Pool cleaner troubleshooting (Our DIY How to guide)

5 minute read

Despite all marketing tactics, unfortunately there is no cleaner on the market that is problem free. Prior to troubleshooting any pool cleaner, you should ensure that all operational equipment (pump filter and chlorinator) are in good working condition.

Some cleaners don't require this equipment to operate the cleaner, but sometimes home owners overlook some basics that could save headaches down the track.

Tip: Check basic pool maintenance 101 here.

We will cover the following points in this "how to" article.

Suction Pool Cleaners.

  1. What if my cleaner stops and starts
  2. What if the cleaner is not cleaning the pool
  3. What if my cleaner flips over
  4. What if my cleaners speed is not correct?
  5. What if my hose is tangled?

Pressure Pool Cleaners

  1. My cleaner doesn't move?
  2. My cleaner is slow?
  3. My cleaner doesn't cover whole pool?
  4. My cleaners hose is tangled?

Robotic Pool Cleaners

  1. My robotic cleaner doesn't move?
  2. My robotic cleaner is slow?
  3. My robotic cleaner gets stuck?
Robotic Pool Cleaner

Suction pool cleaners are the number one style of pool cleaners in Australia. The cleaners themselves are powered by a diaphragm or hammer in the center of the cleaner as water passed through it, The suction pool cleaner then pulsates around the pool picking up any debris from the floor or walls.

Tip: Following the above, it’s also very important to make sure that your skimmer basket and your pump basket are cleaned out properly.

Okay, it’s time for troubleshooting where we will find solutions to your most commonly asked questions.

What if my cleaner stops and starts?

If your suction pool cleaner stops and starts, the first thing to check the suction flow coming through the hose from the cleaner. You need to have your pump on to check for the suction level.

If the suction is poor or non-existent you will need to adjust the flow control valve in the skimmer box to increase the suction to the cleaner. All suction cleaners come with a flow control valve, if you are not using a flow control valve we suggest you purchase a flow control valve here.

Tip: More suction isn't always better, if the cleaner suction is too strong you could run the risk of prematurely wearing the diaphragm or hammer causing further issues.

Once you find the correct level of suction you will see the clear efficiently moving around the pool and climbing the walls easily.

Other quick troubleshooting points to check are:

  1. Check the entire length of hose for air leaks. While the cleaner is in operation, running your hand under the length of hose, lifting it out of the water and listening for any air sucking into the hose line. Replacement hoses can be found here.
  2. Check is the diaphragm or hammer inside the cleaner. We recommend to turn your pump and filter off to keep this check easy, as you don't want the cleaner drawing any air into the system while checking the diaphragm or hammer. Dismantle the cleaner and remove the diaphragm / hammer and check for any damage, tears, or blockages. Purchase replacement diaphragms here
  3. Further to the above, there could be an air leak in your filtration system, check all connection points and if issues persist contact your local pool profession or click here to contact us.

What if my pool cleaner isn’t covering the pool properly?

The most common resolution to cleaners not reaching all areas of the pool during its cleaning cycle is due to the return jets pointing down towards the floor of the pool pushing against the direction of the cleaner. If you need new return jets, they can be found here.

Direct all pool returns towards the surface to allow the cleaner to easily pass under the moving water, this will help to prevent water flow from affecting the natural movement of the cleaner.  Also, it's important to adjust that hose weight so it’s sitting at the end of the first length of hose, the leader hose.

If you live in a high leaf area, or an area which has large debris such as gum nuts, you should consider a leaf canister, these are a great accessory and a must for any suction cleaner, otherwise you could consider a robotic pool cleaner. A robotic cleaner has a much larger mouth that will pick up any large debris the suction cleaner will have difficulty with. View the range of robotic cleaners here.


What if my cleaner tips on its side?

Firstly ensure there is adequate suction to the cleaner as outlined in the steps above.

Secondly, check the hose length. If the hose is too short or too long, this can cause issues for the cleaner. You need to ensure the correct amount of hose is used, add or remove additional lengths as required.

Ensure the hose weight is approx 1m away from the cleaner head on the first length of hose, this may need moving up or down the hose accordingly to find the sweet spot your application requires.

If your suction pool cleaner is moving at the right speed and in unsystematic directions, but still cleaning the pool bottom, it may require a new skirt or wearing sole It’s not uncommon for these parts to wear-out and need replacing periodically. You can click here to find those parts.

What if my cleaner is moving too fast or slow?

Most likely, the key reason is a congested pool filter, skimmer-basket, or a clog in the mouth of your pool cleaner.

If you own a particularly powerful pool pump or your water-flow is really strong, your cleaner will probably move faster than normal. This is not ideal and all suction pool cleaners include a speed-control valve in the skimmer that allows you to manage the flow. Make adjustments to the pressure and retest.

My suction cleaner hose gets tangled?

If the cleaner has a tendency of getting tangled or coiled during its cleaning cycle, this could be caused by a number of issues -

  1. Incorrect storage of the cleaner when not in use, causing a coil memory making it hard for the cleaner to operate freely. To remedy the situation, lay the hose outside during hot weather and try to manipulate the hose to make it straight as possible. This may take a few days then the hose should bounce back to a straight and agreeable position.
  2. It may have too much hose, remove or add hose lengths as required to ensure the correct amount is used.
  3. If air is entering the hoses this could be causing the cleaner to fault and not operate as required, the hose could be floating and not able to maneuver around the pool.

The suction cleaner won’t climb the walls?

Check the following points for any quick fixes.

  1. The float/weight position may need changing to allow climbing.
  2. Length of the hose needs adding or subtracting
  3. Some cleaners are not made to climb walls
  4. Flow regulator valve needs adjusting
  5. Tires, skirts or other wearing parts may need replacing for optimal performance of the cleaner

Pressure Pool Cleaners

Pool Pressure Cleaners

Pressure pool cleaners are powered around the pool by a booster pump, this pushes water back to the cleaner which passes through a propeller that drives the cleaner around the pool vacuuming up and debris in its path.

My pressure pool cleaner does not move?

Pressure pool cleaners need to have about 30 psi to operate. Check that the booster pump is operating, and that if required, the filter pump should also be running at the same time.

Many pressure cleaners have an inline strainer at the wall fitting connection that needs to be cleaned periodically. There may also be a second strainer close to the pump itself for further filtration. Tiny grains of sand or debris can make their way around inline strainers and can clog up small orifices inside the cleaner.

Check the wheels and axles of the pressure cleaner, as the water movement around the base of the cleaner can lift debris (Rocks or sand) and can become lodged in the wheels or a pressure cleaner, preventing movement.

Pressure cleaners are commonly driven with a gears and cogs assembly. These power trains are prone to problems when debris enters the gears. The easiest way to troubleshoot this is to turn one wheel and the other wheels should turn at the same time.

My pressure pool cleaner is slow?

Check the inline strainer at the wall for debris that could be slowing down the water pressure to the cleaner. Check the hose, to ensure there are no kinks, holes or joins where pressure is being lost somewhere along the line.

The leaf bag could be full holding the cleaner back from powering around the pool, ensure the bag is regularly emptied

Loose drive belts and worn tyres can cause your cleaner to behave sluggishly or not grip the surface of the pool affecting its climbing ability.

Click here to check the range of pressure pool cleaner parts.

My pressure cleaner does not cover entire pool?

Pressure cleaners will usually have a setting where you can increase or decrease the flow to the cleaner, thus powering the movement of the cleaner around the pool, this can be found at the wall or at the rear of the cleaner body.

Direct all pool returns towards the surface to allow the cleaner to easily pass under the moving water, this will help to prevent water flow from affecting the natural movement of the Cleaner. If your pressure cleaner gets stuck on the steps adjust the flow on the rear of the cleaner.

Ensure the feed hose is long enough to reach the furthest point from the wall connection, plus 1metre. And, make sure that the feed hose is floating – old style hose floats can become waterlogged and not keep the hose up to the surface causing the cleaner to tangle.

My pressure cleaner hose becomes tangled?

Excess hose will cause the cleaner to twist and tangle during operation, measure the hose to ensure that it is adjusted to the proper length for the pool size. You also need to make sure that the feed hose is floating, Any part of the hose that is waterlogged should be replaced.

Hose swivels also need to be freely operational, allowing full movement of the cleaner to all areas of the pool and allowing the hose to swivel out of a twist. If one of the wheels within the cleaner stop this could cause the cleaner to spin in circles and tangle the hose. Holding the cleaner while the system is OFF, Rotate one of the wheels and make sure that all wheels turn together.

Too much power to a pressure cleaner can cause it to fly around the pool and tangle itself.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaner troubleshooting

Robotic pool cleaners are a low volt electric alternative to the traditional styles of pool cleaners, and don’t rely on your pump’s suction or pressure to move around the pool which means they are a much more energy efficient alternative to other styles of pool cleaners!

My robotic pool cleaner does not move?

The 12V floating power cord for your robotic pool cleaner should be firmly plugged into the power supply transformer, which is plugged into an outlet. The power supply should have an indicator light – indicating that the cleaner is on and working.

If power is being received to the power supply, but the cleaner is not moving, we need to trace the problem towards the cleaner. It is commonly an issue with the cable or the motor block within the cleaner unit itself.

Tip: The problem lies, where the power dies!

Many times, the power cord itself can have a short, where the wires have broken, or come away from the connection inside the rubber casing. This usually occurs at a point near the cleaner, where the stress on the cord is the greatest or when the cable is used to pull the cleaner out of the pool.

Tip: Never pull the heavy, water-filled cleaner out using the cable, it is not secured for that kind of weight or force!

If the cord is intact, you can test the resistance of the motor and using your test meter, check that the power is reaching the motor. If it is, and the motor is not responding to the power, this may be signaling the need for a new drive motor.

Motor block faults are common with older style of robotic cleaners, the first series of robotic cleaners that hit the market didn't have the new and improved upgrades as the new robotic cleaners now do!

My robotic pool cleaner is slow

This could indicate worn drive tracks, cracked bearings or old brushes. You may notice that it moves, but doesn’t climb the walls effectively, these common parts wear with general operation of the cleaner, they can be found here

The canister in the cleaner can also become very full and heavy, causing the cleaner to slow, not climb the walls or not move at all. Empty the canister frequently between cycles to ensure peak performance of the cleaner.

My robotic cleaner gets stuck around the pool?

Robot pool cleaners can also get stuck behind ladders and handrails the same as any other pool cleaner, and as stated above, you can solve this problem with a product called a Ladder Guard or adjusting the hose length and position where your control box may sit within the pool area.

Expert tips and a pool cleaner summary.

Pool cleaner troubleshooting tips 

Tip: Always ensure that you disconnect your pool cleaner before back washing your filter. This will allow peak performance of the pump to perform a backwash

  • Summary of your Suction Cleaner.

    • Check there is adequate suction to the cleaner from your equipment
    • Check the flow control valve to have it correctly set
    • Check the hose for poor connections and any air leaks
    • Check the diaphragm or hammer in your for splits or cracks
    • Check the water flow from all the returning inlets is directed correctly
    • Lay the hose straight in the sun to relax the coil memory and
    • Also ensure that you have the correct hose length and adjust the hose weight

      Summary of your Pressure Cleaner.

      • Check the pump for adequate pressure
      • Check the wall strainer for blockages
      • Check the hose and swivels for tangles
      • Change the valve flow for more coverage of the pool
      • Replace waterlogged hose
      • Check tyres for wear and replace as required

        Summary of your Robotic Cleaner.

        • Check power to the unit
        • Check the tracks and scrubbers and replace as required
        • Check the canister and always empty out

          Need help from a pool professional? Contact us here!

          Post author:

          Tom Hintze

          Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
          Co-Founder at Water TechniX


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