If you’re not new to swimming pools, then you might have heard about pool skimmers. For many pool owners, it’s just another of the many terms used around the swimming pool. For others, it’s the first water entry point as it gets into the circulation line. But if you’re ready to dig deeper into what a pool skimmer is, why it’s there and how to maintain it, this post is for you.
What’s a Pool Skimmer?
A pool skimmer is one of the water access points in a swimming pool. Its purpose is to remove large debris, so it doesn’t get caught up in the filter system, leading to pump failure. It does this by using either an internal or external basket that strains out leaves, bugs, or other things that shouldn’t be in your pool water.
Pool skimmers are crucial because they work with the filtration systems to ensure clean and healthy water for swimmers. By catching debris before the filters do, the amount of maintenance (and cost) required for routine upkeep is significantly reduced.
How Pool Skimmers Provide Optimum Water Quality
- Large debris like leaves and bugs are kept out of the pool filter, which reduces cleaning time and cost.
- The skimmer relieves pressure on the pump by removing larger debris that reduces pump wear and tear.
- Leaves, in particular, can clog up pumps when not removed quickly enough.
- Removing leaves before they have a chance to reach the main pump extends the lifespan of your equipment, saving you money in service costs long-term.
How Do I Know If My Skimmer Needs Maintenance?
1. The skimmer isn’t collecting any debris.
A skimmer works like a pump but in reverse. The water goes in one side and moves through the basket (or there’s an internal hoop or net at the mouth of the skimmer), which has holes that are small enough to catch leaves and other large debris without causing too much trouble for your filter system.
So if your pool is clean with no signs of debris like leaves or bugs, then it’s likely that your skimmer needs some help. If you’re not sure, take off the lid of your skimmer to check its contents.
If it’s clean, then you know you need to look at the big picture – what else could be preventing things from getting into your pool’s skimmer?
At times you might run into a problem with the pool skimmer even after regular cleaning. What do you do? Read my complete article on how to troubleshoot a pool skimmer here.
2. The Water Flow is Sluggish.
While your skimmer is working to collect debris, its design is such that it creates a bit of backwash into the pool. This means that while water comes in through one end of the unit, some flows out on the other side.
If you notice that your skimmer isn’t sending anything out or very little water is coming out, make sure you check all connections and pipes to ensure the flow back into the pool is clear.
3. Water leaks around the skimmer lid when pumping out water.
This means that water cannot flow into or through your skimmer because something’s blocking it up – debris like leaves, perhaps. Make sure everything is clear and open so water can move freely through the skimmer.
How Do You Clean a Pool Skimmer?
Cleaning out the internal basket of your pool skimmer is a simple task, but some don’t even know it exists. If you’re one of them and you want to avoid cleaning issues in the future, here’s how:
- Step 1: Look for a removable cap or lid at the top-most part of the skimmer – this will go over the opening where water flows into the basket
- Step 2: Ensure that water can freely flow into and out of the skimmer by removing debris if necessary.
- Step 3: Remove any leaves or other objects inside before closing up your pool skimmer again. You can often clean your pool skimmers as necessary as long as debris isn’t building up quickly enough to affect circulation around your swimming pool. However, if the collection basket has nearly filled up after just a few days, then it’s time to take care of the problem because it could affect your flow rate and sanitation in the long run.
What Types of Pool Skimmers Are There?
While traditionally known as a long pole with a net attached to it, pool skimmers have evolved into many different forms. Nowadays, you can find them in all shapes and sizes, designed for maximum efficiency. Here are some types to consider:
1. Inbuilt Pool Skimmer for Inground Pools
The inground swimming pool has inbuilt skimmers. The inbuilt pool skimmer opens on the pool’s wall where water enters for filtration and exits through the main drain. It’s the first point of water entry into the pool circulation and filtration system.
It works by breaking the water surface tension and pulling the debris in the skimmer basket, where they get filtered before the water reaches the pump. These skimmers have a rectangular door. The upper lit, however, can eight be circular or rectangular depending on the model and brand.
Component of an inbuilt Pool skimmer for Inground Pools
- Skimmer Cover: The skimmer cover protects the skimmer and the pool swimmers walking around the poolside. It does also keep larger debris such as twigs from being sucked into the skimmer. Besides this, when open, it gives an easy way to take out the skimmer basket for emptying and cleaning.
- Skimmer Mouth: This is the rectangular-shaped door where the water enters the skimmer as it drags the debris in with it. It’s on the pool interior side.
- Skimmer Weir: After the door, there is a swimming flap that pivots with the water flow. Its primary purpose is to prevent debris collected inside the skimmer from escaping back to the pool water. When the pool pump isn’t running, the weir closes to keep the debris inside the skimmer basket.
- Skimmer Basket: After the debris enters through the rectangular mouth, they enter a basket when they get strained off as the pump sucks up the water. It’s here that all the debris and leaves collect, waiting for you to dispose of them.
- Skimmer Suction Line: Once the water is free of debris, it’s sucked up through a dedicated suction line by the pump. This is the line that controls the skimmer power.
- Skimmer Equalizer Line: The equalizer line is there to supplement the suction line whenever there is a problem in the skimmer. Its primary purpose is to prevent the pump from sucking air when the water level is below the skimmer’s mouth.
- Cover collar allowing 1 1/2-inch vertical adjustment
- Snap-in weir that adjusts automatically to 4 1/2-inch variation in water level
2. Wall-mounted skimmer for Above-Ground Pool
Unlike the inbuilt wall skimmer, the wall-mounted surface skimmer used in the above-ground pool is removable and super easy to install. It works similarly to the inground pool skimmer. It relies on the pool pump’s suction power, which pulls the surface water through the skimmer, where debris gets skimmed off before the water flows to the pump and through the filter.
Components of wall-mounted surface skimmer for above ground pools
- The Skimmer: It has a basket design but a hole underneath where the skimmer hose connects. It holds everything in place and attaches to the mounting brackets to complete the skimmer assembly.
- Mounting Brackets: Wall-mounted surface skimmers come with mounting brackets to help hold them on the above-ground frame. Some come with more than one mounting bracket for improved support. Some models come with an adjustable model to allow you to change their installation height depending on the water level.
- Removable Skimmer Basket: Like the inground pool’s skimmer, the wall-mounted surface skimmers also have a skimmer basket that filters the large debris before they can escape and cause clogging problems to the pool pump and filter. It’s removable for easy cleaning and emptying.
- Floating Skimmer Cover: The floating cover allows the water to flow in the skimmers smoothly but prevents the debris held inside the skimmer basket from escaping back to the pool. It has a design that ensures it keeps all the debris inside the skimmer.
- Skimmer Hose: The skimmer hose runs from the skimmer assembly to the suction line connector. It requires an easy-connect adapter to connect to the suction line.
- Attaches to filter pump for automatic skimming
- Strainer basket pulls out for easy cleaning
Other Types of Pool Skimmers
Apart from the above two skimmers, there are other pool skimmers that you might come across. They include:
1. Manual Telescopic Pole Skimmer
A manual skimmer is the skimmer net you hook to a telescope and scoop the large debris off the water surface. The telescope ends your reach. The pole extends almost upwards of 4 feet before attaching the net-like receptacle to catch debris. You can use this skimmer to remove even those debris and leaves suspended in the water, thanks to the design.
2. Robotic Pool Skimmer
The robotic pool skimmer is a self-contained filtration robot that cleans your pool as it traverses the water surface. It has an encapsulated tank located at its back and which you fill with chemicals after programming its cleaning cycle. The robot skims and vacuums all the debris and leaves from the swimming pool floor, walls, and waterline.
- Automatically remove various floating debris on the water surface, such as: leaves, dust,...
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3. Pool Leaf Skimmer Vacuum
The leaf skimmer vac collects debris such as leaves and dead bugs that have settled on the pool vacuum and cannot clean the surface skimmer. It works with the suction line to suck the leaves out by creating a vacuum. These models come with a debris-collecting bag that is washable and reusable. It does also need a telescoping pole to extend the reach to all corners.
- HELPS MAINTAIN PH LEVEL: Leaf Vac is a self-sufficient cleaner and does not add any water...
- CORDLESS: Perfect for quick and easy cleaning on the swimming pool bottom or surface...
How Many Pool Skimmers Do You Need?
It will depend on your pool’s surface area. According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), you need one surface skimmer for every 800 square feet.
So, calculate how big your pool surface area is and use this number as your reference. Remember, if you have a swimming pool, you cannot add a skimmer unless you’re ready to undergo a series of pool repairs that could cost you a lot.
The best tip here would be investing in a robot pool skimmer or a leaf skimmer vacuum to help your pool skimmer. It’s a necessary approach if your swimming pool receives a lot of debris that existing pool skimmers cannot handle.
Is a pool leaf skimmer vac worth it?
Pool leaf skimmer vacs can save you a lot of time when it comes to cleaning up the pool. They are very convenient and work in a way that pools skimmers do. The only difference is that they’re designed specifically for collecting debris such as leaves, twigs, food particles, acorns, and other items that fall into your swimming pool water. Some models come with reusable collection bags that you quickly take out and wash before putting them back into the vacuum for reuse.