When it comes to preventing and repairing leaks in your pool, knowledge is power. But if you are like most swimming pool owners, you probably don’t think much about your pool’s skimmer and how this quiet part of your pool can be the reason your property’s water level is dropping. In this article, I will discuss how you can actually fix a leaky pool skimmer so you can prevent further damage to your pool.
What are pool skimmers and what do they do?
Skimmers are like little buckets built into the side of your pool. They hold baskets and have the same function as the handheld leaf skimmer, keeping twigs, leaves, and other debris from making their way into your pool’s filter.
For in-ground pools, skimmers are typically rectangular-shaped and placed toward the top of the walls. Usually, the water level of the pool covers the bottom half of the skimmers. Some skimmers have doors over their front that open and close according to the water level and movement. When the pump is turned off, these doors close so that all the collected debris in the skimmer basket do not float back into the pool.
Pool skimmers are also responsible for the circulation and filtration of water that goes in and out of your pool. They are the starting point of pool circulation and serve as a gateway to the pool’s filtration system. As the pool pump sucks water into the skimmers and water passes through the skimmer basket, the water is cleared of debris that may cause blockage in your pool’s pump or filter. Without the skimmers, it will be a lot more difficult for the filter to perform its function efficiently.
Why are skimmers prone to leaks?
Skimmers function so quietly that you may probably not immediately consider it as the culprit behind the unexplained water loss in your pool. But just like old-time murder mysteries, the least suspected of all is often the culprit.
Since skimmers work in catching all kinds of funky things that fall into your pool, it is highly prone to damage. The longer your pool skimmers quietly sit there doing their job, the higher the probability they will start to break up and decay. One day, you wake up to find tiny, nasty bits floating around your pool water.
Skimmers are quite simple. They attach to the top wall of the pool and underneath to the skimmer pipe. The interface of pool skimmer to the concrete pool creates many opportunities for future problems to occur, including separation from the pool wall or beam, freeze damage, leaking, or collapsed, broken or separated plumbing pipes. That is basically the reason why pool wall skimmers need regular maintenance and repair.
If you have a lot of trees in your pool area and it’s been windy for the past several days, or if there is any other condition that gives you the reason to believe that your skimmers may already be filled up with debris, you need to check your skimmers more often to make sure that they are still in tip-top shape.
How do you know if your skimmer is leaking?
Leaks in the skimmer are among the most common types of pool leaks. Unlike other leaks, however, they are not hard to detect. Skimmers are also not hard to fix, as long as they are not physically damaged.
The most obvious sign that a pool skimmer is leaking is when the water level drops below the skimmer and stays there. Since most skimmer leaks are caused by the skimmer pulling away from the concrete, it is best to hire a company that has the skill to fix them in a few simple steps, like Nelson Pool Company.
The easiest way to locate the source of a skimmer leak is to shut off the pool pump and pour a few drops of red dye around the skimmer. Once the dye flows into the seams around the skimmer, notice where exactly along the seam the dye is flowing into because that will tell you which area you need to repair.
How do you fix a leaky skimmer?
The first thing you must do to fix a skimmer leak is shut off the pool pump. It is much easier to find leaks around the skimmer box area if the pool pump is switched off.
If you notice that the water level is lower than the skimmer box, add more water to your pool. You cannot fix a skimmer leak unless the water level is at least one inch above the skimmer box. Remember that the water level in your pool needs to be high enough so that it reaches the area where the skimmer box meets the pool wall.
After you have ensured that the water level is above the skimmer box, remove the cover of the skimmer. Usually, skimmers are attached by screws, plastic handles, or snaps. Simply disengage and remove the box to access the inside of the skimmer.
Once you have removed the cover, apply pool putty or two-part moldable epoxy to the affected area by removing a piece of underwater pool putty from the tube. Simply press the repair material into the area of the skimmer where the leak is located, where the dye flowed into when you conducted the dye test. Knead the putty with your fingers and press it into the area along the seam of the skimmer where there is a leak. Smooth out the putty with your fingers and wait for about 30 minutes for the putty to change to white color. The color change indicates that the putty has finally cured and that you can finally turn the pump back on. After the repair thoroughly dries, turn on the pump and replace the skimmer box cover that you removed earlier.
After you have fixed the leak in your skimmer, it’s time to diagnose additional leaks. If you notice that the water level in your pool continues to drop even after you have already fixed the skimmer leak, then there must be leaks in other areas of your pool. If the skimmer leak is the only problem, the water should stop dropping and remain level as soon as you have fixed the skimmer leak.
Here are some additional tips when fixing a leaky skimmer:
Make sure that the mounting screws are firmly in place. Sometimes, the skimmer leak may go away by simply tightening the screws.
If you notice that the pool surface is pitted or shows gaps near the skimmer faceplate, the only thing you may need to do is to apply the putty to the edge of the faceplate. No need to replace the gasket.
Make sure that you don’t drop the mounting screws to the bottom of the pool because that will make the job harder for you. Once they fall off, they will become difficult to locate.
Use a marine-grade material for your putty. Swimming pool supply dealers can easily recommend materials that will do a better job of holding up to the pressure coming from your skimmer, direct sunlight, as well as chlorine exposure.
If you suspect that your pool skimmer is leaking, call us, Nelson Pool Company, at 941-256-4079. We will locate even the hardest-to-find leaks in your pool and provide the highest quality repair for your pool property.