Pool Skimmer Troubleshooting: Common Problems and How to Fix Them

Written by Michael Dean
June 25, 2024

pool skimmer troubleshooting

There are two main types of pool skimmers. The first is a net connected to a telescopic pole that scoops leaves and other large debris. The second is attached to your pool and leads to your filter system. Although both pieces of equipment are important, I will discuss the second type of pool skimmer.

If you are experiencing an issue with your pool skimmer, it should be looked into immediately. The skimmer is essential to your pool’s filtration system, but don’t worry! In this article, I will go over some of the most common problems with pool skimmers and how to fix them.

Main Takeaways

  • Common problems with pool skimmers include a clogged skimmer, incorrect water levels, reduced suction, and issues with the skimmer weir.
  • Make sure to clean your pool skimmer and adequately maintain your skimmer regularly.
  • If you have a big crack in your skimmer, it may be time to replace it.

Pool Skimmer Not Working? Here Are The Most Common Problems

Here are some of the common problems with pool skimmers you may encounter.

Clogged Skimmer

A clogged skimmer is probably one of pool owners’ most common issues. If you find that your pump is unusually loud or the pressure is low, this may be the cause. Another symptom you may find is the water is simply not going into the skimmer fast enough even though the skimmer basket is empty. If you notice any of this, a clogged skimmer is likely the issue.

Why It Happens

A clogged skimmer happens when too much debris gets caught up in it, blocking it entirely. If you do not have a regular cleaning schedule for emptying your skimmer baskets, you may experience a clogged skimmer.

Although it may not be the most glamorous of jobs, regularly cleaning your skimmer is the best way to prevent this. You should also scoop out leaves and debris from your pool daily. Forgetting little details like this will eventually lead to a clogged skimmer.

How to Fix It

To unclog your skimmer, turn off the pump, remove the pump lid and basket, and insert a garden hose inside to fill it with water. For best results, isolate the clogged skimmer line.

Try a skimmer sock to minimize future clogs. I cover everything about them in my complete research on what is a pool skimmer sock.

Water Level Is Too High

If your skimmer appears to be working correctly, but is not sucking in the debris in the pool, your pool water level is likely too high.

Why It Happens

Your water level can become too high for several reasons. You may have simply put in too much water when you filled up the pool, or some heavy overnight rain may have caused the water level to rise. And still, a water level that is too high could be caused by a faulty automatic water leveler.

How to Fix It

Fixing this issue is simple enough. Just reduce the water level. To do this, use your pool pump multiport valve and switch it to the “waste” position. Or, if you have a cartridge filter, simply open the pump drain.

Using a hose, siphon the water out to reduce the water level in an above ground pool without a drain. Simply position the exit end of the hose at a lower elevation and create an initial suction to get the water going. Whatever method you use, make sure the water is dumped into a proper drain.

The ideal pool water level is around halfway up the skimmer opening, so aim for that.

Water Level Too Low

The opposite of the above problem, if your pool water level is not halfway up the skimmer opening, you may encounter another set of problems. In fact, having a too-low water level can lead to severe damage to your skimmer, so avoid it as best as you can.

Low water levels mean your skimmer will start to draw in air instead, causing a suction leak. Due to this, the motor for your pump may burn out, and your entire pool filtration system may be at risk of collapsing. On top of that, you’ll also find that your skimmer is not actually cleaning out the debris, as the water is not high enough to get sucked into the skimmer opening.

Why It Happens

Evaporation is the leading cause of low water levels. Check your water levels on sunny days. Dry sunny days, in particular, can reduce your water levels faster than you realize.

How to Fix It

To combat this issue, refill your pool when water levels are too low. Aim for the water to reach the halfway point of your skimmer opening. You can also purchase a solar cover to reduce evaporation. This can do wonders in preventing up to 95% of evaporation. Another option is to buy an automatic water leveler.

Reduced or No Suction

Take a good look at the movement in your water. If there is little to no movement through the skimmer opening, you’re likely dealing with a skimmer with reduced or no suction. This means no water or debris is getting sucked in as it should, leading to dirty, murky water that is unsafe to swim in.

Why It Happens

There are many reasons why your skimmer is not skimming properly. A common reason is that you have a clogged skimmer, which I’ve detailed above. Other reasons include the following:

  • Full skimmer basket
  • Dirty pump strainer
  • Air or suction leaks

How to Fix It

The solution is simple for a full skimmer basket or pump strainer: clean it. Ideally, you should already have a cleaning schedule that includes cleaning out the skimmer and its components regularly. However, not cleaning it often enough may lead to a full and dirty skimmer basket and pump strainer. Clean out all the debris from these components, and your skimmer should start skimming again.

However, if a suction leak is the issue, check the o-ring and ensure it is well-lubricated and placed correctly. Take it out of the pump and bend it to ensure no tears in the o-ring. If this is the case, replace it with a new one to prevent air and suction leaks.

Skimmer Weir Door Not Functioning

If your skimmer seems to be functioning correctly, but once the water and debris are sucked in, the debris gets pushed back out, you may have a problem with your skimmer weir door.

Why It Happens

There are a couple of reasons why your skimmer weir door is not working as it should. Firstly, the float medium may have become dislodged, and secondly, a large piece of debris may have become stuck in the door.

How to Fix It

Both of these issues are easily fixed. If the float medium has been dislodged, simply put it back on the skimmer weir door. You won’t need any tools – just push it back in. And if a twig or another type of debris is your culprit, take it out, and your weir door should be back to normal.

How to Know Your Pool Skimmer is Working Properly

The good news is that the pool skimmer is not an overly complicated type of machinery to understand. Its primary purpose is to suck water and debris in and act as the first point of contact for pool circulation.

You’ll know if your pool skimmer is working correctly if it is doing its job. Keep an eye on it; if it is sucking in water and debris, you have nothing to worry about. You’ll notice immediately if something is wrong with it – not only will the water not circulate, but you’ll also have a much dirtier pool.

Pool Skimmer Maintenance Tips

As the pool skimmer is an important part of your pool’s water circulation process, you must take good care of it. Here are some of my top tips for maintaining your pool skimmer:

  • Regularly empty the skimmer basket
  • Regularly inspect the condition of the weir, basket, and lid for damage
  • Winterize your skimmer when you close your pool for the season
  • Maintain your pool water levels
  • Use a skimmer net to scoop up large debris daily

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Common Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Pool Skimmer

Your pool skimmer will not need replacing, but as with anything else, there will eventually come a time when you’ll need to get a new one. Replacing the skimmer will only happen if there’s a significant problem. That is, if there is a major crack in the skimmer’s assembly. Minor cracks can be fixed with some putty, but it is time to replace your skimmer if it’s too big for a small patch-up job. If you find that you need a new one, head over to my recommendations for the best replacement pool skimmers.

And that’s about it. Any questions? Let me know. You can check out some of my other skimmer maintenance tips below.

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