Pool Skimmer Acting Up? Full Troubleshooting Guide

The modern-day is generous enough to offer a range of pool cleaning tools. In fact, you’d have a hard time finding a pool without a pool skimmer these days. They are found in every pool and are considered one of their most essential features.

Pool skimmers are cleaning devices designed to suck water from the pool surface and draw it through a filtration system. Not only do they keep the pool looking clean, but they also help extract debris and contaminants from the pool water.

If you’re wondering about pool skimmers, how they work, their components, and how to keep them in good condition, you’ve landed on the right page. Consider this your ideal pool skimmer troubleshooting guide. Keep reading to learn more.

How do Pool Skimmers Work?

Pool water filtration system. Pure water

A better question might be, “How do different pool skimmers work?” They happen to come in many distinct forms. However, each one ultimately does the same thing, only differing in how they achieve their goals.

As the name suggests, pool skimmers serve to skim and filter visible floating debris like trash, flower petals, dirt, or leaves. They even help decontaminate the water from chemicals like sunscreen residue and other oily substances. 

It might be easier to think of your skimmer as a gutter for your pool. However, it also goes a long way towards keeping the pool’s filtration system from breaking. 

Your typical pool skimmer comes with a skimmer basket or two, depending on its design. Ordinarily, it has a weir flap and a water channel opening through which water can enter.

It can be amazing how subtle skimmers can be, working so quietly in the background you barely notice them there. But, overall, pool skimmers serve as the beginning point, if not one of the most necessary items for any pool setup.

Types of Pool Skimmers

A pool skimmer can often be installed around a pool’s surface. This makes it easier for the device to capture any debris floating around. After all, such debris can easily cause damage to the pool’s filtration system if left unattended—the result is expensive pool repair costs.

Let’s consider some more common pool skimmers you’re likely to encounter.

In-Ground Pool Skimmers

In many cases, you’ll be able to tell an in-ground pool skimmer apart from others. This is because it usually features itself built into the upper sides of a pool. From this point, it can more easily suction the nearby debris and trap it before it causes harm.

You will likely notice a tank projecting onto the skimmer’s upper side. This tank is typically made out of plastic or some precast concrete.

While the shape and form of an in-ground pool skimmer may vary, it’s usually found around the pool’s rim, near the top of the walls. It usually is rectangular but can come in various shapes depending on your pool design.

Some pool skimmers in this category have come fitted with door flaps. You’ll notice it open and close as the water flows. 

Above-Ground Pool Skimmers

Barring in-ground skimmers, you also get above-ground pool skimmers. These are primarily for above-ground pools, and other water features more off the ground than in it. Picture a floating pool device that collects debris and dirt in the pool.

Pool owners with permanent above-ground pools would have their pool skimmers mounted on the side of the pool with a metal or plastic arm. Such a skimmer can often be attached to the pool’s vacuum pump to collect and keep debris away from the pool’s filtration system.

It might be interesting to note that many manufacturers of above-ground pools place pre-cut openings in the walls of their pools. This opening allows owners to mount an integrated pool skimmer.

Robotic Pool Skimmers

The newest on the market are robotic pool skimmers. Typically these are used for above-ground pools and are a good alternative to the conventional fix-in-place models. They mainly operate with batteries. Some models even have solar panels, so they can work all day long without consuming too much power.

Some robotic pool skimmers are designed to lower the cost of your energy bills, as they can work independently of the pool pump.

Clogged Pool Skimmer

Is your pool skimmer clogged? Rest assured, the problem is far more common than you think. A pool skimmer gets clogged whenever too much debris and other collected items get caught. This blocks the skimmer, stopping it from functioning correctly. 

What’s the problem?

Your pool skimmer can be clogged due to several reasons. These include unusual weather pushing items into your pool, neglect, or an infrequent cleaning schedule.

If you happen not to have a cleaning schedule for your pool, one that is regular and consistent, your pool’s skimmer may become clogged more often than you’d like.

Prevention, in this case, is always better than cure. It may not be the most glamorous of tasks, yet cleaning your skimmer regularly is the best way to prevent it from blockages.

Putting too much reliance on your skimmer is a common mistake as well. While some pools are in areas where they are less likely to attract debris, others collect leaves and twigs daily.

While your pool skimmer may undoubtedly be capable, you can help it out by scooping up some of the leaves and debris yourself daily.

How to Fix it

Dirty pool skimmer with debris

The most common issue with pool skimmers is clogging. To unclog a skimmer, you need only switch the pump off, then remove the lid and basket.

Next, place a garden hose inside the area and fill it with water. If there is no access to a garden hose, pour a bucket or two of water into the area. You should isolate the clogged skimmer line for the best results at this stage.

If you notice that the water level is not below average yet bounces back whenever it enters the pool skimmer, this indicates that the skimmer might be clogged. 

The clogging of a skimmer is from one of two things. The first is when the skimmer basket fills with debris, and the second is when the lid of a ring seat is blocked.

Clogged Skimmer Basket

If the skimmer basket is filled, open the lid, remove the debris, and replace the basket.

Clogged Skimmer Lid or Ring Seat

Take the skimmer basket out and place it to one side. Once this is done, hose the lid of the ring seat and use your hands to get rid of any hard-to-remove debris. For the best results, make sure that every intake is open.

Once this is done, replace the basket and the lid and switch the pump back on. Observe if the clogging continues or not.

Suction Issues

Solving the issue of a clogged skimmer is the first step. Remember that preventing a clogged skimmer is the best way to fix a clogged skimmer. However, if you have done all the steps listed above and still have issues, you may have suction issues at work.

Make your way over to the pool’s pump. Once there, be attentive and listen. To determine whether the pump is active, switch it off and then on again. Listen for any pumping or humming sounds, and feel the pump for vibrations.

The more hands-on pool owner may be able to determine whether these sounds and vibrations are stronger or weaker than usual. Pending that, see if the pump switched on results in any significant movement in the water.

If you notice minimal movement, or none, coming from the skimmer’s opening, you probably have a skimmer with limited or no suction. If this is left unchecked, the result will be dirty, murkier water that is unsafe to swim in.

How to Fix it

The solution is relatively straightforward regarding suction issues: tidy that sucker up. As mentioned earlier, you would ideally already have a cleaning schedule that includes regularly clearing up the skimmer and its components.

  1. Check the o-ring to make sure that it is lubricated and correctly placed.
  1. Take it out of the pump and bend it to ensure no tears in the o-ring.
  1. If there is a tear in the o-ring, replace it with a new one to stop the suction and air leaks.

However, if you are not in the habit of cleaning your skimmer, it could result in a skimmer basket that’s frequently full and dirty, a pump strainer that has become inefficient, and a host of other suction issues.

Air Lock

Air leaks, you ask? Yes. Some pool skimmers come fitted with an airlock system. This airlock system can be one of the reasons your skimmer isn’t doing too well at skimming. However, you probably just need to remove air from your pool filter.

Air in Your Pool Filter

  • First, find the air relief valve. The air relief valve can be found on top of the pool filter housing and can be located either below or behind your pressure gauge. 
  • Secondly, look at your pressure gauge. It is unlikely to show a reading if there’s air in the system.
  • Thirdly, open the valve slowly while the air relief valve on the pool filter pump is set on the filter setting.
  • Lastly, you should hear a hissing noise from the valve if there is air in the filter.

How to Fix it

  1. Wait until the water comes out of the valve.
  1. Close any filter bleeds
  1. Run the pump and open the skimmer valves slowly.

You may remove any trapped air in the filter housing by executing the above procedure. Once the skimmer valves are completely open, you must have plenty of water going through the system, and the air should be gone.

Key Takeaways

It’s always a hassle to tend to a pool’s cleaning needs. Yet, it is essential to maintain your pool to keep enjoying the benefits it provides to you and your household.

Prevention is better than cure, so keep a regular pool clean schedule. Pending that, we hope this guide will furnish you with all the information you need to maintain your pool skimmer.

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