How to Drain Your Swimming Pool

Whether you need to rebalance your chemicals, lower your TDS (total dissolved solids), or just clean up an in ground pool that has not been maintained, draining all the water from your swimming pool can help fix your problems and clean it fast.

Do not drain a fiberglass or vinyl liner pool. Fiberglass can float and vinyl liners typically stretch when exposed to direct sunlight. Once you refill a vinyl liner it will often have crinkles in it and never look the same. You assume all responsibility for draining your own swimming pool!

Be sure to understand the risks in draining your swimming pool.

1.)    There are increased risks to a full drain. On rare occasions if there is water saturation in the ground around the pool you could have damage due to hydrostatic pressure if the pressure release valve fails. See our drain and acid wash disclaimer for more information.

2.)    Be sure the pump you use is plugged in to an electrical line with a proper ground fault interrupter (GFI). There actually have been instances of pool service people falling in with a pump that was not properly protected and being hurt or even killed as a result.

3.)    It is not recommended to drain a swimming pool through the backwash valve. While sucking from the main drain and putting the water down the backwash line will work in some scenarios it puts your pool pump at risk of losing prime and running dry. The damage to your pool pump will normally many times the cost of renting a pump.

4.)    Draining can expose plaster and surfaces to the elements. It is best to drain and refill a swimming pool as quickly as possible. Here is a link for a pool drain and acid wash disclaimer. A transparent swimming pool service company should use something similar to this to inform you of the risks and issues involved.

Steps to draining a swimming pool.

1.)    Rent either a submersible pump or a portable pump from a local hardware store. Home Depot had some options in some areas around Dallas, TX. Sometimes specialty hardware stores will have more selection. Be careful not to leave the pump running dry.

Be sure to check back on the pump when the water has been lowered the top of the floor below the bottom step. Once the pump is forced to pull water up three or four feet from the level in she swimming pool it may become difficult for the pump to stay primed. You may need to lower the pump down to a dry surface in order for it to keep prime.

2.)    Run the pump to drain the pool water. If the pump loses prime you may have to stop and lower it into a dry area of the pool to get it closer to the water and regain prime.  If the pool has a lot of debris and muck in it you will probably do better to leave it on the surfaces and let it dry. If you rinse it all down to the deep area near the drain you may end up with “goo” that is too think to run through the pump.

3.)    Clean up the debris on the floor. If you don’t have much debris it can be advantageous to go ahead and hose down the debris on the shallow end floor to the deep end to consolidate it and make it easier to scoop out at the end. If however the pool has significant algae buildup to the point where the surfaces are largely slimy or carpeted then I would suggest allowing the debris to dry where it is. We have had issues with the algae turning into a slime that is too thick to pump out and very cumbersome to remove with snow shovels and buckets. It is also difficult to dispose of when it is so heavy.

4.)    Power wash or acid wash surfaces as needed.  If using muriatic acid (which is normally used to lower the pH in pool water) be sure to dilute it by at least 50% with water. We also utilize the equivalent of a few tablespoons per gallon of dish detergent as a buffer on the acid to prevent it from penetrating the plaster. This significantly slows the etching process and causes the acid to do more to whiten and brighten without roughing up the plaster.

5.)    Refill with water. Be sure to be around when filling the last bit if you don’t have an overflow line. This will ensure you are there to turn it off when the pool gets full.

6.)    Add startup chemicals to convert the tap water to pool water. This often costs about $150 retail for these chemicals. I will try and add another post about what is needed shortly.


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