When and Why Should You Drain the Pool?

From on October 23, 2008 in Landscaping

Empty PoolIt’s reaching that time of year when you may not be sure what to do with your pool, now that everyone is bundling up and no longer swimming. At least, that’s what’s happening around here. There are pros and cons to draining a pool, and maybe it can’t be avoided.

If you have to drain your pool for repair or resurfacing, do so when it is not too hot and make sure your pool is not left drained for too long. Work in weather no higher than 85 degrees or so, never over 100. Try not to keep your pool empty for more than a day or two, as doing so, even in cooler weather, may cause in-ground pools to shift and aboveground pools to suffer lining problems. That being said, let’s look at two main types of pools, in-ground and aboveground, examining specific drainage issues.

In-Ground Pools

This type of pool should only be drained to stabilize the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) or if a repair is required.

In the summertime, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees or higher in some places. Combine this with low humidity and windy conditions, and water will evaporate, leaving minerals and residues in the pool. Every time water is replaced, this cycle continues and the TDS factor rises. Subtle problems begin to show, like calcium deposits, brown manganese stains, a salty taste in the water, irritation to skin and eyes, and soon, pool deterioration. The deposits will expose themselves as dime-sized circles on the plaster or lining. A pool showing these signs needs maintenance: namely, draining and repair. If you decide to tackle this tough job yourself, be sure of the ordinances for draining a pool in your city, at least.

Cleaning is seldom a reason to drain an in-ground pool, as most cleaning projects can be done underwater, even means if it is the greenest green or brownest brown you have ever seen. When this type of pool is drained, especially in the spring when everyone wants to clean the pool, there is a good chance of water getting under the shell, ground fill, or sand, and the entire pool can shift, actually lifting the pool out of the ground. There is a lot of physics to this problem and your pool builder or pool maintenance service can explain the danger to the pool. My advice is to contact a local pool service company and pay them to do whatever maintenance you feel is needed for your in-ground pool. This problem is true for any in-ground pool: concrete, vinyl lined, or fiberglass.

Aboveground Pools

Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how much pool chemicals you use in your aboveground pool; when algae blooms to the point you can no longer see the lining at the bottom, something must give, or your pump will. Draining this type of pool is much easier and safer than doing so with an in-ground pool. I recommend you rent a pump from your local hardware store, taking care to prevent damage to the walls or liner of the pool. Again, make sure of where you drain, especially if your aboveground pool is large. You don’t need any fines. Be careful that, after the pool has been drained, you don’t tear the liner. Liners can stretch or shrink, often depending on their age and the weather, so mind the temperature when draining your pool. Refill your pool as quickly as is possible after draining, following the instructions that came with the pool.

The following guidelines can prevent you from having to drain an aboveground pool:

  • Keep your water pH balanced to prevent stains, scaling, and algae growth.
  • Keep your pool clean and vacuumed.
  • Drain below the skimmer inlet lines or in heavy freeze areas, below the return lines. Then plug the lines.
  • Make sure water does not accumulate and freeze in skimmers, closing valves on the skimmer.
  • Clean and backwash filter.
  • Drain all water in heater, filter, pump, and piping system.
  • Remove the pump motor and store it in a dry place for the winter.
  • When not in use for the season, remove and store the pump motor.
  • Secure breakers and all power equipment as well as slides, toys, ladders, etc., outside of the pool.
  • Cover your pool during down time and plug all openings.

Small pools, like wading pools and garden pools, are not usually a problem to drain and most any cleaning needed can be resolved by draining. Remember, care still needs to be taken so as not to damage the pool itself. For really large tasks, do not hesitate to call a professional; it will save you time and money in the long run and advice on when and why to drain that pool will most likely be free.