How To Turn On Your Pool Skimmer Valve (And Fix Common Issues)

how to turn on pool skimmer valves

Pool skimmers are used to remove debris from the surface of a pool.

They are usually installed near or directly inside the pool’s wall, where surface water flows into the skimmer to be cleaned before it returns to the pool’s water filter.

A pool skimmer consists of a pump, an intake pipe, a filter/strainer of some kind, and a discharge pipe.

The pool’s pump draws water from the pool and forces it through the intake pipe. Dirty surface water then passes through the filter, which removes dirt and debris. Finally, the filtered water is pumped back into the pool through the discharge pipe.

Pool skimmers are an essential part of any swimming pool system. They remove debris from the water and filter out bacteria and algae.

A pool skimmer valve regulates water flowing through your skimmer and lets you turn the flow off for repairs and maintenance.

But what do you do if your pool skimmer valve doesn’t turn on?

Here’s how to fix it.

What is A Pool Skimmer Valve?

A pool skimmer valve is a device that connects the inlet side of a pool skimmer to the outlet side of the skimmer. It regulates the flow of water through the skimmer.

It does this by opening and closing as needed.

When the valve opens, water can pass through the skimmer. When the valve closes, no water can pass through the valve.

Your skimmer valves may be electrically or manually controlled, depending on your particular system. 

Most pools use manual skimmer valves, so we will mostly focus on this type of valve system for the rest of this article.

How to Turn on Your Skimmer Valves

how to turn on pool skimmer valves

To turn on a manual skimmer valve, slowly move the handle toward you while holding it firmly. You’ve turned the valve on when the handle is straight up and down.

You’ll see bubbles coming out of the skimmer. Check to ensure the drain hose isn’t clogged if there’s no bubble flow.

If you want to do something else while turning on the valves, use a wrench to tighten the bolts that hold the cover plate to the wall. Then, lift the cover plate and watch the water enter the pool. Make sure you don’t let the cover drop until the water flows.

When the water stops flowing, put the cover back on, tighten the bolts, and test again. Repeat this process until the water starts flowing.

Call a professional plumber if you still have trouble getting water to flow.

What if My Pool Skimmer Valve Fails?

If your pool skimmer valve fails, it could cause problems with the entire pool skimmer system operation. In this case, we advise contacting a professional immediately.

In some cases, replacing the valve will solve the problem. However, sometimes it requires more than just replacing the valve.

In other words, even if you replace the valve, the problem might still exist.

So, before you try to replace the valve, call a pro to diagnose the situation first.

What Causes Pool Skimmer Valves to Break Down?

how to turn on pool skimmer valves

There are many reasons why a pool skimmer valve might fail. Here are some common causes:

  • Improper installation
  • Improper maintenance
  • Faulty parts
  • Overuse
  • Water damage
  • Corrosion
  • Mechanical failure
  • Aging
  • Other factors

When a pool skimmer valve fails in one of these ways, it will likely require replacement.

Trying To Replace A Pool Skimmer Valve? A Word of Advice

You may wonder whether repairing a broken pool skimmer valve by yourself is possible.

In most cases, yes, it is.

However, it depends on the type of valve.

Some valves are easier to repair than others. Also, you may not have access to all of the tools required to make repairs.

So, if you decide to attempt repairs, here’s what you need to know:

  • First, you’ll need to determine whether the valve has been damaged internally or externally.
  • Next, you’ll need to determine which components need replacing or fixing.
  • Finally, you’ll need to identify where those missing parts are located and whether you can access them or not.

Then, once you have that information, you can begin making repairs – or choose to bring in a professional instead.

How to Replace A Pool Skimmer Valve

how to turn on pool skimmer valves

Here’s how to replace a pool skimmer valve:

1. Remove the Filter Cartridge

First, remove any cartridge from the valve body.

2. Disconnect the Power Cord

Next, disconnect the power cord from the valve if it is electrically actuated.

3. Unscrew the Screws Holding the Valve Body Together

Next, unscrew the screws holding the valve together.

4. Lift the Valve Out of the Valve Body

Now lift the valve out of the valve body.

5. Clean the Pool Skimmer

Now is a great time to clean the pool skimmer. This helps prevent future issues.

6. Locate the Broken Parts

Locate the broken part(s) inside the valve.

7. Install Replacement Part(s)

Install the new part(s) following mfr guidelines to the letter.

8. Reassemble the Valve

Reattach the screws.

9. Connect the Power Cord

Connect the power cord back into the valve, if electrically actuated.

10. Fill the Skimmer With Water

Fill the skimmer with water.

11. Test the Valve

Test the valve to see if it works properly.

12. Close the Pool Skimmer

Close the pool skimmer.

13. Check Again In An Hour

Check again to be sure everything is working correctly.

14. Repeat Steps 1-13 for Each Valve

Repeat steps 1-13 for each remaining valve.

15. You’re Done – Enjoy Your Pool

Why Is My Pool Skimmer Not Working? Quick Solutions To Common Issues

how to turn on pool skimmer valves

There are many reasons why a pool skimmer might not work properly that have nothing to do with your skimmer valve.  So make sure you don’t repair something if you don’t need to.

Here are some common problems and solutions.

Problem: No Water Flowing Through the Inlet Pipe

Solution: First, make sure the valve cover is secure. Next, check the electrical connections. If they are OK, then check the plumbing connections.

Problem: Water Leaks Out of the Drain Line

Solution: There could be a leak at the drain line. You’ll have to disconnect the drain hose and look for leaks. If you find one, tighten the fitting and reconnect the hose.

Problem: The Pump Isn't Running

Solution: Check the electrical connections. If everything checks out OK, then check the electrical power source.

Problem: Debris Clogs the Filter

Solution: Remove the filter and sift through it. If you see anything stuck in the mesh, use a toothbrush. If necessary, you can replace the entire filter.

Problem: The Skimmer Doesn't Work Properly

Solution: Check the filter. If it looks fine, then try cleaning the valve.

Problem: The Discharge Pipe Has Too Much Pressure

Solution: Check the pressure gauge. If it reads too high, then adjust the float level. If the problem persists, contact a professional plumber.

Problem: The Discharge Pipe Won't Open

Solution: Check the electrical connections and the float level. If both are OK, check for a discharge pipe blockage.

Problem: The Float Level Is Low

Solution: Adjust the float level. If this doesn’t solve the problem, then call a professional plumber. They will know how to fix this issue.

Problem: The Drain Hose Stops Working

Solution: Check the pump’s electrical connections. If all is OK, then check the drain hose. If the problem persists after checking the drain hose, call a professional.


Q: What should I do when my pool skimmer stops working?

A: Call a professional plumber or pool professional immediately. A broken or clogged pool skimmer can cause severe damage to your pool pump and filter system.

Q: How often should I change the pool skimmer?

A: It depends on several factors, such as the size of your pool, how much debris is captured, how long you run your pool filter each week, and more. However, most experts recommend changing your skimmer baskets every 2-3 years simply due to sun damage.

Q: Why does my pool skimmer need to be cleaned?

A: Dirty pool skimmers can become clogged with debris. When this happens, the pool skimmer won’t function properly.  In addition, a clogged pool skimmer will place back pressure on your pool pump system.

Q: How much does a new pool skimmer valve cost?

A: New pool skimmer valves typically run about $100-$200.

Q: Does replacing my pool skimmer valve require an electrician?

A: Not if you are skilled with hand tools and understand basic plumbing concepts and electrical safety. Many homeowners prefer to install their pool skimmer valves to avoid paying for expensive plumbing & electrical services.

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