Pool Care Pool Troubleshooting

What to Check If Your Pool Skimmer Not Working Properly?

The pool skimmer is where the pool filtration system begins. The water passes through the skimmer to the pool pump, then to the filter, and back to the swimming pool. However, one of the most common problems you will face with this skimmer line is the pool skimmer not working.

Among the many common issues that can stop your skimmer from working are clogged skimmer, pump or filter problems, high or low water level, or your pool circulation has air in it. The best way to troubleshoot pool skimmer not working is to start by checking the skimmer itself and work your way up to the return jet.

Before you start panicking and take everything down, understand there is a better and simple way to troubleshoot and guided easy fix I will explain in this post.

How to Troubleshoot Pool Skimmer Not Working (Easy Fixes)

As I mentioned above, there are a series of issues that might be causing your pool skimmer not to work. I will explain them here and give you an easy way to fix them. If something isn’t fixable, I will recommend the best action. Read along!

Water Flowing In the Skimmer but Leaves All Over the Pool Surface

Do you’ve enough water flowing through the skimmer but none of the leaves and debris going into the skimmer?

If that’s the problem, your pool water level might be too high that the water entering your swimming pool doesn’t pull them in.

The water waves are supposed to push the leave and debris into the pool skimmer as the pool pump pulls the water to the filter for more cleaning.

Fixing is simple; reduce the water level. There are more than one ways to reduce the water level in your swimming pool.

You can use the pool filter drain line or waste line to remove the excess water draining it to a safer spot. If the water is too much, you can enquire with the local sewage company and see if you can direct the water to the drainage system.

You can also use a hose to siphon the water out from your above-ground pool. Take the garden hose, fill it with tap water with the one side closed. Dip the open end into the pool water and the closed-end on the ground. Allow the water to drain; make sure you’re directing the water into a spot that won’t get a dump.

Water flowing in Well, Debris Drawn in but Doesn’t Stay in the skimmer

Your pool water flows into the skimmer well, and you can see the leaves and debris getting pulled into the hole, but when the pump is going off partially, the leaves return to the swimming pool.

For such a case, you have a problem with the skimmer weir door. This door has a floating medium designed to keep the top door level with the water surface. It’s supposed to trap the debris inside the skimmer when drawn in by suction.

Check the floating medium to make sure it’s there. It’d be best if you gave it a push to ensure it is fully dislodged. There could be a twig or debris stuck in the door, preventing it from floating well. Check to make sure it’s free again.

Water Not Flowing Into the Skimmer

If you have lots of leaves and debris floating on the water surface and no action around the pool skimmer, there might be an issue with the water intake because of a series of topics.

That can be a clogged skimmer, zero suction, or even failure in the water circulation system caused by a pool pump or filter issue or air in the system.

Whichever the case, you should be able to identify the problem with the following steps.

Low water level

Is your water level below the skimmer top? Monitor the skimmer entry and check if there is any water flowing in; the water level should be just above the skimmer entry top.

If that is the case, you’ve to refill it to ensure the water is at the ideal level. You can use either a garden hose and connect it to your city water tap or well tap.

You can also call for water delivery service, of course for a fee, or ask the nearest firefighter department near you for a donation to come and refill it for you.

If you want to know more about pool refilling, our How to Refill a Swimming Pool post has more for you.

Clogged skimmer

If the water level is average but bounces back when it enters the skimmer, you might have a clogged skimmer situation. Skimmer clogging can happen when:

  • a) Skimmer Basket Get Filled with Debris

Open the top lid of your pool skimmer. What do you see? If it’s anything but clean water, then the debris and dirt might be clogging its intake.

Shut the water intake valve, lift the skimmer floating weir or basket out and empty it. Return the items, start the intake and see if the flow is back. If not, the culprit might be a blocked lid or ring seat

  • b) Blocked lid or Ring Seat

The small debris escaping through the skimmer basket holes could accumulate on the lid or ring seat entrance and block them. The entries are quite a time and can get blocked quite often.

Remove the skimmer basket and set it aside. Lift the lid or ring seat of the skimmer and give it a thorough cleaning. Ensure all the intakes are open.

Is the water flowing? If yes, return the lid or ring seat and check it too. Anything? If the water is flowing again, replace the skimmer parts and close them. If not. There might be a suction problem.

Closed or Partially Open Skimmer Valve

It’s an apparent reason why your pool skimmer is not working that is often overlooked. Check the valve regulating the amount of water drawn from the skimmer to the pool pump. Make sure it’s fully open.

Reduced or No Suction

If you’ve done all the above and the skimmer is filled with water, there’s a suctioning problem you need to address. The main culprit for such a problem is the pump not pulling water as it should; it’s not priming.

Run to your pool pump, listen and check if there’s any action in the pump skimmer. If you’re using an Intex pump-filter system, listen for a cracking or rock-hitting sound. You can hold the filter tank and feel the vibration; if weak, it’s not pumping.

If you see little or no water movement through the clear pump cover, there might be no suction in the pool skimmer. The main culprits here are air in the system or blocked water lines.

How do you fix it?

Unblock the line:

Detach the pipe connecting to the pool pump and see any water reaching the pump. If not, open and close the return line for several seconds every time. If there were debris in the system, it would enter the pump basket, and you can empty it.

Empty the Pump strainer:

Check the pump strainer basket and make sure it’s not full of debris. They might be the reason there is no enough flow of water to the pump.

Empty it by opening the top cover; if screwed in, unscrew it, shut off the pump, remove the strainer basket, empty the debris to a dustbin, clean it and return it. Close the cover and start the pump again.

Manual pump-priming:

Turn off the pool pump and open the pump strainer lid and add water. Turn the unit back on see.

If you’re still getting tiny water bubbles in the pump basket, you need to check for leaks that allow air to enter the system.

You can add food color around the skimmer of circulation intake and check where there might be leaks. If you find any, fix it.

If the pump runs okay and the water flows nicely to the other end, the issue might be with the filter.

If you’re experiencing other issues with your pool pump, the Pool Pump Not Working post can help you.

Unclog the filter:

Check the filter pressure gauge. If on the red region, it might be blocked. The best solution is to clean it.

Sand or DE filter:

if you’re using a sand filter, set the multivalve to backwash and clean the sand. Remember to choose an ideal place to dump the water, a spot that won’t flood.

Cartridge filter:

if you’re using a cartridge filter, you need to clean the filter. Shut down the pump, open the top cover, and remove the cartridge.

Apply a cartridge cleaner and rinse it with clean water. Once you’re done, return all the pieces together and test the water flow again.

Related Questions

Is a Floating Skimmer Worth It?

Of course. It can pick up debris from the water surface before it can get suctioned into the pool skimmer. It helps reduce the strain put on the pull filtration system and reduce skimmer-clog issues

How to reduce the amount of debris getting into a pool skimmer

You can get yourself a leaf net to scoop the leaves floating on the water surface and in the middle of the pool before they can settle on the pool bottom. You can also use a mesh cover to prevent the debris from getting into your swimming pool at all. A floating skimmer can help keep the water surface debris-free even when the skimmer has failed.


Is your pool skimmer not working? Now you have enough information to have it working again. The process should be simple and straightforward, but if not, then you might need to get a pool expert to help you out. Never feel disappointed because you did not DIY the problem; at times, another set of hands could help achieve the best results.

About the author

Sharif Miah

Hi! I'm Sharif, the founder of Globo Pool® and I have been working in the pool & hot tub industry for the last few years. I love to share my experiences with people & hope you are enjoying my information and lessons!

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