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Pool Skimmer Replacement

On gunite pools, the skimmer is often encased in concrete. It has to be in order to hold the skimmer in place, up against the outside of the pool wall. If your skimmer is a bit worn or completely damaged, it's time for a pool skimmer replacement. Thankfully, it's not as hard as it may seem. Follow along as we work through the steps for a pool skimmer replacement.

Replacing an Inground Pool Skimmer

After the deck is removed over the skimmer area, dig down to unearth the pipe running to the skimmer, and cut it off, several feet back behind the skimmer. Plug or cap the line, to keep dirt out. Dig around the skimmer to remove dirt from around the concrete mass surrounding the skimmer.

Hammer Time!

break up the concrete during a pool skimmer replacement

With a medium to large jackhammer, go to town on the mass of concrete around the skimmer. You may find rebar curved around the skimmer and pegged into the back of the pool wall. If so, keep blasting away at it with the jackhammer, sledge hammers and pry bars - until you finally can pull the skimmer off of the pool wall.

Clean up the hole, to get it ready for the new skimmer. Chip and chisel away the old concrete on the back of the wall, and carefully clean the three edges where the new skimmer will line up with the tiled skimmer throat.

Pool Skimmer Placement

Line up the skimmer so that the height and width of the skimmer lines up with the skimmer throat. Install the plumbing beneath, and the 90 fitting to act as a support on the ground.

This is a common spot for pool leaks, so you'll want to be able to pack in a lot of fresh concrete around the front, underneath and on the sides of the skimmer. To really lock it in place, you need several inches of concrete on each side of the skimmer.

Building Forms

Usually, the area around the skimmer is too large, and you need to build a form, or find a way to contain the concrete, so that you can encase the skimmer in concrete - once again. This is known as 'boxing out the skimmer'.

You can build wooden forms, which most people do, or if you're like my grandpa, you use a burlap bag wrapped around the skimmer, with the pipe sticking out of the bottom, and then fill up the bag with concrete.

Adding Steel

Before pouring the concrete, place 4 - 2 ft long pieces of rebar into 2 inch deep holes that you drilled into the back side of the pool walls, 2 holes on each side of the skimmer.

The steel rebar adds strength to the mass of concrete, and it also helps keep it attached to the pool wall. Adding a few vertical pieces of steel rebar, tied to the horizontal, will also increase the strength of your skimmer installation.

Pouring Concrete

You won't need to have the concrete delivered for this little job, and you don't want to pour this at the same time as a new pool deck - it has to be part of the pool, not part of the deck.

plaster repair

Tamp dirt under and around the bottom of the skimmer, so that the pipes and the bottom few inches of skimmer are covered. Use duct tape over the top of the skimmer and unconnected pipe openings to keep concrete mix out.

Mix up bags of concrete in a mixing tub or wheelbarrow with a hoe or rake, to a thick, not too wet mix. With a helper tip the tub into the form and pour in the concrete. Mix up another few bags, until the concrete has filled up all of the front side, and most of the back side. My grand father would do it differently, he'd mix it in a burlap bag, and roll it around until its just right, then pour the bag - into the bag!

There's no need to trowel the concrete, but tamping and shaking the mix with a 2x4 for several minutes will help increase it's strength and bring up any trapped air bubbles.

No concerns for rain, but if heavy rain is expected, cover the concrete with a tarp or plastic bags. After 48 hours or so, you can backfill the hole, tamping layers of dirt as you go. Fill the top 4 inches with gravel and then a replacement concrete pad can be poured.

It's not something that's done for routine maintenance, but if your skimmer is very damaged, or is 40 yrs old and literally falling apart, to where even pool putty and pool skimmer parts no longer fixes the problems, then maybe a skimmer replacement is in your future.


In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.