How To Install a New Pool Skimmer

Written by Michael Dean
September 14, 2023

pool skimmer installation

Pool skimmers play a significant role in catching large debris in your pool water, so your new pool skimmer must be installed correctly. In this article, I will walk you through installing your new pool skimmer for an inground and above ground pool. I will also advise where to place the pool skimmer and how far it should sit above the waterline.

Main Takeaways

  • There are pool skimmers for inground and above ground pools.
  • Pool skimmers should sit 2 inches above the water line.
  • Pool skimmers are attached to the side of the pool.

How to Install a Pool Skimmer: Step-By-Step

When it comes to pool skimmers, you have two options: one for above ground pools and one for inground pools. I have outlined two sets of easy-to-follow installation instructions for you to follow, depending on your pool type.

Inground Pools Skimmer Installation

Step one: Turn off the pool pump

Pool skimmers cannot be installed when the pump is on.

Step two: Locate the return jet

These jets are usually located on your pool wall, where the water is released back into your pool. They’re not particularly large.

Step three: Unscrew the ring nut and remove the O-ring

Once you have located the return jet, you must carefully unscrew the ring nut and place the ring nut in a safe place outside the pool. Sometimes, the ring nuts get stuck, so you might need some upper-body strength to unscrew them. Once you’ve done that, remove the O-ring from the jet. Place this in a safe place.

Step four: Install the fitting for the threaded return that your pool skimmer comes with

These fittings are typically between 1 & ½ inches in size and are made from PVC. Thread this fitting into the return jet, ensuring the ring nut and O-ring are tightly secured. These connected parts are known as the union, the ring nut, the O-ring, and the fitting.

Step five: Connect the elbow

Next, connect the elbow joint provided to the body of the pool skimmer. You will see a round opening for the pipe to be inserted into. Once that is complete, connect the other end of the elbow to the union on the return jet.

Step six: Secure everything

Once the elbow pipe has been fitted, use stainless steel screws to fasten and secure the connections.

Step seven: Connect the clip-on bag or basket

Depending on your model, connect either the clip-on bag or basket to the outlet of the pool skimmer body. The opening of the outlet will be clearly marked.

Step eight: Put the floating hat on the body

The pool skimmer should now be appropriately connected to the return jet and assembled correctly. The last step is to place the floating hat, the part that looks like a big O-ring, onto the top of the body. This should clip in when appropriately aligned.

Step nine: Turn the pool pump back on

Ensure that the water is flowing into the floating hat, the opening of the pool skimmer, so that debris can be caught in the bag or basket.

Above Ground Pools Skimmer Installation

The installation of pool skimmers for above ground pools differs from inground pools as there are no return jets to connect the skimmer to, and you will be cutting through the vinyl pool liner.

Step one: Locate the weir and connect it to the skimmer

Once you’ve found the weir, insert it through the top opening of the skimmer. Ensure that the three holes on the skimmer and the weir are aligned.

Step two: Screw the weir and skimmer together

Once the holes between the weir and skimmer are aligned, you can start screwing them together using either a drill (number 2 bit) or a screwdriver. Be sure not to tighten the screws too much if your skimmer is made of plastic, as this can cause it to crack.

Step three: Connect the vacuum port cover to the skimmer’s faceplate

You can do this by screwing the port cover into the faceplate using the small hole on the bottom of the faceplate. You should be able to tell which hole you’ll need to use as it will be smaller than the rest.

Step four: Connect the skimmer and vacuum gaskets to the pool wall

Your vinyl-lined pool wall will sit in between the flaps of the gasket. This is to avoid any leaks. Start by attaching the gaskets to the walls with a light layer of silicone, ensuring that both sides of the gasket are aligned by their drill holes. You can do this by sight and feel.

Step five: Punch holes in the vinyl liner

A simple screw will do the trick.

Step six: Attach the skimmer faceplate to the gaskets

Once the skimmer gaskets and vacuum gaskets are attached to the pool wall, attach the skimmer faceplate to the gaskets. To do this, place the faceplate over the aligned predrilled holes. Start with the two top corners and carefully screw the faceplate to the wall.

My pro tip is to not tighten all the screws until they are all in, in case you have made an error.

Step seven: Cut out the liner

Now that the skimmer faceplate is attached, you must cut out the liner from inside the faceplate and vacuum port; follow the inside edge when cutting.

Step eight: Install the accessories

Now that your pool skimmer is installed, all you have left to do is install the accessories. Place the skimmer basket into the skimmer and then clip on the lid of the skimmer.

Where Should a Pool Skimmer Be Placed?

All pool skimmers will be installed on the side of a pool, irrespective of the pool design. But the exact placement of a pool skimmer depends on your pool type. Inground pools, for example, require the skimmer to be attached to a return jet.

On the other hand, some above ground pools will need to have a hole cut out where the skimmer will be installed. And others, like inflatable pools, can use clip-on skimmers attached to the pool side. These are not permanent and can be easily removed.

How Far Above the Water Line Should a Pool Skimmer Be?

For your pool skimmer to work effectively, you must ensure the top of the floating hat or mouth is at least 2 inches above the waterline. A good rule of thumb is to have 50 percent of the skimmer submerged underwater.

Need Some Maintenance Help?

Send me a message! I can answer any of your pool maintenance, equipment, or other questions.

Follow The Steps For a Smooth Installation

Installing a new pool skimmer can be tricky, but my step-by-step instructions for inground and above ground pools will smoothly guide you through the process. As long as you have followed all instructions correctly and placed the pool skimmer at least 2 inches above the waterline, your pool skimmer will work perfectly. And if you ever have any doubts, you can always hire a professional to do the grunt work.

Any questions? Let me know; I’m happy to answer them. I also have a few more articles on skimmers that you can check out below for maintenance tips and more.

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