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Tips for resolving common automatic pool cleaner problems

Getting the most life out of the pool cleaner

Overheating of the cleaner’s motor is one of the biggest problems experienced by swimming pool owners. And, unfortunately, this problem can be caused by several factors.

For instance, swimming pools with beach entries should use an automatic cleaner with a pump motor equipped with a sensor used to detect zero-depth water levels to prevent the cleaner from exiting the water. Without this feature, an automatic pool cleaner can simply travel out of the pool and across the deck or down the street. In this case, the motor is sure to fail as it will overheat.

Some units feature ‘air sensors,’ which tend to fail because they use additional wiring that will corrode from moisture exposure or the mechanical parts get clogged and stuck. Instead, try selecting a pool cleaner with a drive motor that senses voltage draw from the pump; when the voltage draw drops, the drive motor assumes the machine is out of the water and reverses its direction. This prevents the cleaner from travelling out of the pool, thus keeping the motor in the water and lessening the chance of it overheating.

Using a pool cleaner equipped with a guidance system to target areas of the swimming pool that requires the most cleaning also minimizes wear and tear on the cleaner’s motor, gears, belts, and tracks, simply because it can complete each pool cleaning faster—so it is not operating unnecessarily, or as long.

Further, most automatic cleaners need to be serviced after every season; however, units with a guidance system only need tune-ups every two years. Tune-ups are important to ensuring a longer motor life.

Avoid repetitive cleaning

Automatic swimming pool cleaners with ‘guidance’ features use a smart mathematical algorithm to systematically cover every square centimetre of the swimming pool—eliminating the additional hours required by other robotic swimming pool cleaners, which use conventional, random patterns.

By placing the unit in the centre of the shallow end, at the back wall facing the deep end, the automatic swimming pool cleaner will measure the distance from end to end as well as from left to right and then ‘choose’ the most efficient pattern in which to clean the pool. By using a microprocessor, it measures the swimming pool as it travels until it reaches the deep-end wall. Most systems will re-measure the swimming pool each time it is placed into the water.

However, many people make the mistake of dropping the pool cleaner anywhere in the shallow end (or similar as indicated in the installation/start up instructions). If the pool cleaner does not start in the correct location, it cannot gauge the pool size or the best cleaning pattern. This results in longer cleaning times as well as the possibility of missing areas of the pool.

What about spot cleaning?

Some robotic swimming pool cleaners use an infrared obstacle detection system and have a remote control device which is ideal for quick spot cleaning. In most cases, it operates independently of the swimming pool’s filter system and has a sensor for beach-entry pools and ramps.

Special tips for commercial automatic pool cleaners

Service professionals who integrate robotic swimming pool cleaners into their maintenance programs will spend less time cleaning the pool and more time performing profitable service repair work.

In the case of commercial swimming pools, the cleaning of the walls is typically done manually, while the automatic cleaner is added simply to clean the pool floor. Therefore, service professionals should look for an automatic cleaner that can be changed via touch of a button from ‘floor/wall’ to ‘floor only’ mode.

Sometimes, commercial swimming pools can become so dirty they require more than one full cleaning. A nice option to look for is a ‘time delay’ feature, which allows the cleaner to be set to re-start three-to-five hours after it completes the first cleaning. This allows any dirt that has been lifted to settle back down onto the pool floor and picked up on the second round.

Finally, a service light is another key feature for automatic commercial pool cleaners as it shows the operator when the unit needs to be serviced, ensuring the cleaner operates correctly and lasts up to its full potential.

Do not forget to check with the manufacturer

If any of these problems turn out to be issues that fall under warranty or require repair, be sure to check with the product manufacturer as they likely will have a ‘certified service centre’ where the cleaner can be sent in for repair.

Automatic robotic swimming pool cleaners are a boon to the aquatics service industry. Service professionals who integrate them into their maintenance programs will spend less time cleaning the pool and more time performing profitable service repair work, or simply cleaning more pools per hour. Selling automatic swimming pool cleaners is also a good way to ensure clients are spending more time enjoying their pools rather than maintaining them.



Nagy_HeadshotTiffany Nagy is the customer care manager at Water Tech Corp., a manufacturer of swimming pool and hot tub cleaners in East Brunswick, N.J. She has been with the company for more than three years, starting as a customer care agent handling service repairs and customer support. Nagy was promoted to her current position in 2013 for Water Tech’s domestic and international market support. She can be reached via e-mail at

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