Automatic Pool Cleaners

Pool Cleaners:

My oh my where do I begin? I’ll try not to give my age away here but, I remember when Kreepy Krauly’s were one of the first automatic pool cleaners on the market. Infact in 1974 the very first models were actually made of wood and rubber tubing. People lucky enough to have had one of those Pinochio Bot’s absolutley loved them. I’ve heard stories from folk’s (my grandfather of course) who desperately tried to keep them operational by using coat hangers, duct tape and glue. Kreepy Krauly’s were actually sold door to door at one time. Their salespeople were quite clever in the presentation or should I say demonstration.

Knock!, Knock!, Who’s there?, Kreepy Krauly!, Creepy What!. You open the door to see a young salesperson, well dressed in suit and tie jumping right into a full blown introduction of who he is and how he would like to show you an amazing new contraption that promises to bring back joy to owning and caring for your pool. Imagine trying to pull that one off in today’s world, not a chance of you allowing a door to door sale’s person in your home with something creepy they want to stick in your pool. Well anyway, grandpa says sure young fella come on in and show me what the heck you’re talking about.

That young person walks through the house carrying a spiffy looking box in which he follows you out to the pool. Grandpa cannot recall exactly what he said verbatim but it pretty much went like this. ” Sir what we have is the latest and greatest thing ever made for swimming pools” while telling you all the tech stuff he is carefully and deliberately unpacking what clearly is a never opened before package. You watch intently as he pulls this thing out of the box that looks like a cross from an octopus, squid and dive gear all rolled into one. “Sure looks creepy, please visit sites grampa says”. ” Yes sir we call it a Kreepy Krauly” as he throws it into your pool with what looks like a long umbilical cord attached. Just a few seconds later as this thing sinks to the bottom of your pool and starts pulsating and making a knocking noise like nothing you’ve never heard before and low and behold it starts to move! It’s ALIVE!

Not only is it moving but you can actual see a clean path it’s creating as it knocks around your pool in a direction that appears to be backward from what you would expect. Little Johnny salesman sees the look on your face and quietly says to himself SOLD!. After a short discussion about price and I do mean short because you absolutely have to have it. He politely asks “Sir shall I leave this one in you pool or if you prefer I can get you another from my car” Not necessary you say after all, you know it to be a brand new one as you watched him unpack it right in front of your very eye’s. No way do you want him to take it out of your pool to switch with another because you can’t and don’t want to take your eye’s off of this thing.

By 1978 a sufficient number of units had been sold to cover the cost of plastic injection molding and a legend was born!

Here are three main type’s of pool cleaners each classified by the drive mechanism used in each respective cleaner:

Return Water Flow Back to Pool: Water flowing back to the pool via the pool return lines or a dedicated pool line for the sole purpose of attaching a cleaner that utilizes a drive mechanism that operates on a Venturi principle. (See Venturi in Glossary of Terms) The Venturi not only drives the pool cleaner but also creates a vacuum to capture debris. This type of cleaner usually sends the vacuumed debris right to the pool filter.

Pressure Driven Water Flow Back to Pool: Water flowing back to the pool through a dedicated plumbing line is pressurized by using a secondary pump (booster pump) which enhances the Venturi effect thus allowing the cleaner to move faster and collect more debris in a shorter period of time. This type of cleaner usually has it’s own collection bag, net or screen. Thus allowing longer run cycles between cleaning of the collection vessel and the pool’s main filter.

Suction Side Driven: Water being drawn from the pool from either the pool’s skimmer or a dedicated plumbing line connected to the suction side of the pool’s recirculating pump. The cleaner is driven by a mechanism that is powered by the water drawn through the cleaner and sucking up debris at the same time.

Which Cleaner is Best? Not so much as to which cleaner is best but, more to which cleaner is best for your particular pool and the environment in which the pool is located. For instance, is your pool screened in?, not screened in?, is your pool exposed to seasonal tree’s, flowers that drop heavy foliage into the water?. Is your pool exposed to fine silt, sand or clay?. Several other factors to consider is the actual pool equipment, plumbing configuration, shape of pool, depth and slope from shallow end to deep end. Features and fixtures should be considered as well, I.E ladders, steps, handrails and islands in pool all have there impact on a pool cleaners performance.

Let’s address each possible environment, configuration and cleaner application. When your pool was built will obviously dictate some of your options based on limitations of your pool equipment and plumbing configuration.

Basic pool with no dedicated cleaner line: By basic I mean a pool built with a skimmer, a main-drain and return-line. No screen enclosure and moderate exposure to leaves, fine debris. Suction type cleaners such as a Hayward Navigator, Barracuda, Kreepy Krauly etc, come with a sectional vac hose that would connect to the pool’s skimmer. The purpose of the sectional vac hose is due to the need of only enough hose to reach the furthest point in the pool. Any additional hose beyond what is necessary to reach the furthest point can and will affect the cleaner’s overall performance. The downside to this type of installation is that when you connect the cleaner to the skimmer port you now have eliminated the skimmer’s ability to collect (skim) the surface of floating debris. True there are some after-market products that allow the cleaner and skimmer to alternate run schedules but these devices prove to diminish performance of both the skimmer and cleaner when in there scheduled mode. That being said you would have to manually alternate the cleaner and skimmer operation.

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