Troubleshooting Tips for Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaners

Pool owners share a lot of likes and dislikes. They all like to swim in a private pool whenever they want. They like to enjoy the fresh, safe, warm water in a relaxing atmosphere. What pool owners do not like is finding a pool full of dirt, scum, and leaves!

Pool maintenance is one of the main complaints of pool ownership. Regular maintenance and cleaning are vital to keeping the water quality bacteria-free and have clear sparkling pool water. Automatic robotic pool cleaners are the best option for an efficient, hands-free approach.

Many pool owners have bought a model of some kind to help out with the daily or weekly cleaning of the bottom of the pool.  Automatic robotic pool cleaners are here to make life easier because you don’t have to get into the pool to clean it. They roam the length of the pool surface, picking up debris and scrubbing and sucking away until the pool bottom is spotless.

The best machines are impressive workers that cover the whole area with ease for a great result. They save time, money and energy with an efficient, reliable process.

However, these robots don’t always function as they should. Even the most high-tech model can develop faults or fail to operate properly.  It is important that consumers know what to do to handle this situation.

You don’t have to sit scratching your head while a machine spins in circles like a dog chasing its tail, or stubbornly refuses to move at all. There are common problems and troubleshooting solutions for most devices.


(Source: UltimatePoolsInc)

1. What to do when an automatic robotic pool cleaner doesn’t move properly?

The most common robot cleaner problem is an inability to move on the surface of the pool. A power supply connection fault is often to blame here. Check the power cable to make sure there is a strong connection to the robot. If not, unplug it and switch it on and off again. This troubleshooting approach may kick start the robot into action.

Alternatively, the wiring inside the robot could be the culprit. Some wires may be loose, disconnected or at fault. Open it up, take a look a try again. Buyers that try and fail may need to upgrade their machine.

Automatic robotic pool cleaners only have a certain lifespan on the parts and motor. A new model may be tougher, smarter and more capable.

Damage to the power cord may also cause these automatic robotic pool cleaners to misbehave.

Some pool owners have a habit of pulling the machine out the water by the cord after use. This repeated action can damage the cord and the connection, leading to an unreliable power supply to the robot. Users must reach into the pool and pick up the robot by the body to avoid this issue. This means getting wet, but it is worth it.

The alternative is to use a net to fish out the robotic pool cleaner. Users need to weigh up this minor inconvenience against the cost of a new machine. This simple change could improve the longevity of the product. Age and general wear and tear also play their part here. If this is an older model, it might be time for an upgrade.


2. Can Seasonal Weather Changes Impact Performance?

The water temperature of the pool can also disrupt the machinery and cause failures in automatic robotic pool cleaners.  These machines only work at an optimal temperature (above 59 F).

Colder temperatures will cause the lines to get stiff and hard to bend to move around or motor to fail and the robot won’t work at all. This is a problem in regions with colder climates.

repair pool equipment

Some pool owners leave the machine in a pool, without a cover, and expect it to run. Wait for the pool to heat up a little and try again. Also, an overheated motor can also cause problems and internal damage. The temperature of the pool water maintains the motor at a functional level.

An increase can lead to short-circuiting and burn-outs. This increase occurs if the automatic robotic pool cleaner leaves the water. This happens when they climb too high on the walls because the water level is too low.

3. What if the cleaner’s movements are jerky and ineffective?

Debris within the internal mechanisms of the robot can cause some odd movements. They will want to move but jerk and stall. Large pieces of dirt, leaves or other particles can become lodged inside around the belt and gears.

Owners must take the time to clean it out properly. This also means checking that the belt is in the right grooves. Poor maintenance leads to a build-up of dirt and problems worsen with time. Regular maintenance decreases this risk.

Jerky movements are common with these robots. Other owners report their machine flipping over completely. This isn’t a good party trick, especially if the robot can’t get back up again. Some users come home to find the machine on its back in a dirty pool.

Anyone with a high-tech, intelligent device with clever navigation is sure to find this even more annoying. Intelligence and software issues are the usual problems here. In fact, the problem is much more simplistic. Remove the air to lessen the risk.

Robot pool cleaners work best when they are completely submerged. Make sure to remove all the air.

This means that users need to remove every trace of air within the product. Air bubbles can overbalance the machine and stop it from sitting flat on the floor. Too much air will flip it over. Shake out every last air bubble while holding the machine underwater. Do this every time for the best results. Also, the brush is an important consideration when a robot won’t sit flat.

Again, users must remove every air bubble from the brush. Air bubbles can make the brush float above the floor users must saturate the whole brush before starting a program. The air in the system can also cause the robot to tip over when climbing the walls.


Air gets into the body and the handle, redistributing the weight. Remember that some machines are better equipped to deal with these issues than others. It all depends on the design and center of gravity.

4. What to do when an automatic robotic pool cleaner fails to cover the whole surface?

Users may find that it will move, but the coverage isn’t good enough. Poor navigation and an ineffective route mean that the cleaner ends up missing spots on the floor. Other cleaners fail to make a full 90-degree turn for full coverage.

Moving the handle and realigning the cord can adjust this. Remember that the smartest robots find the best routes. Some machines have the ability to plan a route that covers every surface while detecting dirt. Cheaper models are a little blinder. Some climb walls and even stairs with ease while others get confused.

A very dirty pool can be a problem for even the most intelligent automatic robotic pool cleaners. They may have the intent to climb the walls and reach every spot, but some can’t physically manage it. A build-up of slime and algae is often to blame here. The robot cannot climb the sides without a good grip.

Some machines are, again, better than others. It depends on the traction on the wheels and the suction. Still, most can’t handle thick, slimy layers. Pool owners quickly find that there are some jobs to carry out by hand for the best result. An automatic robotic pool cleaner is best for general maintenance and light cleaning.

Always double-check the cord for freedom of movement.

Tangled cords are another important troubleshooting issue. They can stop an automatic robotic pool cleaner from walking in a straight line or reaching the end of the pool. It is also important that the cord is the right length for the size of the pool.

Some buyers look at the capabilities of the machine but not its reach. This is a schoolboy error for first-time users. A knot can shorten the length of the cable, and the robot may not reach the edge. A bad kink can send them off at an angle, away from the pre-planned route.

Owners should undo the knots, stretch the cord out and leave it to dry in the sun. The cord will then be much straighter and more reliable. Some brands use “tangle-free” cord on a swivel to prevent this from happening. They are still prone to knots, however.

5. What happens if the robot pool cleaner moves, but doesn’t pick up the dirt?

The next troubleshooting issue to consider is an ineffective clean. Some robots will walk the route with ease, but not collect the dirt. These performance issues mean too much time and energy wasted and users may need to work by hand. Software and mechanical faults may be to blame here.

dirty swimming pool water

Watch the robot in action to see the performance. Software and electronic issues can affect intelligent models that detect dirt and problems. Poor communication between the computer and cleaning system may lead to missed spots.

Issues with the hardware and mechanics are more likely to be at blame. The first thing to look at here is the pump. A strong pumping action and suction are essential for a strong clean.

The pump may be the weak link. Check to see if it is pumping out water from the top of the device. If not, go inside, clean it out and look for faults. If the pump is working, the brushes may be the problem.

Mechanical faults or obstructions may stop the brushes from turning properly, limiting the scrubbing action. Clean them out, check the bristles and try again. A worn-out brush will need replacing. These parts don’t last forever. Filters also need to change regularly. A full, dirty machine won’t do that well when it comes to picking up more dirt.

6. What should users do if they cannot fix the problem themselves?

Many of the problems mentioned above are DIY issues. There are simple solutions to many of the problems such as simple adjustments to the mechanisms, cleaning out the machine and checking the air and temperature. However, there will be a time when users need to do a little more.

Damage to the motor, pump or brushes means that replacements may in order. Faults that users cannot fix or replace may lead to a need for a whole new machine. There are pros and cons here depending on the company involved, the age of the machine and the likely cost. Some companies will easily replace items under warranty and provide additional customer support for bigger issues.

There is a good chance of success here if a machine is relatively new and still under its guarantee. Coverage may not extend to older machines and buyers could need expensive replacement parts. This is when you need to consider whether or not it is worth fixing the machine or simply replacing it.

Users in need of a replacement machine should take their time with their choice. Some will try and get a like for like replacement because it is easier. Some companies will supply these automatic robotic pool cleaners for free with the right warranty. However, this model may not be the best option anymore.

Developments in tech mean that many current automatic robotic pool cleaners are a generation or two behind. Fitter, stronger, more productive successors are on hand for even better performance. These troubleshooting issues could be less likely with improved hardware, better intelligence, and tougher parts. Take the time to compare new models in favorite brands for a better cleaner.

Automatic robotic pool cleaners can be temperamental. But, you are more likely to get along with them with this troubleshooting knowledge.

Every automatic robotic pool cleaner has the potential to develop faults. It doesn’t matter if they are a cheaper, low-tech model from a lesser brand or one of the more complex Dolphin pool cleaners or Hayward options.

Any model with a motor, belt, pump, brush, and filter can develop a fault and fail. All brushes and filters wear out and need maintenance. All machines can struggle with air, temperature and algae problems.

It all comes down to understanding the risks and how to correct the issues as they occur. If you regularly check and maintain your robot, these issues shouldn’t be a major problem.