How a Pool Skimmer Works and Overview of Pool Skimmer Types

Pool Skimmers

The term “pool skimmer” can be confusing because there are actually two different “skimmers” associated with swimming pools. One is a net that you can attach at the tip of a long pole and used to clear away waste from the pool. It’s not conceptually different from a net used to catch aquarium fishes.

How a Pool Skimmer Works and Overview of Pool Skimmer Types

The second pool skimmer is an integral piece of the puzzle as long as a swimming pool’s filtration system is concerned. Hence, it is understandably more complex. These skimmers come in different types and are the subject of this article. To know more about pool skimmers, please read on.

What Does a Pool Skimmer Do?

Swimming pools utilize pool skimmers for cleaning surface of the water. They function like little suctioning buckets that prevent leaves, twigs, and such waste to penetrate the filter. The debris is then kept in its basket, which should be emptied accordingly. In essence, a pool skimmer is the gatekeeper of the pool filtration system so that the main filter would not be overworked.

What Does a Pool Skimmer Do

Without a pool skimmer, waste products, chemicals, and debris won’t be properly disposed of. This increases the chance of algae growth and an unclean, cloudy-looking pool. Additionally, the pool pump works twice as hard leaving it more prone to hard wear. This leads to frequent parts replacement, which brings too much hassle while being needlessly expensive.

How a Pool Skimmer Works

A pool skimmer pulls water and any floating trash through the weir. The weir then stockpiles the wastes into the skimmer basket.  Built-in pool skimmers continue doing this until the pump is turned off. At this juncture, you may choose to unload the skimmer basket to keep it working in the finest shape and ensure maximum filtering capability.

How a Pool Skimmer Works

Other pool designs make use of the skimmer as a vacuum hose conjunction for manual pool vacuums. In these pool skimmer designs, the basket is removed to uncover the circulating water outlet to the pool pump. After completing the vacuum cycle, the hose is detached and the basket and lid are installed again.

Types of Pool Skimmers

  • Built-in Pool Skimmers

If you see something like a gutter at the side of the pool, that’s a built-in pool skimmer. It has a rectangular opening located a few inches above the waterline. Hinging on the pool’s design, it may come with more than one built-in skimmer. Built-in pool skimmers are also alternatively called in-ground or integrated pool skimmers.

  • Automatic Pool Skimmers

Automatic pool skimmers need to be connected to the pool’s filtration system, and that should be the case for in-ground or above-ground pools. This type of skimmers generally creates a whirlpool action, sucking in and trapping debris.

Some models come in with propeller-like paddles that help them navigate and clean the pool surface. Some are mounted on a wall, while others are floating devices that skim the water randomly. A wall mount skimmer can be bought for around $20, which is definitely up there among the best 20 bucks you’ll ever spend in your life.

  • Robotic Pool Skimmer

The robotic pool skimmer is self-contained and does not even use a zing of electricity. Most robotic models are battery-operated or through solar power. It does require quite a hefty sum as an initial investment, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.  Because it runs all throughout the day as long as the sun is out, it’ll lessen the electrical load of the pool pumps by as much as 66%!

  • Manual Skimmers

Manual skimmers are the simple net and pole mechanism that scoops out leaves on the service of the pool mentioned at the outset. There is obviously no power source needed, but there should be a dedicated individual at your home ready to lift up his sleeves and do this manual work.

Pool Skimmer Maintenance

Pool Skimmer Maintenance

If you have already read the article this far, you’d readily know that a pool skimmer is an indispensable element of a clean and healthy swimming pool. Therefore, it is imperative to keep the skimmer in top condition so you can use it for a long time. And the best thing about these devices is that it doesn’t really take much but a few minutes to clean.

Check out the fundamental steps of pool skimmer maintenance:

  • When cleaning the pool skimmer, be sure to switch the pool pump off.
  • Open the lid, remove the basket, and empty it. A congested skimmer basket is something that you don’t want at all costs. This requires the pump to exert itself substantially harder, thus cutting into its life span.
  • If the basket looks weird and dingy, clean it thoroughly after emptying it. Rinse the basket thoroughly.
  • Place the skimmer back to its location and close the lid.
  • After these steps, turn the pool pump back on.

How often you clean the pool skimmer is contingent on various factors. However, taking a few minutes once a week to clean the skimmer basket should be enough as a rule of thumb. If the pool is extraordinarily busy, such as in summer, you may need to clean the skimmer as often as required.

Things to Look for in a Pool Skimmer

Things to Look for in a Pool Skimmer

  • Skimmers come in different shapes and sizes and they are not all built the same way. Consider the materials it’s made of and carefully read the reviews of the product before making a decision. Remember that expensive models do not automatically mean they are durable.
  • Easy to install. Automatic or robotic pool skimmers are supposed to make pool cleaning easy. But if the installation process proves to be a chore, it’s better to look in another direction. If something is hard to install, it’s probably hard to maintain as well.
  • Price Point. As mentioned, robotic pool skimmers may cost a lot, but are you ready to spend a considerable sum so you can save money on energy consumption later? The main point is, do not spend well beyond your means.


Can your pool survive without a skimmer? The answer is yes. But, no doubt, it makes the job of the main filtration system much more effortless. We can survive without cell phones, but we certainly appreciate how much it makes communication so effortless!

It’s the same way with pool skimmers. A swimming pool comes with a pump and filter to manage the pool’s cleanness, but a skimmer helps out by getting rid of waste, oils, and debris before settling in the bottom. In short, they do the initial labor to save the big boys’ energy. This way, they help the longevity of the pool’s primary filtration system. That alone should merit consideration.