How to Vacuum a Pool Manually
Last Updated: March 9, 2018 | Subscribe to our weekly pool maintenance newsletter!
Hold on a minute, you’re thinking. Why in the world do I need to vacuum my inground pool or above ground pool by hand when I have an automatic pool cleaner? Shouldn’t that little robot be doing all the work for me?
Well, yes. Some of it. But Rosie from The Jetsons it ain’t. While an automatic cleaner is an indispensable tool, it can toss debris right back into the water when it tries to vacuum a swimming pool full of debris, or worse, algae. If you’re dealing with a mean, green infestation, manual pool vacuuming is pretty much required to fight the little water squatters.
What You’ll Need to Vacuum Your Swimming Pool
It would be wonderful to live in a world where pools (and everything else) simply stayed clean. But until those self-cleaning pools are invented, we have to live in the present, and we’re still on the hook for cleaning our stuff ourselves.
Before you can vacuum your pool, you’ll need:
- A vacuum head If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. , also called a vac head
- A telescopic pole If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. to attach to the vac head
- A vacuum hose If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. long enough to reach every area of your pool
- A skim vac If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. or vacuum plate (if needed)
- A scrub brush If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. to attach to the pole
Bonus Tip: Got kids? Do they use the pool? Then maybe it’s time to put them to work to help keep it clean. Just a suggestion.
Put Your Pool Filter to Work
If you can’t get your kids to do the pool vacuuming, you can at least make use of your pool filter to make the task a little easier.
If you’re performing routine maintenance and giving your pool a weekly cleaning, you may not need to adjust your pool’s filter setting at all. The standard “Filter” setting will do the job quite nicely.
But let’s say you have a lot of leaves and other debris in the pool after a thunderstorm. Or you used flocculant If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. to clear up water-clouding particles. The storm debris and particle-laden flocculant will sink to the bottom of the pool where they’ll sit until you vacuum them up.
To clear a large amount of debris like this from your pool, you’ll want to adjust your filter to compensate before you begin vacuuming.
Depending on the size and style of your pool, the filter system will have two or more settings for controlling filtration.
These may offer several options, with special settings just for vacuuming, including one called “Waste.” This setting pumps water out of the pool while bypassing the filter.
This setting keeps you from clogging your filter with debris, flocculant, and dead/dying/annoyingly persistent algae.
Important: If you use this method, your pool water level is going to drop while you vacuum the pool. Use a garden hose with an attached
How to Vacuum a Swimming Pool
Inground or Aboveground Pools:
If your pool is equipped, be sure that the valve on the suction line coming into the pump is selected for the port (either skimmer or lower suction fitting) you will be using to vacuum.
Attach the vacuum hose to the vacuum head (the piece with the brushes or wheels on it). The better quality vac hoses come with a swivel end to prevent tangling of the hose. Be sure that this is the end that is attached to the vac head; if not the system will draw air & not work properly.
Make sure the hose is secure and the vac head is firmly attached to the pole.
Place the vac head, hose & pole into the deep end of the pool (make sure one end of the pole is sticking out of the water!)
Take the UN-attached end of the vac hose & hold it in front of one of the water return fittings. This will fill the hose with water & prevent binding of the pump with air. You know you’ve got enough water in the hose when the vacuum head bubbles up to the top.
Put your hand over the end of the hose to keep the water IN.
Place the skimmer basket adapter on top of the skimmer basket. Always use a basket to prevent the possible suction of a large object from getting stuck in the skimmer or in the underground line.
If vacuuming through a lower suction without a basket, use a leaf trap.
After you have placed the hose on the adapter fitting you will probably notice a sudden drop in filter activity. This is normal. The filter system is just readjusting itself to the change in suction. Let it operate for about 30 to 90 seconds. It should automatically bleed any air out of its system and return to normal operation. You’ll hear the sound becoming «normal» again.
No suction. Either the hose has come off of the basket, the filter has lost its prime (not sucking water) or the hose a leak (make sure you’ve got the proper end of the hose on the vac head). If you have more than one suction line, be sure you’re drawing from the proper one.
Dirty water returning to the pool. If you have a sand filter, DO NOT BACKWASH THE FILTER BEFORE VACUUMING. Backwashing stirs up the sand & prevents good trapping of dirt for several HOURS. In cartridge or DE filters, this rarely happens.
I vacuum for a few minutes & then it doesn’t work anymore. How dirty is the pool? If it’s REALLY dirty, you may be better off vacuuming to direct waste (sand filter) or otherwise vacuuming directly out of the pool by-passing the filter.
My pool has LOTS of fine silt that I
can’t seem to remove. It seems to come right back into the pool as I’m
vacuuming. If you have a lot of fine silt & debris (especially so at
spring opening), it would be best to vacuum the pool using the «WASTE» feature
found on almost all sand filters and some DE filters that have a 6 or 7 position
multiport valve (sorry, cartridge filters are not equipped with this type of
valve). It’s true that you will waste a fair amount of water will vacuuming in
thise mode, but it’s the best & fastest way to dealing with the problem. Even if
you were to «floc» the pool, you would still need to vacuum that settled
material out of the pool on waste.
If you still need help, here’s how to reach us:
store hours): Shelton 203-377-0100
Email: [email protected]
How to vacuum a swimming pool on waste? – Imperial Pools
There comes a time when a pool owner needs to vacuum a pool that has large amounts of debris such as heavy algae or leaves (Usually this is the case when you first open the pool). If the homeowner vacuums like normal, they have a good chance of contaminating their filter, plugging up the circulation lines, or just clouding up their pool.
What is the solution? Those that have filters with the 6 way Multi-port valve can vacuum their pool on Waste. This position by-passes the filter and sends all the unwanted debris through the waste line. This eliminates clogging up the filter or clouding up their pool. Note: this procedure drains the pool so you may have to stop in the middle of this procedure to refill the pool.
Steps to Vacuuming on Waste:
1. Connect the vacuum head to the T-pole and then connect the swivel end of the vacuum hose (if equipped) to the vacuum head. Fully extend the T-pole and lower the vacuum head to the bottom of the deep end of the pool. Use care not to disturb any debris on the pool floor.
2. Connect the skim vac to the other end of the hose and place over a return fitting to purge the air from the vac hose. At this time the vac head and all of the vac hose is in the pool.
3. Keeping the the skim vac close to the surface of the of the water, make you way to the skimmer being sure not to let air into the vac hose. Place skim vac into skimmer through the top or the throat of the skimmer on-top of the skimmer basket.
4. Go to the Pool Pump area and turn the pool pump off. Change the filter valve to the “WASTE” position and turn the pump back on. You are now taking water out of the pool.
Make sure the Skim-Vac did not come loose over the skimmer basket and is securely sealed over the basket.
5. Slowly close the valves for the remaining skimmers if you have more than one skimmer. Leave the valve to the skimmer that the vacuum hose is connected to fully open.
Slowly close the Main Drain valve about half way. This will be the optimal setting for vacuuming.
6. Begin slowly vacuuming like normal in the shallow end being careful not to stir up the debris.
7. As debris is collected in the skimmer basket under the Skim-Vac, and in the pump basket, the level of suction will decrease. Vacuum performance will also decrease. You may need to stop vacuuming and turn off the pool pump, clean the skimmer basket AND the pump basket, then resume vacuuming. Note: at this time you may need to refill the pool. Repeat as needed.
8. When you are finished vacuuming, turn the pool pump off and disconnect the Skim-Vac. Clean the skimmer basket and the pump basket. Refill pool to the middle of the skimmer opening. With the pool pump off, turn the filter valve back to the “FILTER” position. You did it. You’re back now to filtering the pool as normal. This is a perfect time to get out your test kit and check your readings for chlorine and pH. Better yet, take a water sample to your local pool professional and ask them, “Is my pool water safe for swimmers?”
How To Vacuum A Pool (Manually)
If you need to vacuum a pool, for any reason, keep reading. This guide should answer your questions and make the process a cakewalk.
Why Vacuum your Pool?
Why not vacuum your pool? It’s just like vacuuming the carpet in your house. Keeps it clean and gets rid of any debris that has settled. And it helps prevent mold, which is pretty much the indoor equivalent to pool algae. But we digress.
Here a few specific circumstances where you would want to vacuum your pool.
-As part of an effective pool care schedule
-To clean up after an algae treatment
-To remove any tough or heavy debris on the pool floor (prevent that with these powerful pool care tips)
What you need
-Vacuum head/vac head
-Telescopic pole for vac head
-Vacuum hose (long enough to cover the full length of your pool, and then some)
*These items can usually be purchased together as a manual vacuum system. Check your local pool supply store.
Optional: Skim vac or vacuum plate
If you’re trying to figure out how to vacuum an above ground pool, you can still follow most of these same steps. Skipping whatever doesn’t apply.
The most important parts here are your skimmer, filter system, and vacuum.
Before you begin
Make sure that your filter system is working correctly. And of course, that it’s clean.
And if you’re wondering how to vacuum a pool with a cartridge filter, or how to vacuum a pool with a sand filter, you’re in luck! The process is exactly the same, aside from making sure the filter is clean.
Here’s a list of resources that should help you if you come across any problems:
How to Troubleshoot Your Pool Pump
Cleaning your filter
How to Replace Pool Filter Sand
How to Replace Your Pool Cartridge Filter
Now without any further ado, here’s the part you’ve really been waiting for:
How to Vacuum a Pool
Image via Vantage Pools
Here’s how to manually vacuum your pool:
1.) Grab your telescopic pole and firmly attach it to the vacuum head
- Make sure it’s a snug fit, and that the pole clicks into place
2.) Take your hose and attach it to the plastic outlet on the vacuum head
- If the hose moves around or slides, you may want to use a hose clamp to ensure a tight grip
3.) With your hose and telescopic pole attached, lower the vacuum into the pool
- Keep lowering the vacuum until the head rests on the pool floor
4.) Before you put the vacuum in the water, walk over to your skimmer and remove
- This will save you time during a later step
5.) Next, grab the free end of your hose and press it against a return jet to clear the line
- This fills the hose with water while pushing out any air that’s lingering. Allowing for full suction power
- Do this until you see bubbles rise flow out of the vacuum head at the bottom of the pool
6.) Grab the free end of the hose and cover it with your hand
- This will stop the water from flowing out and prevent air from entering
7.) Walk over to your skimmer and firmly attach the free end of the hose
to the suction hole at the bottom
IMPORTANT: Run the free end of your hose through the skimmer door opening in your pool to connect it to the suction hole.
Avoid pulling the hose out of the water and into the suction hole, as this creates a pocket of air in the hose.
- If you have more than one skimmer, choose one to plug
- Remove the basket, and use a tennis ball to plug the suction hole. This will divert all the suction force to the skimmer you
attach the vacuum hose to
- Remove the basket, and use a tennis ball to plug the suction hole. This will divert all the suction force to the skimmer you
If you’re using a vacuum plate, place it in the skimmer and attach the hose to the outlet
Image via FunFitnessAfter50
8.) Time to vacuum
- Start at one end of the pool, and move the vacuum forward in backward
at a slow and steady pace (going too fast will move around debris)
- Think of it like mowing your lawn with a push lawn mower
(If at any point you lose suction, simply repeat Steps 5 – 7)
Need a live visual example?
Here’s an excellent video tutorial from Lucy’s Pools:
How To Vacuum A Pool VIDEO
After following the steps in this guide, your pool floor should be looking squeaky clean. Although vacuuming your pool takes a few extra minutes, it’s totally worth it. And it’s a part of good pool maintenance — also something you definitely want to integrate into your pool care schedule.
If you’re a new pool owner and have some more questions, check out our Pool Owner Guide. You’ll find valuable info on everything from pool heaters to pool chemistry.