How to Empty a Pool Skimmer Basket

Written by Michael Dean
May 28, 2024

emptying a pool skimmer basket

The skimmer basket is one of the first lines of defense against large objects that fall into the pool. If you are a new pool owner, you may not be familiar with this piece of equipment, but cleaning and emptying it is an essential part of your regular pool maintenance. You must empty it regularly if you wish to optimize your pool system’s functionality. So, what is a pool skimmer basket, and how do you empty it?

Main Takeaways

  • You need to empty your pool skimmer basket when it fills up with debris.
  • To empty your skimmer basket, you must turn off your pump, take out the skimmer basket, empty it, replace it, put the lid back on, and then turn on the system.
  • You should ideally check your skimmer basket every morning.

What’s a Pool Skimmer Basket and Why Do I Need to Empty It?

Swimming pools are exposed to all sorts of elements during the pool season. Everything from leaves to trash to dead animals will fall into the pool and eventually get sucked into the skimmer basket. Your skimmer basket is a protective measure that strains larger contaminants from blocking the filter and the pump. The mesh basket will collect most things that are circulated through the system, but eventually, it will fill up and will need to be emptied.

Emptying your skimmer basket is a simple task, so don’t stress when you see it has filled up. Below, I labeled a step-by-step guide for emptying your skimmer basket, and I answer some frequently asked questions.

Step-By-Step: How To Empty Your Skimmer Basket

Emptying your skimmer basket is an important routine task you should do frequently to prevent your pump from clogging. If you don’t empty your skimmer basket when it’s full, circulation will suffer, and bacteria and algae will start to grow. A full skimmer basket will also start to spit debris back into the pool water. So check the skimmer basket daily to ensure it is not full.

Step 1: Make sure the pump is turned off

Turn the pump off to ensure there is no suction when you remove the skimmer basket. If the pump is left on, the remaining leaves could get caught in the pipes and cause a blockage.

Step 2: Remove the skimmer lid

Take off the circular skimmer basket lid covering the hole.

Step 3: Take out the skimmer basket

Be careful not to spill any debris into the drain, but if you spill it accidentally, make sure to fish it out before starting the pump again.

Step 4: Empty the skimmer basket

You can dump the debris into a trash can or compost the waste if it contains organic material.

Step 5: Replace the skimmer basket

After emptying the basket, you can place it back in the skimmer. Make sure it is properly secured.

Step 6: Install the skimmer lid and turn the system back on

Once the basket is placed correctly, replace the circular lid and turn the pool pump back on. You should now see the water flowing back towards the skimmer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my skimmer basket always full?

Some pool owners will need to empty their skimmer basket more often than others. If you have many plants surrounding your pool, especially if you live in a relatively windy area, you may need to empty your skimmer basket more often. To counter this, I recommend moving large shedding plants away from the edge of the pool.

How often should you empty your skimmer basket?

I do not recommend a specific routine for emptying your skimmer basket. It depends on the pool and the area around it. You should check your swimming pool frequently, and if you notice a pile of leaves, sticks, and other contaminants, empty it. My personal routine is to check the skimmer basket every morning or whenever it is convenient. You never know what may get stuck in there, and the last thing you want is to find a decaying rat or bird in your skimmer basket.

How do I remove a stuck pool skimmer basket?

The skimmer basket can commonly get stuck in the skimmer itself because of the constant suction and debris buildup. If you are trying to take the basket out and it gets stuck, try grabbing it from different angles and slowly twisting it to get it to slide out. If you pull too hard, you will risk breaking the handle off. If the basket will not budge and seems fully wedged in, you may not be able to remove it without breaking it. In this case, cut up the basket and take it out in pieces. New skimmer baskets only cost around 10 dollars, so there isn’t much reason to waste too much time removing a stuck basket.

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An Easy Part of Your Maintenance Routine

Your skimmer strainer basket is one of the more essential items in your pool and will continue to function well for you as long as it is emptied whenever necessary. Your swimming pool will inevitably be exposed to many contaminants, but the strainer will protect against larger debris, just as proper chemical treatment will protect against algae and bacteria. Emptying your skimmer basket is a simple task that is not difficult to learn and easy enough to add to your pool maintenance routine. I recommend looking into skimmer socks as well to minimize future buildup.

Need a new skimmer basket? Check out my recommendations for the best skimmer baskets and how to find and replace your skimmer basket. To get back to basics, head over to my guides on what is a pool skimmer and how to adjust your pool skimmer suction.

Any questions about pool skimmer baskets? Feel free to reach out!

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