If you own or maintain a pool, then you might be familiar with the various ways to keep it clean, like using vacuums and skimmers. These various cleaning methods and how to use them together can get confusing, and the way to use them can vary between different types of pools.
You will need to remove the skimmer basket when you vacuum the pool, either manually or with an automatic vacuum, if you use the suction inlet at the bottom of the pool skimmer. If you use a skimmer plate, or have a dedicated side vacuum port, then you will not need to remove it.
Keep reading to learn more about how these tools work together and find out how you need to adjust your pool cleaning methods based on the type of setup you have.
When to remove the skimmer basket
If you vacuum manually and you have a pool which has no separate dedicated pool vacuum port (which are often positioned on one side wall 6-12 inches below the level of the water so that it can be reached easily from the side of the pool) then you will probably need to attach the pool vacuum hose to the inlet at the bottom of one of your skimmers.
If this is the case with your pool then you will need to remove the skimmer basket from the skimmer in order to gain access to the inlet to insert the vacuum hose.
You will have to do this for the following types of vacuums:
- a manual vacuum on a vacuum pole
- an automatic vacuum, such as a Kreepy Krauly
- a suction side cleaner
If you manually vacuum your pool (which is probably the most common method) and the only place you can insert the vacuum hose is in the inlet at the bottom of the skimmer, then you will need to remove the skimmer basket to gain access to the inlet.
If you use an automatic vacuum, such as a Kreepy Krauly, and the only place you can insert the vacuum hose is in the inlet at the bottom of the skimmer (as you don’t have a dedicated vacuum port), then you will need to remove the skimmer basket to gain access to the inlet.
Suction side cleaner
These are similar in some ways to the automatic vacuum described above. They are much more complicated though as they have driven tracks and generally cyclonic action. They too are driven by the suction from the pool pump so will need to have the skimmer basket removed to operate.
When to leave the skimmer basket in
There are four types of pool cleaning setups where you will not need to remove the skimmer basket when vacuuming:
- Manual or automatic vacuum using a skimmer plate
- Manual or automatic vacuum using a side vacuum port
- Robotic pool cleaner, such as a Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus (which is the most recommended)
- a pressure side pool cleaner such as a Polaris Vac-Sweep
- In-floor or self-cleaning systems
Manual or automatic vacuum using a skimmer plate
Another option for pool owners with automatic or manual vacuums is the skimmer plate. A skimmer vacuum plate is a vacuum fitting that attaches to the top of a skimmer, above the skimmer basket. The vacuum then sends the dirty water through the skimmer plate and any large dirt and debris is then collected in the skimmer basket.
This is actually a very good system as it prevents leaves etc going through the system and clogging up the pump strainer basket which can reduce the amount of suction your vacuum has. I have a skimmer plate but I don’t use it any more as I had problems getting a good seal. You may have better luck.
Manual or automatic vacuum using a side vacuum port
Some pools have a dedicated vacuum port, usually in the side of the pool just below the water line. The manual or automatic vacuum hose is inserted into this instead of being inserted in the port at the bottom of the skimmer housing.
There is no need to remove the skimmer basket while vacuuming if you have this system in your pool.
Robotic pool cleaner
Robotic pool cleaners are completely automated and work independently from the pump and skimmer system. Robotic pool vacuums are similar to a robotic vacuum that you might find in your house, except that it runs underwater. These types of vacuums operate by driving around the bottom of the pool and collecting dirt and debris in a compartment that can be emptied after cleaning. Many also climb the sides and even clean the waterline.
Therefore this type of pool cleaning system does not require you to remove the skimmer basket while operating since they work separately from each other.
Pressure side pool cleaner
A pressure side pool cleaner doesn’t use the suction to clean the pool but instead is attached to the water outlet, ie the jet where the water returns to the pool after being filtered. The dirt is normally trapped in a filter bag before reentering the pool. So because of this there is no need to remove the skimmer basket while the cleaner is operating..
In-floor or self-cleaning systems
This type of pool cleaning setup requires the least amount of work to maintain but are probably the least common. These systems work independently and entirely at the bottom of the pool. In this type of setup, several pop-up mechanisms work like jets to move the dirt and debris in the pool toward a drain at the bottom of the pool.
You can leave the skimmer basket in the pool while this system is running with no issues.
Do you remove skimmer basket when vacuuming to waste?
If your pool is very dirty, so you need to vacuum to waste, then exactly the same applies as if you were vacuuming on the filter setting in the sections above. So, briefly, if you are vacuuming by inserting the vacuum hose into the inlet at the bottom of the skimmer then you will need to remove the skimmer basket. If using a side vacuum port, a skimmer vacuum plate or a robotic pool cleaner then you will not need to remove the skimmer basket.
Do you remove skimmer basket when backwashing?
There is no need to remove the skimmer basket when you backwash your pool filter since you will not be inserting a pool vacuum hose into the skimmer.
Do I need a skimmer vacuum plate?
It is not necessary to use a skimmer vacuum plate as you can insert the vacuum hose into the bottom inlet of the skimmer. However, a skimmer vacuum plate does have the advantage that when using one you can leave the skimmer basket in place. This means that any larger debris, such as leaves, that you vacuum up will be caught in the skimmer basket and not end up in the pool pump strainer basket, which is what would happen if you just insert the hose into the bottom of the skimmer.
Skimmer vacuum plates are very cheap so it will cost very little to try one. You can buy one on Amazon – skimmer vacuum plate. Make sure you buy the correct one for your make/model of skimmer.
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.
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 on 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.