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You should drain a pool when the water quality becomes so bad it’s impossible to clean. Or if you need to lower the water hardness or perform in-depth cleaning of the floor and walls.

It might sound easy to drain a pool, but you should know a few intricacies before jumping into it. It’s essential to know the type of pump your pool has and where the drains are to see where the water will run out.

Finally, speak with your local water authority before doing anything! They’ll know where you can safely deposit the water without polluting waterways. To learn all you need to know about how and when to drain your pool, keep reading!

What is the Correct Way to Drain an Inground Pool? 

Almost every inground pool has a drain at the bottom of the deep end. This drain has a suction lid on the top that can be removed by unscrewing it. Except for the top of the drain, most of this drain is under the pool’s floor.

There are one to two drain pipes under the pool floor that will funnel the pool water out of the pool. This drain is the key part of your pool for the draining process. Since the drain connects to your pool pump, it’s the vehicle by which you’ll drain your pool.

Once you’ve located your pool drain, check your pool pump pipes for the drain valve. There should be two pipes on this valve, one for the skimmer and one for the main drain. You want to switch on the main drain to remove the water from your pool, not the skimmer setting.

Some people label the valves to know how to switch the lever. If you’re unsure, switch your valve and see if the pool skimmer comes on or if the suction for the main drain turns on.

Once the pump is switched on to drain the pool water, go to your pool’s filtration system. Most pool filters have several settings, but you need to switch it to drain or waste to drain a pool. If your system doesn’t have these settings, use the backwash setting.

Last, attach the drain hose to the valve and turn on your filter system. Ensure the hose points downhill so the water flows easily and doesn’t pool up in one place. However, there are several things to consider before draining the water from your pool.

Ideally, you’d drain your pool into the sewage system on the street. Or, drain it downhill on the road from your house. If your town has regulations against draining pool water into the streets or sewer system, you’ll have to empty it into your yard.

You might have to do this over 2-3 days rather than drain it all at once. Draining the water over several days will keep the water table low and protect your grass and other plants.

Avoid draining the water in rivers or streams. The chemicals in your pool water can contaminate fresh water and make it unsafe.

When Should You Drain Your Swimming Pool? 

You should drain a pool when it needs serious repairs, the water is hard, or it’s so dirty it needs serious cleaning. You shouldn’t drain your pool unless it’s beyond where you can fix it with the water still inside.

If you’re pool liner, tile, or concrete tears or cracks, you’ll almost certainly have to drain the pool to fix it. Depending on where the break or tear is, you might only need to partially drain the pool to patch the damage.

Sometimes patching isn’t enough, or the damage is located at the bottom of your pool. This can make it so you have to drain all that pool water to get to the area in need of repairs. If you need to replace a pool liner or concrete or have your pool retiled, then you’ll have to totally drain your pool.

You can accomplish most cleaning and water-balancing tasks without draining a pool. If you’ve tried several methods of balancing your water chemistry and shocked your pool without success, the water may be too hard.

Hard water is standard in most municipalities located in mountainous or mineral-rich areas. If your local city has an issue with hard water, then it’s possible you’re fighting a losing battle. You might need to buy a pool water softener or flocculant to keep these heavy metals and mineral deposits out of your water.

However, sometimes you’ll need to drain your pool, refresh the water, and closely monitor the pool chemicals and hardness. Don’t let the hardness of your water get out of hand, or you might be draining and refreshing your pool on a regular basis.

Most people don’t drain a pool because it’s dirty. Occasionally, the pool water becomes over-polluted or has a severe chemical imbalance which might require a serious scrubbing of the pool floor and walls. Draining your pool and seriously scrubbing and repairing it should only be done every few years and when necessary.

Completely draining your pool might be unnecessary if you only need to rebalance your chemicals and pH. In this case, removing a quarter of the pool water and replenishing it with fresh water should help bring your pool water to equilibrium.

What Should You Do if Your Liner is Damaged?

Depending on where the damage is, you might need to completely drain a pool and have your liner replaced. Draining your pool is costly and wastes a lot of water, so if you can patch the liner without draining all the water, certainly avoid draining all the water.

One of the tell-tale signs that your pool needs a new liner is if your pool is constantly losing water. If you notice your pool’s water table is always well below what it should be, your liner’s probably damaged even after you factor in loss due to evaporation and use.

You’ll need to drain your pool, let it dry out, and install a new liner. While the liner is off, check the concrete or sand under your pool for cracks or glass under your liner that can damage your new liner.

How Should You Prepare Your Pool for Draining? 

One of the most essential parts of preparing your pool for the draining process is to lower your pool chemicals. Allowing your pool a few days until any extra chemicals have begun to dissipate is an effective way to lower your pool’s chemical levels.

You can also partially drain your pool and add fresh water with a garden hose. This is better because you won’t be flooding local storm drains or rivers with high volumes of chemicals.

You also need to balance your pool’s pH and chlorine levels. You need your chlorine neutral and your pH between 7.4-7.6. Allow your pool a few days, and add the base or acidic compounds necessary to balance your pool levels. If you’re tight on time, you can use a chlorine neutralizer to speed up the process.

Check all of your pool systems, like your pump, to ensure the timers are off. If your pool timers turn on your pool systems while the pool’s empty, it can seriously damage your systems. Pool owners should double-check every system and shut off the timers so they don’t overheat and break.

Does the Weather Matter When Draining Your Pool?

You should not drain a pool if it’s going to be very rainy for several days. Not only is this a waste of time, but it can also cause mold and mildew if left sitting in your pool for several days. It can also be challenging to work while it’s pouring out, delaying your task and possibly leading to a longer cleaning time.

However, you should not drain a pool if it’s scorching outside either. Hot weather can cause your liner or concrete floors to crack or get weak areas. It can also cause discoloration of your liner or tiles, making them appear lighter or bleached from sunlight.

Exposure to high heat and sun can damage your pool liner, even causing cracks or tears. If the weather predictions show several days of temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you should postpone draining your pool. 

How do You Clean Your Empty Pool After Draining the Water? 

If you’re draining your pool for much-needed cleaning, you should start clearing any large debris away. Use a gentle brush to sweep up any mud or sand that’s gathered on the pool’s bottom.

Use a diluted chlorine and water solution to spray your pool walls. Let the cleaner sit for a couple of hours before wiping down the walls with a pool brush and a gentle sponge.

If you have calcium hardness on your walls,, use a rubber scraper to remove the hard exterior. Use a small brush to get any calcium build-up in your pool tiles.

Finally, scrub the pool floor with a pool broom to remove any algae or mold. Rinse your pool with a hose and let it dry before to make sure it’s cleaned before refilling your pool.

Can You Powerwash Your Pool After Draining It? 

Powerwashing your pool is a great and efficient way to clean your pool. It can save you a lot of time manually scrubbing the floors and walls. Ideally, use a chlorine-based cleaner in your powerwasher.

Be careful how high of a setting you use to wash your pool liner and tiles. Using a setting that’s too powerful can tear your pool liner or break the tiles. Use a lighter setting and gently go over your pool’s surface.

You’ll still have to manually brush up any dirt or sand that settled on the bottom and spot-clean certain areas. But using a powerwasher will save you significant time and effort and get most of the calcium hardness and algae stains on the wall.


Draining your swimming pool isn’t easy and shouldn’t be your first course of action for cleaning an in-ground pool or above-ground pool. An empty pool is more susceptible to sun damage and damage from the elements. An empty pool is also expensive since you’ll need to pay to replace the water and chemicals.

Sometimes you have to empty a pool, and we hope this guide helps you navigate the process efficiently. Contact the local water authority before draining your pool, and avoid using pool chemicals excessively.

If you’d like to learn more about balancing your pool water, check out our water testing and rebalancing articles!


What’s the Best Way to Remove Algae From a Pool Bottom? 

Pool brushes are usually sufficient for removing algae from the bottom of an above-ground pool. Although, if you own a deep, inground pool, then you may want to invest in an automatic vacuum.

How Do You Balance Your Pool Water After Refilling Your Pool? 

You’ll want to test your water after refilling your pool to determine the current chemical balance. Once you know your current levels, start to evaluate the amount of chlorine and acid your water needs to reach a balance pH level.