Reasons Why Your Skimmer Is Not Working: Top Pool Skimmers

Pool Skimmer Issues

Different skimmers are used for different types of swimming pools, hot tubs, or spas.

But all of them serve a sole purpose – skim the water and apprehend debris to avoid clogging in the filtration system and the pool pump. Pool skimmers are there to maintain clean water and ensure health safety for the swimmers.

Why is my pool skimmer not working? A skimmer can be clogged with debris, disabling it to do its role efficiently. It may have a water level too high or too low, not getting enough suction, problems with the weir flop, air lockage, need a backwash, needs more help, and others.

A Must Read: What Is The Best Pool Brand?

After reading this article, you will learn the different skimmers for various swimming pools and their work. Besides that, I will discuss why your skimmer is not working and how you can fix them.

How Does Pool Skimmers Work?

Pool skimmers are the starting point and one of the essential things for any pool setup. These are so subtle that most people swimming in the pool won’t even notice that skimmers are installed and working.

These are installed on the surface of your pool to captivate floating debris that may damage the pool’s filtration and may cause damage and costly repairs.

A skimmer includes skimmer baskets, a weir flap, and an open water channel through which water flows.  Also, if what you have is the skimmer basket, it must be emptied on a routine. Use an additional basket for putting the chlorine tablets.

If you desire the most efficient debris collection and proper pool water circulation for in-ground pools, one skimmer should be for every 500 square feet of pool water surface.

The weir door or the weir flap of the skimmer pulls a bit and forces more water to enter the pool skimmer more from the surface rather than below the surface. It constructs the effect of water flowing over a dam.

The weir door also regulates the flow of water into the pump. It prevents a considerable amount of water from entering your pool’s pump and filtration system, leading to more severe damage and threats to your swimming pool.

Significance Of Properly Working Skimmer Of Different Types

What skimmers do is accumulate all debris, dirt, leaves, trash, and the sort, and it blocks unwanted particles from sinking to the pool’s bottom and debris getting pulled into your pool system.

Without a properly working skimmer, your pool will have a damaged pump or clogged filtration system. Whether you have an above-ground pool or an in-ground pool, you must provide skimmers for it.

It will ensure you a more extended pool set up, lower cost maintenance, and clean water. The question is, are you opting for an above-ground pool skimmer or an in-ground pool skimmer as they are a bit different.

Read on to see what skimmer do you need.

Top Pool Skimmers

Today’s technology has designed and built inexpensive but practically efficient manual pool skimmers and floating and robotic pool skimmers that lessens your work and save time while collecting surfacing debris.

Automatic skimmers are the ones that are operated with batteries or solar powers, collecting pool debris as it swims through the surface of your swimming pool.

Skimmers For Your Swimming Pool

Your skimmer is like the gutter of a road for your in-ground pool: it serves a significant role by skimming and filtering visible floating debris like trash, flower petals, dirt, leaves, and any like.

It serves as a big help with avoiding the breakage of your filtration system. For the above-ground pool, the skimmers used are the kind that only floats on the swimming pool water but still do the same things as the in-ground pool skimmer.

In-Ground Pool Skimmers

Most in-ground pool skimmers are built into its upper sides, wherein the suction draws debris and traps it.

A surface skimmer has a tank projecting onto its upper side made with plastic or precast concrete. In-ground pool skimmers are usually placed around the pool, towards the top of the walls, and rectangular.

Some of the pool skimmers have a door called a weir over the front that opens and closes. This skimmer must be installed with an equalizer line, a pipe attached from the bottom part of the skimmer basket through the pool wall into the water.

Most of these are equipped with automatic water level controls and an automatic chlorinator.

Above-Ground Pool Skimmers

Most of the skimmers for an above-ground pool are the floating ones that randomly collect debris and stores it in its skimmer baskets.

However, some are being mounted on the side of the pool with a plastic arm. Some of the floating skimmer and the mounted skimmer are attached to a pool vacuum that sends debris to the pool’s filtration system.

Interestingly, some of the brands of above-ground swimming pools have a precut opening in the wall of the pool where you can mount an integrated pool skimmer.

Robotic Pool Skimmers

Robotic Pool Skimmers are the newest market, typically used for above-ground pools as an alternative to a stationary model. Batteries or even solar powers operate these.

Some robotic pool skimmers are designed to lower the cost of your energy bills, as they can work independently of the pool pump.

However, others are designed to connect to an automatic pool cleaner and then collect the floating debris.

Skimmers For Spas and Hot Tubs

Skimmers used for spas and hot tubs usually have no basket, and they swim the surface and pull debris to a plastic screen. However, some portable spa has skimmers with built-in cartridge filters.

My Skimmer Is Not Skimming

Once you see the debris of bugs, leaves, or any floating around on the surface of your pool, this is the result of a broken skimmer.

It is unsafe for the swimmers and as well as the pool’s maintenance.

Multiple reasons cause your pool skimmer to malfunction and eventually stop working. Fortunately, most skimmer problems can be fixed easily.

Malfunctioning pool skimmers are the result of your pool water maybe being too low or too high.

It might not get enough suction in your skimmer to pull debris from the surface of your pool, or the weir flop in your skimmer has a problem causing the debris not to be trapped in the skimmer.

Below are skimmer problems you may be encountering and ways to correct and solve the problem of your skimmer that is not skimming efficiently.

Precise Pool Water Level

Check your swimming pool first and look at it if you find your skimmer is not working efficiently.

The swimming pool’s water level should be approximately halfway or slightly more up the skimmer inlet hole.

Water Level Too High

If the water comes right up to the top of the skimmer hole or above it, this causes malfunction since the water level is too high.

You must always maintain the precise pool water level.

Water Level Too Low

If the water level is lower than half of the skimmer, or perhaps doesn’t even reach the skimmer inlet, your water level is too low.

To correct this, raise your water level by topping it up with a hosepipe.

Lift the lid and check that the float has not been caught up in an upward position if you have an automatic top-up system.

Insufficient Suction

If you have checked your pool and the pool has neither a water level too high nor a water level too low, the problem might be with your pool skimmer’s more suction.

If you can’t see water coming in the pool pump running on your filter as being drawn in the skimmer, try putting your hand over one inlet port at the bottom of the skimmer. Feel if there’s any suction.

If you feel like you are getting plenty of suction, but debris floating on the surface is not being drawn in or merely stays in, it has a big possibility that you’re having problems with the skimmer weir door.

If there’s no or little suction in the skimmer, read more below.

Skimmer Valve

The skimmer valve can easily be overlooked since it is pretty obvious.

Inside the pipe, check the valve that draws water from the skimmer to the pool pump. And check if it is open and not closed, or just partially open.

Skimmer Basket

Now, you have to check if the skimmer basket is not full and blocked by debris. Suppose it is full of debris; clean and empty it. Replace it and see if you now have suction.

Pump Strainer

Ensure that the pump strainer is not full of debris, stopping the pump’s proper pool water flow.


You probably have a little suction when your backwash is full of sand, which means you need to have backwashing.

There are two ways to backwash; you can do backwash using a multiport valve and a push/pull valve. Read more below

Backwash Your Pool w/ A Multiport Valve

  1. Attach a backwash hose to the waste or backwash port
  2. Switch off the filter system
  3. Set the multiport valve to Backwash
  4. Switch the filter system on
  5. Allow the water to be drained of the backwash port and through the backwash hose for a minute, or just until the water runs clear.
  6. Turn the filter system off.
  7. Turn the multiport valve to Filet.

Backwash Your Pool w/ A Valve

  1. Switch the filter system off
  2. Attach the backwash hose to the filter’s backwash port.
  3. Open the backwash gate.
  4. Switch on the filter system again, and let it work for about three minutes. It will allow pool water to flow out of the backwash port.
  5. Turn off the filter system
  6. Close the push/pull valve.
  7. Add the D.E. powder to the filter
  8. Run the pool pump at least 30 minutes to allow D.E. to distribute evenly over the filter grids

On a more critical note, while filtering the pool, never turn the multiport valve handle on.

It could lead to the rubber diverter gasket inside the valve coming loose or breaking, which will cause the water to leak out the wrong ports.

Cartridge Filter

Some skimmer has a cartridge filter rather than a backwash. The cartridge may just be clogged and requires cleaning.


If the above are doing fine, you may have a blockage in the pipes from your skimmer to the pump.

With the pump off, you can try using a hose to push water back from the pump to unblock it (if that is the problem).

If you have a blockage, you will probably see debris coming up from the skimmer inlet.

Air Lock

Some pool skimmers have an airlock system, which can be one of the causes of why your skimmer isn’t skimming correctly.

There are three ways to clear air lockage; releasing air from a pool filter, releasing air from a pool pump, and testing if these two procedures don’t work; it’s time to prime a pool pump.

Release Air From Your Pool Filter

  1. Locate the air relief valve on top of the pool filter housing, but often it is located below or behind your pressure gauge. The pressure gauge is unlikely to show a reading if there’s air in the system.

  2. While the air relief valve on the pool filter pump running on the filter setting, open the valve slowly.

  3. When there is air in the filter housing, you will hear air hissing out from the valve.

  4. Do not stop with the valve open until water starts to come out of the valve.

  5. Close the air relief valve on the pool filter and that is the filter bled.

  6. Next is, how to release air from a pool pump:

  7. After a few minutes of your pump strainer housing being full of air, but the water still doesn’t start to flow through it, it needs your help.

  8. Switch off the pump and then close your skimmer lines using the inline valves.

  9. Fully open the bottom main drain valve

  10. Run the pump and then open one of the skimmer valves slowly– a bit at a time

  11. Then you will see some air bubbles coming from the pool return jets.

Now you may remove any air that is trapped in the filter housing by executing the abovementioned procedure.

Once the skimmer valves are completely open, you must have plenty of water going through the system, and the air should be gone.

Prime The Pool Pump

  1. Switch of the pump then move the multiport valve handle to the recirculate setting sow after it doesn’t flow through the filter but goes straight back to the pool.

  2. Remove the pool pump strainer housing’s lid.

  3. With the use of a garden hose, start filling the system through the strainer and let it run for a few minutes. You then may see air coming out of the skimmer.

  4. Put the lid of the strainer back on firmly.

  5. Switch on the pump then let it run until you can see no air in the system

  6. Before switching the pump back on, make sure to turn off the pump and place the multiport valve to the filter setting.

Problem With The Skimmer Door

If the debris is being pulled through the skimmer hole but doesn’t stay there, there is a big possibility that the weir door is the problem.

It is a result of plenty of water being drawn into the skimmer door.

Floating Skimmer

Observe the surroundings of your swimming pool. Do you have plenty of trees near your pool?

If yes, it’s time to purchase a floating skimmer, which will lessen the pressure on your in-ground skimmer.

These are the new technology skimmers that are less costly than adding more in-ground pool skimmers.

These devices are powered mainly by solar energy that swims around the pool’s surface while collecting floating debris.

No Clogs In The Skimmer

There are also times that there are no clogs in the skimmer. If yours have none, try checking the skimmer’s supply line; it might not be providing enough water to keep it primed.

And for it to be primed, you have to open the main drain partially.


Overall, pool skimmers are a must-have for your swimming pool, may it be an above-ground swimming pool or an inground swimming pool.

It is a big help for the pool’s setup in maintaining the swimmers’ appearance and health safety.

Some swimming pools are built and designed for a specific pool skimmer.

The use of aftermarket plugs is only applicable if the pool doesn’t have any built-in plug for the blockage of water movement and debris.

Recent Posts