A skimmer is a term you’ll often hear in hot tub ‘circles’, and so it’s useful for every owner to understand the role it plays in the ongoing maintenance of a hot tub or swim spa.
A hot tub skimmer removes floating physical debris from the water, such as leaves and insects. Hard-sided tubs have integral skimmers that form part of the filtration system, whereas inflatable tubs need manual skimming due to having a different circulation and filtration capability.
In a hard-sided tub with its integral skimming function, the skimmer is situated where the main body of water enters the internal mechanism of the hot tub. This is where the water is cleaned, heated and treated before returning to the main tank via the jets. The removal of physical debris before entering the main filtration system is crucial in avoiding blockages in the main pipework or circulation pump impellers.
We’re going to look at the role of a hot tub and swim spa skimmer, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Does a hot tub need a skimmer?
Yes. Put simply, everything that enters your hot tub or swim spa water that isn’t either the water itself, or its treatment chemicals, poses a contamination threat – even bathers themselves!
Inflatable hot tubs tend not to have a skimmer, so a manual skimmer net is relatively inexpensive and easy to operate. The only downside to this type of removal is that you will only ever remove debris that is visible to the naked eye, and there is no automatic, continual skimming process taking place as is the case with hard-sided hot tubs and swim spas.
What is the purpose of a skimmer?
Once your hot tub has its cover removed it becomes susceptible to every passing leaf, twig and any wind-borne item that will land and sit on the water.
Not only does floating debris on the water look decidedly unappealing, it will in time break down into smaller particles and cause ongoing pollution issues, which could easily get caught within the internal mechanisms of the hot tub or swim spa.
The top (uppermost) 18 inches of a hot tub’s water is the most polluted, therefore the water needs to cleaned and circulated quickly and so the skimmer plays a vital part in that process.
The skimmer, sometimes referred to as the ‘skimmer weir’, is where the water is drawn into the filtration compartment as it starts its journey through the internal mechanism of the hot tub or swim spa. It will pass through the cartridge filter(s), chemical erosion feeder (if fitted), circulation pump(s), heater and ozone / UV system before returning to the main body of water (via the jets) only to start the journey all over again in a matter of minutes.
How do you clean a skimmer on a hot tub?
Located within the skimmer is typically a skimmer basket or tray which can be easily removed. The debris caught in this mechanism should be emptied and then cleaned before being returned to the skimmer housing.
How often should you replace a hot tub skimmer?
The skimmer is a fixed component of the hot tub and isn’t normally removed. If the skimmer becomes damaged for any reason, contact the manufacturer or place of purchase for further advice.
One last point on skimmers
Before purchasing a hot tub or swim spa, always ask your dealer to show you the location of the skimmer, and explain how it works with the filtration and circulation system. This will help to simplify the workings of your new tub or spa, giving you a better understanding of future maintenance requirements.
Happy, safe bathing!