If you have a pool, whether it is above ground or in the ground, a pool skimmer is a necessary maintenance tool. Even if your pool is inside an enclosure where leaves cannot fall into it, many types of skimmers filter beyond large bits, and help to keep the pool safe, healthy and clear. The type of pool you have is the first factor in choosing a skimmer, and then there are three basic types to choose from for each type of pool.
Above-Ground Pool Skimmers
If you are using a pump-powered pool skimmer, above-ground pools require a different type than in-ground pools. Generally, an above-ground pool skimmer has a safety cover, for one thing. For another, the way the skimmer interacts with the pool and the pump are much different. Additionally, an above-ground pool skimmer is usually attached with screws or bolts.
In-Ground Pool Skimmers
Most in-ground pool skimmers are embedded in the concrete of the pool sides, barely below the water level. As water flows through the skimmer to the pump for circulation, it is filtered by the skimmer and debris is removed, including large pieces such as leaves. There are also automatic skimmers that are available for both types of pool, which will be discussed momentarily.
Basic Skimmer Types
Each of the three types of skimmer described below is available for either above or below-ground pools. When purchasing the skimmer, make sure you get one designed for the type of pool you have, or it may not work properly, or may cause excessive wear on the pumping system.
1. Manual Skimmers
Basic pool skimmer baskets are nothing more than a fine mesh net on a pole. This type of skimmer does not require any power source other than a person to maneuver it, but manual skimmers are not usually suitable for filtration of any but the largest of floating particles. Some manual skimmers have a hose that connects to the pool outlet and pump system, providing suction to clean as the skimmer is manually moved about.
2. Automatic Skimmers
An automatic pool skimmer connects to the pump inlet drain of the pool. As water is pulled through the hose, small paddles or propellers maneuver the skimmer around the surface of the pool, cleaning as it goes. Most automatic skimmers have randomized movements to prevent them from becoming lodged in one place in the pool, but others may have to be re-deployed periodically.
3. Self Contained Skimmers
Finally, there are the self-contained automatic floating pool skimmers. These skimmers are relatively new to the market, and are powered by direct sunlight, which is collected on built-in solar panels. As long as the sun is shining, a solar collector will "swim" around on the surface of the pool, filtering large and small particles alike. Solar pool skimmers cost a lot more than a manual skimmer, and a fair amount more than a traditional automatic skimmer, but they decrease your pool's power consumption by allowing you to run the pumps as much as 66 percent less.