DO FIBERGLASS POOLS NEED AUTOMATIC CLEANERS?

Most of the time folks find fiberglass pools so easy to maintain that automatic pool cleaners are not necessary.  According to a polling of 85 of our American Fiberglass Pool owners, they spend less than 45 minutes a week keeping the pool clean of debris and doing water testing.  That is not much time at all considering all the family swimming enjoyment the pool brings on an everyday basis.  Of course, there are times that owners have lots of trees at or near the pool.  That’s when pool cleaners are typically needed.  There are several types of pool cleaners on the market so let’s take a few minutes to examine the good, better, and best of these.

1. AUTOMATIC SUCTION CLEANERS

This type of cleaner is operational by typically connecting to your skimmer or in some cases a dedicated suction line on the side of the pool.  They basically act like a movable main drain.  These cleaners agitate themself as it moves around the pool.  The debris it picks up goes directly into the pool filter so it can actually remove much smaller particles than a pool cleaner with a bag on top of it.  In almost every case there is no plumbing to alter to utilize the units and it does not require the addition of a booster pump.  The cleaner will accordingly be less expensive to install and will not need electricity to operate other than your dedicated pool pump already in place.  The primary drawback is that pools with larger debris, especially leaves, pine needles, and twigs need not apply.  It becomes a real pain when the larger debris fills up your pump basket and clogs up.  In these cases, a leaf trap can be installed in the cleaner hose, unfortunately these also tend to clog up so the unit stops working and your pool will lack circulation.  This type of cleaner also requires that your filter be clean.  If not, the cleaner’s ability to operate will suffer dramatically since your pump will not have sufficient suction to drive the cleaner.

Rating: GOOD  Cost: $500 – $1200

2. PRESSURE SIDE CLEANERS

These types of cleaners are driven by the water returning to the pool from your pool equipment system.  The pool pump can be used as the driver, but most commonly a booster pump works better.  These cleaners are designed for the driving pump to force debris up into a bag that will contain the debris until it is emptied.  A pressure side cleaner does not suck things into your pump basket or filter.  This means less cleaning / backwashing etc.  This type of cleaner does a much better job if your pool is in an area where trees and heavy debris are located.  As mentioned earlier, the bags do not do well with smaller particles like sand and silt.  This type of unit is not particularly good on scrubbing the walls.  Lastly, they tend to occasionally get caught on in pool ladders and corners.

Rating: BETTER   Cost: $1800 – $2500

3. ROBOTIC POOL CLEANERS

These units are driven by internal motors.  They run electrically.   This is generated from a transformer that just plugs into a wall outlet.  The electricity is converted to either 6 volt or 12 volts by the transformer that is provided with the unit.  The down side is that the long cord between the unit and the transformer will drape over the pool deck and into the pool.  The debris vacuumed into the cleaner goes directly into self-contained filters within the unit.   The computer within the unit “memorizes” the shape of your pool within hours so it rarely covers the previously cleaned areas twice.  The top of the line units even possess a remote control that will allow you send the cleaner directly to a spot it may have missed.  Robotic cleaners are the absolute best when small debris, sand, or silt are in the pool.  They are also the only unit that brushes / scrubs the pool walls and floors as it operates.  They can even scrub the tile line!  If you use a robotic cleaner for 2 hours a day, it is not uncommon for most pools to be able to reduce the pool pump and filter operation for the same amount of time.  These robotic units are VERY powerful and in my opinion are worth every penny they typically cost.

Rating: BEST   Cost: $1000 – $2500

A cleaner yet to be mentioned is the “in floor” type.  My own opinion is that while they may work well in some cases, the expense of the installation ($5000-$10,000) is not as rewarding as one should expect for the cost.  So lastly, here are some tips to remember when using any type of auto pool cleaner.

A.         ALWAYS remove the entire unit including cords and hoses from the pool when you are ready to swim.

B.         ALWAYS store the unit in an area out of direct sun light.

C.         ALWAYS purchase a unit that has an “ON SITE” warranty plan.  Just so you know, the

deals you find online almost all require that you ship the unit somewhere in outer

Mongolia for warranty work and it takes months to get them back in many cases.

So there you have it, my professional opinion on pool cleaners.  I don’t believe that most

American Fiberglass Pool buyers need one.  Have you had a different experience with pool

cleaners?  Is your opinion different from mine?  Take a moment and send me a reply!

22 Responses to “DO FIBERGLASS POOLS NEED AUTOMATIC CLEANERS?”

  1. Krissy says:

    My parents always had concrete pools when I was growing up. In every pool we had automatic pool cleaners And also a pool service to keep things clean.
    I am glad to hear that now that my husband and I will not need a pool cleaning apparatus. We are in the Sealy , not far from Houston. Do you have someone in our area we can deal with on your pools?

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Hey Krissy, yep, it takes a lot of effort and $$$ to maintain most concrete / gunite pools. We have scheduled your new American Fiberglass Pool to be excavated sometime next week. You will be one of many American Fiberglass Pools in the Sealy, TX area.

  2. Mark Holt says:

    We have what you refer to as suction cleaner. We replace it every 2-3 years like clockwork. Someone else told me that the unit we use can damage the pool plumbing over a period of time. It does make a very loud thump, thump as it moves around the pool. We have a ****** *******. Do you have an opinion on the plumbing damage??
    Thank you, Mark

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Thanks for joining us. Yes, I have heard for years that the type of suction cleaner you so amptly described can eventually damage the pool plumbing. We do not use them.

  3. Charlie Rucka says:

    You seem to think robotic cleaners are the only way to go.
    Which one do you have the most experience with and which one do you recommend?
    Thanks for your input.
    Charlie

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Thanks for asking. My favorite cleaner is the Tiger Shark QC hands down. It is made by Hayward Pool Products.

  4. D.Bartlett says:

    I owned an older (38yr) fiberglass pool for more than 9 yrs.
    My expierience with auto pool cleaners during that time was nil.
    I found the pool easy to take care of without one.
    If you get a pool, try without the cleaner 1st. If necesary, you can always get the cleaner later.

  5. Tim Tuckerson says:

    We are a pool builder in New York. We agree that fiberglass pools in general do not require auto pool cleaners.
    Have enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good work and look forward to reading more in the future.
    T.Tuckerson

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Welcome pool industry member! Thank you for stopping by to visit us and again for your nice thoughts.

  6. Harry Sweeten says:

    My wife & I have owned several pools over the last 36 years. We have found thru experience that concrete pools MUST have pool cleaners. This includes the pool service every week boy PLUS an automatic cleaner to take care of the in between service trips.
    The only fiberglass pool we have owned was easy to take care of & did not require the expense of either type of pool cleaners. Any future pools we purchase will be fiberglass…that is an absolute!

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Sounds like you have a PHD in pool ownership! I certainly respect your valid opinions.

  7. Blue Water Pools says:

    I like robotic cleaners hte best too.
    Suction cleaners are 70′s technology, pressure cleaners are 70′s units too.
    Robots are NOW technology.
    It is amazing how long the pool industry has had to wait for a pool cleaner that truly works!
    BTW, I agree that fiberglass pools need cleaners only on rare occasions.
    BWP

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Welcome industry member! I whole heartedly concur with the thoughts you have shared with us here. Please visit again.

  8. Salty Dog says:

    Some say I’m crusty and old fashion. But I do know that fiberglass pools can not be beat for lack of maintainance. Further, have not seen many here in Florida BTW(By The Water) that require more than a few minutes a week to care of.
    Automatic pool cleaners? Who needs them in a fiberglass pool??
    Salty…..

  9. Korvan Zeintek says:

    We live in the Brenham area where the wind seems to blow all day,every day.
    We spend maybe on the long side 15 minutes a week keeping our pool clean. We are so thankful that we met you 19 years ago. Our pool has truly been a wonderful addition for our family. BTW, we have never owned an automatic pool cleaner. We are also glad that the Votto’s introduced you to us back then. We know that they continue to enjoy their pool too!! KZ

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Korvan, so pleased to hear from you again. Seems like yesterday that we built your American Fiberglass Pool, not almost 20 years ago. Give me a call here at the pool factory. I would love to catch up on you and the Vottos. We can compare notes on grand babies!

  10. Tim Spooner says:

    Our fiberglass pool was built 4 years ago. It is an American Fiberglass Pool Trinity model. We have always taken care of the pool our self without the use of a pool cleaner. My wife has mentioned hiring a young, well tanned pool boy in the past. I don’t ever think she will see one since I cleans the pool in only 10 minutes a week!

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Hello Tim and thanks for dropping by. I remember my days long ago as a well tanned pool boy. Thanks for the memory!

  11. Phil Couglan says:

    We have owned two big, frilled out gunite pools in the past. I promise you that the maintenance was horrendous even with automatic pool cleaners.
    Some of our friends had a fiberglass pool down the street with as many trees as we had in our backyard. The big difference was we had a pool cleaner, a pool service and I still spent hours each week trying to keep the pool clean. The people with the fiberglass pool were always enjoying their pool, did not use a pool service or an automatic pool cleaner.
    That is why this time aruond we will only own a fiberglass pool.

    • R. Wayne Stringer says:

      Phil, Sounds like you learned a valuable lesson. Fiberglass pools ARE the easiest type of pools to maintain! Let us know when you are ready to enjoy one for yourself.