Pools are an incredible luxury to enjoy in the warmer months, but they’re also a tough chore to upkeep and maintain. There are lots of rules on what to do and not to do in terms of pool care, and it can all get very overwhelming. A pool has many components to protect, including the lining, pumps, piping, and more.
One of the most critical components of proper pool maintenance is keeping the water clean and chemically balanced. This is done through pool filters, pumps, shock treatments, and various other chores. However, things can happen to your pool water that can make it untreatable, so you may need to drain it. Draining your pool water is a much more involved process than you may think since a drained pool is prone to cracking, drying out, and other severe damage, via Crystal Pools, Inc. If you need to drain your pool for any reason, make sure you take the necessary steps and precautions to do it properly.
Why you should drain your pool
Draining your pool is not something you should do casually or on a whim, and there are usually better options to consider before jumping straight to the drain. However, there are situations where completely draining your pool of all water is a necessary, albeit costly and time-consuming task.
According to Leslie’s Pools, poor water quality is one of the top reasons to drain your pool. This is an inclusive term, but most commonly refers to either a buildup of calcium and subsequent water hardness, high cyanuric acid levels, or an excess of total dissolved solids. This is a certainty and should be dealt with by draining and refilling your pool once every five years or so. You may also need to drain your pool to address issues like stains, cleaning, painting the base, fixing cracks or splits, repairing floor issues, replacing the liner, and more.
When to drain your pool
One of the most significant risks when draining your pool is exposing the liner to the elements. Particularly harsh weather conditions can seriously damage the liner, and if you didn’t intend to replace it, this could result in severe long-term issues with your pool. For this reason, you should strategically plan when to drain your pool.
Pool Research advises draining your pool in moderate weather conditions, meaning below 85 degrees Fahrenheit but comfortably above freezing. Spring is ideal, but early fall can also work. The main concern with draining your pool in the fall is that you won’t have time to fill it before winter, and you should never leave your pool empty over the winter. This can lead to frozen plumbing and split or cracked liners, via Crystal Pools, Inc. Plus, draining and refilling your pool in spring makes it ready and sparkling for swimming in the summer.
Assess the situation
There are a few situations or circumstances surrounding your pool’s construction, meaning you should never drain it. Pools are designed to hold a large amount of water, and while an empty pool always runs a higher risk of getting damaged, some materials are a lot more challenging to work with than others. Fiberglass pools, for example, should never be drained. As Latham Pool warns, the fiberglass panels in the liner rely on the weight and pressure from your pool water to stay in place, and removing them can cause them to bubble or lift entirely.
In fact, many fiberglass pools have clauses in their warranties that forbid draining your pool. According to Leslie’s Pools, groundwater levels are also something you need to keep in mind. Draining your pool will naturally raise groundwater levels, which can lead to the bottom of the pool splitting or popping out. This is why the process should be slow and methodical. However, the risk is even greater if you have naturally high-groundwater levels. This could permanently damage your pool, so be cautious about groundwater before draining your swimming hole.
Preparing to drain
Draining your pool is something that should ideally be done with the assistance of a professional, but it is possible to do it on your own. Before you can start draining, some minor prep work is involved to ensure your pool’s safety and integrity, plumbing, etc. Pinch A Penny says to turn off and unplug the filtration system, which can be damaged by the lack of water if running.
Next, head to your nearest home improvement or hardware store and rent a submersible pump. Under no circumstances should you rely on your pool’s filtration pump to drain the pool, even if you run it on the backwash setting. That pump relies on water to keep it cool and from overheating, so as your pool drains, it will more than likely overheat and break completely. Submersible pumps are meant to drain your pool, so make sure you’re using the right tools for the job.
Draining the pool
Once you have everything in position, it’s time to start draining. This step can and should take a while to minimize the chance of your pool cracking, splitting, or popping up. According to HomeServe, removing all the water from your pool could take up to 14 hours. Once all the water is drained from the pool, there’s one more step to ensure it’s empty.
Your next task is to remove the hydrostatic plugs at the bottom of the pool. These are the small white rings on the floor of your pool, and they are designed to allow excess groundwater to enter the pool when draining, as opposed to gathering under the surface, the pressure of which would likely pop your pool off the ground (via InTheSwim). These are usually sealed with plaster, so use a chisel for popping them up. Then, use pliers to unscrew them, letting any excess groundwater flow in. Once it has, use the pump to suck up the new water. Odds are there will still be a little bit of water the pump can’t get. You can either wait for it to evaporate, but this leaves your pool exposed for longer than it needs to be. Mops can also help soak up the extra water.