Why Is My Skimmer Not Skimming? This Is What to Check

Having debris and bugs floating around on the surface of your pool is not nice for swimmers. If you constantly have this then it is likely that you will find the skimmer not skimming properly so you need to investigate.

There are a number of things that could result in your pool skimmer not working, or at least to not work properly. Most things are easily fixed fortunately.

If your pool skimmer is not skimming it will generally be for one of three reasons:

  • the level of water in your pool is too low (or too high)
  • you are not getting sufficient suction so your spool skimmer not pulling debris in
  • you have a problem with the weir door/flap in your skimmers so that debris is not being trapped in the skimmer

I will go through the various options to try and solve the problem of a pool skimmer not pulling debris in to help you identify the problem.

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Is the pool water level correct?

The first thing to look at, if you find your skimmer is not skimming, is the water level. Is it correct? The level should be roughly half way or a little more up the skimmer inlet hole.

correct water level for skimmer to skim correctly - skimmer not skimming
Correct water level

Level too low

If it is much lower than this, or perhaps doesn’t even reach the skimmer inlet then that is the problem. To rectify it you need to raise the pool’s water level by topping up with a hose pipe.

If you have an automatic top up system lift the lid and check that the float has not become caught in an upward position, which would mean the valve was not opening to let water in. If it is free then check that when you push the float down that water starts to come in.

Level too high

If the water level in your pool is too high, so it comes right up to the top of the skimmer hole, or even above it, then the skimmer cannot function correctly.

The most common reasons this may occur are if you have had some heavy rain that has raised the level of the pool or, if you have an automatic pool top up, there may be a problem with the float getting stuck so the valve continues to open letting water into the pool or it could just be badly adjusted.

To rectify it you need to pump out the excess water using the waste setting on the multiport valve until the water level is correct (after fixing the problem with the pool top up if that is what caused it). See my article What do the settings on a multiport valve mean if you are unsure.

Pool Maintenance Course

When I first bought my house with a swimming pool I knew nothing about how to clean and maintain it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.

It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.

Pool care handbook

Do you have suction?

If the water level in the pool is correct then you need to determine whether you are getting suction in your skimmer or skimmers. This is a probable reason if your pool skimmer not pulling debris in

With the pool pump running on the filter setting can you see water being drawn into the skimmers? If you can’t see water coming in then try putting a hand over one of the inlet ports at the bottom of the skimmer. Do you feel any suction? If you cannot then the pool skimmers not pulling water so you need to investigate further.

If you have plenty of suction but debris floating on the surface is not being drawn in, or doesn’t stay in, then it is probably a problem with the skimmer weir. See next section.

If it seems the pool skimmer not suctioning then check the following

Skimmer valve

This is an obvious one but it can be easily overlooked. Check that the valve in the pipe that draws water from the skimmer to the pool pump is open and not closed, or just partially open.

Skimmer basket

Check that the skimmer basket is not full and blocked by debris (leaves, bugs, pollen etc). If it is then empty it and replace it and see if you have suction now.

Pump strainer

Check that the pump strainer basket is not full of debris and stopping the proper flow of water to the pump.


You may have little suction if the sand filter needs backwashing. Read my article How to backwash a pool if you are unfamiliar with this.

Cartridge Filter

If you have a cartridge filter, rather than a sand filter, then it may be clogged and need cleaning.


If the above are ok then you may have a blockage in the pipes going from your skimmer to the pump. With the pump off you can try using a hose to push water back from the pump to try and unblock it (if that is the problem). If you have a blockage you will probably see debris coming up from the skimmer inlet.

Air lock

You may have an air lock in the system. Read my article How to bleed air from a pool pump of filter.

Is the skimmer weir door functioning?

If plenty of water is being drawn into the skimmer, and you can see debris being pulled in through the hole, but it doesn’t stay there (particularly once the pool pump is off) then you probably have a problem with the skimmer weir door.

The weir door contains a float medium which keeps the top of the door roughly level with the pools surface. The suction draws water (and any debris) over the top of the door and traps it inside the skimmer.

Check that the float medium is still there as normally it is just a push fit so they can become dislodged.

skimmer weir door

You could have a twig or some other debris stuck in the door somewhere that is preventing it from floating at the correct level or, as happens in my pool from time to time, one of the small plastic “hinges” may have come out of one of the holes so it is no longer swiveling.

Buy a floating skimmer

If you have lots of debris in your pool, particularly if you have trees near your pool like I do so you are constantly removing leaves, and which your skimmers struggle to deal with then you may wish to look at adding a floating skimmer to help out.

These devices are solar powered and move around on the surface of the pool under their own power collecting debris as they go. You just need to take it out and empty it now and again (as you do a skimmer basket).

It saves you having to use the skimmer net so often and because it moves around it can collect debris before it gets waterlogged and sinks to the bottom, particularly when the pool pump is off so the skimmers are not skimming.

There are two popular models available:

Instapark Betta Solar Powered Pool Skimmer

The Instapark pool skimmer works completely on solar power to remove the surface debris as well as reducing the amount of dust, leaves, pollen and bacteria. It has a wireless app that you can sue to control it.


The Instapark pool skimmer is available on Amazon

Aquamoto Skimbot 2021 Robotic Solar Powered Pool Cleaner

Aquamoto Skimbot 2021 Robotic Solar Powered Pool Cleaner for Swimming Pools, Bluetooth App Enabled

The Aquamoto Skimbot 2021 Robotic Solar Powered Pool Cleaner removes 90-95% of surface debris as well as reducing the amount of dust, leaves, pollen and bacteria.

It has an intelligent on-boarded navigation system that maps the water surface and targets dirty areas. You can also control it through an iOS or an Android app on your phone.

The Aquamoto Skimbot 2021 is available on Amazon

My top 3 pool cleaning tools

These are the pool cleaning tools I have found the most useful since I have had my pool.

Step and corner vacuum brush

This is a really useful tool for getting into the areas that a standard vacuum head simply cannot reach. Aquatix Pro Pool Step & Corner Vacuum Brush

Leaf rake net

If, like me, you get plenty of leaves at the bottom of your pool then a good leaf rake/net is a must. The Stargoods Pool Skimmer Net gets under the leaves easily.

Robotic pool cleaner

These are quite expensive and it was a number of years before I bit the bullet and bought one. I have never regretted it. The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is the most recommended pool cleaning robot on all of the pool forums. It not only cleans the bottom of the pool but also the sides and the waterline.