A manual vacuum works similarly to a household vacuum cleaner. Once the vacuum head, which is attached to pole and vacuum hose, is lowered to the bottom of the pool, the user pushes and pulls it back and forth until the debris has been collected due to filter suction. Unlike a household vacuum, a manual pool vacuum hose must be primed before it can work properly. This means allowing the hose to fill with water, so that no air interferes with the pump.
Automatic pressure-side vacuums depend on water pressure coming from one of the pools pumps. Because debris is not sucked into the pool filter or pump basket, more time can be allowed between vacuuming. These are recommended for pools that are surrounded by trees or otherwise might have a lot of debris. A pressure-side vacuum cleans better if it is connected to a dedicated pump. On the other hand, a vacuum connected to a non-dedicated pump is always running when the main pump is on. This means more wear and tear on the vacuum. Pressure-side pool cleaners cannot filter small particles.
Automatic suction-side cleaners are more like a household vacuum, in that they use suction to remove debris, including small particles. At the same time, these pull water through the filtration system, which turns more water over in a shorter period of time. Some come with a scrub feature, and most are less expensive to install than a pressure-side pool vacuum. Because the debris is moved through the filtration system, a suction-side vacuum is not a preferred option for pools surrounded by trees. In addition, the pools filter must be clean in order for this vacuum to work properly.
Finally, there is a robotic pool vacuum, which is propelled with an electric motor inside the unit. Debris is vacuumed into a contained filter, and a computer chip helps the vacuum learn the shape of the pool and diagnose problems. A remote control may be available to help a user maneuver the vacuum for spot cleaning. Robotic vacuums are good for small debris. These also scrub the walls and tile line, as well as circulate water in the pool. The most expensive vacuums on the market, robotic pool vacuums must be removed from the pool when not in use.