Although it is theoretically possible to vacuum a pool using a shop vac (sometimes called a wet dry vac), in practice it would be a very time consuming and probably not very effective method of cleaning a pool, unless perhaps it is a small above ground pool.
Using a shop vac might be better than nothing if you temporarily have a problem with your pool’s filtration system as a way of keeping the pool clean until it can be fixed.
If you have a small above ground swimming pool then using a pool vac may be a possible permanent solution, but not with an average size inground pool where using a pool vacuum attached to the pool’s filter system will be far more efficient.
How to use a shop vac to clean a pool
It is quite straightforward to do this.
- Place your shop vac as close to your pool as possible since you will have little enough hose to reach the bottom of the pool. Obviously ensure that the shop vac cannot fall into the water.
- Lower the hose and vacuum head into the pool
- Switch on the shop vac
- Move the vacuum head along the bottom of the pool to vacuum up the dirt. You should do this slowly to ensure you do not disturb the fine dirt as you work.
- When the shop vac bucket is full, switch off the vac and empty the bucket in a suitable place.
- Switch on and repeat until the pool is clean.
Pros and cons of using a shop vac
Actually I can only think of one pro of using a shop vac to clean a pool, and that isn’t actually a unique benefit. Any dirt you vacuum up will not have to pass through the pool’s filter as it will be discharged wherever you dispose of the water and dirt.
However, this is no different from manually vacuuming to waste with the lever on the multiport valve in the “waste” position.
There are a few reasons why using a pool vac might be problematical:
- With many shop vacs you will have no option but to stop vacuuming each time the vacuum’s bucket is full in order to empty it before starting again. This means that it will take a long time to vacuum the entire pool.
- You will lose a large amount of pool water every time you vacuum which will then have to be topped up with a garden hose, so your water bill will increase.
- Since you will have to use the shop vac for long periods of time to completely clean the pool it is probable that the electric motor in the vac will not last very long before it dies – and shop vacs are not cheap.
- Most shop vacs have a relatively short hose that attaches to a rigid pipe that then attaches to the vacuum head. A standard pool vac attaches to a telescopic pole which allows you to reach all parts of the pool’s floor. With a shop vac you will be unlikely to be able to reach more than the bottom of the shallow end of a pool. You may be able to adapt a pool vacuum hose to fit the shop vac to allow you to reach all parts of the pool.
Some pool vacs can be attached to a pool hose or backwash hose using an adapter so if yours has that facility it means you wouldn’t need to keep emptying the bucket as the water that is vacuumed up could be fed somewhere in your backyard or into a drain.
Pool Maintenance Course
When I first bought my house with a swimming pool, I knew nothing about cleaning and maintaining it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.
It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.
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What is the fastest way to vacuum a pool?
The fastest way to vacuum a pool is to use the pool’s filter system and a pool vacuum. Generally this would take no more than an hour from start to finish and will leave the pool completely clean. My post How to vacuum a pool explains this in more detail.
What is the easiest way to vacuum a pool?
The easiest way to vacuum a pool is to use a robotic pool cleaner such as a Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. You just put the cleaner in the pool and off it goes and does all of the hard work for you. This normally takes around 2 hours to complete its cleaning cycle.
My Dolphin pool cleaner is the best purchase for the pool I have ever made. It saves me hours of work each month.
How to use a shop vac to drain a pool
If you just want to remove some water from your pool, perhaps after the water level has increased after rain, then you could use a pool vac to do this, if you have no easy or quicker way of doing it. Since shop vacs do not have a very high water flow, as stated this will be quite a slow process.
To do it you would just follow the instructions above but without the need to actually vacuum.
See my post “How to drain water from a pool after rain” for other ways of emptying a pool.
Can you use a shop vac to clean a hot tub?
Using a shop vac to clean dust and debris out of a hot tub makes more sense than using one to clean a pool since the amount of water you will have to pump will be significantly smaller.
My article 9 ways to get sand out of a hot tub goes into this in more detail.
I have had hot tubs for many years and a pool for the last 9 years. I had to learn how to clean, maintain and fix them the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you.