How to unclog a pool skimmer

WRITTEN BY:  Matthew Simmons

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If your skimmer is operating correctly then it should be scooping up that nitty gritty debris from your pool's surface. But sometimes that debris can form a clog in the skimmer's line over time. This guide will show you how to find and remove a clog from your skimmer line.

Step by Step

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Step 1

The first and most important thing before unclogging your skimmer is the consideration of safety. To help ensure this be sure that you pool pump has been turned off. And if possible cut power to the motor to prevent an accidental start.

Step 2

Now that our area is safe we will want to remove the pool skimmer lid. The Cover is usually held in by a couple of screws. Some may be held in place by a twist lock fastener. Remove this lid and place to the side.

Step 3

Before sticking your hand into the skimmer survey the skimmer for any sharp object or possibly emails. if the skimmer has been out of order for an extended period of time something may have made the basket its home.

Step 4

Seeing that we are free from any hazard, find the skimmer basket handle. Pull the basket out and pour the contents into a trash can or into bucket to be discarded later. it may be a little unsavory but sift through the basket debris for any valuables that may have been lost. A little bit of sifting may help you find that earring you thought was long gone.

Step 5

Now that the first tier of debris has been cleared now let's look down into the basket holder. Leaves and other debris can slip into the cracks between the basket and the skimmer wall and get trapped here.

Step 6

This step will require a plumbing snake. Run the plumbing snake line into your skimmer's piping until you hit a significant bump. At first you may think it is a turn in the pipe. Try a couple times to push by it. if that doesn't work then you have more than likely found your clog.

Step 7

Begin to wind the snake to break the clog. This may need to be done for a couple of minutes for heavy clogs. You may also need to re-adjust the snake as the clog breaks up to be sure your snake is still in contact with the debris.

Step 8

Remove your plumber's snake and discard whatever debris comes with its removal.

Step 9

Replace the parts of your skimmer in their correct order, i.e. basket, lid, and lid screws.

Step 10

Reconnect your pool pump and begin filtering. You may hear a woosh of water as the clog is released by the sudden surge of water. After a short period we suggest you turn off your pump to clean out your pump basket or backwash your filter. All the debris we did not remove with the snake will be headed toward them so make sure that debris is removed once and for all.

Comments

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(1 to 12 of 12)

Inyopools  Posted: 06/01/2017 11:57 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Charlie - See our guide on "How to Correct Low Water Pressure in Your Pool System". Step 6, A Clogged Impeller, is a very common problem.


Charlie  Posted: 05/29/2017 18:18 PM 

I tried using the Drain King from both ends but it doesn't seem to be pushing much out. I'm curious what the other problems may be? My pump is not working at 100% like it was a few days ago. I tried to vacuum while on filter and then after that I have a small stream of water that is being sucked into the pump from the skimmer.


Inyopools  Posted: 05/25/2017 22:53 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Allen - I would guess that you have a small toy wedged into the first or second 90-degree elbow from the skimmer. Open your piping somewhere after the skimmer and try pushing the object back through the skimmer. I'd try both the Drain King and the plumber's snake.


Allen  Posted: 05/24/2017 1:20 AM 

My skimmer line is partially clogged and I have tried multiple times to push it out with the hose with the bladder (drain king I think it is called) it seams to get better for a little bit but has never gotten fully functional. On here it says that a snake will clean it but my pool people say that will not work because of the 90 degree fittings. Have others had luck with the snake? Going to buy one today if I can be sure it will work. Thanks.


Inyopools  Posted: 01/24/2017 16:12 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

aks - I haven't used a RIDGID 41408 Power Drain Cleaner but it looks like most snakes and should work. Before you try a snake, however, try blowing the clog out with a drain cleaner bladder. It's simpler, cheaper and most people have had good success with them. It’s most effective if you insert it at the pump going back to the skimmer.


aks  Posted: 01/21/2017 18:19 PM 

Symptoms:
-- low pressure on filter (<10psi)
-- DE from recent backwash filter is sitting on bottom of one of the skimmers
-- that same skimmer basket is empty of debris, doesn't seem to be pulling water
-- the other skimmer basket is full
-- the filter strainer basket gets debris from week to week so some water is going through the system, probably from the second skimmer

So I think I should try to snake the first skimmer as describe here. My only question is whether there are any specifications for the type of snake I should use for this. I am looking at this one on amazon.com -- RIDGID 41408 Power Spin with AUTOFEED, Maxcore Drain Cleaner Cable, and Bulb Drain Auger to Remove Drain Clogs -- can anyone advise whether it's appropriate?


Inyopools  Posted: 08/10/2016 11:05 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

dropped PVC pipe - This may take a little patience. Try pushing a measuring tape down through the pipe. Then try catching the end of the tape on the edge of the pipe. Once attached, pull the pipe up gently.


Anonymous  Posted: 08/09/2016 20:47 PM 

A piece of 12 inch piece ofpvc pipe inadvertently got sucked into a skimmer (I have 2 skimmers). The diameter of the dropped pipe is only slightly less than the skimmer tube it fell into. The skimmer tube goes down about 6 or 7 feet, and then there is an elbow. I imagine that the dropped pvc pipe is down there, just nesting inside the skimmer tube, but I can't see it. The suction doesn't seem to be affected, at least not yet(probably since the dropped object is a pipe and the water is flowing through it). I shut the pump off, but I dont' know how to get the dropped pvc pipe out. How can I get the dropped pipe out? Thanks.


Inyopools  Posted: 06/16/2015 10:09 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Ditzi - Have you been able to isolate this problem to a clogged skimmer line. Do you have the ability to close off the skimmer line and leave open the main drain to see if that solves your problem and points to the skimmer line? Have you tried using the plumber's snake as suggested in this guide? One other option: See if your pump's impeller is partially clogged. See our guide on "How To Clean Out a Pool Pump Impeller".


Ditzi  Posted: 06/15/2015 17:25 PM 

Got bubbles coming out of my jets on a inground pool.of lter is good unions are good.pump basket doesn't fill up to top when pump is running sucking air. I think there is something in the skimmer line. Don't think it is a clog but something won't come out like a rock or a toy etc. Got only one skimmer.

Please help.





Anonymous  Posted: 12/02/2014 8:57 AM 

Thanks! This did the trick and saved me a couple hundred dollars in service fees.


Lou  Posted: 06/13/2014 13:12 PM 

Thank you. The information was very helpful, right on target & solved my problem.