Pool cleaner troubleshooting (Our DIY How to guide)

Despite what the marketing may say, unfortunately there is no pool cleaner on the market that is 100% problem free. Prior to troubleshooting any pool cleaner, you should ensure that all operational equipment, including the pump filter and chlorinator, is in good working condition. Some cleaners don't require this equipment to operate, but sometimes pool owners overlook the basics that could prevent headaches down the track.

We’ll cover the following points in this how-to article. (Click on the issue to quickly jump to the specific section)

Suction Pool Cleaners

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

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

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My suction pool cleaner stops and starts

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

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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 cleaner efficiently moving around the pool and climbing the walls easily.

Other quick troubleshooting points to check are:

  • Check the entire length of hose for air leaks. While the cleaner is in operation, run 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.
  • Check the diaphragm or hammer inside the cleaner. We recommend turning your pump and filter off to keep this check easy, as you don't want the cleaner drawing any air into the system while undertaking this check. Dismantle the cleaner and remove the diaphragm or hammer and check for any damage, tears, or blockages. You can find replacement diaphragms here.
  • 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 professional or contact us.

My suction pool cleaner is not cleaning the pool

The most common reason why pool cleaners may not be reaching all areas of the pool during its cleaning cycle is because the return jets are pointing 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 return jets towards the surface of the pool to allow the cleaner to easily pass under the moving water. This will help to prevent the water flow from affecting the natural movement of the cleaner. Also, it's important to adjust the 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 with 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.

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My suction pool cleaner flips over

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

Next, 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 approximately 1m away from the cleaner head on the first length of hose. It may need to be moved up or down the hose 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. Find those parts here.

My suction pool cleaner’s speed is not correct

Most likely, the key reason is a congested pool filter or skimmer basket, or a clog at 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, but 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 pool cleaner hose is tangled

If the cleaner has a tendency to get 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 and 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, but the hose should bounce back to a straight and agreeable position.
  2. You may be using too much hose. Remove or add hose lengths as required to ensure the correct amount is used.
  3. If air is entering the hose, this could be causing the cleaner to fault and not operate as required. The hose could be floating and unable to maneuver around the pool.

My 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 to be added or reduced
  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

Pressure Pool 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 debris in its path.

My pressure pool cleaner doesn't move

Pressure pool cleaners need to have about 30 psi to operate. Check that the booster pump is operating, and, if required, the filter pump is also 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) which can become lodged in the wheels of a pressure cleaner, preventing movement.

Pressure cleaners are commonly driven by gears and cogs. These power trains are prone to problems when debris enters the gears. The easiest way to troubleshoot this is to turn one wheel. 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 the water pressure to the cleaner. Check the hose to ensure there are no kinks, holes or joins where pressure is being lost along the line.

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

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.

My pressure pool cleaner doesn't cover the whole pool

Pressure cleaners will usually have a setting that allows you to increase or decrease the flow to the cleaner, 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 steps, adjust the flow at the rear of the cleaner.

Ensure the feed hose is long enough to reach the furthest point from the wall connection, and then add an additional metre of hose. Ensure that the feed hose is floating – old style hose floats can become waterlogged, causing the cleaner to tangle.

My pressure pool cleaner’s hose is 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.

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

Hose swivels also need to be freely operational, allowing full movement of the cleaner to all areas of the pool and the hose to swivel out of a twist. If one of the wheels within the cleaner stops, 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.

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Robotic Pool Cleaners

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

My robotic pool cleaner does not move

Your robotic pool cleaner’s 12V floating power cord 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, you 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 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 a heavy, water-filled cleaner out using the cable. It is not secured for that kind of weight or force!

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If the cord is intact, you can test the resistance of the motor. 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 signal the need for a new drive motor.

Motor block faults are common with older styles of robotic cleaners. The first series of robotic cleaners to hit the market didn't have the new and improved upgrades that 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.

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

My robotic pool cleaner gets stuck

The same as any other pool cleaner, robot pool cleaners can get stuck behind ladders and handrails. You can solve this problem with a product called a Ladder Guard, by adjusting the hose length or by changing 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 Suction Pool Cleaner Troubleshooting

  • Check there is adequate suction to the cleaner from your equipment
  • Check the flow control valve to ensure it is correctly
  • Check the hose for poor connections and any air leaks
  • Check the diaphragm or hammer in your cleaner 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
  • Ensure that you have the correct hose length and adjust the hose weight

Summary of Pressure Pool Cleaner Troubleshooting

  • 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 Pool Cleaner Troubleshooting

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

Products Featured in this Post

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Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Post author:

Tom Hintze

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

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