How To Use A Pool Vacuum

Imagine a world without pool vacuums – cleaning pools will surely become the biggest task in the household. Pool vacuums are capable of suctioning up dirt, leaving you nothing but clean water behind. In this article, you will learn how to use a pool vacuum through a comprehensive set of instructions. Now take your first step in maintaining the pristine condition of your beloved pool!

There are actually two kinds of pool cleaners – manual and automatic. The former consists of a telescopic pole, vacuum hose, and vacuum head. The latter is further categorized into robotic, pressure-side, and suction-side vacuum.

How To Use A Manual Pool Vacuum

Using a manual pool vacuum is a daunting task for some people. The idea of dealing with skimmers, filters, and the vacuum itself seems quite intimidating.

It’s actually pretty easy to use manual cleaners. It just takes some time and a lot of manual work (hence the name) to do the process. But you’ll get used to it soon.

And don’t forget to keep in mind some essential tips and warnings (discussed below). Here are the instructions on how to properly use your manual pool vacuum:

  1. First, attach one end of the telescopic pole to the vacuum head. The pole will allow you to maneuver the vacuum head to move it around the bottom surface of the pool. You can easily spot a clear place on the head where you can fasten the pole.
  2. Now connect the vacuum head and the vacuum hose. One end of the vacuum hose attaches to the head. It’s also obvious where to attach the hose to the head – the hose will surely have a swivel head used for attaching.
  3. Now hold the pole in your hand (or with both hands) and carefully ‘dip’ the vacuum head into your pool – this along with the hose. Ensure the other end of the hose is NOT underwater.
  4. Now locate the spot where the water enters the pool (called the filter skimmer). This is usually found on the wall of your pool.
  5. After lowering the vacuum head while making sure the other end of the hose is outside, attach that other side of the hose into the intake nozzle. That should send the water flowing through the hose.
  6. Wait for suction to be created. Observe the air bubbles rising from the vacuum head. When you can no longer see any bubbles coming out, that means the hose is now full of water. Expect your head to sink flat and tight on the pool surface because suction has been created at this point.
  7. If there is still some air within your hose, then you likely do not have suction yet. In that case, attach the hose to the skimmer. The skimmer is mounted on your pool’s side via the vacuum adapter plate. (See important notes below)
  8. Now activate intake mode in the filter nozzle – to suck water in.
  9. START vacuuming. Use the telescopic pole to guide the vacuum along the pool floor. The rule is to move quite slowly and strategically. It’s best to follow an imaginary grid pattern (think of a tractor plowing a field) – this is to make sure you’re able to tackle all areas of the pool floor along with the slopes.
  10. When you’re done, gently raise the vacuum away from the pool to your ground.
  11. Simply detach the hose from the filter.
  12. Turn off your pool pump.
  13. Now clean the hair basket and the skimmer basket. The hair basket is that component you can find at the pump.
  14. Now activate “backwash” in your filter handle setting.
  15. Turn on the pump after.
  16. Allow the pump to run while observing the sight glass on the filter.
  17. Once you can see clear water in the sight glass, turn OFF the pump.
  18. Now turn the filter handle into “rinse” mode.
  19. Turn ON the pump for about one (1) minute.
  20. After the said one (1) minute, turn off the pump.
  21. Now turn the filter handle to “filter” mode.
  22. Turn the pump ON for the last time and resume enjoying your pool!


  • Avoid loss of prime by flooding the hose with water before you place the adapter in the skimmer. Before you attach the hose, note that some skimmers will need you to remove the basket first.
  • The best way to bleed out the trapped air in the line is to hold the vacuum line’s end over the return port.

Tips In Using A Manual Pool Vacuum

Vacuum First. Backwash After.

It’s always best to vacuum the pool first before you backwash. Backwashing will get rid of the dirt accumulated in your filter.

Not being able to backwash will eventually make your filter clogged with dirt elements, causing tremendous pressure build-up while operating. Too much pressure will cause your filter component to crack or worse, explode.

Raise Water Level

Here’s a good trick – raise the water level until it reaches the skimmer mouth. Do that by running a garden hose into the pool. That way, you can keep the water in its optimum range and the best part is you’ll have a longer time to vacuum the pool.

Place Vacuum Head Over The Return Outlet

As mentioned above, it’s better to place the vacuum head over the return outlet when you attempt to flood the hose with water at the start of the process. That way, you won’t have to hold the hose in fear of it going uncontrollably when the water starts to flow through while conflicting the air pockets.

Keep An Eye To The Water

While vacuuming your pool, make sure to observe the amount of suction you’re getting, as well as the water-flow returning into the pool.

Turn your pump OFF immediately when you notice either of the two starts to reduce. After shutting the pump down, clean the hair basket.

Don’t Rely On Your Vacuum Too Much

There is some debris that will be too large for the vacuum to handle. Do your part by manually scooping as much large debris as you can before you even start to vacuum.

A large debris can potentially clog and will damage and strain both your filters and pumps. This advice is quite applicable when you open your pool in the spring.

Apart from the natural dirt debris in your pool, you should also watch out for organic materials like leaves. If you vacuum a heavily dirty pool on “waste,” it is highly possible for that leaves to clog not just the vacuum line but also the pump impeller and pump strainer basket as well.

HEAVILY Dirty Pool – Vacuum Out To Waste

If you want to vacuum on “waste” due to a heavily dirty pool, a good trick is to “vacuum out to waste” instead of the initial idea.

You can do this by turning your filter into “waste” mode before you start vacuuming. This method will remove the water from your pool and at the same time, cause your system to bypass the filter.

This is to prevent the dirt elements from clogging and eventually damaging your filter and corresponding components.

How Not To Damage Your Gaskets

It’s important to keep in mind to NEVER turn the filter handle when your pump is in operation. Otherwise, you will damage the gaskets found in the filter. There’s nothing much to do later but to replace them.

The Golden Rule: Read Your Manufacturer’s Instructions

The safest way to conduct this activity is to read the owner’s manual first; and vacuum according to your manufacturer’s instructions.

Further, some D.E. filters require more D.E. after you backwash. Check your manual on how to do this.

Warnings In Using A Pool Vacuum

Be sure NOT to drain your water level beyond the bottom of the skimmer, especially while vacuuming out to waste or backwashing. Fill your pool with more water if necessary. You can do this by putting a hose with running water towards the pool.

If you have a standard push-pull filter flow valve or simply have no waste function on the multiport valve, it’s important to keep in mind NOT to vacuum your pool in backwash setting. Otherwise, the system will forcibly deliver debris towards the filter cartridge of some filters.

How To Use An Automatic Pool Vacuum

You already know the fact that automatic pool vacuum is classified into three types – robotic, suction-side, and pressure-side.

Robotic Pool Vacuum

The best vacuum cleaners are usually the robotic type. Unlike manual vacuums, robotic cleaners can work on their own, hence automatic.

Some robotic cleaners are equipped with scanners that map your pool size and shape and determine the most efficient route to move and clean around.

The beauty of self-contained systems is the lack of necessity for human intervention. They simply can work in your pool without supervision.

Robotic pool cleaners are designed to propel itself across the bottom, steps, and sides of your pool – scrubbing and sucking everything in their way. The best part is they are pretty effective in picking up debris like from small sand to larger leaves.

While they are the most efficient pool cleaners, robotic variants are the most expensive type. However, they are truly worth the investment and will save you lots of money in the long run.

Suction-Side Vacuum Cleaners

Now, this type is the least expensive among the automatic variants. Suction-side cleaners utilize your existing filtration and pump system.

The suction power generated by your pump is responsible for moving the vacuum around and collecting debris. So basically, the vacuum relies on your current filtration and pump system in terms of efficiency. The better your system, the more efficient the vacuum becomes.

You can make your vacuum more efficient by adjusting your pool pump to accommodate your unit. Since you are pulling dirt materials in your filtration component, the need to replace your filter will be more often.

Pressure-Side Pool Vacuum

Now if you are dealing with large debris, a pressure-side pool vacuum is an ideal choice. This type tends to be a good collector of large dirt materials. Pressure-side pool vacuums are powered by water pressure and work in a clever way.

It skims your pool floor, sucks in dirt, and sends them into a separate bag. This mechanism means this type is friendly to your filters. With this type, you can spare your filter from possible damage and replacement (at least for the while).

While this type is a good collector in terms of large debris, it tends to miss the smaller ones. The smaller dirt debris will accumulate in your filter

The price of pressure-side pool vacuums can vary depending in attachment inclusions. For instance, a unit with a booster is expected to cost more. However, they are still less expensive than robotic variants even if you have an included booster in your purchase.

Ultimately, pressure-side pool vacuum cleaners are highly effective because they are powered by water pressure.

Manual Pool Vacuum Vs. Automatic Pool Vacuum – Which One Is Better

There is no universal answer to that question because it highly depends on the user and his own preferences.

Primarily, it’s a matter of budget, time, and personal opinion. If you are willing, you can always go for the cheaper manual vacuum and do the honor of cleaning your own amenity for your own good.

On the flipside, if you are a rather busy person and can only use your pool purely for leisure times, then it won’t hurt to invest in an automatic pool cleaner. If budget allows, go directly for the robotic type as it can do everything for you – just turn the button on and bathe under the sun.


Knowing how to use a pool vacuum is an integral knowledge you can use to incorporate into your own pool amenity. Since you are already how to do things on your own, you can do the task yourself – consequently saving you tons of your hard-earned cash especially when you think about long-term.

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