How to Manually Vacuum a Pool

Automatic pool cleaners are handy little tools, but they can sometimes break down, or maybe you haven’t invested in one yet. Occasionally, you need to manually clean an algae-infested pool the old-fashioned way.

In this article, I will walk you through how to use a manual vacuum and answer some common questions about them.

Supplies You Need To Manually Vacuum Your Pool

Here is a list of supplies you will need to vacuum your swimming pool manually:

  • Telescopic pole to attach equipment to
  • Vacuum head
  • Skimmer attachment for vacuum (also called a skimmer vac)
  • Hose for the vacuum that can extend all around the pool
  • Pool brush

What To Do Before You Vacuum Your Pool

Before you vacuum your pool, you’ll want to brush the sides and floor. Algae will generally stick to surfaces of the pool, so brushing will aggravate the particles and make it easier to remove them later with the vacuum.

Vacuuming can remove algae, but most manual vacuums will struggle to pick up smaller particles. That is why I recommend using pool flocculant to gather smaller particles that make the water cloudy. Flocculant will clump smaller particles together and float to the bottom of the pool, making it much easier for the vacuum to pick up the debris and remove it from the swimming pool.

How To Set Up a Manual Pool Vacuum

Now that you have brushed the pool and used pool flocculant if necessary, it is time to set up your manual pool vacuum. Manual pool vacuums are usually pretty simple pieces of equipment, so setting them up for use shouldn’t be too difficult.

The first step is to open up your telescopic pool rod to the length needed to vacuum your pool. It should generally be about five to six feet longer than the depth of your pool, so for an 8-foot pool you should use a thirteen to fourteen-foot pole.

Attach the vacuum head to the end of the telescopic pole. Make sure the tabs are pressed down, and then slide the telescopic pole into the slot until the tabs click into place in the holes on the pole.

Attach the hose to the pool vacuum and submerge the contraption and all of the hose into the water. Place the other end of the hose against one of the return jets and wait until bubbles stop appearing at the vacuum end. Make sure to fill the entire hose with water to prevent air bubbles from forming.

Finally, either insert your pool hose with a skimmer plate into the skimmer or remove the skimmer basket and insert the hose directly into the skimmer port. Once the hose is connected, you should notice constant suction from your pool vacuum.

If you want to increase suction, you can do so by turning off the main drain suction line.

How To Use a Manual Pool Vacuum

Now it is time for the real work; let the vacuuming commence! Manually vacuuming your pool is no easy task. Especially with high suction, you are in for quite an arm workout. Manually vacuuming also takes a long time, which is why I don’t recommend using a manual vacuum unless it is truly necessary.

You should always start in the shallow end and work your way deeper because debris is more likely to make its way down to the bottom of the pool towards the deep end. Take your time as you push the vacuum around – this is not a race. Slowly push the vacuum along the pool and pay attention to the surfaces to ensure that you effectively remove all debris.

More than likely, vacuuming will leave your pool murky because of all of the disturbed debris that is now floating around the pool water. If this happens, give the water a couple of hours to settle and come back to vacuum the rest later.

What To Do After You Vacuum Your Pool

Once you have vacuumed the pool, wait a few hours for the stirred-up particles to settle and go over the pool again with the vacuum.

Then disassemble the manual vacuum by removing the vacuum head and hose and draining the remaining water in the hose.

Brush the pool a final time to clear up any remaining particles. The remaining debris will likely get sucked through the main drain once you turn the circulation back on.

Clean out your skimmer and filter strainer basket and backwash if you have a DE filter. The filter will be quite dirty after vacuuming.

The final step is to turn the filter and pump settings back to normal and ensure the main drain is turned back on.

Once that’s all done, good job! You have successfully vacuumed your swimming pool.

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Non-Manual Pool Vacuum Options

Of course, you won’t always have to use a manual pool vacuum. In fact, the majority of the time, you will likely use an automatic pool cleaner. These require much less manual work. You only need to set them up and let them run independently. Here are some of the best non-manual pool vacuum options.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic cleaners are the most self sufficient option you can purchase. Although they are quite expensive to purchase initially, the amount of time they save you is priceless. Not only do they pick up debris on the walls, floors, and water level of the pools, but most models will also scrub the walls, meaning you will not need to manually brush the pool as often.

The only thing you need to do to maintain these pool cleaners is empty the vacuum bag when it fills with particles.

They need to be connected to electricity, so you will need to ensure your cord is long enough to reach an outlet or make sure you have access to an extension cord.

Suction Side Pool Cleaners

Suction side pool cleaners are cheaper than robotic systems but still quite efficient. They do not scrub the pool walls and are not as self sufficient as robotic cleaners, but they will move around the pool by themselves and pick up debris as they go. Thus, you do not need to be there while they vacuum the pool. They will connect to the filter and pump with a hose like a manual vacuum.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

Pressure side pool cleaners work similarly to suction cleaners, but they will usually use a filter bag and run off the return line. They are self contained, unlike suction side pool cleaners, which is why I recommend investing in a pressure side cleaner or a robotic cleaner over a suction side cleaner.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you vacuum your pool?

I recommend vacuuming your swimming pool at least once a week. Doing so will maintain a high standard of cleanliness in your pool. Robotic cleaners make this weekly task much easier for you as a pool owner because they won’t take too much time. But keep in mind an overly dirty pool may need a manual vacuum.

What’s the fastest way to vacuum a pool?

Vacuuming your pool is not a quick chore; this will usually take some time. If you are in a rush to have the pool cleaned and ready to be used, manually vacuuming is your best bet. Although it may be more work, it takes less time overall than an automatic vacuum.

Can vacuuming remove algae and bacteria?

When you vacuum your pool, you only remove larger debris that can be sucked out of the water. Algae and bacteria can still survive in the water. The only way to kill these microorganisms is to shock the water with chlorine. However, vacuuming is essential before shocking the water because it removes larger particles, allowing the chlorine to focus on the much smaller contaminants.

Questions? Let me know! Vacuuming is essential for your pool cleaning routine and swimming pool maintenance.

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