The pool is filthy. Are you going to spend the next hour laboriously cleaning the slime, grime and leaves? Or will you hightail it to the nearest pool shop for a pool cleaner? I think we all know the answer to that.
Pool cleaners sit in the sun and chlorine for most of their working life (which sounds like a nice holiday) and can clock up more than 1000km a year.
Pool cleaners can't clean a very dirty pool, so you won't get out of this task altogether. Give the pool a good manual clean at the start of each swimming season or when you haven't run the pool cleaner for a while.
There are three types of pool cleaners out in the market: suction, robotic and pressure.
Suction cleaners attach with a hose to your skimmer box and use the suction created by your filtration system to suck up grime. Most pool cleaners you'll come across are suction models.
There are two kinds of suction cleaners:
- Inertia driven suction cleaners clean in a random pattern and are generally the creepy-crawly-looking cleaners. They work well in pools with curved walls and no sharp corners.
- Geared suction cleaners have wheels or tracks and move in a predetermined pattern. They can easily get into tight corners which makes them suitable for smaller pools with lots of steps and sharp ledges. Geared cleaners have more moving parts than the random pattern models, so they will probably need more maintenance.
- Cheaper than other types of pool cleaners.
- Easy to install.
- If you leave them permanently in the pool, they fill up the skimmer box, meaning extra effort for the pump (and potentially damaging).
- When they're attached, the skimmer box doesn't take in anything from the surface of the pool, which means everything goes to the bottom, making more work for the suction cleaner. You'll need a pool net to scoop up anything left at the top of the pool.
- You'll need to empty the skimmer box from time to time as it'll continue to fill up with debris each time the pool cleaner runs.
Robotic pool cleaners run on electricity so you'll need a powerpoint close to the pool. You can expect to pay over $1000 for this type of pool cleaner.
Unlike suction cleaners that collect the dirt and debris in the skimmer box, robotic cleaners have their own inbuilt dirt receptacle that you'll need to empty.
- Good for larger pools.
- They tend to experience less stoppages and blockages.
- Don't tend to filter while cleaning.
- Can be heavier than suction types.
- Can be inconvenient – you need to place them into the pool for a cleaning session and then remove them.
Pressure cleaners are more powerful than suction cleaners. Most models operate with an additional booster pump which needs a separate hose connection in the pool wall.
These can be expensive to retrofit, so look at other models if your pool doesn't already have one. Pressure cleaners that connect directly into your existing pool pump may put strain on the filtration system. We haven't tested this type of cleaner.
- Can reach into tight corners.
- Collect everything from fine sand to rocks and leaves.
- Can be faster than suction cleaners.
- More expensive than suction cleaners.
- Probably need more maintenance.
Your pool cleaner should be able to cope with different pool shapes and sizes by adjusting hose buoyancy and main flow. Some have a deflector so the cleaner is less likely to get stuck in one place.
Make sure the hose reaches from one end of your pool to the other, plus a metre or two.
Ability to navigate steps
Some cleaners can climb steps if needed.
Some cleaners can be used while there is a cover on the pool.
Pool cleaners tend to cost between $400 and $1200, but for robotic cleaners, pricing can extend to over $2500.
You may want to have someone clean the pool manually at the start of each season. You can expect to pay at least $70–100 for this service, though it'll depend on the amount of servicing your pool requires. This will generally include a number of other services aside from cleaning.
Check with your SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association) registered local pool cleaner for details about the services they deliver.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.