How to Unclog a Pool Skimmer


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In this guide, we'll show you how to unclog your pool's skimmer using a drain bladder or hose and cloth rag. Clogged skimmers are commonly caused while manual vacuuming with the skimmer basket removed to accommodate a skimmer vac plate.


Step by Step


Step 1

Turn off Power to Pump - Shut down the pump by flipping its breaker. 

Step 2

Open Skimmer & Pump - Remove your skimmer and pump’s lid and basket.

Related Article - How To Manually Vacuum A Pool

Click Here to Find Your Skimmer Parts

Step 3

Isolate the Skimmer Line - Adjust plumbing valves so that the only open suction line is the skimmer pipe. Isolating this line will focus the water pressure solely towards the clogged skimmer.

Step 4

Method 1 - Garden Hose & Rag - Insert Hose - Run garden hose into the pump’s suction port at least 6-8 inches.

Step 5

Method 1 - Garden Hose & Rag - Plug Suction Line - Plug a wet rag into the suction port around the garden hose. The rag will be acting as a cork forcing water pressure towards the clog. Make sure the rag is firmly wedged in place without pinching the hose.

Click Here to Find Your Pump Parts

Step 6

Method 1 - Garden Hose & Rag - Turn on Hose - let the hose run for 2-4 minutes. Monitor the hose and rag for leaks while the water is running, adjust if necessary. 

Tip: Have a friend watching for debris at the skimmer to make sure the clog is being broken down.

Step 7

Method 2 - Drain Bladder - Insert Bladder into Pipe - Attach the bladder nozzle to your garden hose, then insert hose at least 6-8 inches into the pump’s suction line.

Step 8

Method 2 - Drain Bladder - Turn on Hose - let the hose run for 2-4 minutes. Again, it’s best if you have someone at the skimmer watching for debris backwashing through the skimmer to ensure the clog is breaking down.

Step 9

Run Your Pump to Check Water Flow - After you have completed one of the above methods, re-install the baskets and lids of the pump and skimmer. Next, Prime and turn on your pump, check that the skimmer’s suction line has returned to normal flow levels. If you see no or little difference in flow, try the other method, or contact a professional to unclog your line.

Click Here to Find Your Skimmer Parts


(1 to 21 of 21)

 Posted: 5/7/2022 

None of my plumbing is labeled there’s a small return sticker Apple return sticker and a water feature sticker and that’s about it and I am trying to figure out which ones which and it’s pretty difficult I’m trying to run my skimmers but I don’t know which bound to turn and I’m by myself so you can help me with

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/11/2022 

Read this article: What Does My Valve Control? - - DIY Resources

 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.

 Posted: 6/22/2022 

To remove a pipe within a pipe: While the hook of a tape measure might work (as would a wire coat hanged straightened out with a small hook on the end), the outer diameter of the smaller pipe might be very difficult to wiggle out if it gets caught on a PVC glue joint and it might be very difficult to even hook the bottom so I'd try using an inflatable bladder used for clearing pipes. Take the cover off your pump skimmer so pressure doesn't build up because although it's unlikely, the bladder could expand the smaller pipe and actually create friction between the pipes but what's far more likely is that the pressure will building in the bladder and pop it like a balloon. Then turn the water on slightly to expand the bladder. You aren't using the bladder to clear the pipe but just enough friction so the bladder grabs the inside of the smaller pipe ... then gently lift it out.

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.