by Rob Cox, May 20, 2011
Pool Skimmer Care & Repair Tips
Pool skimmers come in many types and sizes. Some are free floating in the pool, but most pool skimmers are attached to the wall of the pool. Water passes a free-floating weir, which accelerates flow into the skimmer, and keeps it trapped when the pump shuts off. Your pump pulls the surface water of your pool into the skimmer basket, accessed through a top lid.
Skimmers are generally low maintenance, and can give many years of service with regular maintenance done as needed. Here we have some tips for pool skimmer repair that you can do yourself.
Cracked pool skimmer walls: Skimmers can crack when put under pressure from surrounding soil or settling slabs of concrete. Cracks can also occur when water freezes in the skimmer while winterized, if a skimmer equalizer bottle or gizzmo are not used. But cracks can also be easily repaired in your plastic pool skimmer. Pool Putty makes a fine repair to any pool skimmer cracks. Mix up the 2 part epoxy, roll into a "snake" and press into the crack. Use pool water to smooth and firm it. Silicone is also an option to repair a skimmer crack, and will allow for some future movement, but cannot be used underwater.
Leaking pool skimmer: If the walls are cracked, as described above, the skimmer will leak. The most common area of a leaking pool skimmer however, is at the joint where the plastic skimmer makes contact with the pool wall. If you have a vinyl lined pool, this probably means new gasketing and faceplate are in order. Use a dye test syringe or food coloring to find the leaking spots. Using a large phillips head, try to tighten the faceplate screws to improve the seal. If it still leaks, order the proper gasket / faceplate for your skimmer. Gaskets can also be custom cut (DIY) with thin sheet rubber, or - in a pinch, the back of a cereal box, or maybe better to order the OEM if you have time.
Concrete pool skimmers, however, have a different problem - expansion/contraction of the pool and pool deck over time will cause a separation between the plastic pool skimmer and the concrete wall. Leak testing at this point will determine the areas that are leaking. Pool Putty can be used in these areas for a quick patch, using the skimmer putty technique described above. A longer lasting repair would involve chipping out a small amount of material surrounding the leak, and patching with EZ Patch 1, pool plaster patch. For this you would need to lower the water to the bottom of the skimmer - chip, patch and refill.
Skimmer Lid no longer fits: This usually indicates that the surrounding concrete has pitched or put pressure on the collar which the lid fits into. Scraping the lid on the concrete sometimes works, or you can hold the skimmer lid in a vice while using a rotary grinder to shave off the outer edge. In worse cases, you may need to remove the concrete pad surrounding the collar, and "re-box" the skimmer, with expansion joints on all sides surrounding a new skimmer collar.
Replacing skimmer weirs: OEM weirs usually screw into the skimmer body or lock into tabs on the side wall of the skimmer throat. It can be a difficult operation, and most companies I know replace with a generic skimmer weir. Just pull out two pins, or on newer types, pull one cord to release the spring loaded arms which hold the weir in place. We recently wrote an entire blog post and filmed a video on installing skimmer weirs.
Replacing skimmer baskets: Pretty simple this one, just drop it in. But if you are replacing many baskets due to a large leaf volume, if your baskets seem to crack and split every year, you might take a look at the Skim Pro clogless skimmer basket. It has a tall neck to stop the clog/break cycle of skimmer baskets. Currently only available for 3 of the most common skimmer baskets, Hayward SPX1070E (B-9), Baker Hydro Pak (B-136) and Hayward SPX1082E (B-152).