Customers often ask me, “What is the best automatic pool cleaner?” The answer depends upon several factors, including the type and design of your pool. However, I can provide some basic information that I hope will help people to make the right choice for their particular pool.
Automatic pool cleaners come in three basic varieties. The first is a discharge type cleaner that discharges water via one of the pool returns along the bottom of the pool, directing dirt to the main drain.
The main disadvantage of this type of pool cleaner is not a poor design of the cleaner itself, but rather the poor design of the swimming pool main drain. Far too often I see pool installers who use the inexpensive method of plumbing the main drain to the skimmer and then a single line from the skimmer to the pump. This in turn makes the main drain nothing more than a siphon, rather than a suction device. So if you use a discharge type pool cleaner, the main drain won’t have the strength to move the dirt up to the skimmer. Check to see if you have a valve and two pipes coming into the suction side of your pump. If this is the case, it means the pool builder ran a direct line from the main drain to the pump and it is a true suction device. In this instance, a discharge type pool sweep should work well for your pool. If this is not the case, you are better off choosing another type of pool cleaner.
The other two types of automatic pool cleaners are along the lines of a Kreepy Krawley/Barracuda (these are two different competing brands) or the Haywood navigator. These are all suction type cleaners. The Barracuda and Kreepy Krawley use a diaphragm that seizes and opens by the force of the suction line. This causes the device to propel itself across the floor of the pool. Some customers have questioned whether a Kreepy Krawley getting stuck in one spot could damage the surface. I have never seen this to be the case. On the Haywood Navigator, the only thing that is important for customers to remember is that its padding is either designed for a concrete pool or a fiberglass pool. If you have converted your concrete or vinyl liner pool to a fiberglass pool, it is important that you go to a pool service store and have the feet of the Haywood navigator changed to the type of footing designed specifically for fiberglass pools.