It's a question that we get a lot around here. Sometimes I'm asked the question when a customer is ordering a new inground pool liner. Sometimes I ask the question - "what happened to your liner, why are you replacing it?" When the issue is mysterious holes in the vinyl liner, I run down a list with them of their pool toys, cleaning tools, and if they use an automatic pool cleaner.
Pool cleaners are not always the culprit in a vinyl pool liner's demise, but they can be. Here's some information on how to select the best pool cleaner for an inground vinyl liner pool - to protect the liner and prevent unnecessary repairs or a premature liner replacement.
Why are Pool Cleaners Different for Vinyl Pools?
Some pool cleaners can work on all pool surfaces. With a vinyl liner pool you want to make sure you have a cleaner that is made specifically for a vinyl liner. Vinyl liners can become damaged by pool cleaners made for concrete pools, which may have pointy or rough edges. Automatic cleaners for vinyl pools have been designed and tested extensively for softer vinyl surfaces.
What Pool Cleaners are Best for Vinyl Pools?
If I had to recommend a vacuum, I would suggest a robotic pool cleaner. The Shark Vac XL is an outstanding vacuum cleaner for an in ground vinyl liner pool. Robotic pool cleaners vacuum the floors, walls and the water line area. In addition to vacuuming the pool, robots also filter the water in the pool down to 2-3 microns. This type of pool cleaner is energy efficient and helps circulate the pool chemicals.
If something should happen to your filter system, and even if your filter pump is not working, you can still operate a robotic pool cleaner in your vinyl pool. A robot pool cleaner will still filter the water for you while your filter or pump is being fixed.
If I had to choose a suction side cleaner, I would choose the Kreepy Krauly for an in ground pool. These are not as expensive as a robotic cleaner. They will vacuum the pool, but only when the filter pump is operational, and they do not filter the water, as they clean the pool.
Which Pool cleaner would be best to Avoid?
I do not recommend using a pressure side cleaner. These tend to have a harder time – they tend to get stuck and there wheels just keep spinning. If you are not watching the cleaner, those wheels could be spinning for a long time in the same spot. The whole purpose of an automatic cleaner would be defeated if you had to keep going out and checking the cleaner.
Although most robotic cleaners will state that they work on any pool surface, there are some robotic cleaners that I would not recommend with a vinyl liner. Aquabot cleaners, the traditional type, have a small risk of damaging a vinyl liner, when parts wear out. The turbo cleaners, those that are super fast pool cleaners, may not be such a good thing in a vinyl pool. Slow and steady, gets the job done - without harming your liner.
For suction pool cleaners, the flat disk type of cleaner works best. Avoid the PoolVac or Navigator, which although gentle, could damage the liner when the pod shoes wear very thin.
What Type of Pool Cleaners do we Include with our Pool Kits?
With our Deluxe Inground Pool Kit we include a suction side cleaner, The DV 5000 by Hayward. This cleaner can be used on all pool types – concrete, gunite, fiberglass and vinyl liner pools. It does a nice job on all surfaces; vacuums up dirt, debris and even twigs. It does not need a booster pump, but uses your filter pump to power the cleaner suction.
In our Deluxe Plus Inground Pool Kit, we include the Shark Vac XL. This is the robotic cleaner I mentioned earlier. You just drop it in the pool, and plug the cord into a low voltage transformer box. It will vacuum the floor, walls and even the water line. This Shark Vac will also work well on other pool surfaces like gunite and fiberglass or tile. This cleaner is also very smart. After a few cleanings, it will learn the shape of your pool and how to clean it in the most efficient pattern.
Can I use a Concrete Pool Cleaner in a Vinyl Pool?
If the cleaner states that it is made just for a concrete pool, I would not recommend using using it on a vinyl liner. A concrete pool is really rough compared to a vinyl liner pool. The brushes on a concrete cleaner are going to be too harsh for a vinyl liner. Always read about the cleaner and make sure that it can be used on a vinyl liner pool.
Which Pool Cleaner Would Make the Best Gift?
Slightly off-topic, but it is the 'holiday season'. The answer is that it would really depend on what type of pool and pool surface the person has. Buy an In ground cleaner for an in ground pool and an above ground cleaner for an above ground pool.
In my opinion, a robotic pool cleaner is the best type of cleaner. They are a little more expensive but they also filter the water, and are very easy to use. My next choice would be a suction side cleaner. These are a lot cheaper and also easy to install. They are automatic like the robotic cleaners. Either of these cleaners would be a great gift. Automatic pool cleaners free up a lot of time and make pool maintenance much easier.
For an Intex pool, or other small aboveground pool, the Pool Rover is an inexpensive ($299) robotic cleaner that works great. A great gift for somebody with this type of pool. The pump/filter that come with these pools is not the best, and when it fails to do the job, they can use their cleaner to filter the water. As this cleaner is running, it will be filtering the water, and will help the water stay nice and clean. It will actually filter the water better than the small, sometimes ineffective filters that come with Intex pools.
Aboveground Pool Cleaner for an Inground Pool?
You can use an above ground cleaner on an in ground pool, but only if the in ground pool has an entirely flat bottom. Some above ground cleaners could work, but you also want to be aware of how much hose comes with the cleaner. Above ground cleaners do not usually have enough hose to match the length you need with an in ground pool. This is not something we would normally recommend.
SPP Pool Expert