Pool Skimmers

The Skimmer – An Important Part of the Swimming Pool (Part 2)

In Pool Tips by Swimming Pool Expert

Since the late 1950s, skimmers became essential for keeping pool water clean and the pump running efficiently in your pool.  If you see an opening on the waterline, it’s most likely a skimmer.   It is important to understand how it works to get the most out of this essential part of your pool.  We invite you to read on where you can find tips on how to take care of skimmers, plus provide you with information on the different types available and troubleshoot some common issues.

Maintaining a Pool Skimmer

A pool skimmer requires little effort to maintain.  Regardless that is a critical artifact of a healthy pool; there are a few pointers to keep in mind during a pool care routine:

Empty the Skimmer Basket Often

First, turn off the pump.  Then remove the skimmer cover and lift out the skimmer basket for cleaning.  A clogged skimmer basket impedes water flow to the pump, limiting the pump’s ability to skim debris from the pool surface.  Pools with particularly heavy foliage may require manual skimming with a leaf net.  If you are reluctant to reach into the dark, deep skimmer, attach a Skimmer Angel basket handle that extends to just below the skimmer cover and keeps your hand out of the water.  Empty the skimmer basket frequently.

Clean the Skimmer Itself

In addition to emptying the skimmer basket, you should also occasionally clean and wipe down the inside of the skimmer and the filler neck.  When keeping the skimmer clean, floating oil and debris will go inside rather than sticking on the pool walls.

Replace Skimmer Parts as Needed

It’s not a bad idea to stock a few extra skimmer parts, like spare lids and baskets.  Replace broken skimmer lids to prevent foot and ankle injuries and replace broken skimmer baskets to keep the pump basket clean.  An essential but often neglected part is the skimmer strainer.  The weir keeps the water flowing into the skimmer.  The pump floats upright to prevent leaves and debris from flowing back into the pool when the pump is off.  To find replacement parts for your skimmer, please specify the make and model.  Not sure what you need?  Look closely at your skimmer’s weir, lid, or basket to find manufacturer information or a stamped part number.

Protect Against Freeze Damage

As you go through your winterization checklist, remember to add some protection for all pool equipment.  A skimmer’s worst nightmare during the winter months is freezing water.  So, use a gizmo or similar freeze guard in your skimmer.  It helps absorb pressure from expanding ice.  Also available is a skimmer plug; it avoids water getting into it, especially during the cold season.

Main Drain

The central drain is connected to the skimmer and uses a diverter to control the drain and skimmer’s suction in some inground pools.  Typically, the main drainpipe connects to the front opening (water side) at the bottom of the skimmer, and the pipe leading to the filter pump connects to the rear opening (deck side).  It is important to have the proper skimmer diverter to set the optimum water flow between the skimmer and the drain, especially for inground pools with this type of skimmer plumbing.

Troubleshooting – Identify the Root of the Problem

If a skimmer is not working properly, check the following:

No Suction or Poor Suction

You need to verify if the skimmer is clean; every part includes basket, pump basket, and filter.  If valves control the skimmer and the main drain, turn the valve to close the other suction lines and leave the skimmer valve fully open.  If the skimmer loses suction when connecting a vacuum hose to the pool, fill the hose with water before joining so that there are no cracks or gaps through which air sucks in.  If this continues, make sure the skimmer pump impeller and hose are not clogged.

Also, make sure the water level is about halfway up the skimmer’s opening.  A skimmer will not work correctly if the water level is too high or low.

Skimmer Not Catching Surface Debris

If you notice that there is a lot of excess debris on the pool’s surface and it’s not landing in the basket, check to ensure you are vacuuming properly.  Once ruling out a problem with water flow, check the operation of your skimmer’s weir.  A faulty weir will not direct debris into the skimmer basket or retain it when the pump is off.  Make sure the weir opens and closes easily.

Cannot Remove Skimmer Basket

If the basket is full of leaves or debris, and you cannot remove the basket, shut off the pump first.  You may need to remove the debris by hand until breaking the seal and remove the basket easily.  If there is no debris, the basket may have a warp or deformation.  It may come out by making a wiggling motion and removing the basket slowly.  Otherwise, you need to break the basket using pliers and get a replacement.

Leakage

Skimmers can leak after many years of usage, mainly on in-ground pools.  A plastic skimmer and concrete can expand and contract differently, causing to crack the grout around the skimmer’s area.  Damage during the winter season can also cause the skimmer to crack on the sidewalls.

Debris Passing Through

If small debris is easily passing through a skimmer basket, use a mesh sock.  Ensure that it fits tightly over the basket.  It helps to retain particles like pollen and pet hair.

Replacement

If you tried everything mentioned above, you might need to replace an inground skimmer.  Your best bet is to call a pool professional to do the replacement.  Remember, skimmers are in the ground and encased in concrete.

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