How To Drain An Above Ground Pool (In 3 Easy Steps)


First off, let me just say: you should very rarely have to drain your pool at all.

In fact, draining it for the winter is not really advised because it can cause your liner to dry and crack from the wind and cold.

But…there are a few reasons you might have to drain your above ground pool.

And if you do have to, there is usually no need to call a pro.

You can very easily do it yourself if you know how.

4 reasons to drain an above ground pool

Some of the reasons you might have to drain your pool include:

  • 1To replace the pool liner. This is usually due to a tear or leak. There is no getting around draining the pool in this situation!.
  • 2To start the season fresh with new water. If you close your pool properly, you shouldn’t need to do this, but hey, stuff happens and sometimes, despite our best intentions, we don’t get it done…or it doesn’t get done properly.
  • 3To remove the pool from your yard or replace it. ‘Nuff said.
  • 4To fix your pool chemistry due to chlorine lock. Chlorine lock is one of those water conditions that chemicals just can’t fix. In fact, the more chemicals you add, the worse it gets. It’s caused when there is too much pool stabilizer (or cyanuric acid) in the pool or when the pH levels are unbalanced. It basically renders the chlorine useless and the only way to fix it is to get rid of some of the over-treated water and replace it with fresh water.

How to drain an above ground pool

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You pretty much have two options when it comes to draining an above ground pool: you can use a submersible pump, or siphon the water out with a garden hose.

I personally recommend using a combination of the two because siphoning is pretty fast, but a pump will help remove that last foot or so of water that the siphon can’t quite get to.

But this is only if you’re completely draining it in order to replace the liner. 

If you’re only draining it partially to correct the chemistry, then a garden hose will do the trick without the extra expense.

Step 1. Figure out where to dump the water

Before you start emptying the water out of your pool, you’ll need to figure out where to dump it. 

You’ll need to check with your city to see if there are any special ordinances governing pool water disposal, especially if you’re draining an entire pool: some cities require it to be dumped into the sewage system due to the chemicals. 

Step 2. Start a siphon

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Once you’ve decided where the water will go, you can use one of a couple of methods to siphon the water: you can either cut a few feet off each end of a garden hose to create a siphon, or use a complete garden hose and faucet.

If you’re going to cut your hose, usually a section about 6-8 feet long will do the trick. You’ll simply immerse the entire hose in the water and then, while covering one end with your hand, quickly pull that end out of the pool and point it downward, below the pool surface. 

If you choose not to cut the hose, you’ll need to attach the hose to your spigot and fill it completely with water.

This works best with two people so that someone else can cover the open end of the hose to keep water from escaping. You can also use a clamp or crimp the hose with your other hand to keep the water in.

Step 3. Drain the water

For the severed hose siphon, you’ll just remove your hand once you’ve lowered the un-submersed end to the ground and let the water drain.

For the full hose method, once the hose is full, you’ll submerse the hose in the pool and remove the clamp or your hand from the end under the water when there is only about four feet of hose left above the water.

You’ll then quickly lower the hose to the ground, removing any clamp or cover you have over that end and the water should start flowing through the hose.

Step 4. Remove the remaining water

This step is only for complete drainage when you need to replace your liner.

There are many ways to do this, but the fastest is to suction it out with a pump or a wet/dry vac.

If you simply can’t spare the expense, you can use buckets or other containers to remove as much as you can until it’s empty enough to handle.

Some water will probably get dumped in the process, so just make sure you let it dry out pretty well before putting in a new liner so you can prevent bacteria and pool algae from forming under the surface.

Bottom line

That’s really all there is to it.

If you’re only partially draining your pool, I recommend the cut siphon method just because it’s a little easier to handle.

With either method, when you’ve drained all the desired water out, just place the open end back into the pool. 

Questions? Comments?

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