Is a Self-Cleaning Pool the Best Choice for You?


When you purchase a pool for your home, you picture all of the fun that you are going to have, but not any of the chores.  After hearing your friends or family complain about doing all of those pool chores, perhaps you’ve been looking into a self-cleaning pool system but are not sure if it is the right choice for you.

Perhaps you have seen ads promising crystal-clear water and no work at all! You may have images of yourself sitting in a floating chair, drink in hand, catching up on your latest read, as your pool magically cleans itself.

Any decisions must be made with all of the facts.  Let’s answer a few common questions about self-cleaning pools so that you can decide if it is right for you.

This post will cover:

  • What is a self-cleaning pool?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the advantages to a self-cleaning pool?
  • What are some of its drawbacks?
  • What are some other options?


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What is a Self-Cleaning Pool and How Does it Work?

In nature, water is constantly moving.  This is how mountain springs are able to keep clean, since algae is not able to form.

A self-cleaning pool runs on the same principle.  The water will keep moving so that algae does not form, and bacteria levels are low.

A self-cleaning pool system is also called an in-floor pool cleaning system, as it is installed right into the floor of your pool.  There are pop-ups or cleaning jets that are placed throughout the floor of your swimming pool.

The way most in-floor pool cleaning systems work is to circulate filtered, clean water to the main drain.

Jets throughout your pool act to circulate the water to a fixed nozzle, allowing the water to be filtered.  Fresh water is circulated back into your pool and debris is caught into a debris canister.

The jets are synchronized and automated and work silently to keep your pool clean. Pools that will catch a lot of leaves will also have an additional primary straining point which will catch the leaves before water is moved into the filter.

Unlike traditional pool circulation systems, many self-cleaning pools circulate your pool from bottom to top. All of your pool water is circulated and cleaned, getting rid of “dead spots” where bacteria and algae may grow.

It should be noted that this system is solely available for inground pools and is not an option for above ground pools.

Pros and Cons

There are many reasons to consider a self-cleaning pool, but every pool owner is different.  It is good to review the pros and cons of a self-cleaning pool to determine if it is the right choice for you and your family.


Because the water is circulating throughout the pool, the chemical content will be consistent.  This means you are sure that your pool chemical balance is consistent.

Some manufacturers claim that using a self-cleaning pool will save as much as $600 per year on chemicals.

Cleaner Water

The circulation results in less algae and better water chemistry.

Less Maintenance

Since the pool is cleaning itself, there is less that you will need to maintain yourself.  This means you are avoiding tripping over vacuum hoses or trying to maneuver an unruly system.


A self-cleaning pool system will work for any pool shape and size.  The shape, size and design your pool will determine how many jets are placed throughout your pool.

Your pool professional will be able to place the pool jets in place to make sure that the water is circulated properly and that there are not any dead spots.

High Yield

These are sophisticated systems that can handle a lot of debris.  You will find that a self-cleaning pool can handle a high amount of dirt.

More Even Temperatures

Because the warmer water at the top of your pool is being circulated to the bottom of the pool, it will require less energy to heat.  Additionally, your pool’s temperature will be more consistent throughout.

Clean Floor

In-floor pool cleaners do a fantastic job of keeping the floor clean.


Having a self-cleaning pool will help you when you go to sell your home.  A realtor will have an easier time convincing a reluctant pool owner to buy your home if it means less maintenance.

self-cleaning pool

There are also a number of disadvantages to a self-cleaning pool.  Here are just some of them:


Self-cleaning pools are very expensive to install, costing thousands of dollars.  Your pool is already a large investment and can come at quite a cost, so this addition may stretch your budget beyond what you can afford.


In-floor pool cleaners can only be installed during the construction phase.  Once your pool is installed, you have missed the opportunity to install an in-floor pool cleaner.


The jets are visible and are interruptions in your pool’s finish.  Some owners do not like the look, which cannot be avoided.

Additionally, many owners note that if you are swimming while the system is running, you can stub your toe on the raised jets.

Energy Use

A self-cleaning pool will use more energy than a pool that does not have this feature.  This means a higher expense and is not as environmentally friendly.


When a self-cleaning pool needs to be repaired, the costs are very expensive.  Owners are often surprised at the size of the repair bill and are unable to afford these repairs WHEN (not if) they are needed.

Additionally, finding someone to repair your self-cleaning pool is more difficult than with other cleaning systems.  Parts will be harder to find and your pool will have to be closed while you wait for the needed repair to arrive.

Of course, before you make any decision about building a potential pool, it is a good idea to talk to a pool manufacturer.  They will have the most experience with self-cleaning pool and will be able to direct you towards a reputable brand.

Is it Enough?

There are basically five areas that need to be maintained to make a pool “clean”:

  • Sanitizing: This means removing microscopic dirt and grime from your pools water to make it safe to swim in.  Pool water remains clean because of chemicals, such as chlorine, keeping it clean.
  • Filtering: This means removing dirt and grime suspended in the water.  Your pool’s filter traps fine debris and without this step, you would have cloudy water.
  • Skimming the Pool’s Surface: This means removing anything floating on your pool’s surface using a skimmer.  Without skimming, the debris will fall to the bottom of the pool.
  • Cleaning Walls: Dirty water can stain your walls and these need to be brushed clean.
  • Floor Cleaning:  This means removing dirt and debris from the floor of your pool.

An in-floor pool cleaner really only addresses some of these areas.   There may still be dirt on the pool’s surface and walls, and you will still need to ensure that your pool’s water has the right chemical balance.

It is not enough to install a self-cleaning pool and call it a day.  There are still many tasks that someone is going to have to care for.

Another overlooked area is the maintenance of your equipment.  It is incredibly important that you check your pump and filter on a regular basis to make sure there are not any items that need to be replaced or repaired.

self-cleaning pool

What are my other options?

There are several other ways to keep your pool clean.  Here are some options:

Robotic Pool Cleaners

We have talked before about robotic pool cleaners.  They certainly take some of the maintenance work away from owning a pool.

You simply need to set it up and let it run.  It will keep the floor of your pool clean

However, you run into the same problem as an in-floor pool cleaning system.  There are still many maintenance tasks that you will need to do yourself.

Pool Maintenance Company

In order to truly have a maintenance-free pool, you want to hire a pool cleaner.  A pool cleaning service will be able to do the following tasks:

  • Adding and balancing chemicals, adjusting salt cells
  • Emptying skimmer and pump baskets, as well as pool sweep bag
  • Brushing walls, seats, steps and vacuuming when necessary
  • Back washing D.E. filters and adjusting the water level (when necessary)
  • D.E. filter disassemble and cleaning
  • Cartridge filter cleaning
  • Salt Cell chlorine generator cleaning
  • Tile Restoration
  • Deck-o-Seal Replacement (including the removal of existing, sand back fill w/Sand topcoat finish.)
  • VGB drain conversions and underwater repairs.

Having a pool cleaning contractor means that all of the work is getting done properly and you do not have to worry about a thing.  This means that your pool will be clean, your water will be clear, and you will not have to worry about the large upfront expense of an in-floor cleaning system.

If you are thinking about getting a pool this summer and want to have all of the fun and none of the chores, get in touch.  We would love to talk more about how we can help you enjoy your pool.

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