They principles are very similar whether you are choosing an auto or manual style vacuum cleaner. With any pool vac cleaner you will get a vacuum adapter plate which needs to be the right size to fit your skimmer. See this video below for an example.
Usually the skimmer is round in an above ground pool so the adapter plate can fit down inside the hole and create that suction through the hose. Next up you will need to attach the vacuum head to your hose if you are using a manual cleaner. They are usually triangular in shape.
Automatic suction side cleaners have a diaphragm that contracts and releases. The hose can be a single piece for manual cleaners. But this will not work with auto vacuums. The hose has to be split into 3ft host links that interconnect. The length you need is determined by the length of your pool.
Manual Vacuum Link Up
You will need a pole if you are using a manual vacuum. The pole slots into the pivoting handle in the vacuum head. A spring clamp holds it in place. Next up attach the hose (single length is fine) and insert into the nipple attachment on the vacuum head.
Now you are ready to submerge the vacuum head in the pool. Before any suction occurs you first need to prime the pool pump. First up you need to prime the pump with the hose attached to the return water jet. This gets all the air out of the hose. Once the vacuum head sinks to the bottom of the pool all the air is gone. Now you are ready to vacuum.
Now the hose is primed you need to turn the pump off. Now you attach one end of the hose to the skimmer adapter and then drop it into the skimmer. Now you can turn the pump back on to create the suction. Now you are ready to vacuum the pool.
Extend or retract the telescopic pole lengths to the desired size. Remember to clamp the pole so it doesn’t slip. Most standard telescopic poles go up to 16 feet. Now you can start vacuuming your pool just like you would vacuum a floor inside your home.
Automatic Suction-Side Vacuum Cleaners
Automatic vacuums work mostly the same. The hose must be primed. The hose must attach to the adapter plate which slots inside the skimmer. The pump also must be switched off after the hose is primed. The hose is different on an auto vac in that the hose lengths connect to each other as opposed to being a single length of hose.
Attach the appropriate length which should comfortably go across the width of your pool including enough length so it can go up the walls.
Cleaners can get air-locked if they go up over the waterline and pull air. You will notice them drop immediately and you will have to regulate the flow to get them going again. All vacuums come with a flow regulator valve which you can adjust so the cleaner works like it should.
Suction side cleaners are slow, and it will take an auto-vac up to 4 hours to clean a round 24′ pool.