Pool Info: Skimmers
The interface of the plastic skimmer to the concrete pool, plaster, tile and coping creates many opportunities for problems to occur. Common skimmer problems include: separation from the pool wall (beam), freeze damage, leaking or collapsed/ separated pipes (especially if flexible or black poly pipe was used).
Skimmer replacement involves removing the coping stone over the skimmer, cutting the concrete deck on top of the skimmer and the concrete that surrounds it. The skimmer is pulled off the wall and cut from the pipe(s) beneath. The new skimmer (the same or a larger one may be preferred) is plumbed and secured in place. Concrete and coping is put back.
Skimmer replacement is usually done at the time of a renovation, or by itself if necessary. Cost comes out to about $1,200 for inground pool. Old pools sometimes used flex piping from the skimmer to the pump, underground. These pipes can crimp, usually where the pipe was bent, especially right at the skimmer. Using chlorine tablets in skimmers for many years can lead to this problem.
If your plastic skimmer has pulled away from the concrete pool and is leaking, use an underwater pool putty to patch it up temporarily and stop the leak. This is a very common pool leak source. You may want to use a dye test to determine if your skimmers are leaking. Small debris stuck in a small crack is also a clue of a leak. Skimmers can also get cracks in the plastic from concrete expansion/heave. Again pool putty is used to repair this.
If your skimmer weir (the flapper gate) has come out or broken, replace it with new. The weir creates a small waterfall into the basket which speeds up water flow, drawing more debris in. The weir also helps to keep debris in the skimmer neck when the pump shuts off. Similarly, replace a broken skimmer lid, before someone steps in it.
If you suspect that your skimmer line may be clogged, here are some useful tricks. Use a plumber's snake to try and break up the leaves & sticks (or whatever), or better yet, try a "drain king" which attaches to the garden hose and puts high pressure in the line. Try it in both directions, that is, from skimmer towards pump, and from pump towards skimmer. I usually use a plug at the skimmer end to build up pressure in the line for 5-10 seconds. Repeatedly doing this quickly is the best way to clear a pipe that I've used.