How To Unclog A Swimming Pool Skimmer Line

Overview of the swimming pool skimmer line

A properly functioning skimmer line is crucial for maintaining the cleanliness and clarity of a swimming pool. The skimmer line serves as an intake system that collects debris such as leaves, bugs, and other unwanted materials from the surface of the water. Without a functioning skimmer line, these debris would accumulate in the pool, leading to clogs and reduced water flow.

Importance of a properly functioning skimmer line

The primary function of a skimmer line is to remove floating debris from the surface of the pool water. This not only improves aesthetics but also helps maintain proper water chemistry by preventing organic matter from decomposing in the pool.

Furthermore, a clogged or malfunctioning skimmer can cause serious damage to your pool equipment. When debris accumulates in the lines or baskets, it restricts water flow and puts additional strain on your pump motor. This can lead to costly repairs or even require replacing expensive equipment.

Common causes of clogs in skimmer lines

There are several common causes for clogs in swimming pool skimmers:

  1. Leaves: Falling leaves are one of the main culprits when it comes to blocking up your skimmers.
  2. Bugs and small animals: Insects or small animals that get trapped inside your skim basket may eventually block up your suction pipes.
  3. Debris accumulation: Over time, dirt particles and other organic matter can build up inside your pipes if they’re not regularly cleaned.
  4. Poor maintenance: Neglecting regular maintenance tasks like cleaning out strainer baskets allows potential obstructions to accumulate over time.

Signs of a clogged skimmer line

It’s important for every pool owner to be able to recognize signs indicating their Skim Line might be blocked:

Reduced Water Flow

One telltale sign is decreased flow through both main drains/skimmers at once – this typically occurs when you turn off one of them.

Debris Accumulation in the Skimmer Basket

Another common indicator is a large amount of debris accumulating in your skimmer basket.

Inability to Maintain Proper Water Level in the Pool

A clogged skimmer line can prevent water from being effectively drawn into the filtration system, causing a drop in water level over time.

Tools and materials needed for unclogging the skimmer line

To unclog a swimming pool’s skimmer line, you’ll need the following tools and materials:

  1. Skimmer net or skimmer sock: These are used to remove visible debris from the surface of the water.
  2. Pool brush or wire hanger: These tools can be used to gently dislodge stubborn clogs.
  3. Garden hose with high-pressure nozzle: A garden hose can be connected to your skimmer line and used to flush out any remaining obstructions.
  4. Plumbing snake or drain auger: If all else fails, a plumbing snake or drain auger may be necessary to break up and remove stubborn clogs.

Step-by-step guide to unclog a swimming pool skimmer line

Follow these steps carefully when attempting to clear a clogged swimming pool skimline:

1. Turn off the pool pump and close the skimming valve

Before beginning any maintenance on your pool equipment, it’s important that you turn off both your main power supply as well as isolate suction lines by closing their respective valves so that no further debris enters into them while cleaning out blockages elsewhere.

2. Remove The Skimming Basket And Clean It Thoroughly

The first step is removing your skim baskets; they’re typically found either inside an access panel near where you have access points (i.e., strainer pot) OR located at deck level outside around perimeter walls if there isn’t another option available like those mentioned above). Clean them thoroughly using running tap-water, then place them back into their original positions after cleaning has been completed.

3. Use A Skimming Net Or Sock To Remove Any Visible Debris From The Skimmer Line

Once you have cleaned the skimmer basket, use a skimming net or sock to remove any visible debris from the surface of the water near your skimmer line’s intake port.

4. Use A Pool Brush Or Wire Hanger To Gently Dislodge Any Stubborn Clogs

If there are any stubborn clogs in your skimmer line, use a pool brush or wire hanger to gently dislodge them. Be careful not to damage the pipes or fittings while doing so.

5. Attach A Garden Hose With High-Pressure Nozzle To The Skimmer Line And Flush It Out

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Attach a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle to the skimmer line and turn on the water supply. Allow it to run for several minutes while aiming at different angles within your pipe system (if possible) before turning off both power supplies – this will help break up remaining blockages that may still exist inside.

6. If The Clog Persists, Use A Plumbing Snake Or Drain Auger To Break Up And Remove The Obstruction

If flushing with high pressure doesn’t clear out the clog completely, it’s time to bring out heavier artillery – grab yourself either an old-fashioned plumbing snake (also known as an auger) OR newer version: drain bladders such as Drain King types work just fine too! Insert whichever device chosen down through main access point(s), keeping eye-on-goals all times until finding resistance indicative obstruction lodged somewhere within lines’ interior portions by feeling different levels given when applying slight back-and-forth motion along its length accompanied by rotational force helps dislodge things slowly but surely).

Repeat above step until passage is clear; if necessary repeat same procedure second location if applicable (again being mindful stay focused throughout entire process ensuring things remain straight, true angle so no further harm comes about while resolving this issue at hand).

7. Reassemble The Skimmer Basket And Turn On The Pool Pump

Once you have successfully cleared the skimmer line of any clogs, reassemble the skimmer basket and ensure it is properly secured. Then turn on your pool pump to resume normal operation.

8. Monitor The Skimmer Line For Any Signs Of Further Clogs And Take Preventive Measures

After clearing a clogged skimmer line, it’s important to monitor its performance for any signs of recurring issues. Regular maintenance tasks like cleaning out strainer baskets and removing debris from the surface of the water can help prevent future clogs.

Tips for preventing future skimmer line clogs

To minimize the risk of future clogs in your swimming pool’s skimming system:

  • Regularly clean out your skim baskets and remove any debris that may have accumulated.
  • Trim trees or plants near your pool to reduce the amount of falling leaves and other debris.
  • Use a pool cover when your pool is not in use to keep out leaves and larger debris.
  • Consider installing additional filtration devices such as a leaf trap or skimmer sock to catch larger debris before they enter the main circulation system.

By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering another blocked swimmer line.


Q: How often should I clean my skimming baskets?
A: It’s recommended to clean your skim baskets at least once every week during periods when there are lots of leaves falling into your pool. During times with less foliage dropping, every two weeks should be sufficient.

Q: Can I use chemicals instead of physical cleaning methods?
A: While certain chemical treatments can help break down organic matter within pipes over time; they’re typically best used as supplemental rather than primary means dealing with blockages.

Q: Can a clogged skimmer line cause damage to my pool equipment?
A: Yes, a clogged skimmer line can put additional strain on your pool pump and potentially lead to costly repairs or replacement of equipment.

Q: Is it possible for a clog in the skimmer line to affect the water level in my pool?
A: Yes, if the skimmer line is partially or fully blocked, it can prevent water from being effectively drawn into the filtration system. This may result in a drop in water level over time.


Maintaining clear and unclogged swimmer lines is essential for proper pool maintenance. Regularly cleaning out debris from skimming baskets, using preventive measures such as installing leaf traps or skimmer socks, and promptly addressing any signs of clogs are key steps towards ensuring optimal performance of your swimming pool’s circulation system. By following the step-by-step guide provided above and implementing preventive measures, you can keep your swimmer lines clear and avoid potential issues that could disrupt your enjoyment of owning a swimming pool.


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Glossary of Terms for Unclogging a Swimming Pool Skimmer Line:
  1. Skimmer Baskets: Containers that collect debris and prevent it from entering the pool pump system through the skimmer.

  2. Pool Lines: The plumbing lines that transport water to and from various components in the pool, including the skimmer line.

  3. Skimmer Suction: The force created by the pump that draws water into the skimmer basket.

  4. Pump Lid: The cover on top of the pool pump that allows access to its internal components.

  5. Air Leaks: Unwanted gaps or openings in pipes or fittings which allow air to enter the system, potentially affecting water flow.

  6. Vacuum Hose: A flexible hose used with a vacuum head to manually remove debris from a swimming pool.

  7. Return: An outlet where filtered and treated water is returned back into the pool after passing through various filtration systems.

  8. Ground Pool/Inground Pool: Differentiates between pools installed above ground (ground pools) and those built below ground level (inground pools).

  9. Water Pressure: The force exerted by flowing water against surfaces such as pipes or fittings within a plumbing system.

10 Chlorine/Chlorinated Water/Liquid Chlorine/Chlorine Tablets/Chlorine Dispenser:
Chemical compounds used to disinfect and sanitize swimming pool water, killing bacteria and algae.

11 Flow of Water/Water Intake/Intakes/Suction Port/Skimmer Pipes/Skimmer Hole:
The movement of water as it enters through intakes, suction ports, skimmers pipes, or skimming holes connected to circulation systems.

12 Pump Basket/Pump Basket Lid/Diverter Valve:
Components associated with controlling flow rates within pumps while preventing debris from entering sensitive areas.

13 Pool Filters/Cartridge Filter/Basket Holder:
Devices responsible for removing particles from circulating pool water before returning it to the pool.

14 Pool Heater:
Equipment used to raise water temperature in swimming pools, providing comfort during cooler weather.

15 Pool Professional/Pool Contractor/Leak Detection Companies:
Experienced individuals or companies specializing in various aspects of pool maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.

16 Pool Water Levels/Pool Level:
The height of water maintained within a pool’s walls or skimmer baskets to ensure proper filtration and circulation.

17 Types of Pool Skimmers/Skimmer Port/Basket Above Ground Pool:
Different models or designs of skimmers that collect debris from the surface of the water before it sinks to the bottom.

18 Drain Snake/Clogged Drains/Floor Drain/Drain Cover:
A tool used for clearing obstructions such as leaves, dirt, or debris from drain lines and openings in pools.

19 Air Pressure/Air Compressor: The force exerted by compressed air when used for cleaning pipes and dislodging clogs.

20 Pressure Gauge: A device that measures fluid pressure within a plumbing system.

21 Bladder-Type Hose Jet/Blast Of Air Pressure/Liquid Chlorine/Turn 2-Inch Drain Cleaning Bladder Bag: Tools commonly utilized during unclogging processes involving pressurized air/water injection into blocked lines.

22 Safety/Safety Cover/Addition Safety Measures: Precautions taken to ensure personal safety while performing maintenance tasks on swimming pools.

Please note that this glossary is not exhaustive but covers common terms related specifically to unclogging a swimming pool skimmer line.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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