Beginners Guide To Using A Pool Vacuum

Staying on top of your pool maintenance routine is the only way to keep your pool tidy and safe, and this calls for important tasks like vacuuming. But how do you use a pool vacuum in the first place?

To use a pool vacuum, assemble the device from your hose, telescoping pole, cleaner head, and skim vac. Next, prep your pool by cleaning its surface and emptying the skimmer baskets. Prime the hose, then change the filter setting to pump to ‘Waste.’ Run the pump and carefully vacuum the pool floor.

Let’s face it — vacuuming may not be the most enjoyable pool maintenance task, but you need to do it or you’ll have to deal with debris and a crazy growth of algae. Let’s take a closer look at how to use a pool vacuum properly so that your pool stays in great shape.

How to Prep Your Pool for Vacuuming

Pool vacuum cleaning dirty in bottom of swimming pool

Vacuuming your pool won’t be a huge pain if you prep the pool as required. You can get a kit like this one (on Amazon) that has everything you need, and we’ll talk more about recommended hardware later, but assuming you have all the pieces you need already here’s what to do to get the pool ready for vacuuming:

1. Turn Off Your Pool Pump

Flip your pool pump’s shutoff switch to turn it off and prevent the water from circulating. This helps get the debris in the water to settle.

2. Set the Filter to ‘Vacuum’ or ‘Pump to Waste’

Most filtration systems have a switch or dial whose settings you can change depending on whether you’re swimming or doing some sort of pool maintenance routine. 

Set the dial to the ‘Vacuum,’ ‘Cleaning,’ or ‘Pump to Waste‘ position to get the filter ready for vacuuming.

If your filtration system has a backwash setting, run it for about 10 minutes before you engage the ‘Vacuum‘ or ‘Pump to Waste‘ setting.  This temporarily reverses the water flow so that all the debris washed into your filter goes back to the pool.

3. Remove Leaves and Surface Debris From Your Pool

Use a leaf rake or skimmer (on Amazon) to remove leaves and floating debris from your pool. Also, scrub off algae and grime from the sides of your pool with a hard brush and remove them with a handheld net.

4. Empty the Skimmer Baskets and Leave One Weir Open

Pry off the lids of the skimmer baskets on the top of your pool and get rid of the leaves and foreign objects in them. If you’ve got weirs or gates on your skimmers, close all of them except the one closest to your pump.

5. Plug the Closed Skimmers With Rubber Plugs

Some pools have removable plugs that cover the skimmer baskets to prevent the backflow of water to the pump. 

If your pool has the plugs, use them to close all the skimmers except the one nearest to your pump. 

6. Point the Return Line Jets Towards the Pool Floor

You’ll find the return line jets along the walls of your pool, often halfway between the top and bottom of the pool. Locate and twist each return line fitting downwards to keep water from flowing into the distribution pipes in your pool as you vacuum.

What Do You Need to Vacuum a Pool?

Here’s what you’ll need to vacuum your pool:

Vacuum Hose

A specialized pool vacuum hose is designed to attach easily to your systems. Be sure to buy a reliable, long-enough hose like the Poolmaster 33430 Heavy-Duty In-Ground Pool Vacuum Hose (on Amazon).

Pool Vacuum Cleaner Head

By design, your pool vacuum head should easily snap onto the end of your extension pole. However, it’s important you purchase one that’s weighted for it to stay in one position. 

You also want to remember how your pool is constructed because some vac heads may not be safe on your pool’s vinyl lining. You can’t go wrong with the Hayward SP1068 Pool Vacuum Cleaner Head (on Amazon).

Telescoping Pole

A good telescoping pole like the Poolwhale 10.5-foot premium aluminum telescopic pool pole (on Amazon) easily connects to your pool skimmers, hooks, and nets.

Skimmer Vacuum Plate (Skim Vac)

A skim vac comes in handy when paired with the skimmer basket because it eliminates the need to turn the pool pump on and off, unlike when you rely only on the pump strainer basket. 

The Fuoequl SP1106 Skim Vac (on Amazon) is compatible with most Hayward vacuum cleaner heads.

How to Assemble Your Pool Vacuum

Assembling your pool vacuum is pretty straightforward, and here’s how to do it:

  1. Attach your vacuum head to the end of the telescoping pole.
  2. Connect your hose to the vac head, then gently attach the skim vac to the end of the hose that you’ll submerge.
  3. Connect the free end of the hose to a dedicated suction port, an open skimmer, or your filter depending on your pool’s manual.
  4. Carefully lower the vacuum head into the pool to release air from the hose. Hold onto the telescoping pole until you see no more air bubbles. You need to do this so that there’s suction pressure inside the hose.

How to Vacuum Your Pool

Pool vacuum cleaner on flexible hose
  1. Turn off the pool pump and put the filter dial in the ‘Pump to Waste‘ position if your pool has a sand filter. This will send algae and debris directly through the backwash line instead of clogging the filter. If you have a different filter, just use the ordinary ‘Filter‘ setting.
  1. Turn on the pump and closely monitor the process as your pool begins to empty.
  1. When debris has collected in the skimmer baskets, you’ll notice a decrease in the suction. In that case, turn off the pump and clean everything. If you have a bottom drain, close it as well.
  1. Start vacuuming on the shallow end, all while monitoring the water level. Remember, letting it get too low will cause your pump to run dry and could result in some severe damage.
  1. If you’re done vacuuming and need to add more water, turn off the pump, then disconnect and clean all vacuum equipment. You can restore the pump setting to ‘Filter‘ and run it once the water level is back up.

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