How to Vaccum the Bottom of an Above Ground Pool Without a Pool Pump


There are two basic ways to clean the bottom of your pool. You can either use a pool pump or you can gravity siphon it.

Let’s discuss the latter first since many above-ground pools nowadays don’t come with pumps, here’s how you can use the power of gravity to clean your pool’s floor.

It’s important to note that you cannot siphon a below-ground pool. You’ll need a pump for that. Because you’re using the force of gravity rather than electricity, this is probably the cheapest method on our list! Plus, it’s kind of fun to watch your pool cleaner suck up everything in its path.

Here’s what you need:

– A pool skimmer (a wide net with a long handle to help remove large debris from the surface of the water) *Optional*

– A telescopic pool brush (similar to a deck broom with a dustpan that attaches to the telescopic pole for easy storage)

– A pair of goggles (safety first!)

When you’re ready to start, find the bottom drain plug on the pool. It should be at ground level or just above so that it can suck up all the debris without falling in. If your pool doesn’t have an automatic shut-off device, make sure water is being pumped from the pool to prevent flooding.

Now that you have your tools, you’re ready to start!

  1. Turn off all filter pumps and if there is a pump attached to the pool, turn it off as well. Make sure water isn’t running into or out of the pool at this time since water going in will cancel out any suction and water going out will cause the siphon to stop.
  2. Make sure the telescopic pool brush is attached to your pool pole. Next, use your skimmer net or pool net to remove any large pieces of debris from the surface of the water including bugs, leaves, twigs, etc. If you can’t get these off the top of the water, they won’t be able to make it into your drain, so just get rid of them anyway.
  3. Make sure your goggles are on and then locate the bottom vacuum hose at pool level or just above the ground. That’s where you’re going to start the siphon since that hose should have a circular piece around it (in most cases). It should be about the same size as the drain, so you’ll want to block it off with something sturdy.
  4. Go ahead and attach your telescopic pool brush to the pole and then use it to push all that debris into a pile right in front of the hose at ground level. The brush has plastic bristles that will prevent any debris from going into the pool. Your water should be off at this point, but make sure you have a pair of goggles on!
  5. Now you’re ready to start the siphon. Remove the blockage from around your hose and then immediately step away from it since all that debris is about to head down the drain. Some of it might get sucked up so you can either sweep it towards the skimmer with your pool net or just leave it in the water for your pool cleaner to clean up later.
  6. You’ll probably have to re-adjust that hose a bit if debris wraps around it, just pull out a twig every once in a while and reattach it to the circular piece. If you can’t get anything to go down, keep re-pushing all that debris together in a big pile right below the hose for best results. And if your pool doesn’t have a circular piece around the hose, you’re going to have to create one using heavy-duty plastic or something similar.
  7. Once you’ve gotten all that debris into the drain area, you’re just about done! Your pool cleaner should now be able to enter the water and start picking up loose pieces of dirt or leaf litter that were trapped on the pool floor. This is why it’s important to have some sort of telescopic pool brush since it will cover a much wider surface area than the pool cleaner alone. Plus, you’ll save yourself some time when it comes to brushing off the dirt and leaves stuck in that brush!

cleaning pool

Cleaner Types:

All cleaners do basically the same thing, clean your pool floor and walls by picking up loose dirt and debris floating at the top of the water. They use some sort of rotating brush to do this and oftentimes they attach on the side of your pool. There are different types of cleaners such as:

“Wet” Suction – These usually come with an attached hose on the side of your pool since they don’t have a pressure hose or water pump. These are great for small above-ground pools because they can pick up those little particles and the water doesn’t have to be running for them to suck stuff up. The downside is that they won’t clean as deep as other cleaners since it has to stay cooped up in your pool wall.

“Dry” Suction – These don’t have an attached hose and instead use a pressure vacuum system that’s attached to your pool’s main drain. They’ll get the dirtiest of all above-ground pool cleaners since they don’t rely on pool wall suction strength at all. The downside is that you need to run water through the cleaner in order for it to start working, although some of them can turn on automatically.

Robotic – These use batteries or an attached hose just like the wet/dry cleaners, but they’ll do all of the work independently of you. You tell it which part of your pool to clean and when. No need for a telescopic pool brush or anything else since they are programmed to head straight to the floor and do their job.

Suction Side – These suck up the dirtiest of all pool cleaners because you have to run water through them in order for them to start cleaning. They attach directly to your main drain so your only concern is adjusting that hose into an ideal spot that catches most of the debris without getting too close to the wall. These are also great for deep pools since most of them will attach to an external water hose that will push the cleaner deeper into your pool with each pass.

Pressure Side – Using pressure instead of suction, these cleaners attach directly to your main drain like the suction side cleaners but they’ll do all of their cleaning on their own. Since they’re running off of a pump connected to your main drain, there’s no need for that external water hose to push the cleaner into the pool. They can travel deep into larger pools but may be limited by how much debris they can suck up.

There are also caddy cleaners for pool walls that attach to your telescopic pool brush or even battery/motorized ones you push around the entire pool yourself. But since this article is about how to vacuum an above-ground pool without a pool pump, we’ll just talk about wet/dry cleaners and robotic cleaners.

Types of Aboveground Pools:

Above-ground pools are usually much larger than inground ones so it’s important to know what type you have so you can properly clean the bottom. The only difference is whether or not your pool has an internal or external drain where the pool vacuum attaches. If it’s external, then you have a larger bottom to clean and you can use any cleaning method since the water level won’t matter as much. But if your drain is internal, you’ll want to plan accordingly to what kind of cleaner you’re going to use so that the water level doesn’t change when cleaning.

Pool cleaning method

Cleaning Method:

Vacuuming your pool floor and walls is essential to keeping your pool clean, but that doesn’t mean you should be doing it every day. I recommend once a week whether or not you have kids leaving crap floating in the pool all of the time (shout out to the parents reading this). If you do have a lot of kids or your filter isn’t filtering the crap out every time you turn it on, then you should vacuum daily.

Let’s recap the basic Methods of Vacuuming:

There are three main ways to get the dirtiest of all pool cleaners off of your floor and sides (in order from worst to best):

  1. Let gravity do its job.
  2. Use a telescopic pool brush to push it into the main drain while siphoning the cleaner off with your pool’s filter system.
  3. Hook up that pressure side cleaner and let it clean all of your dirt for you (recommended method).



Cleaning the bottom of your pool is a necessary but tedious task. Fortunately, there are many different methods you can use to do this without a pump depending on how deep and wide your pool is as well as what type of cleaner you’re using.

If you don’t have access to an external water hose or if it’s just too difficult for any other reason, we recommend that you try one of the wet suction cleaners first since they’ll pick up those little particles with no problem at all.

The downside? They won’t clean deeply like some other types so keep in mind where debris tends to accumulate when deciding which method will work best for your needs!

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