Q: My automatic pressure-driven pool cleaner is getting wrapped up in itself and rolling over on its side. It is about 3 years old. Is there something I can fix? Does the cleaner need to be retired? Or can parts be replaced?
Before throwing in the towel, or in this case, the cleaner, we can suggest a number of things to try to solve your problem. Let's start with understanding that pressure cleaners work by having the water forced into the unit to power and clean the pool surface; suction-side cleaners draw water in to do the same.
“Try and locate the important manufacturer's instructions included in each unit that not only gives basic operating instructions but also provides helpful hints and in some cases a troubleshooting guide,” says Steve Bludsworth, owner of All-Pool Service & Supply in Orlando, Fla.
The same information might be on the manufacturer's Web site. Key to the operation of your unit is the proper length of hose and correct water pressure adjusted to factory recommendations.
Pressure cleaners have a strainer screen in the wall or in the hose or unit itself to prohibit small debris from clogging the cleaner and line. This material has gotten past the pool's filter and might stop up the small holes in the cleaner. Check to see whether this could be part of your problem.
The cleaner's floats, which help stabilize the unit and the hoses, also could be suspect. These plastic parts can get waterlogged or out of position and cause the hose to tangle. Some models have a ballast float that is hollow and water can leak into it, which can cause the cleaner to lie on its side, pop wheelies or go in tight circles.
The hose and in-line swivels can get stiff from age, which will cause a loss of hose flexibility and will slow the unit.
Sometimes, pressure settings are incorrect, or hoses that are too long can produce the same effect.
With the system off, take the unit out of the pool and make sure all wheels and gears turn freely. They could have picked up twigs or other debris, or they might have worn out.
Most licensed pool-supply retailers stock parts or can order parts if necessary.
Questions answered by Paul Roth of Roll-A-Way Protective Pool Fence in Orlando, Fla.