How To Drain an Above-Ground Pool with Ease

Pools are lovely – But can be tedious to drain if you use inefficient methods

If you need to drain an above-ground pool for any reason – to replace the old liner, because it needs cleaning, you didn’t winterize it properly, or for any other reason – it doesn’t have to be a major operation.

For the most part, it’s actually fairly simple. There are two different methods you can use, siphoning and pumping, plus one method you should never try. Let’s look at the last one first.

Never Use the Drain Plug

Never Use the Drain Plug

Don’t ever use the drain plug in the pool. Some above-ground pools have them and some don’t. If your pool has one, leave it alone 

Draining water out of your pool with via the drain plug will cause the ground under the pool to be flooded, then gradually washed away as the pool drains. You’ll be left with a ditch or a sinkhole under your pool, neither of which is beneficial to the future use of it.

If the ditch or sinkhole gets too big, the pool liner could tear from the weight of the remaining water while it’s draining. Alternately, the liner could sink down into the ditch or sinkhole, putting too much strain on the frame of the pool and bending or breaking it. Either one will result in a damaged pool.

Siphoning the water out of your pool

Method 1: Siphoning (An Okay Method)

All you need is a garden hose

Siphoning the water out of your pool is exactly what it sounds like. Just like siphoning gasoline out of your car, you stick a garden hose down into the water, fill the hose with water, then lower the outside end below the level pool. As long as the hose doesn’t have any air bubbles in it, gravity does the rest.

There are a few things you need to be aware of though.

The lower the level of the water in the pool, the greater the necessity of making sure the end of the hose is below the bottom of the pool. In order for gravity to overcome the weight of the water column in the hose going up and over the side of the pool, the column of water going down the side of the has to be longer. 

A longer (or taller) column of water weighs more than a short column and can “pull” it up and over the side of the pool. If the ground where your pool is sitting doesn’t have a significant slope to it, this could become a real problem as the water level drops.

Furthermore, a garden hose has trouble siphoning the last few inches of water out of the bottom of the pool anyway. When it gets down to those final inches, it won’t siphon it at all. In order for siphoning to work, the end of the hose has to be completely submerged. 

The size of the end of a garden hose is too big. Part of it will be sticking out of the water when it gets down to the last few inches. Therefore it’ll start sucking air, and there goes your siphon.

This is our go-to method if you don’t own the equipment mentioned below, or if you’re on a tight budget.

Pumping With Submersible Pumps

Method 2: Pumping With Submersible Pumps (The Most Efficient Way)

This is our preferred method.

A submersible pump will suck virtually all the water out of your pool, and, it’ll do it faster than siphoning it with a garden hose. 

These pumps come in a wide range of prices depending on the make and model and how much water they move per hour, but even the low-end pumps can get the job done faster than a hose. It’ll use some electricity of course and you’ll need a suitably lengthy extension cord, but it’s definitely worth it.

Put the pump in the water, attach the output hose and aim it away from your house and pool, switch it on, and put another shrimp on the barbie while it does all the work.

Wrapping Up

Swimming pool liners don’t respond well to direct sunlight when they’re dry. They shrink, twist, tear, and pull apart, especially if they’re left hanging on the frame. If you’re draining your pool so you can get in there and give it a good scrubbing by hand with soap and water, then refill it as soon as you’re done, no problem. Have at it.

If you’re doing anything else which would involve letting it stay dry for more than a few days, take the liner off the frame, towel or wipe it dry, then roll it up and store it in a cool, dry, dark enclosure. If possible, put it inside a vacuum sealed container. When you’re ready to use it again, it’ll be waiting for you, ready to go.