What Is A Pool Cleaner?
A pool cleaner is a machine that draws in floating and underwater debris from swimming pools. They're controlled with a motor, which is sometimes built to draw in suction power from the pools they're placed in.
Pool cleaners can be large and small, wired and cordless. Some are built to scrub the walls, but many contain vacuum-like heads for pool floor debris removal.
Man-made swimming pools are found just about anywhere you go. They're ubiquitous, used seasonally in some places but year-round in others.
Swimming pools provide a place for people to cool off during the hot months, perform exercise routines, or just relax in an outdoor setting without going to the beach. But even in travel-prone areas like resorts that are close to the ocean, many pools can be found.
Some pools are indoors but all require some level of maintenance for them to remain clean. Did you know that the smell of chlorine in swimming pools is caused by the bacteria that it attempts to eliminate?
Stronger smells may indicate a higher presence of bacteria in the water. But not all of the unwanted particles in a swimming pool are caused by microscopic elements. Sometimes, it's what you can see. And this is where swimming pool cleaners are needed.
Have you ever noticed a ton of leaves and other foreign objects floating inside of a pool? Sometimes, the dirt level is sufficient for the debris to discolor or sink to the bottom of the pool.
When this happens, the pool can't be used due to the risk of leaves, twigs, and dirt getting into the eyes or scratching the skin as people swim.
Instead, a swimming pool cleaner can help to vacuum up these particles using suction from a head that's connected to a long hose.
The hose allows for the machine to move about the water to reach the full surface area and depth of the swimming pool.
While the time that it takes for a swimming pool to be cleaned this way changes based on pool size and the constraints of the pool cleaner itself, one thing is certain.
Pools that use cleaners are much safer and germ-free than those that haven't been vacuumed with such cleaning tools before.
History Of The Pool Cleaner
The idea of a pool cleaner didn't begin with people looking for a way to today that water they swam in. It begins through the use of a water pump connected to cisterns.
Cisterns are large water tanks that hold the liquid for various purposes, sometimes for bathing, drinking, or washing out appliances for commercial businesses.
If left untreated, the water from cisterns can before dirty, since the water stored in this manner is oftentimes left in tanks that are exposed to the outside.
Water can become dirty this way, which demands the need for the cisterns to be cleaned out regularly. Before machines were invested for this purpose, large nets were used to scoop up debris from cisterns.
Take note, nets are still used to clean swimming pools in contemporary times, even in conjunction with pool cleaners.
The first patents for rudimentary-built cistern cleaners were made in the late 18th century. However, the technology didn't reach the point of use until nearly a century later in the late 1800s.
Not to be confused with a pool cleaner, the first cistern cleaner was patented by New Orleans native John E. Pattison.
The technology was revolutionary at the time, a machine that could move to the bottom of cistern tanks and slowly escape away dirt, grime, and debris that were on the surface and pool floor.
The machines successfully vacuumed pool debris into a pipe but avoided the removal of water by moving it out of the primary pipe carrying dirt out of the cistern.
Pattison's creation quickly caught the attention and was altered and updated for large cisterns with lower depths. With each revision, the cisterns cleaner began to morph into something closer to what we know as pool cleaners today.
Who Invented The Pool Cleaner?
The first pool cleaner was made by John M. Davison, who patented the technology in the late quarter of 1912. The total for the patent clearly states that the invention is specifically for swimming pools.
Though the patent was administered in 1912, it didn't take long for it to be accepted by the US government, which did so only a couple of months later in the first quarter of 1913.
Another notable person that made important updates to pool cleaners is Joseph Eistrup, who built the first pool cleaner made with a suction side pump.
However, the first truly automated pool cleaner is credited with being invented by Andrew L. Pansini, who sold the machine as an all-around pool cleaner capable of getting dirt and debris from all corners of a pool, with no part of it left untouched.
Robot pool cleaners didn't become used until 1967. Thanks to Robert B. Myers, the use of drones to clean pools were mass-produced.
Less than 10 years later in 1972, Melvyn Lane Henkin made another auto-pool cleaner with three wheels at the bottom, able to lift dirt from anywhere in the pool without tipping over.
How A Pool Cleaner Works
If there's one thing people love more than swimming pools, it's a swimming pool that's clean and has a good balance of chlorine and water. But debris can get in the way of this. Swimming pool cleaners are like vacuums for pools.
Pool vacuum cleaners work by sucking up debris from the ground and into a bag or container. In some model vacuums, the inside where the debris is stored can be pressurized. If this is the case, how then do they prevent air from getting trapped into the vacuum, too?
The answer is through the vents. Pool cleaners are no different, venting out water from the machine before it travels with the debris that it picks up.
There are manual and automatic pool cleaners. Manual cleaners utilize a pole connected to a vacuum head.
This is held by someone to help maneuver the pool cleaner towards areas that have visible dirt at the bottom of the pool. The hose that moves debris and removes water is flexible, helping the user keep the pool cleaner stable at surface and subsurface depths.
A brush head is also provided, again no different from normal vacuums. However, the bristles on pool cleaners are usually stronger since the cleaners must also scrub away grime and biofilm clinging to the pool's floor and sidewalls.
Pool cleaners, both manual and automatic, generate suction from the pool's motor and filter. Some models have their motors and others depend more heavily on the pool's pumping system.
There's more than one type of pool cleaner, though the concept of them all remains the same. It's essentially a hydro-vacuum with powerful suction abilities.
The Future Of Pool Cleaners
Since pool cleaners exist that are already automated, more focus will be placed on making cleaners easier for people to use when they're not in the vicinity of the pool itself.
Some future pool cleaners might even become an included pool accessory, vacuuming up debris when it sees it, and always keeping the pool clean.
This could be useful for people with pools that see limited activity in the cooler months of the year.
Pool cleaners will also make great updates to their level of connectivity with other devices used by pool owners, such as WiFi connection for monitoring the level of chlorine and bacterial level in the pool on the fly, or even wirelessly activating the machines.
Future pool cleaners may focus their emphasis on being an all-around pool maintenance machine.
This means that tomorrow's pool cleaners will not only vacuum up dirt but provide chlorine to the water and sanitize it by filtering out bacteria that cause the strong chlorine odor.
Some may even function more as mini-submarines equipped with a debris tank that rises back to the surface when recharging is needed.
6 Types Of Pool Cleaners
There are six main types of pool cleaners. Most of them are easy to find and purchase in places where electronics and home appliances are sold.
Differences between them revolve around where they're placed in the water, how they push debris out of the pool, and whether or not they involve manual help for the cleaning to commence.
Have a look at each and see which looks best for cleaning your pool.
1. Handheld Pool Vacuums
Commonly, people like to work with objects using their hands. Sometimes, handheld pool vacuums are the most reliable tools.
They also make excellent cleaning tools so long as the product itself is efficient and high in quality. A handheld pool cleaner is almost the same as a standard vacuum that you would use in your home, at least in concept.
These machines have brushes on them, the same as a vacuum. There are also filters built into their interior, which is connected to another container that holds the debris that you pick up with it. Some handheld machines must be plugged in for them to function, but cordless models do exist.
All parts of a handheld vacuum contain little to no roller-type brushes. The one that is on the machine is embedded into its body.
Handheld swimming pools are best for small tanks that can be quickly cleaned out. If the pool is too large, you may have a difficult time getting everything cleaned in a timely fashion. For this situation, some people use handheld models with separate brushes.
Another issue with handheld cleaners is how they don't always get rid of the debris that the embedded brushes remove from a pool's walls.
You would have to go over the pool once more to ensure that this debris is taken out, which can be unsightly. But the benefit outweighs the setbacks. Use a handheld cleaner if the pool on your property isn't that large and has a short depth.
- Very easy to find good prices
- Can at times be easier to clean than using a large pool cleaner, especially for pools that are small in size
- There are cordless and wired models sold at stores, usually at prices that don't differ too much from each other
- Although small pools benefit the most from handheld models, they're capable of being used in any swimming pool if the need arises
- Spa and jacuzzi-friendly operation
- Probably the best cleaning option for swimming pools that rest above the ground
- Suction power ranges from equal to more than some automatic pool cleaners
- Not feasible for some large pools, due to their small size
- Handheld cleaners with brushes may spread dirt around more than it picks it up, a common issue on cheaper models
- Many models are frail and prone to damages
2. Suction-Side Pool Vacuums
Suction side pool vacuums are sometimes hand-operated as well, but automatic machines of this type are easy to find.
When they are sold as handheld devices, they're sometimes called automatic suction cleaners. Brands sometimes label these machines differently, which can make searching for a particular model that does this a bit hard.
Regardless, suction side pool cleaners suck out debris from pools through a connection to the skimmer, which uses the pool pumping system to siphon out leaves, twigs, and general waste that collects around a swimming pool.
Since it depends on a pool pump to work, your pool must have one and be left on when the machine is in operation.
If you're thinking about the added costs this could have on your energy expenses, it's normal. This has the potential to raise your electric bill based on the number of times you run it, and for how long the machine is left on.
You should have a good filter pump for suction side cleaners to work properly. Clean out the filters before and after using such cleaners.
It's something that you'll have to get into the habit of doing, which might seem like more work if you've never used a pool cleaner of this type before.
Still, suction side cleaners perform well at what they do. Just ensure that the devices they need to run smoothly are in good shape, and you'll be guaranteed to end up with a pool that's completely sanitized.
- Has handheld and automatic models
- Convenient for pools that are indoors or large
- When the parts are maintained, suction side cleaners can last for many years past their warranty without malfunctioning
- Highly recommended for pools that are below the ground, indoors or outdoors
- Relies on a pool's filters and pumping systems to operate
- Not as eco-friendly as other smaller pool cleaners
3. Pressure Pool Vacuums
These cleans have many names but are most often referred to as pressure-side pool vacuums.
They work similarly to suction side cleaners since they too rely on pool filters to push debris out with the machine's pumps. The difference is that this type has an independent filter as well.
It helps create strong suction for the cleaner, one that's useful for getting up heavily soiled swimming pools that have been neglected for a while.
They move on their own, having no connection to a pool's pumping system. You can add a booster to the unit to get an even stronger suction.
Pressure pool cleaners are usually outfitted with wheels. They help the machine crawl around the bottom, getting rid of all the floating debris that it sees.
Don't rely on them too much for biofilm that's stuck to the pool's walls and floor. But if you place this inside your pool after going over it with a brush, all the free-floating debris will be done before you know it.
- Recommended for pools with large quantities of floating and subsurface debris
- Contains a filter that reduces dependency on the pool's filter, increasing suction power in the process
- Most models are built to last for a while, not cheaply made
- Moves quickly, especially in standard-sized pools
- Performs well with smaller handheld pool cleaners
- Can be expensive
4. Robotic Pool Vacuums
Robot pool vacuums are where much of the innovation around pool vacuuming has been situated in current times.
Robot pool cleaners are capable of cleaning the pool on their own, with limited assistance from the user that owns one. Robot pool vacuums also rely on the least amount of energy to clean pools.
If you want a pool cleaner that can lower your carbon footprint and keep your energy costs lower than that of other pool cleaners, try one out if the machines are within your budget.
Robotic pool cleaners have nice features like remote operation, where you can control the machine with a small handheld device instead of moving the body of the cleaner.
They're great for cleaning designated parts of a pool that you want it to travel to. Many have wheels, usually four at the bottom. However, models are sometimes difficult to come by, unless purchased online.
They can also be more expensive than other pool vacuums. But if you want one, robot pool vacuums are easier to clean out a pool than most other models are, especially those that require you to hold the machine.
- Ideal for above ground and in-ground pools
- Can be used to clean pools that don't have a skimmer basket
- Filters itself out on its own and don't require the external use of a pool's filter
- Act as an additional filter for the water, removing bacterial and other small particulates
- Some models are controlled with a remote
- Prices fluctuate but many models retailed are pricier than other pool cleaners
- May not sufficiently clean out heavily soiled swimming pools
- Depending on the model, suction power may or may not be adequate for all consumers
5. In-Floor Vacuum Systems
Have you ever seen a high-end swimming pool with cleaning machines at the bottom? These are called in-floor vacuums.
Many are built when the swimming pools themselves are made, which push out streams of water when that creates a current along the floor, which pushes out debris to a connected drainage system.
Pumps help the water stay in the pool as filters force it away from liquid, resulting in a clean swimming pool.
In-floor vacuums are used more often than other pool cleaners and can be expensive to install. As they're usually built when the pool itself is made, you might have to have additional construction done to build a drain for the operation to work.
- Very automated and requires virtually no handheld or remote control operation of any kind
- Great for seasonally-used pools
- Can adequately clean out large swimming pool with depths over 10 feet
- Reduces the pungency of chlorine odors
- Little maintenance is required
- Expensive to have installed
- Installation may require additional construction to be done
6. Manual Brushing With a Telescoping Pole
Sometimes, the best way to get something clean is to clean it yourself the old-fashioned way.
With a telescopic brush, you can scrub the walls and floors before biofilm ever becomes a problem.
Most poles are long but some brands feature adjustable rods made of materials like aluminum or something that isn't corrosive.
The bristles are soft but firm. With the right brand, you might also have a net attachment that comes with the pole, useful for scooping up the material that's floating up and underneath the pool's surface.
The only real drawback lies in the fact that the work is completely manual, and you're at risk of getting yourself wet if you mistakenly lean over too far when cleaning.
But most telescoping poles are long enough to lower the risk of this. They're good to have around, even if you have more sophisticated means of cleaning a pool.
- Inexpensive and easy to find
- Can be outfitted with brushes to clean the walls and nets to scoop up the floating residue
- For smaller pools, the tool may work faster for one-off cleaning jobs
- Not suitable for filtering out particles smaller than easily visible debris
- Must be manually operated, which could lead to exhaustion and sunburn when cleaning the pool in the open sun