How To Drain a Pool – Forbes Advisor

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  • Working time: 1 hour
  • Total times: 12 hours
  • skill level: beginners
  • Project cost: $75 to $200

Whether you’re draining a pool for winter or draining it for repairs, it’s a precision task. Draining a pool doesn’t require many tools, but it has to be done under the right conditions and with plenty of preparation. You’ll have to find a suitable spot to drain tens of thousands of gallons of water safely and pay attention to chemical levels prior to draining the pool. Draining a pool is fairly inexpensive, but expect your water bill to double in the month you do so if you plan on refilling it.

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When to Drain a Pool

Weather conditions need to be nearly perfect in order to drain a pool. Pool pros suggest 85 degrees is the best temperature to drain a pool. In-ground pools can blister or crack when drained in high temperatures.

The ground should be dry and you should drain a pool when the forecast doesn’t include rain before or after the day you drain the pool. In-ground pools should not be drained after rainy weather because it can result in the bottom of the pool rising out of the ground. (Similar instances can happen in areas with a high water table.)

Pick a way to drain the pool

Some communities will allow you to drain your pool into the storm sewer but you might need a permit to do so. Officials might also ask you for water quality tests for pH and chlorine levels.

If your community doesn’t allow homeowners to drain pool water into a storm sewer, you’ll have to either use your home’s sewer clean out or try to use it to irrigate landscaping or grass. Your sewer clean out is usually a threaded cap that is three to four inches in diameter and typically located on the side of the house or the backyard. Some older homes have an in-wall sewer clean out, but it’s not recommended to use an in-wall sewer clean out to drain a pool because of the risk of a water backup in the house.

Safety Considerations

You want to check chlorine and pH levels before discharging water because it can harm some vegetation.

Remember, you’re discharging a lot of water, so be sure to check your sewer clean out before draining the pool. If your sewer clean out hasn’t been cleaned or it’s been a long time since you’ve done some pool maintenance, adding a ton of water could cause a backup. Additionally, be sure to note which type of plants can handle pool water. Pool water can harm salt-sensitive plants and you have to spread the water out so you don’t oversaturate a spot. Depending on the type of pool you have, you may have to tweak this process.

Pay attention to the flow rate when you drain a pool. Experts suggest a maximum drainage rate of 12 gallons per minute, but that rate could be slower depending upon the age and condition of the pipes. Water can back up into the house or the yard if discharged too quickly.


  • Submersible pump
  • Discharge pants
  • Store vacuum
  • Rope



1. Buy or Rent a Submersible Pump

Home improvement stores or pool retailers might rent out submersible pumps to drain a pool. If you can’t rent one, you can purchase one. Look for a 700 gallon per hour submersible pump, they typically run between $50 to $100. The maximum recommended discharge rate is 720 gallons an hour.

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2. Clean the pool

The last thing you want to deal with is any clogging while draining the pool. Use a pool skimmer to remove as much debris as you can and place it in a trash bag.

3. Screw Discharge Hose onto Pump

Once the discharge hose is attached to the submersible pump, lay down the discharge hose as flat as possible to prevent any clogs during draining.

4. Begin pumping the pool

Once you have the submersible pump in hand, you can get to draining the pool. Make sure the power cord can reach the bottom of the deep end. Don’t use an extension cord to increase the reach of the pump and make sure the pump is plugged into a ground-fault interrupter outlet. You can attach a rope to the cord to help guide the pump to the bottom.

Remove the rope after the pump has reached the bottom. Keep an eye on the draining to avoid any backup and to prevent the pump from sucking in air. If a pump isn’t submerged in water, it can ruin the pump.

5. Remove remaining water

Since you have to remove the pump before it’s no longer submerged, you’ll have some water at the bottom of the pool. A shop vacuum can suck up the rest of the water, just make sure you’ve removed any bag or filter from the vacuum.

6. Open Hydrostatic Pressure Relief Valve (In-ground Pools Only)

To prevent the bottom of the pool from popping up, open a hydrostatic pressure relief valve to allow any groundwater under your pool to escape.

7. Do Repair Work

If you drained your pool to repair any cracks or liner touch-ups, now is the time to do it. Remember time is of the essence because you don’t want the bottom exposed to the elements for long.

8. Refill the pool

If you have a hydrostatic pressure relief valve, have a replacement on hand if the old one is damaged. Put Teflon tape on the threads and screw the plug into the valve before you begin refilling the pool. You can use one or two garden hoses to refill the pool. Pay attention as the pool fills so you stop it from overfilling.

9. Turn on the pool pump

Stop filling the pool when the water level reaches the middle of the skimmer. Remove the hoses and turn the pool pump on. If the pool pump hasn’t run for a while, try priming it to get it going.

10. Balance the Water

Be sure to handle pool chemicals safely and wear safety gear to prevent injury. Run test strips to see where your pool is at, then adjust the alkalinity first, then pH and finish with calcium hardness.

When to Call a Pro

If you have difficulty finding the sewer clean out, or don’t have a suitable way to discharge the pool water, consider hiring a pro who will do the job safely. Pros will typically charge between $70 to $150 to drain a pool, but additional charges could come if you need chemicals, plus the best pool installation companies may offer some draining services for a discount if you have worked with them in the past.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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