All pools must be cleaned on a continuous basis to ensure top water quality for your swimmers. Some cleaning devices require owner/operator intervention, while others require setup only. One background device operates independently with the exception of a daily cleanout. It is always working quietly in the background.
A pools skimmer acts like a gutter on a street. It will help to capture oil from sunscreen, bugs, twigs, leaves etc before they sink to the bottom of the pool. They operate on a slight suction attached to your pool pump. Inground pools will have skimmers built in their upper sides, whereas above ground pools thin walls cannot accommodate that setup. Instead they have units that hang on the pool edge, sort of like a flower box from a window sill.
Skimmers should be cleaned daily in order to eliminate stress on your pump, and to keep flow significant enough to trap as much debris as possible.
Here is a 4.5 / 5 stars from 251 customer reviews for an above ground pool skimmer by Hayward. There are many others to consider but this one is so highly rated I included it for you to read about first.
You have seen the “Not Your Father’s Buick’ commercials; well, this is ‘Not your Mother’s Vacuum Cleaner’ either!
A pool vacuum device is one component of a healthy pool infrastructure.
Vacuum devices remove most of the dirt, debris, and other visible materials that enter your pool from the outside environment. They save you time and effort looking after the obvious, observable intruders to your above ground pool environment. However, what is not visible to the naked eye is arguably much more serious a threat to your pool health and yours, and that is what your chemical and filters will address. You can follow the links to read about their roles in the water quality program for your above ground pool.
A pool vacuum performs best when the the pool pump has enough power (usually between 3/4 to 1.5 hp) to create enough pressure for the cleaning device to operate at full speed. Above ground pool vacuum cleaners are designed to work with the lower gpm flows common in many above ground pools, although the higher the water flow the better the performance.
There are three main types of vacuum cleaning devices for your pool and they are significantly different in their approach to cleaning and in maintenance, operator interaction, and price as well. One other note is that above ground pool vacuum cleaners are not intended to climb walls or deep end slopes. They are intended for flat bottoms only. A vacuum cleaner wall climber could damage the wall infrastructure.
Suction Side Cleaners
Suction-side pool cleaners are good for above and inground pools, so named because they are attached to the side of the pump that sucks the water out of the water. They are generally the cheapest variant of suction cleaning devices and so the knock on them is their effectiveness (ie you get what you pay for) and their labor intensiveness as they have to be set up and dissembled each usage. Also, your skimmer has to be disconnected for the 4 hours or so the sunction-side pool cleaner is operational, unless you have two lines on the suction side of your pump.
What is really good about suction-side pool cleaners is that they are the least expensive of the choices. A couple of popular choices include the following ; click for details on pricing and user reviews ! Here is a video of Wanda the Whale doing her / it’s thing autonomously on the pool bottom.
One good choice for a low flow system is a robotic cleaner which operates independently of the pool pump. Robots operate from a transformer and grounded poolside plugin. They do their own thing independently of the pump and filtration system. There also is minimal setup by the operator, who will only interact with the robot to set it in place, plug it in or empty it’s trash container. These are excellent cleaners for above ground pools, but do have the disadvantage of being expensive to purchase and repair. Check out this Aquabot YouTube video posted by an owner for you to peruse the setup and operation of an actual robot cleaner.
Above Ground Pressure Cleaners
Pressure cleaners are so named because they attach to the pool return, or pressure, part of the water circulation systems. They are also referred to as booster pump cleaners. They water being pumped / propelled back into the pool is what propels these units. Also called booster pump type cleaners, water that is pumped or “pushed” back to the pool propels these units, which have their own hydraulic power plant inside. Being on the pressure side and not the suction-side or vacuum side, pressure cleaners have distinct advantages.
Connected to a pool return line, they operate from water pressure created by your pool pump. Polaris 65 is the only pressure cleaner suitable for above ground pools. It connects to the wall return and moves around the surface to help skimming action, while it scoops up floor debris in a separate debris bag. A ¾ hp (or larger) pool pump, is needed to provide enough water flow for an above ground pressure cleaner. Enjoy this vid of the Polaris 65 doing it’s pressure version of cleaning, along with a testament of a very satisfied owner.
Automatic versus Manual Cleaners
I am not going to say much about this other than … get yourself and automatic cleaner if at all possible. Cleaning the pool on a regular basis is a must, and I have a youtube video showing a manual setup for the suction cleaning of an above ground pool. If you want to avoid this every other day task, go automatic!