Pros and Cons of a Suction Pool Cleaner

worker attaching hoses to pool for cleaning

Between dodging leaves, brushing walls, and fighting with filters, maintaining your pool can feel like a full-time job. Luckily, suction pool cleaners rely on your pool’s filtration system to tackle dirt and debris, making your life easier. They’re the most affordable type of automatic pool cleaners, but they often require frequent maintenance and attention, which can offset some of the initial cost savings. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the pros and cons of a suction pool cleaner.

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But First, What is a Suction Pool Cleaner?

Pipe of a suction pool cleaner
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A suction cleaner is an automatic pool cleaning device that uses your pool’s filtration system to remove debris. It consists of a suction head or disc, a hose that links to the pool’s skimmer or a dedicated suction line, and a regulating valve to control the flow.

Once attached to the pool’s circulation system and powered by the pool pump, the cleaner gets to work. It moves around the pool in either a random or programmed pattern, guided by the water flow and suction from the pump. As it navigates the pool surface, the suction head or disc scrapes and vacuums the pool surface, picking up leaves, twigs, insects, and other debris along the way. 

Pros of Suction Pool Cleaners

1. Budget-Friendly

Suction-side pool cleaners are the most affordable type of automatic pool cleaners. You can find a quality suction cleaner starting from as low as $93, going up to around $686 for more advanced models.

In contrast, robotic pool cleaners can be quite pricey, with some models ranging from $211 to $5,624. Pressure-side pool cleaners can also be a bit on the expensive side, especially if you need additional equipment like booster pumps. On average, they cost between $213 to $1,248.

2. Simple Installation

The installation process of a suction pool cleaner is straightforward and can typically be completed in just a few simple steps:

  • First, connect the cleaner’s hose to the suction port in your pool’s wall or skimmer. This hose allows the cleaner to move around the pool and suck up debris. 
  • Then, connect the other end of the hose to the cleaner itself. 
  • Once everything is securely connected, you’re ready to start cleaning your pool.

Compared to pressure cleaners, suction cleaners offer a much simpler installation process. Pressure cleaners often require additional hardware, such as booster pumps, that need to be integrated into your pool’s plumbing system. This adds complexity and can make the installation process more time-consuming and challenging. On the other hand, suction cleaners eliminate the need for these extra components, making the setup quick and hassle-free.

3. Easy to Use

In addition to being easy to install, suction-side cleaners are also easy to use. They operate autonomously, similar to robotic pool cleaners. This means that once they are set up, they can move around the pool on their own. 

Plus, unlike pressure cleaners (which often need adjustments to water flow and pressure levels), suction cleaners don’t require periodic monitoring and fine-tuning. Simply attach it to the suction line, and it will do the rest of the work for you.

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4. Multiple Cleaning Cycles

Another advantage of suction pool cleaners is that they offer multiple cleaning cycles. This means that they come with different modes or settings that respond to various cleaning needs

This allows you to adapt to the specific needs of your pool, customize the cleaning process, and ensure that every nook and cranny is thoroughly cleaned. Whether you need a quick clean-up or a deep cleaning session, suction pool cleaners have got you covered.

In addition, suction-side models typically come with adjustable flow controls, allowing you to customize the level of suction power based on the specific needs of your pool. This way, you can set the cleaner to a high suction level for areas of your pool with heavy debris, and a lower suction level for more delicate areas such as near pool steps or the base of pool walls.

5. Excellent Small to Mid-Sized Debris Pickup

Unlike pressure cleaners, suction pool cleaners are designed to be highly effective at picking up small and medium-sized debris. Their brushes and scrubbers work vigorously to agitate and loosen dirt and algae from surfaces such as the pool floor and walls. This agitation process ensures that even stubborn debris is dislodged and ready to be suctioned into the cleaner’s filtration system.

6. Improved Water Circulation

As suction cleaners move around your pool, they create currents that help to distribute the water more evenly and promote better circulation throughout the entire pool. This constant movement of water also helps in preventing the growth of algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms that thrive in still water.

This doesn’t happen with other types of pool cleaners, such as robotic models. These typically focus more on the surface of the pool, while suction-side cleaners are specifically designed to clear debris from both the bottom and the surface of your pool, ensuring that the water is continuously moving and reaching all areas.

7. Energy-Efficient

Suction pool cleaners are designed to use the power generated by your pool’s filtration system to operate. Unlike pressure cleaners that need extra power from electricity or a separate booster pump, suction cleaners don’t require any additional power source. This means you can run them for longer periods without stressing over high energy bills.

However, it’s worth noting that this over-reliance on the filtration system can cause its components to degrade or malfunction. If this happens, the pump will have to work harder, leading to increased energy costs.

Cons of Suction Pool Cleaners

1. Limited Cleaning Pattern

Due to their design and how they operate, suction cleaners have a different cleaning pattern compared to robotic and pressure cleaners. While robotic and pressure models move around the pool in a more methodical manner, suction cleaners rely on a somewhat erratic and random pattern. This can sometimes lead to missed areas or spots that aren’t cleaned as thoroughly as others

2. Not Ideal for Large Debris

Suction pool cleaners have a smaller intake and smaller openings compared to robotic and pressure cleaners. As a result, this impedes their ability to handle larger debris such as large leaves, twigs, or even branches. If your pool is close to a tree or areas with frequent large debris, you may have trouble relying on just a suction cleaner to keep your pool clean.

3. Requires Regular Maintenance

Suction cleaners tend to require more frequent maintenance and attention than other types of pool cleaners. 

The debris they collect is typically routed through the pool’s skimmer or a dedicated leaf catcher before reaching the pool’s filter. This means that the cleaner’s performance is directly influenced by the cleanliness and efficiency of your pool’s filter system. If it’s clogged or dirty, it will impact the cleaner’s suction power and cleaning ability. Therefore, regular cleaning and maintenance of your pool’s filter system are necessary to keep the suction cleaner in top shape.

Additionally, suction pool cleaners have moving parts (e.g., brushes, hoses, and gears) that can wear out or become damaged over time. It’s important to clean and inspect these components periodically, as well as replace them if needed to maintain the cleaner’s optimal performance.

4. Can Cause Increased Wear on Pool Equipment

When you use a suction cleaner, you’re essentially attaching it to your pool’s skimmer or dedicated suction line. This puts extra strain on the pool’s filtration system since the pump has to work harder to move water through the cleaner and back into the pool.

While the added strain on the filtration system is generally not a major issue, it can lead to increased wear and tear over time. This can result in higher energy costs, reduced filtration capacity, and even damage to the pool’s pump and other equipment.

5. Lack of Built-In Debris Collection Bag

Another downside of suction-side cleaners is the lack of a built-in debris collection bag. This may not seem like a big issue at first, but over time, it can actually shorten the useful lifetime of your cleaner.

Here’s why: when a suction pool cleaner sucks up debris, it gets pulled into the cleaner’s hose and then into the filter system of your pool. Without a collection bag to catch the debris, it can get stuck in the hose or filter, which can cause clogs and reduce the efficiency of your cleaner. Eventually, this could lead to more wear and tear on the cleaner’s motor, which could cause it to break down sooner than it would otherwise.

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6. High Noise Level

Suction cleaners rely on your pool’s skimmer or suction line to operate, which means they are often directly connected to the pool’s filtration system. This can result in a loud buzzing or whirring noise during their operation.

If you plan on being near your pool while the cleaner is running or want to keep the noise level down for your neighbors, you might want to consider a different type of cleaner.

7. Struggles with Complex Pool Shapes

If your pool has irregular corners or slopes, a suction pool cleaner may struggle to navigate these areas effectively. This is because suction pool cleaners rely on random movement driven by the suction from the pool’s filtration system. While they are good at cleaning large, flat areas of the pool, they can have difficulty with irregular shapes or obstacles in their path.

For instance, if your pool has steps or ledges, a suction pool cleaner may have trouble maintaining enough suction to move up the steps or may become stuck in one spot. Similarly, when it comes to curved walls or complex corners, the cleaner might get caught or fail to follow the contours of the pool wall, resulting in areas that remain dirty. Additionally, smaller debris that gets trapped in corners or tight spots may prove challenging for the cleaner to pick up.

Should I Get a Suction Pool Cleaner?

Suction pool cleaner
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Suction cleaners are a great option for many pool owners who are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use solution to cleaning their pool. However, it’s important to carefully evaluate your pool’s needs and your own preferences. 

Here are a few things to consider before making a final decision:

  • Think about the type of debris that you typically have in your pool. Suction cleaners are great at picking up small to medium-sized debris like leaves, dirt, and pebbles. However, if your pool is frequently filled with larger debris, such as sticks or acorns, a pressure cleaner is a better option.
  • Evaluate your pool’s filtration system. Suction cleaners rely on your pool’s filtration system to function. This means that if your filter is not in good condition or is not properly sized to handle the additional load, the cleaner won’t work as effectively. 
  • Keep in mind your pool’s design. Suction cleaners can sometimes struggle with obstacles in your pool such as stairs, corners, or ledges. This is because they rely on the suction power of your pool’s pump system, which may not be strong enough to navigate these areas. If you have obstacles in your pool, you may need to consider a robotic cleaner instead.
  • Consider your budget and maintenance preferences. Suction cleaners tend to be more affordable compared to robotic and pressure cleaners, but they require frequent maintenance. 

FAQ About Suction Pool Cleaners

Can I use a suction pool cleaner for an above-ground pool?

Yes, you can use a suction pool cleaner for an above-ground pool. However, you need to make sure that the cleaner is compatible with the type of pool you have. Some suction pool cleaners are designed specifically for in-ground pools and may not work as effectively in above-ground pools.

What is the difference between a suction and pressure pool cleaner?

The main difference between suction and pressure pool cleaners is the way they operate. Suction pool cleaners are powered by the suction produced by the pool pump and are connected to the skimmer or a dedicated suction line. As the cleaner moves around the pool, it creates a vortex that sucks in water and debris, which then gets trapped in the filter or pump basket.

On the other hand, pressure pool cleaners use the pressure generated by a separate booster pump or the pool’s return line to propel the cleaner around the pool. As the cleaner moves, it agitates the water and loosens debris, which is then filtered out through an attached or standalone filter bag

Do I need to run my pool’s pump while using a suction pool cleaner?

Yes, the pool’s pump must be running for the suction pool cleaner to function properly. The cleaner relies on the suction created by the pump to move and collect debris. Running the pump also ensures proper water filtration during the cleaning process.

Hire a Professional for Hassle-Free Pool Cleaning

Suction pool cleaners are efficient at cleaning large, flat areas of your pool and are a cost-effective option for regular maintenance. However, they might struggle with irregular corners, complex steps, or larger debris like leaves and twigs.

That’s why hiring a professional pool cleaner is always the best option. A professional has the expertise and knowledge to thoroughly clean your pool, regardless of its shape or complexity. Plus, you won’t have to worry about cleaning supplies or making sure your suction pool cleaner is running properly. Instead, you can let the professionals handle everything for you, from regularly testing the pH levels of your pool water to keeping your filters in tip-top shape.

So, why stress yourself out and settle for less-than-perfect results when you can let a pro handle the job? Reach out to a professional pool cleaner near you and let them take care of the hard work.

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Tatiana Barrie

Tatiana Barrie is a seasoned writer and a DIY enthusiast. Over the years, she's collected practical tips and insights on tackling tricky home improvement projects: from repurposing unused spaces to mastering essential maintenance tasks. Now, she uses her writing and newfound skills to help others avoid their own household calamities.