How to install a new above ground pool skimmer
How is your skimmer looking this year? As you head on out to the backyard this spring, you may be surprised at what you find.
Skimmers can easily crack or break even over the mildest of winters. Or, if you are planning on a new liner you may want a nice new skimmer box to go along with it.
Skimmer replacement is easy – you just need to know what type you have. Most skimmers have a manufacturer name and model number molded on them. Once you have that information, you can search for it at intheswim or call one of our friendly representatives to help identify your above ground skimmer, and place the order for you.
Once you have received your new skimmer you may be shocked to find there are no instructions in the box. I guess, they expect that you still have your original owner’s manual of the pool. But if you do not have that, the process is fairly easy.
I replaced my own skimmer when we changed out the liner on our 24’ round pool. Begin when the pool is almost full with water, an inch or two from the bottom of the skimmer. Stop filling the pool until the skimmer(s) and return fitting(s) are in place.
I had a friend assist me with replacing my skimmer. She was on the outside of the pool while I took the chilly plunge into the freshly filled cold water to work from inside the pool. Trust me, I was nervous to make that first cut of brand new pool liner, but it turned out just fine. I followed some skimmer replacement tips my co-workers gave me.
Replacing an Above Ground Pool Skimmer
- Before replacing the liner, we removed the old skimmer and gaskets from the wall completely, and cleaned up both sides of the wall by scraping off a little rust and calcium. For bad rust, sand the area and apply a rust-proof paint and allow to dry.
- Be sure the water is close to the bottom of the skimmer before you begin. If you cut into the liner too soon, the liner may stretch more, and cause a hole in your new pool liner.
- The skimmer comes with two gaskets. I glued the rubber gasket in position onto the face of the skimmer, using some silicone. Then, my outside-of-the-pool helper held the skimmer and gasket up to the skimmer opening.
- Inserted the two screws that secure the skimmer to the wall. Usually there are two round headed screws that are tightened down first. After finding the screw hole, through the vinyl with my finger, I pushed the screw through the vinyl and tightened with a large Phillips screwdriver.
- Next, I placed the faceplate over the skimmer hole, with the thinner, paper gasket on the pool side. I found each hole by feeling through the vinyl and running the SS flat head screws through with a long #3 Phillips screwdriver. Then I got out of that cold pool!Don’t tighten all the way until all the screws are in place. Then go back and tighten all the screws, as tight as you can – until you hear the plastic faceplate begin to creak!
- Next, we installed the skimmer weir and basket, and threaded in the hose adapter into the bottom, using Teflon tape. Connected the skimmer hose to the adapter with a clamp.
- Final step! Using a razor knife, I carefully leaned over the wall and cut out the rectangle of vinyl inside of the skimmer faceplate. We saved this piece as patching material.
Adding a Second Skimmer to Your Above Ground Pool
For those of you that have trees around your pool, a second skimmer will help to keep your pool cleaner. Or maybe you want to upgrade from the standard size above ground skimmer, to the Wide Mouth Skimmer shown left.
To tackle this job, you’ll need a new above ground pool skimmer, enough pipe or hose to reach to the pool pump and a few plumbing fittings to connect the new skimmer line into the pump.
The best tool to cut the wall may be a 4″ grinder, but you can also use a reciprocating saw, with a fine tooth blade, or a hacksaw can also be used.
- Mark out the location for the new skimmer by using the faceplate as a template. Use a marker to outline the inside and outside dimensions, and all of the screw holes.
- Pull the liner away from the pool wall in this area, and place a cardboard box in between the wall and the liner to protect it from saws and drills.
- Very carefully cut the wall, on the inside mark that you made. The cuts should be smooth and straight, and also be careful with your pool liner as you cut through the pool wall.
- Very carefully drill small holes for each screw hole that you marked, again being careful not to drill into the liner.
Now, after your hole has been cut, and the screw holes drilled out – you can follow the steps above to mount your new skimmer into place.
Leaking Above Ground Pool Skimmers
If the leak is between the skimmer and the wall, you can first try to clean up the wall and replace the rubber gasket to see if that solves your problem.
If the leak is from a crack in the housing of the skimmer, you may be able to repair it with pool putty or silicone, if you’d rather not replace the entire skimmer.
I have to say it’s an easy job – replacing a pool skimmer. We were done in under 30 minutes. It took me longer to write this post than it did to actually install the new skimmer!
Enjoy your pool!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger