All articles and videos by David Van Brunt

David@Swimmingpoollearning.com

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Polaris Pressure Side Cleaners:

Polaris 360 - No Booster Pump Required

This is the Polaris 360 return side cleaner (non-booster pump) model. It works very well with the proper set-up. It has a very large debris opening which is great for a pool like the one in this video that is surrounded by trees.  A suction side cleaner would not work well in this pool since it has no side port connection and I would have to install a suction cleaner in the skimmer which would prove problematic.

 

To install this one, I had to actually plug up two of the return lines with 1 ½" threaded plugs (not included with the Polaris). It did have two restrictor eyeball inserts which are useful. If your pool doesn't have 1 ½" threaded return fittings, you can still install this cleaner but you will need to purchase rubber snub pipe inserts, then attach restrictors and the Polaris connector (prices range from $50-$70 for those parts).

 

So with that in mind, you need to restrict the other return jets enough to get the Polaris to move with sufficient wheel revolutions per minute (RPM). If I did not plug up two of the jets and restrict one other, this Polaris would not move.  With the Spa bypass running I was able to generate 27 RPMs without cleaning or backwashing the filter which is a good enough speed to clean this pool.

 

If your pool fits this description, then the Polaris 360 may be right for you.

Troubleshooting tips:

Hose length is important. Too much hose and the cleaner will not work properly.

 

The Back-up Valve must be installed 14-20 inches from the cleaner and the water opening (where water shoots out of) must be facing the cleaner and not away from it. These valves tend to fail often. To know if it is working properly, lift it out of the water when the Polaris is running. If water is continuously shooting out and never stops, it has failed and you need a new one, otherwise, the Polaris will not run.

 

The Quick Disconnect that attaches the Polaris to the wall also has an adjustment on it, make sure it is not all the way open or there will not be enough pressure. They tend to crack under the pressure so check it periodically to see if water is shooting out of it from a crack.

 

Sometimes when you clean the filter, some element will enter the Polaris return line. Simply disconnect the wall connector and clean out the small debris basket (looks like a Thimble).

 

If you find the Polaris on its side in the bottom of the pool, the rear float has probably failed and is full of water. Simply remove it and install a new one. These are the most common problems you will have.

 

If the cleaner starts and runs for a few seconds then stops, then runs again and stops; check the skimmer basket & pump basket for debris (possibly low water too), if the pool does not run the Polaris will not either since it works off the return water pressure. Clean or backwash filter in needed.

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Polaris 280

First, you must have a separate pump plumbed in for the Polaris cleaner or you cannot install this cleaner. It needs its own pump to work off the pressure (return) side of the pool verse the suction (skimmer/side port) side.

I have several customers with these cleaners installed (Two with Polaris 180 models which means that after 15 years they are still working fine) and all work off the same principal. The Polaris pump sends high pressure to the line the Polaris is attached to spinning the wheels and moving the cleaner. Every few minutes the Backup valve activates and reverses the cleaner (prevents it from getting stuck in one area).

These cleaners work well if they are set up correctly. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

Hose length is important. Too much hose and the cleaner will not work properly.

The Back-up Valve must be installed 14-20 inches from the cleaner and the water opening (where water shoots out of) must be facing the cleaner and not away from it. These valves tend to fail often. To know if it is working properly, lift it out of the water when the Polaris is running. If water is continuously shooting out and never stops, it has failed and you need a new one, otherwise, the Polaris will not run.

The Quick Disconnect that attaches the Polaris to the wall also has an adjustment on it, make sure it is not all the way open or there will not be enough pressure. They tend to crack under the pressure so check it periodically to see if water is shooting out of it from a crack.

Sometimes when you clean the filter, some element will enter the Polaris return line. Simply disconnect the wall connector and clean out the small debris basket (looks like a Thimble).

If you find the Polaris on it's side in the bottom of the pool, the rear float has probably failed and is full of water. Simply remove it and install a new one. These are the most common problems you will have.

If the cleaner starts and runs for a few seconds then stops, then runs again and stops; check the skimmer basket & pump basket for debris (possibly low water too), if the pool does not run the Polaris will not either since it works off the return water pressure.

If the Polaris hose is tangled and doesn't seem to unwind, just add a Swivel to the hose by cutting the hose with a blade, and inserting a swivel with 2 nuts to hold it in. Make sure the arrow on the swivel is pointed towards the Polaris and don't add a swivel within 10 FT of the Polaris (otherwise it will do 360 all day).

The manufacturer recommends Polaris Tail Sweep Pro Accessory if the Polaris tail is shooting water out of the pool. This will keep it from shooting out onto the deck.

This would be a five-star cleaner if not for a separate pump running when it is cleaning, not a very energy efficient set up even if you only need to run it 2 hours a day. With all that said, the cleaner should give you many years of great service. The parts do wear out (although I have several units that I haven't had to rebuild in 5 plus years), most commonly the rubber Tires and the wheel bearings. The other parts seem to last a very long time. A very good cleaner.

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Polaris 3900 Sport

First, this review is for the latest edition of the Polaris 3900 Sport in which Zodiac/Polaris did extensive retooling of the later generation units. The first generation of this thing was to put it lightly - crap, as all the negative reviews, can attest to. But that was four to five years ago, right?

I know, I know this cleaner is now stigmatized. Like a drug addict getting clean and everyone watching him out of the corner of their eye. With the upgraded chain drive, black feed hoses and advanced tail sweep that doesn't shoot water out of the pool and all over your deck and windows - why Polaris just didn't rename it the 4900 Sport is beyond me. But I am just a pool guy and not an Ad Wizard.

So before you decide to get this cleaner check to see if it has the black feed hoses. This would mark it as the latest version and it comes with the enhanced tail sweep.

The video will go over all of the enhanced features of this cleaner for you and show it in action. I read all of the reviews posted here and a few mentioned the cleaner tipping over when the bag is full. I called Zodiac/Polaris and they said that is not common. Also, some reviewers think this thing will clean the step areas. It won't, although the tail sweep is designed to blow the dirt off - you will have to brush the steps as with all cleaners. But the theme of the reviews was the chain falling off in the first generation of the Polaris 3900 sport.

I show the new enhanced chain drive in the video and basically, instead of going down into gear right at the front wheel it goes straight back and then loops under the cleaner into gear and then back up the front, so it has been retooled by Polaris to prevent it from falling off.

Basically, I love the Polaris line of cleaners, from the workhorse old school drive shaft 280 to the belt driven 360 non-booster pump version and now the updated Polaris 3900 Sport.

Four stars for now as this thing tries to rehabilitate it's reputation...

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