Saltwater Pool Pump and Robot Vacuum

My husband and I were new to pool ownership when we moved into this house, which already had one. We were pleased to find out it was a saltwater pool and “less maintenance.” That still holds true, except for when something goes wrong.

This is how the pool looked when we moved in…

The first mistake we made was not keeping the cover clean in the winter. It is important to pump any excess water off the top of the cover so it doesn’t sag, allowing leaves and debris into the pool.

The second mistake we made was not taking the cover off carefully enough to prevent ALL the debris from getting dumped into the pool. Yikes.

It looked and smelled like a pond. Yuck!

For new pool owners, it is especially challenging to clean a bunch of crap out of a pool. We spent a significant amount of time manually vacuuming the debris through the pump, which meant lots of backwashing….

Eventually I figured out that the (Intex) pump was no longer working. It was throwing red light codes and no matter how much I would troubleshoot, it didn’t change. I cleaned the chlorinator, just as the forums told me to. I added the appropriate amount of salt. Nothing changed.

I finally just bit the bullet and ordered a new Intex saltwater pool pump, knowing it would come with fresh instructions and a warranty. (I always use amazon if possible because of the free 2-day shipping). I also figured the other pump was outdated, as the parts were almost impossible to find. After installing this new pump, we finally saw some improvement in the water! See link below for the pump I ordered!

Ignore the grass… This pump has been amazing and so easy to work with.

We originally tried manually vacuuming the pool through the new pump. When I say we, I mean my husband… He became very frustrated at how long this was taking. He kept having to backwash the pump every 5 minutes because it was so nasty. I finally read that vacuuming the pool on the “filter” setting could decrease the life of the pump. So he started vacuuming it on the “waste” setting. It was still too tedious. Vacuuming on waste means constantly dumping water out of the pool as you’re vacuuming. We still had so much debris left….

A friend of ours recommended a particular robot vacuum. I had been looking into them but there were too many choices. I didn’t want to order one unless someone I knew recommended it based on their experience. I was so tired of this. Summer was slowly slipping away and we hadn’t enjoyed our pool at all. My husband was over it and wanted to get rid of the pool entirely.

The Dolphin Nautilus robot vacuum has been the BEST investment, other than our new pump! It is SO easy! All you have to do is plug it in, drop the vacuum in the pool, and push the power button. It runs its cycle until it’s done. There are two filters inside it that you just spray out with a water house and put them back in! You can put it on a schedule if you want but I just go out and turn it on anytime I see dirt in the bottom of the pool!

Before the robot vacuum…
Running it for the first time!
After a few weeks of using the robot. Yes, it also climbs the walls!
The blue lights mean it’s on! There are 3 options on the right for setting a schedule.

We finally had clear water and felt good about swimming in our pool. However, something didn’t seem right to me. The pool didn’t SMELL like a pool. So I went and did something I should have done in the beginning…I took a sample of water to the local pool store. Let me tell you- I should have started with that step! I learned you actually don’t JUST need salt for a saltwater pool. You need to control the pH. You need stabilizer. You need algaecide. You need chlorinator to get the levels up before the salt can finally be generated into chlorine. There’s a lot I still don’t understand. But here we are mid-August and FINALLY have a clear pool that smells like a pool!

This has been such a learning experience for me. Thank God I have been on maternity leave and had the time to troubleshoot, research, and learn as much as I can about taking care of this pool so that next year, we will be ready!

Hard work and patience paid off!

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