Finding your suction side automatic pool cleaner sitting on the pool bottom dead and not moving is a common issue for pool owners and service techs. There are some common issues in the equipment area that can cause this and some issues with the cleaner itself or a combination of both.
Here are a few things at the equipment that I check first when I find a cleaner not moving in the pool:
1. Make sure filter is clean- if it is a D.E. Filter Clean the filter or Backwash it. For a Sand Filter Backwash, it to make sure it is clean. For a Cartridge Filter open it up and clean the cartridges.
2. Make sure filter is operating correctly – no broken grids or really old cartridges. If PSI on the gauge is over 25-30 cleaner may not operate. Optimal filter PSI is around 20 or less.
3. Make sure the pump is working correctly. If there is air getting into the pump the cleaner may not move. This is called a vacuum leak or suction leak. Air will prevent the pump from pulling water the extra 30 ft through the cleaner hose. You can typically check for an air leak by disconnecting the cleaner. If the pump primes up fine but loses it’s prime once you reconnect the cleaner I would suspect an air leak. The likely location is the threaded fitting on top of the pump and the threaded fitting going into the pump. I would also check the pump lid o-ring.
4. Make sure the cleaner has proper suction. If it is connected at the pool skimmer with the OEM regulator valve that came with your cleaner – refer to the manual for proper adjustment. For example, if it is a Hayward AquaNaut the regulator that comes with it has a dial on it. Simply close the dial to increase the cleaner's suction and then open the dial to increase the skimmer suction. If the cleaner is connected at the side port/vacuum port make sure that you adjust the valve so that enough suction is going to the cleaner.
5. Check the pump basket. If the pump basket is clogged with debris this will sometimes slow the cleaner down and make it stop completely. Clean the pump basket out.
6. If you have a Variable Speed (VS) pump, make sure that your pump is set at a high enough speed, known as RPM. Typically most cleaners will need at least 2600 RPM to operate properly. Sometimes more and sometimes less. I usually start at 3100 RPM and then dial it down from there.
Here is what to check on the cleaner itself:
1. Check for any debris clogging the mouth of the cleaner. I find it best to do this with the cleaner running. Carefully pull it to the side of the pool and with the cleaner head still underwater, turn it so that you can see the cleaner opening. Check for any rocks, piles of leaves and even a rodent stuck in the mouth.
2. If it is a bouncing type cleaner, typically it has a rubber diaphragm (Zodiac Cleaners). Check the diaphragm for any tears or cuts. Replacing it is easy and will likely get those types of cleaners moving again.
3. If you have an MX cleaner – Zodiac MX8 or MX6 and any variation of those two, typically it is the tracks that are worn out. It could also be the Directional Device.
4. If it is a Hayward Navigator or Hayward Pool Vac it is more than likely a worn-out A-Frame and Turbine. You would just purchase the A-Frame kit and replace that to get the Navigator or Pool Vac moving again.
5. Sometimes a hose section gets debris clogged inside of it. To check for this, with the pool running, pull off the first hose section from the cleaner and remove the cleaner head. Keeping the hose underwater, pull off each section one by one until you find the hose section clogged with debris. The reason you want the pool on is that you will not feel any suction until you reach the clogged hose and remove it. Then you will feel the pool suction through the hoses again. Just be sure to keep the hoses underwater so that the pump will not suck air.
6. If there is a canister sometimes is can get completely full of debris and become impacted. In that case, simply empty the canister.
These are some of the main reasons an automatic suction side cleaner will stop moving.
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