Pool Skimmer Troubleshooting: Common Problems and How to Fix Them

We all have problems with our swimming pool from time to time.  It could be unbalanced water or an algae bloom.  A piece of our equipment could start leaking and stop working correctly.  We have to worry about problems with our pool skimmer too.  Here are some common issues and what we can do to resolve them.

What is a Swimming Pool Skimmer?

Skimmers are an essential part of any pool so that we can ensure proper operation and maintenance.  Skimmers are a series of openings built into the wall of your swimming pool.  While we only see the very top, the skimmer box actually goes underground.  A skimmer is something that was installed when your swimming pool was built.  It is not something one would add later.  They are part of your pool’s construction.  Most people have only one skimmer, but larger pools contain two or more. 

Inside the skimmer there are one or two holes. The swimming pool water gets drawn in through the rectangular opening and then gets pushed through your equipment pad.  The water makes several stops, depending on what equipment you have selected.  You may have a salt system, in-line chlorinator or a heater.  One thing every pool has is a filter.  Your pool’s filter is where the water gets cleaned as they pick up dirt and debris.  Having a functioning skimmer is crucial to proper circulation.  Proper circulation not only cleans the water, but allows the chemicals to mix and work, helping to keep the water safe.  If you own an automatic pool cleaner without having a dedicated suction line, you would plug the cleaner into the skimmer because it sucks.

Low Water Level

If your water level is too low, it can cause problems like your skimmer sucking air, causing your pool pump to cavitate.  We want our water level to be filled to about halfway through the skimmer.  If you tend to be forgetful about adding water, there are devices like an autofill or even a timer that comes on for a certain amount of time each day and adds water.  Otherwise, you just take your regular ol’ garden hose and add water in that way.

Automatic Pool Cleaners

As we mentioned above, many pool owners own a suction automatic pool cleaner. This takes away the option of the skimmer to be able to do its job of skimming the water’s surface.  Sometimes, the connection of the hose has an issue like popping out when the pump shuts off.  They make skimmer cones and other adapters to help keep the hose in place. If your automatic cleaner hoses have holes in them, your skimmer will suck air.  Air in our airtight equipment system is all bad.  It can cause problems with circulation or even put your pump at risk of running dry.  Periodically check your hoses and replace as needed. Make sure you are using the hose lengths of cleaner hose–not your solid, heavy manual vacuum single length hose.  Those are designed only for manual vacuuming.  They are too heavy on an automatic pool cleaner and put extra strain on your pool pump.  Any automatic pool cleaners add some strain to your pump because now the water has to go through 15-30 feet of hose before it is pushed back through the system.  Robotic cleaners are a way to avoid this and for that, and a litany of other reasons, deemed the best type of automatic pool cleaner.  That’s why they can get pricey

Valves Turned the Wrong Way

You can usually set your valves to pull from the skimmer, main drain or a combination of both.  If your valve is turned or gets stuck halfway between it can cause problems such as poor circulation.  This can happen if you turn your valves manually or have them automated with a valve actuator.  The fix is to adjust the valve and replace any worn parts.  The valve insides also need to be lubricated to help stop this from happening.

A Clog in the Line

If you are not getting any suction from your skimmer, you may have a clog in your line somewhere.  This can happen if too many leaves, too much DE added at once or a foreign object getting sucked into there.  They have do-it-yourself drain jets that can be helpful in removing whatever is clogging the skimmer line.  You may have to hire a professional who will use a C02 tank to blow your lines.  This can run a couple of hundred bucks or more!

The Weir Blade is Stuck

One of the more common issues I have seen is that the weir blade will get stuck.  The weir blade, or weir gate, is that white thing that flaps in the opening of your skimmer box.  It helps draw in the top couple of inches of pool water, where most of the nasty stuff goes.  Simply reach down and unstick it.  Replace it as needed. 

These are just a few of the issues you may experience with your skimmer.  Leaking is another big one.  That requires a professional typically. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to you!  See you poolside!