Keeping Your Skimmer Box Debris Free

Keeping your skimmer box clean goes a long way towards not only the overall look of your pool, but also the long term health of your pool equipment. Read on for specifics on how to keep your skimmer box debris free.

What is a skimmer box?

Your skimmer box is a square or rectangular opening located at the waterline of your pool. Water and debris float into it while the filter pump is running. The water passes through to your filter and pump, while debris is trapped in the skimmer basket.


Your skimmer box is usually made of plastic and is protected by a door known as a weir. This weir attaches to the front of the skimmer box and opens and closes along with the water’s movement. While the pump and filter are running, you’ll tend to see it open. Generally, while the pump is off, it remains primarily closed.

As a side note, your skimmer box contains the drain lines that allow water to move to the filter while the pump is running. An above ground pool likely has one line, while many inground pools will have 2 if there’s also a drain on the floor.

How to clean your pool skimmer

Almost all skimmer boxes will contain a plastic basket or a net that covers the drain lines.

Simply removing the basket or net and emptying the contents usually does the trick.  Sometimes, small debris will become lodged in the basket, and it’s very important to take the time to rinse or gently pry it out. If the flow of water to the pump is restricted, you’ll lose efficiency, and you’ll likely hear the pump working harder than normal.

Pro tip:  There’s usually a second basket in the filter pump itself.  If you hear odd noises, or the pressure out of the return lines is low, you may also want to check that one.  It’s a bit harder to empty, but worth the effort.

Then place the basket back in the skimmer and reattach the cover. 

How often do pool skimmers need to be cleaned?

Pool skimmers need cleaning often and anything from daily when you use your pool to once a week if there’s no obvious leaves or other debris seen floating into it.

You should make a regular habit of checking the skimmer basket. Aside from leaves and “expected” debris, unfortunately small animals (and lizards if you’re down south) can sometimes get into the pool and not make it out. While sad, it’s a reality, and can cause problems and blockages, so keep an eye out.

Also, not cleaning your skimmer leads to blockages further down the system, where you would definitely need to call a professional. For example, you might find that the suction of the pump does not work as well, and unless you’re handy, you’ll need some help.

Not cleaning your skimmer box can decrease the life of your pump and the pump seals. This could be costly in the long run.

Cleaning also depends on the weather, how windy it is and how many trees you have in your garden or yard.

When you stay on top of cleaning your skimmer along with the rest of the pool, you will reap the benefits for years to come and rest easy, knowing that you and your family and friends are swimming in a clean pool.


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