What is a Pool Skimmer and What Does It Do: A Complete Guide

Pool Skimmer

Every swimming pool has many parts and apparatus that work together to keep it running optimally and to make it safe for everyone. One of such parts is the pool skimmer. In this article, I will tell you what a pool skimmer is and what it does.

​What Is a Pool Skimmer?

A pool skimmer is an opening (normally rectangular) on the side of an in-ground swimming pool. Above-ground swimming pools normally have automatic skimmers hanging from the sides. The number of pool skimmers that a pool can have depends on its size.

​What Does a Pool Skimmer Do?

A pool skimmer sucks water from the surface of a swimming pool through the filtration system to remove contaminants and debris, such as leaves, hair, sunscreen, and other impurities before they drop to the bottom of the pool. Therefore, skimmers are meant to carry out continuous filtration without draining water from the pool.

what does a pool skimmer do

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If your swimming pool doesn’t have working skimmers, it will be bunged up with contaminants that will create a perfect environment for algae growth. The pool will also become cloudy and hazardous for you and your family.

Without a working skimmer, your pool’s pump will be prone to abrasion and will need to be replaced before the date recommended by the manufacturer.

​Pool Skimmer Components

Pool skimmers come in a variety of sizes and models. However, all models and sizes function the same way and have the same components.

pool skimmer Components

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1. The lid: Also known as the cover, the lid is the most visible part of the skimmer. Its primary role is to stop twigs, leaves, and other large debris from being sucked into the water circulation system. The lid also prevents you or other pool users from stepping into the skimmer basket.

2. The mouth: This is the opening on the inner side of the swimming pool. It is the one that sucks water and debris into the filtration system.

3. The weir: This is a swinging fold located inside the skimmer’s mouth. It pivots with the water flow, preventing debris from flowing back into the swimming pool. It is designed to move into a closed position when the pump is switched off.

4. Skimmer basket: This basket catches the debris before it is sucked into the pump. Without a skimmer basket, your filtration system will be clogged.

5. Suction line: This is the line that pushes the power of the skimmer. It is directly linked to the skimmer basket.

6. Equalizer line: When the water level in your pool drops below the main inlet, the equalizer line prevents the skimmer from drawing in the air.

​How Does a Pool Skimmer Work?

When you switch on the pool pump, the skimmer pulls water and floating debris from the surface of the pool into the filtration system through the weir. Once the debris has passed the weir, it is collected by the skimmer basket.

The filtration system separates debris from the water, allowing water to proceed to the circulation system that pumps it back into the pool.

When you turn the pool pump off, the weir moves into a closed position to prevent the filtered debris from getting back into the pool. The debris remains in the skimmer basket until it is physically emptied. Therefore, you should empty your skimmer basket routinely to avoid clogging.

Different Types of Pool Skimmers

There are different types of skimmers that you can install in your swimming pool. The type of skimmer you choose depends on the size and type of your pool.

​In-Ground Pool Skimmer

In Ground pool skimmer

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An in-ground pool skimmer is normally used in in-ground swimming pools. It is rectangular and is installed inside the pool near the top of the wall. The water level should cover the bottom half of the skimmer. It is connected to the pool’s pump to enable it to suck in debris and other contaminants from the surface of the pool.

​Above-Ground Pool Skimmer


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An above-ground pool skimmer can either be installed on the side of an above-ground swimming pool or be attached to the pool’s vacuum and then floated around the surface of the water to collect debris. However, there are some above-ground pools that use integrated pool skimmers, which require you to cut into the liner.

Manual Pool Skimmer

Manual Pool Skimmer

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A manual pool skimmer is basically a fine mesh net on a long pole. You just hold the pole and float the mesh net across the surface of your swimming pool to collect debris. Therefore, it doesn’t require a power source. However, a manual pool skimmer is only effective in removing large debris.

​Automatic Pool Skimmer

​Automatic Pool Skimmer

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This type of pool skimmer is normally connected to the pump inlet drain of the swimming pool. When the pump is turned on, the small propellers attached to the skimmer move it around the surface of the pool to remove debris.

An automatic pool skimmer normally has a randomized movement to ensure it doesn’t get stuck in one place. However, some automatic skimmers have to be manually moved from one point to the other.

​Self-Contained Pool Skimmer

​Self-Contained Pool Skimmer

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This is the latest type of skimmer on the market. It is a self-contained automatic floating skimmer powered by direct sunlight. It has a built-in solar panel, like the Blue Raven solar panel, that allows it to continue running as long as there is sunlight.

This skimmer will float around the surface of your swimming pool, collecting and filtering debris all day long. Although this type of skimmer is more expensive than the traditional automatic pool skimmer, it helps you to reduce your pool’s power consumption.

What to Consider When Buying a Pool Skimmer

A pool skimmer lets you clean your pool in just a few minutes. However, the increasing variety of pool skimmers makes it difficult for property owners to choose the right ones for their swimming pools. Nevertheless, there are several important things you need to consider when buying a pool skimmer.

​Ease of Installation

Whether you want to buy an in-ground or above-ground pool skimmer, you need to consider the installation process. Remember that the more complicated the installation process is, the costlier it will be. So, if you do not want to empty your bank account, go for a skimmer that is easy to set up.


Pool skimmers are quite expensive. Therefore, make sure the one you decide to buy is durable. It can be very costly to keep repairing or replacing your pool skimmers now and then. Read other people’s reviews of the skimmer you wish to buy to know if it will last.


The price of pool skimmers varies with the size and model. So, it is important to compare prices before you make your final decision. However, do not compromise on quality just because you want to save a few bucks.

​How to Maintain Your Pool Skimmer

In order to keep your swimming pool clean and safe for you and your family members, you have to ensure that the skimmer is working effectively all the time. Fortunately, the maintenance of a pool skimmer is very simple because you just need to clean it thoroughly and routinely.

​How to Maintain

​How to Clean a Pool Skimmer Basket

Start by turning off the pump and then remove the skimmer’s lid off. Grab the skimmer basket and pull it up. Most likely it will have leaves, twigs, and sand in it. So empty the basket and rinse it out with a garden horse. Make sure it’s as clean as possible before placing it back and covering it with the lid.

When to Clean a Pool Skimmer

Cleaning your pool skimmer basket is the most important maintenance step you have to take. If this basket gets clogged up, it prevents the pump from working effectively, thus interfering with the free circulation of water. This leads to water stagnation.

If there is no circulation of water in your pool, it means that no water filtration is taking place. This leaves your pool extremely dirty. The pump also gets damaged easily.

Therefore, you should empty and clean your pool skimmer basket regularly to prevent clogging.

​In Summary

Now that you understand the importance of a pool skimmer and how it works, make sure your swimming pool has a properly working skimmer. You should also have an easy time maintaining your pool skimmer.

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Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.