Are automatic pool cleaners good for algae?

Automatic pool cleaners have become a popular way for pool owners to keep their pools clean and clear without the hassle of manually vacuuming and scrubbing. But when it comes to preventing and removing algae, are automatic cleaners really effective? Here we’ll take a detailed look at whether automatic pool cleaners can handle algae removal and prevention.

What is Algae?

Algae are plant-like organisms that can grow in any moist environment, including swimming pools. There are several common types of algae that may invade a pool:

  • Green algae – This is the most common type of pool algae. It forms a green, powdery or grassy coating on pool surfaces.
  • Black algae – Also called black spot algae, this type appears as black dots or smudges on walls and floors.
  • Mustard algae – Creates a yellow, mustard-like crust on pool surfaces.
  • Pink algae – Forms a pink or reddish film on walls, floors and other areas.

Algae spores are introduced into pools through wind, rain, swimsuits, hair, dirt and other means. Once in the pool, the spores thrive on sunlight, nutrients and proper temperatures. Fast-growing green algae can go from just a few spots to a pool filled with algae in less than a week under ideal growing conditions.

Why Algae is a Problem

Algae may be just a minor nuisance in other water environments like ponds and fountains. But in swimming pools, algae can cause major headaches:

  • Algae are slippery and create unsafe swimming conditions.
  • It sticks to pool walls, floors and equipment, clogging filters and pumps.
  • Chemicals used to get rid of algae can be expensive.
  • Algae makes chlorine less effective and depletes chlorine faster.
  • It creates unsightly green, black, yellow or pink stains throughout the pool.
  • Dead algae can combine with chlorine to create irritating chloramines.

In addition to making the pool unpleasant or unusable, some types of algae like black algae can actually damage concrete, plaster and other pool surfaces if left unchecked. Clearly keeping algae under control is critical for any pool owner.

Preventing Algae Growth

The best way to control algae is to prevent it from gaining a foothold in your pool in the first place. Here are some key prevention strategies:

  • Maintain proper chlorine levels – Keeping the pool’s chlorine concentration between 1-3 ppm will help stop algae from thriving.
  • Shock the pool weekly – Periodically shocking the pool with chlorine or other oxidizers kills algae and spores.
  • Check pH and alkalinity – Keeping pH and alkalinity in the proper range makes chlorine more effective.
  • Run the pool’s filter and circulation system sufficiently – Good water circulation helps spread chemicals evenly.
  • Reduce phosphates – Phosphates provide food for algae growth. Use a phosphate remover.
  • Clean the pool often – Regular brushing and vacuuming removes algae and debris that could harbor spores.

Vigilance is required to stay on top of all these prevention measures. This is where automatic pool cleaners can really shine.

How Automatic Pool Cleaners Combat Algae

Automatic pool cleaners automate two of the most important algae prevention tasks: brushing/vacuuming and water circulation. Here’s how they help:

  • Scrub and vacuum the pool – Automatic cleaners use brushes, jets and/or suction to scrub surfaces and vacuum up debris around the entire pool. This removes any existing algae and gets rid of sediment that could harbor spores.
  • Improve circulation – As cleaners traverse the pools for hours at a time, they keep water moving and help distribute chemicals evenly. This prevents “dead zones” where algae can thrive.
  • Reduce labor – Auto cleaners handle scrubbing and vacuuming without the need to pay a service or spend hours doing it yourself. This makes it easier to clean often.
  • Provide convenience – Just turn on these cleaners and walk away. Their built-in timers allow cleaning unattended, even overnight when algae spreads.

By tackling the most difficult algae prevention tasks and making them effortless, automatic cleaners allow pool owners to maintain a rigorous prevention regimen. Next we’ll look at types of auto cleaners and their pros and cons.

Types of Automatic Pool Cleaners

Automatic pool cleaners fall into three main categories:

  • Pressure-side cleaners – These attach to a pool’s return jets. The pumps force water through the cleaner, which scrubs surfaces and directs debris into its own bag or filter.
  • Suction-side cleaners – They use the pool’s skimmer or a dedicated vacuum line for suction power. An internal pump creates flow through the device to vacuum and brush.
  • Robotic cleaners – Robotic models are completely self-contained units with onboard pumps and filtration that operate independently from the pool’s system.

Pressure and suction cleaners hook up to the pool’s plumbing system. This allows pool pumps and filters to provide their power and handle debris collection. Robotic models operate completely autonomously using built-in components.

Below we compare the pros and cons of each type of automatic pool cleaner for algae removal and prevention:

Cleaner Type Pros for Algae Control Cons for Algae Control
  • Uses pool’s power for maximum scrubbing
  • Directs debris right to filters
  • Relies on pool’s pump for power
  • Limited to cleaning pool floor
  • Has own pump to keep working
  • Can vacuum walls and stairs
  • Weaker scrubbing than pressure models
  • Requires efficient debris removal
  • Not dependent on pool system
  • Powerful built-in pump
  • Cleans all pool surfaces
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Smaller debris collection capacity

As the chart shows, each style of auto pool cleaner has benefits and drawbacks when it comes to tackling algae. Overall, robotic models offer the most thorough algae prevention by powerfully scrubbing and vacuuming all pool surfaces completely independently.

Important Features for Algae Control

In addition to the overall type of cleaner, specific features and components can make an auto pool cleaner more adept at algae removal and prevention. Here are some to look for:

  • Thorough scrubbing brushes – Bristles covering the entire cleaner bottom scrub away algae thoroughly.
  • Powerful suction – Strong suction ensures debris and algae is vacuumed up.
  • Large filter bag – Bigger debris collections mean less frequent cleaning/emptying.
  • Built-in chlorinator – Dispenses chlorine while cleaning to boost its effects.
  • Caddy or cartridge – Makes removal of debris and algae from the pool easier.
  • Programmable cleaning schedules – Allows regular deep cleanings when algae can take hold.

Look for cleaners that include features like these targeted specifically at wiping out algae and stopping it before it becomes widespread.

Are Automatic Cleaners Enough for Algae?

Automatic pool cleaners certainly help significantly with algae control. But they cannot completely replace proper chlorination, shocking, pH maintenance and other good pool care habits.

Auto cleaners are an excellent tool for keeping pools algae-free. But they need support from an overall pool care regimen focused on prevention. Used properly along with vigilant testing and chemical maintenance, automatic cleaners can be extremely effective against algae.

Reviewing the Top Automatic Pool Cleaners for Algae Control

Now that we’ve covered how automatic cleaners help prevent and remove algae, let’s look at some top models pool owners count on to keep algae at bay:

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus

This popular robotic cleaner scrubs pool floors, walls and waterline thoroughly thanks to its rotating brushes and strong suction. The large top-access filter is easy to clean when full of algae debris. Built-in software allows setting particular cleaning schedules to stay ahead of algae growth.

Pentair Kreepy Krauly Prowler 920

This rugged in-ground pressure-side cleaner has wheels and brushes that maintain constant contact and scrubbing on pool surfaces. The smart steering system covers the entire pool floor without hanging up in corners. It’s connected to the pool’s filtration to send debris straight there.

Zodiac MX8 Elite Suction-Side Cleaner

This sleek device uses triple turbines to generate Lots of suction power for vacuuming algae away. The auto-reverse functionality prevents it from getting stuck in tight spaces. Its low profile design cleans close to walls and in hard-to-reach areas.

Hayward Poolvergnuegen 896584000-518

Providing thorough cleaning of all pool surfaces, this iconic “Pool Vac” suction-side cleaner is known for reliability. Turbine vanes generate consistent suction and steering patterns cover the entire pool. An adjustable skimmer adapter fits most existing pools.

Polaris F9550 Sport Robotic Pool Cleaner

This ultra-powerful robotic cleaner scrubs and vacuums every type of pool surface completely autonomously. ThePolaris multi-stage filtration system and large debris bags capture all algae. Convenient timer programming facilitates regular deep cleaning.

These cleaners represent some of the more popular and highest-performing options for tackling algae. With regular use, they can help pool owners stay on top of algae prevention and enjoy crystal clear, algae-free water.

The Bottom Line

Automatic pool cleaners have become invaluable tools for combating stubborn algae growth. Features like thorough scrubbing brushes, powerful suction and large debris bags allow cleaners to regularly remove algae and stop it in its tracks.

Models such as robotic cleaners that operate independently and clean all pool surfaces offer the most comprehensive algae prevention. But all types of automatic cleaners can play an important role in an overall pool care program focused on algae control when used properly.

By automating time-consuming tasks like scrubbing, vacuuming and circulating water, auto cleaners allow pool owners to take proactive steps to prevent algae consistently. While not a complete solution in themselves, automatic pool cleaners are a potent weapon in the battle against rapid algae growth.

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