What is a Pool Skimmer and How to Adjust The Suction

A pool skimmer is ideal for permanently removing particles from the water surface. But which skimmer is best for your swimming pool?

An overflow channel or a pool skimmer is suitable for permanent cleaning of the water surface. The skimmer must have a flap to increase the suction effect on the water surface. Skimmers with an integrated overflow are also practical.

In this article, you will find all the important information about the pool skimmer and what you should pay attention to when buying one.

The best pool skimmer in comparison

Here you will find the best skimmer for the swimming pool in comparison.

I recommend buying a skimmer with a flap, which creates an improved suction effect on fat films and insects.

The representation is currently being processed …

Further down in the text, you will find more information about the models shown and a detailed buying guide.

How does a skimmer work in the pool?

The skimmer is a separate component in the swimming pool used to clean the water surface.

A pool skimmer consists of the following parts:

  • Skimmer: The actual housing with a large opening for the waterway.
  • Basket: The skimmer basket lies in the housing and collects the dirt sucked in.
  • Flap: Skimmers work without a flap, but it’s better to have one.
  • Drain: The skimmer is directly connected to the pool pump through the inlet nozzle.

In addition to the skimmer basket, some skimmers also have an integrated cartridge filter, but this is not absolutely necessary for cleaning the water surface.

But what does a pool skimmer do?

As mentioned briefly, the skimmer is essential for pool cleaning.

In addition to algae, other pollutants get in the pool water, which is brought into the pool by bathers, nearby trees, and the wind.

These particles – leaves, needles, grass, or insects – drift around as dirt on the water’s surface.

To avoid the pool water becoming cloudy, these particles must be removed. The landing net and a pool skimmer are used here.

Tip: The skimmer can also remove a film of grease from the surface of the water. This is useful to avoid a greasy edge in the pool.

What are the different types of skimmers?

Skimmers differ in shape and functionality.

These three types of skimmers are common solutions for different pool shapes.

  • Hang-on skimmer: A hang-on skimmer is particularly suitable for above-ground pools or whirlpools. The skimmer is attached to the edge of the pool using a hook.
  • Built-in skimmer: This type of skimmer is recommended for concrete pools or other permanently installed pools. During construction, the skimmer is set in concrete or attached outside the pool just below the water’s surface.
  • Surface skimmer: This skimmer floats freely on the water surface or is attached to the pool edge. There is no connection between the skimmer and the pool pump, which is unnecessary.
  • Skimmer with pump: You don’t need an integrated pool pump skimmer if you already have an actual pool pump. These are just bells and whistles that people want to sell you.

Tip: The skimmer should be adapted to the shape of the pool as much as possible.

In a rectangular concrete pool, skimmers with a rectangular opening are recommended.

How many skimmers are required in the pool?

A skimmer is utterly sufficient for pool cleaning – but its size should be adapted to the pool volume.

Preferably the skimmer also has a flap to increase the suction on the surface. The flap also prevents water bugs from re-entering the water.

Tip: If insects end up in your pool, read my instructions on how to get rid of water bugs. Follow the link to go to the post.

But for the pool skimmer to work efficiently, correct positioning in the pool is essential. You can find more about this in the sketch below in the text.

Position of the nozzles for the skimmer in the pool

In addition to the positioning of the pool pump and the filter system, the position of the skimmer and the return nozzles also play a decisive role in pool maintenance.

You can see where it is best to position the skimmer in the pool in the sketch.

Pool Skimmer Position

The skimmer in your swimming pool must be positioned opposite the return nozzles.

This arrangement transports the floating dirt from the water surface directly to the skimmer’s opening, which makes cleaning the pool surface more manageable.

Attention: It only makes sense to position the return nozzles on the floor if the pool has an overflow channel. This type of nozzle is not recommended for regular skimming.

For the skimmer to work efficiently, the water flow through the pool must be even.

To do this, the pool pump must be matched to the pool. You can find more information about this in my blog post on pool pumps.

Tip: The optimal position of the skimmer contributes to the maintenance effort and reduces the costs of pool chemicals.

FAQ about pool skimmers

In this chapter, you will find further interesting questions about the pool skimmer.

Do you need a pool skimmer?

After the pool skimmer test, the question remains whether a skimmer in the pool is helpful?

In short: Yes, a pool skimmer is always helpful to suck up floating dirt from the water surface and to avoid cloudiness.

Tip: A thermometer can be placed in the skimmer to determine the water temperature.

What should you look out for when buying a new skimmer?

The pool skimmer is simple, but you can still go wrong when buying one.

That’s why you should follow my criteria for pool skimmers.

  • Pool size: The skimmer opening must fit the shape and volume of the water in your pool. Therefore, make sure that the opening is large enough.
  • Pump power: The stronger the pool pump, the better the skimming works.
  • Electricity consumption: Avoid skimmers with integrated pool pumps to reduce electricity costs. It is enough if the electric pool pump is running.
  • Suitability: Use a built-in skimmer in a concrete pool and avoid the simple hang-on skimmer if possible. In above-ground pools, hanging skimmers connected to the filter system are acceptable.

The better the skimmer fits your pool, the better it can be positioned and thus reduce pool cleaning.

How far does a skimmer have to be in the water?

If possible, the skimmer should be on the edge of the pool to avoid disruption and possible damage by bathers.

But it is much more critical how deep a skimmer should be under the water surface.

The rule of thumb says: The skimmer should be 2 to 3 cm above the water surface. Alternatively, the skimmer opening can be positioned in the middle of the water level.

If the skimmer is too deep, water is wasted unnecessarily when it rains.

With a hang-on skimmer, a deep layer can damage the housing due to strong winds and waves.

Tip: When it rains, you should close the integrated overflow channel in the pool skimmer to not waste water. The best way to do this is to plug the opening.

How long can the skimmer run?

If the skimmer is connected to the pool via the pool pump, it always runs with the water circulation.

Ideally, that would be 6 to 8 hours a day – this is how long the filter system needs to completely circulate the pool water.

Suspended pool skimmers – which do not have a pool pump – are simply left in the pool.

On the other hand, floating skimmers should be taken out of the water beforehand for safety reasons when using the pool.

Which pool chemicals can I put in the skimmer?

I always recommend not putting the pool chemistry in the skimmer. Using a pool floater is the better way to do this!

This is because the chlorine in the skimmer can lead to over-chlorination in the pool and damage the surface.

The problem with the floater is that, in combination with chlorine, they lead to bleaching stains in PVC pools. In this case, the chlorine tablet can be placed in the basket of the skimmer.

You can always find out more about dissolving chlorine tablets in the pool on my blog.

Can you retrofit a pool skimmer?

For simple above-ground pools or stainless steel pools, you can always hang a suitable skimmer on the edge of the pool afterward.

The whole thing becomes more difficult with a fixed pool or a concrete pool.

Before the actual pool construction, the position of the skimmer should be determined – taking into account the position of the return nozzles.

What do pool experts say about the skimmer?

In this video, you will find more exciting information about the skimmer and the differences compared to an overflow in the pool.

An overflow channel can replace the pool skimmer, especially if the channel goes all over the pool.

The advantage of the overflow channel compared to the skimmer is that the annoying cleaning of the pool edge is no longer necessary.

Do you have any further questions about the pool skimmer?

Contact me at @contactswimfool on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social channels. I am happy to help you personally.

Have fun cleaning the pool with the skimmer!

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Hi. I'm Max Berg. I've been in the pool industry since 2015 and have always felt drawn to water. I'm the author behind swimfool.com, where I share my years of experience in pool maintenance and give helpful tips on keeping a swimming pool or hot tub clean. My tips reduce the costs of water treatment and protect the environment.

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