Suction Pool Cleaners: Tips & Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right One for Your Pool

If you’re looking for the best suction pool cleaners, we’ve got you covered. Learn about the factors you need to consider when choosing the right suction pool cleaner for your pool.

Are you concerned that the best suction pool cleaners would put a significant dent in your bank account? The good news is that suction-side cleaners are one of the easiest and cost-effective of all automated pool cleaners on the market today.

The only thing you have to do is plug it into the pool pump system, and it’s ready to do some action. 

In this article, we guide you through the different factors to consider in choosing the right suction pool cleaners.

What Is a Suction-Side Pool Cleaner?

Suction Pool Cleaner Suctioning  under Pool

The suction-side pool cleaner is the type of automatic pool cleaner that works with the help of a pool pump. This kind of equipment is ideal for pools with particularly hard water problems (like heavy metal contamination, which can lead to brown stains on your pool’s liner).

And for mechanically weak pools (like pumps that tend to “stick,” which prevents them from producing enough suction power to lift debris into the intakes of the system).

What Type of Pools Works Best With Suction-Side Cleaners?

Although suction pool cleaners don’t work well in removing large debris, they are ideal for removing light to medium debris from pools. If many leaves come into your pool from the external environment, you may need a separate leaf canister pool attachment. 

The most significant restriction is that suction-side pool cleaners are only as effective as the pump mechanism in your pool. A suction cleaner will not function effectively if a faulty pump struggles even under normal conditions. 

Some suction pool cleaners will not work properly on certain types of pool surfaces due to their design. And because of the possibility of damage to delicate brushes or rubber blades from rough or uneven surfaces, it is critical to choose a cleaner that is a good fit for the surface of the wall and floor of your pool. 

Types of Pool Cleaners

Although suction-side pool cleaners are among the most affordable options available for automatic pool cleaners, they are not always the standard choice for your pool. Here are a few basic options available on the market:

Manual Pool Cleaners

Close up of Pool Skimmer

These are the pool skimmers, manual pool vacuums, and brushes that you can use. They are the cheapest option, but they require the most amount of physical effort. This could be your best option if you have a small pool, are on a tight budget, and want to burn a few extra calories. 

Automatic Pool Cleaners

Man Holding Robotic Pool Cleaner  into the Pool

These are divided into three categories:

  • Suction-side – As you can see, these are reasonably priced and are dependent on the input capacity of your pool’s pump. This is not suitable if your pool pump is incapable of constantly moving at least 25 gallons per minute.

    You must also keep track of the pool filter’s cleaning schedule and ensure that all the plumbing connections are sealed tightly. It is suggested that you use a separate leaf canister to remove large pieces of debris such as huge leaves, twigs, acorns, or other large pieces of trash coming into your pool.
  • Pressure-side – These operate on the return port of your pool. A pressure cleaner is less expensive than a robotic pool cleaner, but it is more costly than a suction side cleaner. They are effective at picking up larger debris than a suction-side cleaner.

    Some pressure-side cleaners operate on the filter pump via a wall return fitting or a separate cleaner line. Also, they are reliant on the cleanliness of your pool filter to function correctly.

    Some of them operate on a separate booster pump with a dedicated cleaner line and do not require the use of your pool’s filtration system to function properly. They can also increase your monthly electric bill.
  • Robotic cleaners – These automatic pool cleaners are the most technologically advanced, the most self-sufficient, and the most expensive available options.

    They operate on their power source and do not require using your pool’s pump in any way whatsoever. They are capable of picking up debris of all sizes and are especially useful for larger pools.

How to Find the Best Suction-Side Cleaner for Your Pool

With the numerous suction-side cleaners available on the market right now, it is hard to pinpoint which one would be perfect for your pool. To find the best suction-side cleaner, there are important things to consider first. 

Hose Length

The larger the pool, the longer the hose you need. This includes pools with deep ends as well. The good news is that most cleaners come with numerous lengths of hose that you can connect together to achieve the desired length.

If your cleaner’s hose cannot reach the farthest corner of the deep end, you’ll need to acquire a longer hose.

Type of Pool Surface

Suction-side cleaners may not be able to function on certain surfaces, such as fiberglass or vinyl pools. It would help if you also bear in mind that some cleaners don’t work well in pools with curves and large radius turns.

This is because it becomes impossible for the cleaner to get through the corners with its brushes. For this reason, you need to choose a surface that is a good fit for your pool’s dimensions and design. 

Types and Amount of Debris

Generally, suction-side cleaners perform well with fine to medium-sized debris such as bugs, small leaves, dirt, grass, and hair. Some cleaners have adjustable intake valves for larger debris. 

If you have a lot of leaf litter in your pool coming from your yard or garden, you may need to install an additional inline leaf canister. Alternatively, you can opt for a pressure-side cleaner or a robotic cleaner instead.

Also, because suction-side cleaners rely on your pool filter, you will need regular cleaning of the pool skimmer basket.

Troubleshooting Tips

Man Checking Pool Cleaner

From the information we’ve gathered from pool pros and customers, the following are some of the most typical problems that suction pool cleaners encounter and suggestions for how to resolve them.

The Suction Pool Cleaner Is Not Moving, or It Moves Too Slow

  • If necessary, backwash your filter and empty the pump basket to ensure proper operation.
  • Examine the suction pool cleaner for trapped air. You may have noticed a large number of air bubbles in the pump basket or return lines. Are all of the hose connectors securely fastened? Are the fittings on the pump in good condition? Is the o-ring at the bottom of the pump basket in excellent condition?
  • Check the inside of the cleaner to determine if any debris is causing the turbines to jam up.
  • Inspect the regulator valves on the suction pool cleaner and adjust to proper pressure and flow rate.
  • Examine the wheels and tracks to ensure that nothing is caught in them or that they are not damaged.

The Suction Pool Cleaner Doesn’t Cover the Whole Area of the Pool

  • Make certain that you have enough hose length to reach the deepest part of the pool.
  • Make any required adjustments to the hose float. This is particularly essential in pools with significant depth changes.
  • Adjust the pre-programmed steering parameters to change the wheel rotations.
  • Are the return line fittings oriented in a downward direction? You can use a return diverter as necessary.
  • The hose is probably kinked or coiled. To remove bends, straighten and lay it in the sun.
  • Is the hose fractured, broken, or otherwise damaged? Replace the existing hose with a new length(s).

The Suction Pool Cleaner Is Unable to Climb Pool Walls

  • You need to set the flow intake and hose float to the appropriate setting.
  • It’s possible that the wheels, tracks, and feet are incompatible with the pool floor. The manufacturer may be able to provide you with additional attachments if necessary.
  • Clean the throat and turbine of the cleaner to ensure that they are free of obstructions.
  • If necessary, backwash the filter and empty the pool pump basket.
  • Replace any worn-out feet, wheels, adjustable skirts, or track sections with new ones.

My Suction Pool Cleaner Gets Trapped on Steps, Drains, and Ladders

  • You can try using a ladder guard kit to block the pool ladder
  • Consider using a pool drain cover to make the transition from floor to drain easier.
  • Check to see that the main drain is closed.
  • Change the cleaner’s water flow or direction.
  • Reduce the length of the hose to prevent it from going on those certain locations.


In most cases, you should be able to use your suction pool cleaner for at least 1–3 years if you invest in a high-quality pool pump, keep your pool filtration system clean, and perform some basic routine maintenance on the machine itself. Because they consume little energy and pose no threat of shorting out, they may be kept in the pool for an extended time compared to those requiring a separate power source to operate.

When you find a model that works well for you, stick with it or opt for similar models from the same company when the time comes that you need to replace the pool cleaner. Also, don’t be hesitant to consult with the pool pros from your local pool supply for recommendations. They should be familiar with the type of pool you have and the types of debris that are most likely to be discovered in your location.

“If you don’t take away anything else from this guide, remember this one rule: What works in one person’s pool may not work in yours.”

Luke Reed, pool expert.

Find out how to keep your swimming pool clean for the good health of your family. Check out these articles! You can also find more pool articles on our website.

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