Why is My Pool Cleaner Going in Circles? (Solved)

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A pool cleaner, whether it’s Polaris or Hayward, should navigate the entirety of the swimming pool, but a fully functioning pool cleaner should not go around in circles. So, why is your robotic pool cleaner going in circles?

Nine times out of ten, a pool cleaner going in circles is caused by too much flow coming into the cleaner. To fix it, you simply need to adjust the flow coming into the cleaner. If you have a variable-speed pump, you can adjust the flow right at the pump. If not, you can adjust the flow at the Universal Wall Fitting.

However, there are other reasons. Whatever the case might be, we will break down the 8 reasons why your pool cleaner is going around in circles. By the end of this post, you should be able to find a solution.

8 Reasons Why Your Pool Cleaner is Going in Circles

A drop in pressure or imbalance can cause a pool cleaner to lean to one side, making it rotate without moving straight. Below are the 8 reasons why your pool cleaner is going around in circles.

1. The pool cleaner base is uneven

Inevitably, the bottom of the pool cleaner (the wheels or the feet) will wear down. If the bottom wears down unevenly, it can cause the pool cleaner to go in circles because the base is uneven.

2. The hose is tangled, worn, or assembled improperly

If the pool cleaner’s hose is tangled, worn, or assembled incorrectly, the pool cleaner can go in circles. Worse, it can get stuck in a corner. The best way to go about this is to use a shorter hose.

It’s tempting to use a long hose to ensure your pool cleaner can navigate the entirety of the pool, but you run the risk of the hose becoming tangled. Ideally, you would want to keep the hose five feet longer (at most) than the farthest point from the pool cleaner’s pump connection.

Alternatively, if the hose is torn or has holes, you’ll need a new hose replacement. The torn or damaged hose will blow air in one direction and potentially send the pool cleaner running around in circles.

3. The water outlet is clogged

A pool cleaner won’t drive straight if one of the water outlets is clogged. To be able to move around at the bottom of the pool smoothly, there are usually several spouts that shoot water up.

A pool cleaner could run around in circles without these jets. The entire navigation system of the pool cleaner would be messed up if one of the water outlets is clogged. Use a pipe cleaner to unclog it.

4. The hose’s swivels are jammed

When the pool cleaner hose’s swivels are jammed (stuck or worn down), they can prevent the pool cleaner from moving correctly. Worse, the pool cleaner runs around in circles. Most pool cleaners have swivels that are typical 1.5 inches. Some have swivels that are 1 inch, depending on the model and brand. 

If they are worn down or damaged, you will need to buy new replacements. You can get in on Amazon. Over time, the swivels can get stuck or worn down from excess sunlight, chlorine, salt, sand, and debris.

5. The internal gears have a broken belt

Lastly, your pool cleaner is going around in circles potentially due to a broken belt. A broken belt will typically stop the pool cleaner from moving, but sometimes, cleaners with two belts will only work on one side.

Similar to the uneven base issue, one broken belt (out of the two) may cause the swimming pool cleaner to spin in the opposite direction because it is uneven. You’ll need to get it replaced if it is damaged.

6. The backup valve is broken 

Notice an acorn-shaped piece at the front of your pool cleaner? It is called the backup valve. Its purpose is to keep the pool cleaner away from corners and ladders by shooting pressurized water once every 3 minutes.

When the backup valve is broken, it shoots water constantly, thrusting the pool cleaner to the surface of the pool. As a result, your pool cleaner is now running around in circles. In some cases, the backup valve can cause the pool cleaner to float instead of sinking at the bottom.

To inspect the back up valve, turn on your pool cleaner then bring it out of the water. If a constant jet of water keeps coming out of the backup valve, you’ll need to fix it. However, if you are not confident, you can simply ask a certified repair person to fix it for you. It’s as simple as that.

7. The backup valve sits too far along the hose

If the backup valve is not broken and is working properly, but your pool cleaner is running around in circles, then it could be that the backup valve sits too far along the hose.

When the backup valve sits too far away from the hose, it will tilt the pool cleaner on its front wheels, making the pool cleaner spin in circles. On the other hand, when the backup valve sits too close (within a foot) of the pool cleaner, it will press the pool cleaner too hard into the pool’s floor.

8. The float valve is leaking air

Most pool cleaners have a head float, also known as a float valve, which is an oval-shaped plastic piece on the back of pool cleaners. It’s likely the lightest piece of equipment on the machine because it’s filled with air.

The sole purpose of the float valve is to prevent the pool cleaner from pressing against the pool’s floor. Together with the interior water spouts and backup valve, they balance gravity under the water.

When the float valve is clogged or leaking air, it can send the pool cleaner to go around in circles. A telltale sign if you need to replace it is if you hear water sloshing around the float valve. Replacing it is inexpensive and quick. All you have to do is buy the replacement, slide the old one off and pop on the new one.

Key Takeaways

And there you go, the complete troubleshooting guide for when your pool cleaner goes around in circles. The most important thing is to look for reasons the pressure would drop or become imbalanced. There should be even wearing and tear, no leaks in the hose, and zero clogs from top to bottom.

Christopher White

I'm a freelance writer and editor for Cleaners Talk. I don't claim to be a cleaning expert, but I have 8 Roombas at home, including 2 robot mops. I love to tinker with them.