How To Adjust Pool Skimmer Suction?


There is nothing better than relaxing in your in-ground pool on a hot summer’s day! With the water beneath you cooling you down, you can feel the heat slowly fading away. But in the midst of enjoying your pool, you didn’t really notice exactly how dirty it had gotten. You can hear the sound of the pump not working properly and you immediately understood: something is wrong with the pool skimmer suction!

The way the pool water is kept clean is through the skimmer suction. Without it working properly, your pool is bound to become a safety hazard that is able to cause irreparable damage to your body. When such an incident happens, you will need to adjust the pool skimmer suction so it gets to working again. But how to adjust pool skimmer suction? Before adjusting it, you need to make sure to unclog the line and then adjust it! And if you want to know exactly how to do that, then you have come to the right place!

Key Takeaways

  • Before figuring out how to adjust the pool skimmer suction, it is important to first understand it first and get an idea of what it does.
  • Adjusting the pressure of the skimmer suction is very easy. All you need to do is take out the basket and adjust the skimmer plate to the right pressure.
  • However, your skimmer suction might be blocked. You can tell this is the case by seeing the rate of water in the pool being sucked in or a loud noise caused by a clogged suction line.
  • In that case, you need to make sure to unclog the line and then maintain a pressure of 10 to 25 PSI.
  • If a clogged suction line is not causing pressure issues, then it might be one of the 7 other reasons that are causing the issue, maybe even simultaneously.
  • Out of all the problems, air leaks or air bubble formation might be the worse because you need to check the whole pool to see which part has air in it.

Understanding Pool Skimmer Suction

Understanding pool skimmer suction

The easiest way to define the function of the pool skimmer suction is that it takes large debris like dead leaves, insects, and other materials and sucks them into the pool skimmer basket where the material gets stored. They are usually of a rectangular shape on the side of the pool wall with an opening where the suction takes in the water from the pool and then returns back the water.

Before the water is returned, it passes through two filtration systems. The first filtration occurs in the pool skimmer basket where the large materials are deposited. This ensures that the pool’s actual filtration system works on the smaller microscopic debris. Once it goes through the filtration line, the suction line returns the water back to the pool through the return valve. This is done with the help of the impeller which pushes and pulls the water when it needs to.

So as you can see, there are a lot of moving parts involved in the pool skimmer suction and each of these needs to be completely free from any restriction so that it can keep your pool clean. Once it gets clogged, that is when you will start to notice your pool becoming dirty!

Adjusting the Pool Skimmer Suction

Adjusting the pool skimmer suction

When you notice that your pool skimmer suction is not functioning properly, that is when you first need to look at the pressure gauge of your filter tank to see if it is at its optimal flow rate. If it is not, then you will need to start adjusting the pool skimmer suction to get the right flow rate for your pool.

The first thing that you need to do for the adjustment is to clean the skimmer basket of all the debris. Getting rid of the junk is important so that you can do a proper backwash of the pool. So make sure to rinse the bucket properly so that you get rid of anything dirty from the basket.

Then all you need to do before you replace the skimmer basket is to adjust the skimmer suction. To do this, you need to turn the dial on the skimmer plate at the suction port to the right to increase the suction. If you need to decrease the suction, you will need to turn to the left.

This is where you will need to keep an eye on the pressure gauge. If it reads between 10 to 25 PSI, you are good! If not, then the problem is not at your pool skimmer suction but somewhere else depending on whether the pressure is lower than 10 to higher than 25.

Signs That Your Pool Skimmer Suction Is Blocked and Unclogging Them

If the signs point to the skimmer suction needing to be unclogged, then there are some obvious signs that you can both see and hear from your skimmer suction to identify if it is blocked or not! Here is what you need to look out for in a blocked skimmer suction:

signs that your pool Skimmer suction is blocked and unclogging them
  • Loud pool pump: The very first sign that you will notice that your skimmer suction is not working properly is hearing the loud noise of the water pump telling you something got is clogged. This can be caused by a whole host of reasons; surging water in the pump, air pocket formed when cleaning the filter, and the clogged pump O-ring and impeller are just some of the more well-known ones because they can be a combination of many different things!
  • Low water pressure: if you notice that the water pressure in your swimming pool is low even with an empty skimmer basket, then it could be that something in the pump system is blocked.  This could be a low water level, a blocked Weir gate, or a blockage in one of the three inline water pumps.

If these are the two signs that something is wrong with your skimmer line, then there are two equally easy-step solutions for this as well! Here are ways that you can unclog the filter system and make sure that your skimmer suction is working properly.

  1. Moving pool diverter valve: if the problem is not clear, then you can use the diverter valve and use a process of elimination to check which of the main line, the skimmer line, or the pump line is blocked.
  2. Drain cleaning bladder: once you have identified the problematic line that is blocked, you can use a normal garden hose and attach a drain cleaning bladder to it. This bladder will pump water directly into the blocked line and inflate to push out what is causing the block. Simply insert the garden hose into the line and let it rip!

 In no time, you will have an unclogged line and your skimmer suction is back to optimal working condition!

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7 Causes For Problems in Suction Power of Pool Skimmers

If adjusting the pool skimmer suction does not fix the problem, then it is definitely somewhere else where the block has occurred causing the pressure to decrease. There are many reasons that this might have occurred so let’s look at what caused your pool skimmer suction to not work properly.

Causes for problems in suction power of pool skimmers

1. Low water height

If you didn’t know, your pool water level needs to be at a certain height to make sure that it is sucking in the water. You can gauge this by seeing if the water level is above the midpoint of your pool skimmer suction. If it is not, then it will cause air to be sucked in causing strain on your filtration system.

This problem probably has the easiest solution (albeit a time-consuming one)! You just need to make sure that the pool water level is above the suction gate, that is it! It will take a bit of time but you won’t necessarily have to worry about splashing the water off the pool. The main concern is evaporation so make sure you get those thermal blankets ready so that the water level is not decreasing while you are not using the pool.

2. Clogged pool cartridge filters

If the filtration system is blocked, then it is the biggest problem for your pool’s safety. A blocked or clogged pool cartridge filter will cause your filters to not work properly, maybe even ruin the filter system altogether! So grab a bucket and pool filter cleaning solution and soak the filter cartridge overnight. If that does not produce a squeaky clean filter by morning, you might need to change your filters.

3. Full skimmer basket

The skimmer basket is making sure that your filter system is working properly. However, if that is over-filled, it will block the water from entering the filtration system and overwork it by trying to suck in too much! So make sure to regularly empty out the skimmer basket, especially after a storm or if you live in an area with loads of trees in your backyard. Don’t forget to rise the basket properly as well since some of the materials might adhere to the lining of the basket and then you got other things to worry about!

4. Blocked pool impeller

Think of the pool impeller as the main driving force sucking the unclean water and returning back clean water. Without it, the whole filtration system falls apart! So if the impeller is clogged, you will need to make sure that you get to unblocking it as fast as possible! Make sure to clean the impeller so that it can do its job of keeping your pool safe to use. A clogged impeller will not be able to do its job properly and that is the last thing that you want for your swimming pool.

5. Loose O-ring on pump lid

The above problems we were dealing with were for the pool itself. In uncommon but still possible cases, your water in-line might be blocked which is what is causing your skimmer suction to not work properly. A loose O-ring on the pump lid has the probability of causing the block so you need to make sure that it is tightly and securely fit to not let any air or large debris into the filtration system.

6. Dirty pre-pump filter

If the water that enters your pool is already contaminated, then your filtration system is working overtime to solve the issue. This causes the skimmer suction to take in more water but cannot reliably filter it. That is why keep an eye out for a pre-pump filter and give it the same treatment as the pool filters with an overnight soak in biofilm cleaner.

7. Air leaks or air bubbles

Speaking of air, probably the worst one out of all the problems is having an air bubble form somewhere in the filtration system. And it can happen anywhere. When I mean anywhere, I mean it! From the skimmer suction area to the delivery system of the water, air leaks can occur anywhere in the filtration system. If there is a leak somewhere, the flow rate will decrease and that means your filtration system is not working properly whatsoever.

I hate to break it to you, but to remedy this you need to check everything! You need to clean the O-rings, valves, suction baskets, filters, and everything else you can think of! If all seems okay to you and you have done the necessary fixes needed, start the suction again. If it still does not work, that means the problem is probably deeper somewhere that needs a professional eye to inspect it properly.


1. How often should I clean my skimmer basket?

You should clean it once a week at the least! If your pool is around a lot of trees, then I would suggest cleaning it every other day to keep the pool water clean.

2. Where do I put my chlorine tablets in the swimming pool?

The skimmer basket is the perfect place to put the chlorine tablets. As it is near the filtration system, it will give you higher amounts of chlorine which keeps your pool water nicely sanitized. Just make sure that the tablets are fully dissolved so you do not raise the chlorine level of the water as that can be dangerous.

3. Can I use a manual pool vacuum to backwash?

Yes, you can! All you need to do is attach the pool vacuum to the backwash line and let it do its work to keep the insides of the filtration system clean.

4. What is a skimmer weir?

A skimmer weir is basically a door for the pool skimmer suction that matches the water level of the pool to let in or out the debris on the water.

5. Is a skimmer weir important?

Your pool does not necessarily need a weir door for the skimmer suction but it can help prevent air leaks from occurring which is always a great addition to your pool.

Final Thoughts

Getting a pool is all well and good but having to clean it and make sure that nothing is clogged can be a pain to deal with. That is why I hope that your pool skimmer suction adjustment is only caused by one issue and I hope it is not the air leak problem in your filtration system! Summer is ripe around this time which makes it the perfect time to enjoy your pool to the fullest! Just make sure that you are keeping your pool well-maintained and keep an eye out for any signs of the pool suction not working properly.

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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.

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