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Troubleshooting Tips for Automatic Pool Cleaners

By Guy Erlich

Some cleaners seem to take forever and clean the same area over and over. Is there a way to avoid this?

Look for automatic cleaners that have systems that automatically change the cleaning direction using a smart mathematical algorithm to systematically cover every centimeter of the pool—eliminating the additional hours required by other robotic cleaners that use conventional, random patterns.

Place the machine in the center of the shallow end—at the back wall—facing the deep end. The machine measures the distance from end to end and left to right and "chooses" the most efficient pattern in which to clean the pool. Using a microprocessor, it measures the pool as it travels until it hits the deep end wall and from left to right. It re-measures every time the machine is dropped into a pool.

Many people make the mistake of dropping the machine anywhere in the shallow end (or similar as indicated in the installation/start up instructions). If the machine doesn't start in the correct location, it cannot gauge the size of the pool or the best cleaning pattern. This causes longer cleaning times or not covering the entire pool area.

Are there any special tips/ features to look for in an automatic pool cleaner?

In the case of commercial pools, the cleaning of the walls is generally done manually and the automatic cleaner is added simply to clean the bottom of the pool. Look for an automatic cleaner that can be changed from a "floor/wall" to a "floor only" mode at the touch of a button.

Sometimes commercial pools are so dirty that they require more than one full cleaning. A nice option to look for is a "time delay" option in which you can set the cleaner to start again 3 to 5 hours after it completes the first cleaning. This allows any dirt that has been lifted to settle back down to the floor bottom to be picked up on the second round.

A service light is another key feature for commercial pools—this shows the operator when the unit needs to be serviced to ensure the machine operates correctly and lasts up to its full potential.

What about spot cleaning—sometimes we just need the shallow end to be quickly cleaned—are there automatic cleaners that can help with this?

Look for an automatic pool cleaner with an infrared obstacle detection system and a remote control device ideal for quick spot cleaning. It operates independently of the filter system and has a sensor for beach entry pools and ramps. This can be helpful for spot cleaning.

What are some of the most common "technical" problems and solutions that users and pool professionals will likely find themselves troubleshooting daily or weekly?

This time of year, the calls come from parts of the country that are warm enough not to close the pool for the winter—but their pools are not being used by swimmers—so the water is cold! An automatic pool cleaner won't work in really cold water. Anything under 60 degrees will keep a cleaner from operating correctly.

If any of these problems turn out to be issues that fall under warranty or require repair, be sure to check with the manufacturer of the product as they likely will have a Certified Service Center where the units are sent in for repair.

In the end, automatic robotic pool cleaners are here to stay and benefit our industry. Integrating robotic cleaners into your service offering so you can spend less time cleaning the pool and more time doing profitable service repair work, or simply cleaning more pools per hour, the automatic pool cleaner is a boon to the service business.

Guy Erlich is the founder and president of Water Tech Corp., a manufacturer of swimming pool and hot tub cleaners in East Brunswick, N.J. For more information, visit watertechcorp.com.