How to Vacuum an Above Ground Pool | For a Healthy & Enjoyable Swim

Pool in frond of the porch

If you have invested in one of the best above ground pools, you know that proper maintenance and cleaning are key to both the lifespan of your pool, as well as to the safety of your swimmers. And one of the most important aspects of proper pool maintenance is learning how to vacuum above ground pools.

Once you’ve purchased a top-rated vacuum for an above ground pool, or inground, you are probably wondering how to most effectively use the vacuum to get the best cleaning results for your pool. This guide is your comprehensive source for information and guidance on how to do just that. We’ll walk you through how to assemble your vacuum, put it to effective use, and even over some tips and tricks to keep your pool looking pristine. You, your family and guests will surely appreciate the crystal clear, safe swimming environment.

What You’ll Need to Vacuum Your Swimming Pool

The first, and most obvious, thing you’ll need is a pool vacuum! Be sure the vacuum is designed for above ground pool use.
But, in order to vacuum your pool properly, you will need just a few things beyond the vacuum itself. You will need a pool skimmer (or leaf rake). The pool skimmer will help you get the large pieces of debris out of the pool before you put your vacuum to work.

Next, you will definitely want a long extension pole. Without an extension pole, the process for vacuuming your pool will be a challenging and cumbersome slog.
Another important piece is the vac skimmer plate. This is the plate that you attach the hose to so it will fit over your pool skimmer.

Finally, besides the vacuum itself, you will need a vacuum hose and head for the vacuum to do its work. These items almost always come included with the purchase of the pool vacuum.

Put Your Pool Filter to Work

If you have tons of debris and large pieces to remove from your pool, it’s a good idea to change the setting on your pool’s filter to ensure proper cleaning—that is, if your filter has changeable settings. 

If your pool filter has a setting called “Waste,” you’re in luck, as the “Waste” setting is only a feature of multi-port filtration systems. Turning your filter to this setting will allow water to pass out of the pool without going through the pool’s filter. This is important, as it will prevent the large bits of debris from clogging or even damaging the filter. Instead, the water leaves the pool entirely, which will keep nasty water from getting back in your pool as you vacuum.

Assemble the Suction Pool Vacuum

The first thing to figure out when learning how to vacuum a pool is fairly obvious: how to put it together. This is usually a pretty simple and straightforward process:

  • Check to see that your pool filter and pump are on and running correctly.
  • Attach the extension pole to the vacuum head.
  • Take one end of the hose and attach it to the vacuum head as well. You can also attach a hose clamp if you feel the hose is not secure.
    Note: The end of the hose that twists or swivels is the one to affix to the vacuum head.

Insert the Vacuum Head into the Pool

Once you’ve successfully assembled your vacuum, it’s time to lower the vacuum head into the pool. It is important to do this before you attach the other end of the hose.

1. Holding the pole, lower the vacuum head down into your pool, along with the attached hose. Just be sure to keep the unattached end of the hose outside of the pool.

Note: The vacuum head should be resting on the floor of the pool.

2. With the vacuum head lowered into the pool, you can then attach the opposite end of the hose to your pool’s water intake. This will allow water to flow into the hose, which creates the suction for the vacuum.

Tip: You’ll know when the hose is full of water and the vac has created suction when bubbles stop rising from the vacuum head.

With these steps completed, you’re ready to learn how to hook up the pool vacuum.

1. Remove the end of the hose from the water intake, keeping your hand over the hose to maintain suction.

2.Attach this end of the hose to the skimmer plate and place over your pool skimmer.
Now it’s time to get cleaning!

Vacuum Your Pool

Parts of pool vacuum cleaner

Now that you’ve assembled your vac and hooked it up properly, we will go on to explain how to use the pool vacuum for the actual cleaning of your pool. This, unfortunately, is where the real work begins.
With broad strokes, slowly sweep your vacuum head along the bottom and sides of your pool. Each sweep should overlap the previous one somewhat to ensure you don’t miss any spots.

Patience and thoroughness are key at this point. If you go too quickly, you will disturb the sediment at the bottom of the pool, creating billows of debris in the water that the vac won’t be able to pick up.

What You Need to Clean the Above-Ground Pool Manually

While there are automatic pool vacuums available, it’s still a good idea to learn how to vacuum an Intex pool—or any above ground pool—manually. All you need are the items previously mentioned and some personal grit to push you through the tough job.

Removing Large Debris from the Surface

Before you begin using your pool vacuum, it is imperative that you first use a skimmer to remove all of the debris you can from the pool’s surface.

The usual suspects are insects, leaves, twigs, and hair. You will definitely want to get as much of this junk out of your pool as possible before you begin using your manual pool vacuum.

While there are plenty of high-tech products out there that can quickly and efficiently achieve these same ends, they tend to be pricey and, frankly, don’t do a much better job than you can do with a pool skimmer by hand.

Debris on the water surface

It might take a tiny bit more effort to do it the “low-tech” way, but you’ll save some money and get mostly the same results as you would with a fancy gadget.
Even with the added time it takes to do it by hand, you should still be able to complete the entire pool cleaning process in two to four hours, depending on how large and dirty your pool is.

Vacuuming the Bottom of the Pool

Patience and thoroughness are key as you vacuum the bottom of the pool. If you go too quickly, you will disturb the sediment at the bottom of the pool, creating billows of debris in the water that the vac won’t be able to pick up.
This is especially important if you’re main interest is in how to get rid of find dirt in pools. The vac can’t pick up the fine dirt if it’s not on the pool floor. In fact, if your pool has a great deal of fine debris, you may even want to look into learning how to vacuum an above ground pool with a sand filter for best results. 

After You Vacuum Your Pool

Once you’ve sufficiently cleaned your pool with your portable pool vacuum, there are only a few things left to do.

1. Disassemble your vacuum, draining any remaining water from the hose. 

2. Use a brush attached to the extension pole to scrub off any remaining dirt or algae from the pool’s sides.

3. Empty out the strainer basket from your pump and backwash the filter (only if your pool has a multiport system).

4. Test the water using the water testing method of your choice and adjust your chemicals according to your preferences. 

What if You Don’t Like Vacuuming Your Pool by Hand?

If you’re the kind of person who just knows that you’ll never have the will to go through the somewhat arduous process of manually vacuuming your pool, there are still options available.
For instance, there are various kinds of automatic cleaners that can do the job for you, if you’re willing to shell out some extra dough for the convenience. Consider pressure-side cleaners, suction-side cleaners, and robotic cleaners for a high-tech solution.
Alternatively, you can always hire a professional. But think of how much more satisfying your next pool party will be knowing you did all the hard work yourself!

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