How to unclog a pool skimmer


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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


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 it to the side.

Please click here to view our skimmer parts page

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.

Please click here to view our How To Backwash A Pool Sand Filter Guide

Please click here to view our How To Backwash a Hayward DE Filter Guide


(1 to 18 of 18)

 Posted: 8/1/2020 

Ok, a hard plastic toy shark about 6-7 inches long and about 1.5 in in diameter just got sucked down the pool skimmer line when my wife was dumping the basket. It is a brand new pool. It still sucks but I am worried if I do not get this out I will have clogs from leaves etc. How in the world do I get this out. A brand new plaster pool. I can't believe it.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/3/2020 

First, turn off the pump. Use either a plumbing snake or a plumbing bladder to clear the clog. the video on this article shows how to use both the plumbing snake and the bladder: How To Identify and Correct Low Water Pressure

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 8/11/2017 

chris - I doubt that calcium would build up enough to block a 1 1/2 " pipe. Try using a Drain King Drain Unclogger. Find a place to insert the bladder/hose on the pump side of the skimmer so that you are pushing the clog/toy? out through the skimmer.

 Posted: 8/8/2017 

I have tried yuor recomendations but unfortunately the block remains i have een tried compressed air to no avail is ther a liquid to remove what i think is calcium build up would high pressure jetting help? regards chris

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 6/1/2017 

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.

 Posted: 5/29/2017 

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 Product Specialist  Posted: 5/25/2017 

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.

 Posted: 5/24/2017 

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 Product Specialist  Posted: 1/24/2017 

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.

 Posted: 1/21/2017 

-- 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 -- 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 Product Specialist  Posted: 8/10/2016 

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: 8/9/2016 

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 Product Specialist  Posted: 6/16/2015 

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".

 Posted: 6/15/2015 

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.


 Posted: 8/20/2020 

Skimmer line plugged Tried to blow out line but to no avail small amount starts to bubble then stops at skimmer nothing at filter end.Snake goes through and water flows into pool pushing dirty water into pool but when trying to blow out lines same result little stirring on skimmer side but nothing on filter side pool has one skimmer and 3 way valve has been removed line distance to valve is 25 ft.

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/1/2020 

Were you using a hose bladder (video link) to blow out the lines, or were you trying some other pieces of equipment?

Anonymous  Posted: 12/2/2014 

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

 Posted: 6/13/2014 

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