Why use a pool skimmer?

A pool skimmer is your first line of defense against the contaminants that can ruin the look of your pool and the summer swimming season.

We are all familiar with green pools. They aren’t inviting to swim in. They look foul. However, the main concern should be the threat to your health. Dirty pools can be contaminated with mold, bacteria and viruses that can cause stomach upsets, skin irritation, and eye infections.

What is a Pool Skimmer?

There are a several different types of pool skimmer. They all do the same thing; they start the filtration process by circulating the water while skimming debris from the surface of the pool. However, there are different designs of pool skimmer, suitable for different types of pools, and designed to clean varying levels of debris.

What Do Pool Skimmers Do?

The simple answer is that pool skimmers help keep your pool clean. They are not the only piece of equipment needed to keep a swimming pool clean, but they are an essential one. You cannot keep your pool water clean and your other pool equipment functioning without at least one pool skimmer.

How a Pool Skimmer Helps Keep Your Pool Clean

  • Your pool skimmer helps to keep your swimming pool clean by sucking in water from the surface of the pool. As it sucks in the water, it also sucks in floating debris. This can be leaves, flowers, bugs, sticks, dirt, hair and even surface pollutants such as sunscreen.
  • Pool Skimmers are designed to suck in the water at a rate that ensures the water level does not drop while filtering out debris before they can sink to the bottom of the pool.
  • A buildup of debris can lead to algae growth in the pool. Unfiltered water and rotting debris can also be a breeding ground dangerous bacteria, viruses, and molds. This quickly shows as a green pool.

The Different Types of Pool Skimmers

There are several types of pool skimmer, under three main categories:

1. Manual Pool Skimmers (often referred to as ‘Pool Nets’, ‘Skimmer Nets’, or ‘Basket Nets’)
2. Automatic Pool Skimmers that are connected one way or another to the pool pump, pool jets or pool cleaner vacuum. Automatic skimmers include in-built (for in-ground pools), clip-on (for above-ground pools) and floating skimmers (for both in-ground and above-ground pools)
3. Self-Contained Robotic Pool Skimmers that move around your pool independently, on motors. These pool skimmers run on mains (low voltage) or battery. They are usually solar powered.

1. Manual Pool Skimmers:

Also called a ‘Pool Net’, or ‘Pool Skimmer Net’. This pool skimmer is simply a skimmer net fixed on the end of a long aluminum pole. Almost every pool will have a pool net and an accompanying pool brush – both on the ends of long poles.
Manual pool skimmers are designed to skim out large amounts of debris that might otherwise clog up the in-built pool skimmer or pool skimmers (depending on the size of your pool – you may have more than one pool skimmer.)

2. Automatic Pool Skimmers:

Automatic skimmers can be inbuilt (in-ground swimming pools) or mounted on the side of the pool (above-ground swimming pools) or floating. Attached to the pool pump and filtration system, automatic pool skimmers run when a suction pump or hose is on to circulate the water through the skimmer. They automatically suck in water and skim debris through the action of the pump, jet return or vacuum hose.

Inbuilt Skimmers: All in-ground pools have a rectangular opening in the side, with a lid behind it. Lift the lid to see the skimmer basket.
This is the standard in-built pool skimmer that is part of a swimming pools design. Many have a weir that opens when the pool pump is running, allowing the water to be sucked in. The weir closes when the pool pump is switched off – to prevent debris from flowing back into the pool before it can be cleaned out of the basket.

Above-ground Pool Skimmers: Automatic-above-ground pool skimmers include:

Automatic skimmers that must be attached to the pool pump:

• Skimmer baskets that are be attached to the side of the pool.
• Side-mounted ‘thru-wall’ skimmers that are set into the side of the pool.
• Floating skimmers that can move around the pool
• Robotic skimmers – mostly solar powered skimmers that can move independently around the pool

Clean your pool skimmer basket in the morning before you run the pool pump

How to Use Your Pool Skimmer Effectively

Although there are different methods to using different pool skimmers, to use them effectively they all need similar maintenance.

You should follow a few cleaning and maintenance rules to get the best out of your pool skimmer. Cleaning your pool skimmer correctly and often is crucial. Proper cleaning not only helps the pool skimmer do its job of keeping your water clean; it also helps to maintain the pool filtration system.

However, there are some other hacks you can use to not only help keep the pool skimmer clean, but also increase the skimming efficiency.

Pool skimmers don’t only keep your pool clean by filtering debris. They also help to prevent damage to the pool pump. They do this by keeping debris and residues out of the pool filtration system. However, even the best pool skimmer cannot prevent 100% of particulates from entering the filtration system. Not without some help – from you, and why you need to know how to skim a pool.

Manual pool cleaning will require you skimming with a skimmer net on a telescopic pole, followed by manual vacuuming with a skimmer net attached to a vacuum head. This really is only way to clear debris that has sunk to the bottom of your pool and clean your pool enough for the pool chemicals to do their job. And the better you do it, the better the result!

So, if you are serious about skimming your pool as effectively and efficiently as possible, read on for some tips on how to skim your pool like a professional!

Step 1: Switch off the pool pump

As you are about to get a lot of leaf litter moving about the pool with the skimmer net, you’ll want to switch off the pump, so as not to overload the automatic skimmer. That’s if you have emptied it, if there is a lot of debris the bottom of the pool, the skimmer is most likely full. You can clean that later before running the pool pump again.

Step 2: Brush the sides, steps, and bottom of the pool

Start with the shallow end of the pool or the steps. Use the pool brush on a telescopic pole to brush any debris down to the bottom of the pool. You want to condense as much of the debris as you can in one area for easy cleaning with a manual skimmer net. Use the brush to really scrub at the sides of the pool and the steps as these areas cannot be vacuumed (Step 4)

(Note: if there is not a lot of debris, it would be better to run the pump and brush the debris toward the pool drain).)

Step 3: Skim – with a heavy-duty skimmer net for large amounts of debris

If there is a lot of leaf litter, you will need to use a deep, high volume, heavy-duty pool net. Ideally, also use a net that has a fine mesh attachment that fits in the bottom. This will help the net pick up smaller pieces of debris as well as larger leaves, flowers, and insects.
There’s a fair amount of technique to manual pool cleaning with a skimmer net. You’ll need to adapt your pool skimming technique to the size of your swimming pool, how much debris needs to be skimmed and where you need to skim – from mostly the surface or debris floating from the bottom. However you do it, the principles remain the same:

  • to make long sweeping motions across the surface until you have cleared as much debris as possible, then
  • push the net just above the bottom of the pool to skim sunken debris.

Step 4: Vacuum the bottom of the pool – with a skimmer net attached to the vacuum.

Vacuum the bottom of the pool. Use a slow sweeping motion, pressing down with the same kind of movements you’d use to mow your lawn. Go back and forth over the same areas a few times, slowly moving from one end to the other, with each sweep of the vacuum overlapping with the last to suction up as much of the fine particulates your skimmer net could not catch.

There you have it. Skimming your pool like a pro is easy! It simply takes time, patience, technique, and the right pool skimming equipment.

How to Skim your Pool like a Pro

How to maximize the cleaning power of your pool skimmer:

Pool skimmers are designed to remove as much debris as possible. However, most skimmers cannot prevent the smallest particulates from getting into the pool filtration system. These particulates include sunscreen, hair conditioner and other emollient residues, skin cells, small hairs, dust, pollen, small bugs, and bits and pieces of any debris that has started breaking down in the water.

➢ Clean your pool skimmer basket in the morning before you run the pool pump.

➢ Prepare your automatic skimmer or skim manually before the sun starts to break down the debris and start the rotting process. Skim before big pieces of debris have chance to break up or sink to the bottom of the pool.

➢ If you need to use a manual pool skimmer to clean a lot of debris: skim the pool with the skimmer net with the pump off. Then vacuum with a skimmer net attached, before running the pool pump. (You’ll switch the pump for the in-built or above-ground fixed or floating skimmer to continue skimming the surface of the pool as normal.)

➢ Line the inside of the basket or net with pantyhose to catch smaller particulates as well as the large ones. Remove and clean out the stocking when you clean the skimmer basket or net.

➢ Add chlorine tablets to the skimmer basket. The movement of the water through the skimmer will increase the rate at which the tablet dissolves. This will help further clean and sterilize the water that goes through the filtration system. Doing this will help protect and maintain the filtration system; it will also help keep the pool clean. Again, ensure that you do not add too much chlorine in tablet form to prevent caking.

➢ If you are using a robotic skimmer, ensure that it is charged for night cleaning and cleaning on an overcast day. Do this by running the skimmer on a sunny day or charge it via the mains when not in use.

Pool skimmers range from basic to ‘smart’ – the smartest pool skimmers adorned with advanced features that maximize cleaning power and ease of use. Using pool skimmers efficiently starts with choosing the right high quality skimmer for your pool – according to type, size, usage and the amount of debris that must be skimmed.