How to Empty a Pool Skimmer Basket

It may seem obvious to seasoned pool owners, but for new pool owners, the skimmer basket may not be a very familiar piece of equipment. It is one of the first lines of defense against large objects that fall into the pool. If you wish to optimize your pool system’s functionality, it must be emptied. So what is a pool skimmer basket, and how do you empty it?

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

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

Emptying your skimmer basket is an important routine task you will need to do quite often to prevent your pump from clogging up. If you don’t empty out your skimmer basket when it’s full, the circulation will suffer and you will see bacteria and algae 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 the basket 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, 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 accidentally do spill it, 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 the basket has been emptied, 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 properly placed, 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. In particular, if you have a lot of plants surrounding your pool and especially if you live in a relatively windy area, you may need to empty your skimmer basket more often. To counter this, I recommend making sure large shedding plants are moved away from the edge of the pool.

How often should you empty your skimmer basket?

There is not necessarily a specific routine that I recommend for emptying your skimmer basket. It depends on the pool and the area around the pool. 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 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 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 to be fully wedged in, you may not be able to remove it without breaking the basket. 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.

Need Some Maintenance Help?

We partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool maintenance and cleaning services in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool professionals.

Bottom Line

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.

Need a new skimmer basket? Check out my recommendations for the best skimmer baskets and how to find and replace your skimmer basket.

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

Scroll to Top