How to Troubleshoot and Repair a Polaris 65 or Turtle Vac-Sweep Pool Vacuum
Tune up That Polaris Turtle!
The Polaris “65” Turtle above ground pool cleaner is a great little device for those of us who don’t want to spend lots of time vacuuming out the pool when we could be swimming or sunbathing instead. The Polaris Vac-Sweep “65” is well worth the price because of the great cleaning job it does on round and oval shaped above ground pools.
But like all other machines with moving parts, it will eventually need some maintenance and repair to keep it in perfect working condition. There are several common problems you may be confronted with after you’ve had it for a season or two.
This article is intended to help owners of this model to perform maintenance, troubleshoot problems, and do repairs on both the Polaris “65” and the Polaris Turtle above ground pool cleaning units. They both have identical mechanisms using the same parts.
Polaris "65" or Turtle Operation
Using the water pressure from the pool’s return, the Polaris uses the water pressure to activate a simple piston and water turbine device to alternately go forward and backwards as the trailing sweep forces water into the collection net.
The Vac-Sweep’s water pressure also forces leaves, sand, and other debris into the collection net where it will be emptied after the complete cycle. Its trouble free design allows you to leave it to clean the pool while you relax or do other things.
The Vac-Sweep also scours the sides of the pool while the jets loosen any debris which may be clinging to the surface of the vinyl liner. The randomizer inside the unit assures all parts of the pool bottom are scoured clean.
The time needed to completely clean the pool depends on the size and depth of the particular pool. From 2 to 4 hours should clean most sizes of above ground pool.
There are several things which may affect the performance of your Polaris Vac-Sweep, with some being simple to remedy, but other problems may require going into the cycling mechanism itself.
Because of the corrosive nature of many pool chemicals, chlorine for one, very few metal parts are used in the Polaris Turtle. A total of 6 stainless steel screws plus a spring-reinforced seal total the metal parts in the entire mechanism.
As shown in the photo, only 2 screws are used to attach the cover to the float.
In some cases the screw are stripped out and fail to tighten properly. Replacing the old stainless steel screws with slightly larger ones will usually work well.
It may be necessary to operate the unit with the cover removed in order to view the inner workings of the unit and determine the cause of some problems. You may notice if the piston isn't cycling back and forth or if the actuator is not turning properly.
By removing the 2 cover screws, after detaching the supply and sweeper hoses, the complete unit may be removed from the float, making it easier to disassemble the unit. All that remains is to remove the 4 screws on the piston assembly itself to service the replaceable parts.
After the 4 screws on the cylinder and chamber ends are removed, the cylinder and actuator covers are simply turned counterclockwise and come apart easily. At this point, all inner parts are accessible for repair or replacement.
Troubleshooting the Turbo Turtle or "65"
Troubleshooting and Repairing the Turtle
Problem: The Turtle has a tendency to sink lower in the water on one side or turn bottom-side-up.
Solution: The supply hose connecting the pool return may not be swiveling freely. Check each end of the connecting hose to ensure they turn easy in the connecting joints. As the unit makes random turns, the swivel connectors should keep the hose from developing the kinks which may cause the unit to upend.
It takes very little water leaking into the float to cause it flip over or run sideways. Your unit may be slowly taking on water.
- Check for water inside the floating part and empty it out. After several seasons of use, it may develop holes from bumping into the ladder or the sides of the pool.
- Be sure the rubber washer around the removable drain plug is sealing the float. Check for cracks or other holes in the float and seal with a good quality plastic adhesive to prevent future leaks.
- Also, be sure all jets are working properly, as one clogged jet may allow the unit to tip over. Understand that the randomizer ball will block one of the jets in its chamber as a matter of course. It is supposed to do this for a short period of time during normal operation.
Problem: It Only Goes in One Direction
Causes: Badly worn or cracked rubber o-rings which seal the water chambers may allow the water pressure to escape and therefore not move the piston inside the cylinder. The smaller rubber and plastic seals inside the chambers may also be worn to the extent of losing pressure.
- The large o-rings may be found in a local auto parts supply store or machine shop. I prefer to make my own with an o-ring kit with many thicknesses of material included.
- Super glue (cyan acrylic) adhesive is used to join the ends of the o-ring, with the bond being very strong. Otherwise, you may order them from the links on this page, or buy a larger o-ring and cut and glue it to the correct size.
- If the seals are fine, it may be that the piston is stuck inside of the cylinder. Remove the piston and clean the outside compression rings to ensure there is nothing beneath them to prevent them from making a tight seal.
- Use a flat, dull piece of wood or plastic to gently pry or stretch the compression ring out from the piston in order to make it seal better. These rings sometimes get stiff after sitting idle during the winter months.
How to Repair the Turbo Turtle Piston Assembly
This is a replacement Piston and rod assembly for the Polaris Turbo Turtle and 65 Vac-Sweep.
The Polaris 65 Piston and Rod Assembly
The unique piston is the heart of this little unit. There are 2 internal one-way valves with one on each side of the piston. If you blow through the pipe, only one hole will allow air to escape.
- Blow through the other hole and only the pipe will allow air to pass. If this doesn’t happen with your piston then a new replacement part is called for.
- The black rubber seals on each end of the piston are easily removed, cleaned, reinstalled, and seldom need replacing.
- The piston rod may be grooved from contact with the worn spring seal. It may be sprayed with a plastic paint, sanded smooth, and repeated until it is smooth again. However, a replacement piston assembly is not very expensive.
- If you cannot find the spring seal locally from a specialty seal supplier, you may find them through the ads links on this page.
- Any of the Amazon product ads on this page will take you to all of the other repair parts for the Turbo Turtle and the Polaris 65 Vac-Sweep units. If you do not find the replacement parts on this page, look though the other parts' ads.
- The replacement pressure chamber shown comes complete with new seals, both spring reinforced and/or plastic, already installed.
Center Chamber Repair and Replacement
Polaris Turbo Turtle "65" Center Chamber
Replacement 65/165 mechanism for the Polaris Turtle or "65" model.
Polaris Turtle 65 Center Chamber Assembly
Unless the chambers are cracked, or the seals worn down too much to properly seal off the water pressure, they will not need replacing for several seasons. Even then, simply replacing the seals should be all that’s required for maintenance and repairs.
- The black spring reinforced seal on the piston rod end has a tendency to wear out quicker than the plastic seals used in the other end and the middle seal positions.
- The black rubber spring reinforced seal will also scar up the piston rod when it wears down to the steel spring, as shown in the photos. Replacing the center chamber assembly is easy and really not too expensive.
- If the chamber is merely cracked, it may be repaired with a good quality plastic repair epoxy or cement. Make sure the product used is especially for plastic repairs.
- It may be possible to replace the rod seals if you are near a bearing or seal company or feel confident in measuring and ordering them online. This will depend on your DIY skills and the time required for repairs. Most simply buy the new center chamber every few years.
I got new seals at a local bearing and seal company instead of replacing the entire piston assembly.
Cleaning the Filter
Filter/Randomizer Tube and Other Parts
The filter connector/randomizer tube is really a small water turbine which will turn freely when the cycle requiress it to slide through the chamber seal.
The small filter in this tube needs to be kept clean for the unit to cycle correctly. Simply snap it out, clean it with soap and water, and replace it back into the filter tube.
Notice how the filter tube snaps into the end of the piston rod when reassembled. It should turn easily with no rough or tight places.
This part will also become worn over several seasons with replacement of both it and the filter being required at some point. You may prolong the life of the filter tube and piston rod by using white epoxy spray appliance paint to fill in the grooves which eventually form on these parts due to the to and fro movement of the mechanism.
- Begin by masking the filter opening on the filter tube and the rubber piston seals so no paint can clog the filter or damage the piston seals. Use very thin coats of epoxy paint until the grooves are filled in properly.
- Be sure to allow the paint to dry a short time in between coats and also give the paint to dry for several days after you've finished painting with epoxy. This process worked well for me and is worth a try before purchasing new parts.
Covers, sweep hose parts, and other less required parts are also available through the Amazon ads with lower prices than buying from a pool repair and service dealer.
With proper maintenance and care, the Polaris Vac-Sweep will last for years and give you extra time to enjoy the water. Always store the unit inside out of the sunlight when not in use.