How To Drain An Above Ground Pool

How To Drain An Above Ground Pool 101

This Article Was Last Updated on January 2, 2023

You may find yourself needing to disassemble your above ground pool. Or perhaps you are at the point where you’ve decided to change the water due to high total dissolved solids.  Whatever the case, you need to know how to drain an above ground pool the right way.

How To Drain An Above Ground Pool With A Siphon

First, if it’s an above ground pool, you may be able to drain most of the water using a siphon.  That is you fill up a hose with water, hold one end of the filled hose closed while you put the other end into the pool.  Then you drop the end you’ve kept closed below the pool level and voila!  You are using atmospheric pressure to empty the pool. 

How To Drain An Above Ground Pool With A Sump Pump

However, most of the time you don’t want to or can’t drain the water right next to the pool.  It may undermine the leveling sand underneath the pool or cause flooding where you don’t want it.  If this is the case, go buy an inexpensive sump pump on Amazon. Then, you can pump the water to your storm drain or a low spot in your yard where the water can slowly percolate. 

How To Drain An Above Ground Pool properly

Check With Local Health And Public Works Department Before

Check with your local department of health or department of public works. They will help determine if you can drain your pool to the storm drain.  Usually these departments have a dechlorination requirement.  If you’re required to dechlorinate your pool prior to draining, wait a week without adding chlorine and you should be in good shape.  Test the water prior to draining down to be sure.

How Draining An Inground Pool Differs

There is another concern if you’re draining a vinyl liner pool, a gunite pool or a fiberglass pool.  We never recommend draining down an in-ground pool without professional help.  You might not realize how bad draining an inground pool improperly can be but we’ll explain.

If your ground water table is high at the time you drain an inground pool, there is a chance your pool will float like a boat.  Fiberglass and gunite pools can even pop out of the ground. This will destroy the surrounding patio and the pool itself in the process.  Vinyl pools will tear the liner and can collapse the walls leading to deck and coping collapse as well. 

All in all, it’s important to drain down your in-ground pool when groundwater is low.  Many in-ground pools will have a hydrostatic valve. These valves are installed next to the main drains in the deepest part of the pool.  A hydrostatic valve is designed to let in the dirty groundwater if the pressure differential between the inside of the pool and the surrounding earth is such the pool might float.  These valves sometimes save the day, but don’t bet on it. 

It’s best to drain the pool only after a period of dry weather when you can be sure the surrounding groundwater level is low.  The risk of damage from draining your pool is why we recommend putting the responsibility of draining the pool down in the hands of an insured professional.  

How To Prepare For Draining With A New Pool

If you’re planning to build a new pool, it’s not a bad idea to include a sight sump for a slightly higher pool price.  This is a vertical pipe installed next to the pool with a lid you can remove and visually see what the groundwater level is.  On many commercial swimming pools this is a standard feature. 

When the groundwater is high you can actually drop a sump pump into the sight sump. Assuming the underground portion of the system was designed properly, you can pump out the groundwater to make it safe to drain the pool.  This is a rarity in residential pools. However, it’s never a bad idea if you live in an area with a high water table.

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