How to Perfectly Balance Pool Skimmer Suction: Step-by-Step Instructions




Having the right pool skimmer suction is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy swimming pool. Adjusting the pool skimmer suction correctly ensures that debris on the surface of the water is effectively caught and removed, keeping your pool clear and free from leaves, bugs, and other unwanted particles.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of adjusting your pool skimmer suction to resolve issues like low suction and improve the overall performance of your swimming pool maintenance system.

How to Adjust Pool Skimmer Suction

Understanding Pool Skimmer Suction

In this section, we’ll discuss how pool skimmers work and their role in the suction and circulation system of your swimming pool. We will cover the functionality of pool skimmers, suction, and circulation system to help you better maintain and adjust your pool equipment.

Pool Skimmer Functionality

Pool skimmers are essential components of your swimming pool’s filtration system. They work by suction to remove leaves, debris, and other unwanted materials from the surface of the water.

The skimmer is equipped with a strainer basket that traps the debris before the water is returned to the pool circulation system. By maintaining proper skimmer suction, you ensure that the water in your pool remains clean and clear.

Suction and Circulation System

The suction and circulation system in your pool is responsible for maintaining water flow and ensuring that your pool equipment, such as pumps and filters, function effectively. Proper water flow is essential for the pool’s overall cleanliness and health.

The system is typically comprised of the following components:

  • Pool pump: This device is the driving force behind water circulation, pulling water from the pool and pushing it through filters and other equipment before returning it to the pool.
  • Skimmer: As mentioned earlier, the skimmer captures debris from the surface of the water and contributes to the overall suction process.
  • Main drain: Positioned at the bottom of the pool, the main drain also contributes to suction and water circulation. Adjusting its valve can impact the system’s overall suction, and in turn, the efficiency of the pool skimmer.

Properly adjusting skimmer suction involves locating the skimmer valve and turning it clockwise or counterclockwise to either increase or decrease the suction.

It’s important to regularly monitor your pool’s water flow and make adjustments as needed, ensuring that your pool equipment remains in good working order.

Pool Pump Not Pulling Water from Skimmer

If you find yourself faced with the frustrating problem of your pool pump not effectively pulling water through the skimmer then this can lead to problems such as:

  • poor circulation
  • an imbalance in pool chemistry
  • even algae growth

You can correct this by taking the following action:

How To Adjust Pool Skimmer Suction

Adjusting your pool skimmer suction is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy swimming environment. This section will guide you through the process, focusing on controlling valve settings as well as balancing the skimmer and main drain suction.

Controlling Valve Settings

Swimming pools can have numerous valve configurations to control the flow of water from the pool’s skimmers and the main drain.

Some pool systems have individual valves to control the flow from each skimmer, as in the set up below, where valves 2 and 3 are from the skimmer. Others, such as mine, have one valve for the skimmers and another for the main drain.

How to Perfectly Balance Pool Skimmer Suction: Step-by-Step Instructions 1

Other systems, such as the one below, have one valve that controls the flow to both the main drain and the skimmers which can be adjusted to enable all of the flow from the main drain, all from the skimmer/s or a certain ratio from each.

How to Perfectly Balance Pool Skimmer Suction: Step-by-Step Instructions 2

Which valve is which?

In order to balance the skimmer suction you need to be able to identify which valves control the flow from the skimmer/s and main drain.

If you know which valve is which then skip this section.

If the valves are not marked so you do not know which valves control your skimmer/s and main drain or which position for each if you only have one then you can work it out as follows:

  1. Turn off the pump for safety reasons and to prevent damage to the system.
    • If you have only two valves turn on off and the other fully open
    • If you have more than two then turn them all off and one fully opened
    • If you have just one valve then turn the handle to point to one inlet pipe or the other
  2. Now turn on the pool pump
  3. Check your skimmer or skimmers and see if any water is being drawn in
  4. If no water is being drawn into a skimmer then the valve that is open (or the inlet pipe the valve is pointing to) is the main drain
  5. If water is being drawn into the skimmer (or skimmers) then the valve that is open (or the inlet pipe the valve is pointing to) is the skimmer.
  6. If you have multiple valves then close the one you opened and open another and do the same again.
  7. You should now know which valve is which so using a sharpie, label the pipes as ‘skimmer’ and ‘main drain’ to avoid confusion if not already done. Or ‘skimmer1’ and ‘skimmer2’ is they have separate valves.

Balancing Skimmer and Main Drain Suction

Now that you know what each valve controls you can start to adjust the suction to the skimmer/s.

By controlling the valve settings, you can adjust the pool skimmer suction according to your needs.

It is essential to balance the suction between the skimmer and the main drain. A proper balance will help maintain your pool’s cleanliness and circulation.

Here are the steps to balance your pool’s main drain and skimmers:

  1. Check the pool water level: Ensure that the water level in the pool is within the recommended range, typically halfway up the skimmer opening. If the water level is too low or too high, it can negatively impact the effectiveness of the skimmers.
  2. If you have a sand filter then backwash the pool sand filter or clean the cartridge filters if you have that type of filter. Clean the pump strainer basket and empty the skimmer baskets to reset the pool filter pressure gauge to an optimal range.
  3. Move the multiport valve to filter and restart the pump.
  4. Locate the valves: Find the valves that control the flow of water from the main drain and skimmers. These are typically located near the pool pump and filter system. There should be at least two valves: one for the main drain and one for the skimmers. See the section above.
  5. Adjust the main drain valve: To balance the flow between the main drain and skimmers, you need to adjust the main drain valve first. Start by closing the valve completely (usually turning it clockwise), then gradually open it (turning it counterclockwise) until you reach the desired flow rate. The flow rate will depend on the size of your pool and the specific equipment you have installed. It’s essential to maintain some flow from the main drain to ensure debris and contaminants are removed from the bottom of the pool.
  6. Adjust the skimmer valve(s): After adjusting the main drain valve, move on to the skimmer valve(s). Close the valve(s) completely, then gradually open them until you reach the desired flow rate. Ideally, the flow rate should be sufficient to create a good flow on the surface of the pool to pull in floating debris without creating excessive turbulence. Having your pool return jets properly adjusted to help create a good surface flow toward the skimmers will also help.
  7. If you find that you cannot create a sufficient flow rate into the skimmer/s then try reducing the flow into the main drain.

Personal experience: In my pool, to create sufficient flow into the skimmers I have to have the main drain almost completely turned off. But it is more important to have the skimmers working efficiently than the main drain in my opinion. If the skimmers are not pulling in debris it will become waterlogged and sink to the bottom of the pool and the main drain will not be able to cope with that.

If the pressure gauge reads lower than average after these adjustments, you may have a low suction problem. In such cases, inspect your pool system for any potential issues such as clogged pipes, leaks or damaged parts, and address them accordingly.

Pool Maintenance Course

Pool care handbook

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool, I knew nothing about cleaning and maintaining it.

I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.

It was without a doubt the best money I spent that year as I saved thousands by doing it myself.

Addressing Pool Skimmer Blockages

If you have tried all of the above and you still cannot improve the skimmer suction then you may well have a blockage in the line from the skimmer to the pump or your filter may be dirty and blocked (if it is a cartridge filter).

Pool skimmer blockages can drastically affect the suction and overall performance of your pool’s filtration system.

Identifying Blockage Sources

First, inspect the skimmers for any visible debris that might be causing the blockage. Common culprits include leaves, twigs, and other organic materials. If you find any of these obstructions, carefully remove them to ensure your skimmer can function correctly.

Next, examine your pool’s filters. A dirty or clogged cartridge filter can also lead to insufficient skimmer suction. If you find that your filter is in need of cleaning or replacement, take the necessary steps to address the issue. This may involve rinsing out the filter or purchasing a new one.

Lastly, check the impeller, which is located inside the pool pump. The impeller can become blocked by debris, reducing the suction power in your pool skimmer. If the impeller appears to be blocked, you’ll need to carefully remove the debris to restore proper function.

These posts may be useful:
15 Reasons You May Have Low Pool Pump Pressure
Skimmer not skimming

Clearing Blocked Skimmer Lines

Once you have determined the source of the blockage, follow these steps to clear the blocked skimmers:

  1. Turn off the pool pump to prevent any damage while you work on the skimmer.
  2. Open the pump strainer basket lid and remove the basket.
  3. Remove the skimmer basket or baskets.
  4. Push the end of a hose into the inlet pipe that goes into the pool pump strainer.
  5. Ensure that the valve to/from the skimmer is open and the main drain valve is closed.
  6. Turn on the hose with a strong flow.
  7. Watch in the skimmer for the water coming out and see if any debris is pushed out of the pipe.
  8. Turn the pool pump back on and observe the skimmer function. The suction should have improved following the removal of any blockages.

By regularly checking and maintaining your pool skimmers and addressing any blockages, you can keep your pool clean and ensure its filtration system operates effectively.

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