How To Drain A Pool Step By Step Guide

above ground blue and white pool drained halfway down of its water

While the subject of filling a pool often comes up, questions about draining a pool are almost as common. Just like filling a pool, there are some important factors to keep in mind when determining how to drain a pool. There are also some real risks to draining a pool improperly. We will give you some pointers on how to do it right, and when to call in the professionals to do the work for you.

Basics Steps On How To Drain A Pool

First, it’s important to determine what type of pool you plan on draining. Figuring out how to drain a pool when it’s an above ground is quite a bit different than an inground pool. However, there are some common factors in all pool draining operations. however, and here’s a quick list:

  1. City or town permits if required
  2. Dechlorination tablets or granules
  3. Sump pump and hose
  4. Location to pump water to

First on the list is permitting. This has a lot to do with the last one on the list as well. Your city or town may give guidelines for how to drain a pool. These will include whether or not you can drain to the storm drain in the street, times of year, and other guidelines.

Sometimes they will tell you to dechlorinate the pool water ahead of time. This is where the dechlorination tablets or granules come into play. You’ll want to dechlorinate if you’re draining to your lawn also. Generally though, you can simply stop using the pool and stop adding chlorine for a couple weeks, and the chlorine will completely dissipate. But if you’re in a hurry, the dechlorination tablets or granules can speed things up.

How To Drain An Above Ground Pool

If you’re draining an above ground pool, you’ve dechlorinated the water, and you have the permit in hand (if required) you’re ready to begin. First you’ll want to first disconnect the equipment from power. This is usually as simple as unplugging the pump, but if you have a more permanent installation, killing the power to the sub panel can do the trick also. Basically you don’t want your pump to accidentally come on when the pool is empty, as most pumps will still run dry but without the water to act as coolant will overheat and be ruined.

Next, figure out where you’re going to pump the water. If you have a low lying section of your yard, or have permission to use the storm drain at the street, you’re in good shape. Generally speaking, you want to be absolutely certain you won’t flood your neighbor’s yard, or cause any issues. If you’re uncertain, it’s never a bad idea to ask a pool professional for help draining down your pool.

backyard pool showing how to drain a pool with pump running water out of an above ground pool

Once you know where the water is going it’s time to lay out the hose and pump. Grab your sump pump and hose and lay out the hose exactly where you want it to pump to before turning on the pump. Once you’re satisfied, drop the pump into the pool, and plug it in. You should see water coming out the other end shortly.

Make sure everything is working, and be sure to check several things periodically. First, that the water is coming out. Then, make sure your retention area isn’t overfilling. Lastly, that nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Once it’s empty, disconnect your plumbing and drain any pipes of water.

How To Drain An Inground Pool

With an inground pool, you’ll need to be more conscious of some potential pitfalls when determining how to drain a pool. When draining any inground pool, whether it’s fiberglass, vinyl or gunite, there are some real risks of permanent damage. If you are draining the pool to lower cyanuric acid or total dissolved solids, we recommend only draining the pool down at most halfway, then filling the pool back up. This is because there are some big risks regardless of your answer to how to drain a pool.

Risks Of Draining An Inground Pool

The biggest risk when draining an inground pool is the chance the pool will ‘float’. This happens when the groundwater table is high. When the pool is full, the pressure is equalized. But when the pool is drained, the water pressure from the ground turns the pool into a boat. Concrete and fiberglass pools will float like a boat. Whereas vinyl pool liners will ripple and tear in many cases. This is catastrophic and in 99% of the cases results in needing to replace the pool completely.

Can You Drain An Inground Pool By Yourself?

When draining an inground pool, it’s best left to the professionals. You can follow the instructions for how to drain a pool outlined above for above grounds, but you are taking the responsibility of whether or not you will float your pool completely on your shoulders.

Not that hiring just any old pool company is a good idea either. I’ve been called to ‘renovate’ floated pools after uninsured contractors floated the swimming pool. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance policies will not (in most cases) cover replacement. Your coverage will likely stop at the lost ‘property value’. Thus, homeowner’s are left footing 75% or more of the bill to replace the pool when the pool floats.

dark blue inground pool showing how to drain a pool of water in backyard

If you work with a licensed and insured pool contractor who will write into their contracts what will happen if they float your pool, you are in much better shape. These contractors are rare, but you can find them in just about any location. Generally speaking, look for the biggest pool company with the best reputation and ask them.

Obviously, if you’re looking to drain the pool because you’re ripping it out completely, it doesn’t really matter if it floats. But it’s still a good idea to take into consideration as a floating pool can move decks around. This can cause damage to the house depending on the pool’s proximity to the home. In this case, it’s a good idea to remove the pool decks before you drain the pool to prevent damaging the home.

How To Drain A Pool Summary

To sum up, when determining how to drain a pool, it’s always a good idea to involve a professional. In most cases a homeowner can tackle draining an above ground pool, just make sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s related to permitting and where the water is going. Don’t be that neighbor who drains their pool into an abutter’s lawn!