool skimmer attached to a long pole. This tool is extremely effective, and useful for cleaning your pool quickly during operating hours. Simply scoop the debris out and throw it away, no big productions or set up, or clearing of patrons.

Pro-Tip: Pick one direction to skim, and always be moving the skimmer in that direction to keep all the debris you’ve picked up pinned to your skimmer.

Pool Sweeping

For heavy, or smaller debris, skimming may not be able to get the job done. A pool brush attached to the same long pole as your skimmer, can do a great job of clearing debris that has settled to the bottom of your pool.

While the brush obviously can’t pick up the small debris, it can move it towards your main drains to be filtered out, and also serves to stir it up so it can be skimmed off by the built in skimming features of your pool.

You’ll want to make sure you are directing your brush strokes toward a drain and the settled dirt, and the debris you couldn’t pick up with your skimmer will be gone in no time!

Pool Vacuums

Aside from skimming and sweeping your pool clean, there are other methods that are even more effective for keeping your pool clean. I’m talking of course about pool vacuums.

Pool vacuums can offer many advantages over just skimming and sweeping. Every facility should have a pool skimmer and brush, but it can also be important to have alternative more thorough methods for cleaning your pool. Whichever type of pool vacuum works best for your facilities, usage needs, budgetary restraints, and cleaning requirements, there’s a pool vacuum out there for you.

There are three main types of commercial pool vacuums out there. We will break these categories down by a couple of key features; their power source, and their implementation method. In each category certain brands and models may have advantages over others in that category, but we won’t go into specifics. We’ll focus more on each category and the drawbacks and advantages they have over each other.

Let’s take a look at three main types!

Battery Propeller Vacuum

One of the best options for ease of use is a battery powered vacuum. Vacuums of this type have a few key characteristics:

  • Battery powered
  • Propeller forces water through filter bag
  • Reusable filter bags

These vacuums are extremely effective for outdoor pools in particular whose main problem is larger debris such as leaves. Utilizing a propeller attached to a vacuum head and forcing water into a filter bag, the vacuum head is attached to a long pole (just like the skimmer and pool brush) and is steered around the pool cleaning up debris.

Pro Tip: When removing the vacuum head and bag from the pool, tilt the opening of the bag upward as you lift it out, so the contents that you just vacuumed aren’t dumped back into the pool!


  • Easy start up
  • Reliable
  • Cleans large debris
  • Cheapest complete vacuum unit


  • Has to be steered / manual cleaning
  • Misses most small debris without special filter bags
  • Can’t be used safely during operating hours

While there are some drawbacks, battery powered propeller vacuums are an excellent choice to help keep your pool clean. Even without the purchase of special filter bags these vacuums can still clean up small debris and move it around enough to be circulated into your pool filtration system in the same way sweeping does.

Deck-Motor Vacuums

Another type of vacuum uses a portable pool motor to power the vacuum. This vacuum utilizes a pump (similar but smaller than those in your pump room) and impeller to suck water into the vacuum head, which is then passed through at least one strainer basket/lint trap on the unit.
Key Characteristics:

  • On deck motor (wall outlet powered)
  • Hose attached to vacuum head draws water into unit

These vacuums can function as mini portable filtration systems. Though not all systems come with the cartridge system, if they do, they can effectively filter out any debris you may encounter. Without the cartridges they are essentially as effective as the battery propeller vacuums.
The biggest hurdle with this vacuum is that without a lot of practice and training, starting or “priming” the pump and getting the vacuum running can be very difficult.

Pro Tip: Even if your unit doesn’t have the cartridge system, or it does and you aren’t using it, by directing the vacuums “discharge hose” directly into your gutter system, you can ensure that the small debris not picked up will go directly to your filtration system!


  • Reliable
  • Cleans large debris
  • Cleans small debris


  • More expensive than battery propeller vacuums with all needed items (hoses, vacuum head, storage)
  • Difficult start up
  • Has to be steered / manual cleaning
  • Can’t be used safely during operating hours

Robotic Vacuums

The last main type of pool vacuum is the robotic vacuum.

Robotic vacuums are the latest trend in pool vacuums. They can either be battery operated or require a wall connection to power them. They have filters inside the unit that pick up everything from large to small debris and are then cleaned upon removal.

With robotic vacuums it is particularly important that operators are careful and gentle when handling the vacuum, and when deploying it. With proper handling, necessary repairs will be minimum, which is important as they can be costly.

Pro Tip: When removing the unit from the water, hold it just below the surface of the water and remove it quickly and onto deck so the contents of the filter bags don’t drain out into the pool with the water.


  • Easy start up
  • Automatic cleaning
  • Reliable
  • Cleans large debris
  • Cleans small debris


  • Expensive
  • Requires several hours to clean
  • Fragile / costly to repair

All of these vacuums have their merits, and each of them has some drawbacks, but each one certainly can be used toward the same goal. It all comes down to what you’re looking for, how much you can afford, and who is using them!

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