Pool Skimmers: Keeping Your Pool Water Clean [Buyers Guide]

Welcome to your one-stop shop for everything pool skimmers!

If you’re looking to install one or two skimmers in your swimming pool, wondering how to clean them, or even how to choose between different products, stay with us to get the lowdown. 

This guide will help you understand the role of a pool skimmer, the technical parts, problems you’ll avoid by having one, and the best types for in-ground pools and above-ground pools.

Sounds cool, right?

In this guide to pool skimmers, you’ll find:

  • What is a pool skimmer
  • The parts of a pool skimmer you should know 
  • What a pool skimmer does
  • Why a pool needs a skimmer
  • Where you should place your pool skimmers 
  • The best pool skimmers 
  • FAQs

Let’s dive in.

What is a Pool Skimmer?

A Pool skimmer is like an undercover cleaner.

It slowly and silently sips water from the top layer of the pool, gradually gulping up the debris and keeping your pool noticeably clearer and cleaner. 

It’s an important part of your pool maintenance team.

Swimmers won’t notice the skimmer, and the sunblock and hair they’re unknowingly depositing will leave the pool via the skimmer before it can sink to the bottom.

You’ll also need to help your skimmer by using your pool scoop net to clear the larger bits of debris floating on the surface of your pool. 

If you do this regularly, it makes vacuuming easier and places less strain on the circulation system, because you’ll stop bigger bits of debris in their tracks.

Get to know the parts of your skimmer

There are three main parts to the skimmer – the weir, the basket, and the skimmer plate.

The weir

A skimmer is rectangular-shaped, usually made of plastic, and has a door called a weir. 

The weir is like a one-way flap that allows debris to flow in but not back out. 

The weir is a hugely important component of the skimmer: without it, the system won’t work properly.

The basket

The basket sits inside the skimmer and this is where most of the debris ends up.

You need to empty this regularly, preferably daily if you’ve got a lot of trees around the pool, in the high swimming season or in autumn.  

You might be surprised what ends up in your skimmer basket! But hey, this means that it’s working properly. 

If you notice a crack or any damage to your basket, you should replace it straight away.

The plate

The skimmer plate is used when manually vacuuming your pool. 

It’s also called a vacuum plate. 

You can read detailed instructions for this in our Ultimate Guide to Pool Cleaning.


*Note: The equaliser port is not widely used. If you do use one – this is what it would look like.

Does every pool need a skimmer?

Every pool has a skimmer – or should! 

It’s not an optional device if you want a well-maintained, clean pool.

Having a skimmer is the first line of defence to just about every other aspect of your pool maintenance. 

Getting debris out means your filters should work better for longer, allow the pumps to operate efficiently, and help keep water chemistry balanced. 

As soon as that first domino goes down, you might be in for a few unpleasant knock-on effects.

What is the Best Pool Skimmer?

Pool skimmers have different features. Here, we’ll break them down for you to help you choose which one is best for your pool.

Built-in pool skimmers for in-ground pools

We recommend using a WaterCo Skimmer in your in-ground pool.

There are a couple of options depending on what type of pool you have. 

Here’s a quick comparison:


Don’t forget that you’ll need to support your skimmer with a pool scoop net. You could also use a pool leaf rake. 

Cool, so that’s in-ground pools. 

What about above-ground pools?

Pool skimmers for above-ground pools

These days most skimmers have kits that allow them to be used for both in-ground concrete pools and above-ground vinyl liner pools – and the options above are no different.

It’s simply a matter of specifying your pool type when you get the skimmer!

Where Should You Place Your Pool Skimmers?

Installation will of course depend on whether you have an in-ground or above-ground pool.

Install one (or more) at the top of your swimming pool wall, on the waterline.

When you install a skimmer in your pool, take care. You don’t want air getting sucked into the pump, so you have to concentrate on the water level line.

You can install the skimmer with an equaliser line that runs through the skimmer basket into the water or to a main drain in the bottom of the pool.

If the water level starts to drop below the weir line (either from evaporation or filtering your water to ‘waste’), the equaliser prevents air being sucked into the pump.

The best location for your skimmer (or skimmers) will depend on a few factors, like prevailing wind and the pool’s location relative to your home.

Normally the skimmer(s) are placed facing the prevailing wind so floating debris is pushed towards the skimmers and on the house side of the pool, so when you’re looking at your pool from the house you don’t notice them.


What happens if your pool water is above the skimmer?

If there’s no water and debris entering your skimmer, it won’t work properly. 

On the other hand, if your water line rises above your skimmer and submerges it completely, the weir door will also stop working properly. 

Water will still be sucked through the skimmer but the weir door won’t function properly and the leaves or debris floating on the top of the water won’t be sucked into the basket.

Extra water may come from heavy rainfall or excess re-filling of the pool after vacuuming.

Make sure that the waterline is halfway up your skimmer to ensure it’s able to do its job.


Why is my pool skimmer not skimming?

If you’re wondering how to make your skimmer work better, check the following, as you might have one of these problems:

  • The water level in your pool is too high or low. Is it above or below the skimmer? Both are bad. The waterline needs to be in the middle of your skimmer, so your skimmer can breathe air and water at the same time.
  • The suction isn’t strong enough. Empty your pool skimmer basket: it might be full. It might also be that your sand filter needs backwashing, or your cartridge filter is clogged and needs cleaning.
  • The weir might be dislodged. If debris is finding its way back into your pool, check that your weir is working properly, that nothing is holding the flap open, and that it hasn’t sustained any damage.
  • You need a second skimmer. It might just be that one is not efficient enough for your pool size (one skimmer for every 40-45m² is recommended). Consider getting a second to boost your results.

What are pool skimmer socks?

There are a few ways to enhance the performance of your skimmer, including this simple concept. 

Skimmer socks line your skimmer basket, absorbing some fine material and dirt that would otherwise make its way to the filter.

How many skimmers does my pool need?

It depends on the size of your pool! 

The general rule of thumb is that a skimmer serves 40-45m² of surface area. 

If your pool is twice the size, obviously you’ll need two skimmers. If you’re not sure, you can talk to us, your pool professionals.

Can I add a skimmer to my pool?

Yes you can! However it is a pretty complex job, and probably best left to your pool professional. Give them a call to discuss your options.

Keep Your Pool Fresh With Your Skimmer

Put your mind and filter at ease by ensuring you have the best skimmers in your pool. 

It’ll make your pool maintenance easier and you’ll be amazed at how much it’s removed from your pool the first time you empty the basket.

Check in with us if you’re still unsure about how many you need for your pool.

Check out our pool accessories here.

About the author

Adrian Hill

Adrian Hill

Hey! I'm Adrian, founder and pool expert here at Dolphin Pacific. I love spending time with family, fishing, and have been known to brew my own beer.



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