How to Drain an Above Ground Pool the Easy Way

Michael Keenan


Pool Maintenance

This is an unusual requirement. True. But it’s not unheard of. In fact, there are many reasons one might want to drain their above-ground pool. We will go through that in a minute but no matter what the reason, the one thing to remember is not to do it in the winter because that will make your liner dry and your pool will crack from the cold.

Above-ground pools must be treated differently to in-ground pools as you will find out below. Don’t worry though it’s not rocket science!

I’ll take a look at why you’ll want to drain your pool and then give details on how to drain an above-ground pool the easy way – so keep reading ….

drain above ground swimming pool

Why Drain the Pool?

Many problems with your pool can be solved without draining it but there are times it will be best to have a clean-out! The other thing to know is that you don’t always need to call a guy to do this for you. Follow a few simple instructions and you can do it yourself.

Draining a swimming pool without damaging it is quite easy. And experts have figured out a few ways to do this without having to remove all the water in the pool. Here’s why you might not need to do it at all.

Total Dissolved Solids or TDS: These substances gather in pool water over a period of time and make the water chemistry unstable. This includes minerals, metals, dust, bacteria, and anything else you can think of.

So, you will need to use more chemicals to maintain the health of your swimming pool. Draining the pool and getting a good cleaning session can solve that problem.

I cover some common problems associated with water quality and water chemistry:

If any of these problems get out of hand you may need to consider draining your pool and starting over after a major cleanup. It can simply become too chemical intensive to balance out your water and get the quality just right.

Other times you may need to drain an above-ground pool include:

Repair Work: If you need to redo or repair a part of the pool, you have no choice but to drain all the water. You can try to do it without removing the water but that might not work for some types of repair work, like replacing the pool liner. You will have to do that if you notice a leak in your pool.

Removing the Pool: If you want to remove/move it, well, you have no option but to drain the pool and gut it, right?

Chlorine Lock: This absolutely cannot be done without draining the pool to some degree. This is a condition where there is too much cyanuric acid – a pool stabilizer – in the water or when the pH levels are unstable.

This makes the sanitizer quite ineffective and you will need to fix the water chemistry of the pool by replacing the water. And for that, you must drain it at least partially. Find out more about chlorine lock in your pool here.

Dry Climate: This is another common reason for folks to want to drain their swimming pools. A very hot and dry climate leads to more than usual levels of evaporation. In that case, you will want to fill your pool.

But if the levels get too low, they might turn the contents into hard water. This is not good for water chemistry and you will want to replace all the water because it’s cheaper than loading it with chemicals.

Sand in the bottom of your pool? I have a guide covering ways to remove sand from the pool bottom – without having to drain it!

How to Drain Your Above-Ground Pool

There are two ways of draining the water from an above-ground pool. You can either use a pump or use a hose to siphon the water out. If you have experience with these kinds of things, you should know that there is a way to combine both these techniques for the best results. We will go through all three of them here.

Using a Pump

Before you get started, make sure you know where you are going to dump the water. You must check to see if your city has any special specifications for a job like this.

Since pools are water bodies with a lot of chemicals, you might be required to dump the water in a sewage treatment system.

  • Step 1: Get a medium-sized vacuum or water pump for the job.
  • Step 2: Unroll the hose, bring it to the center of the pool, and submerge it in the pool.
  • Step 3: Place the outlet hose in such a way that the area around the pool is not flooded when the water is drained from the pool.
  • Step 4: Dry your hands well in preparation for the next step.
  • Step 5: Plug the pump’s electric cord into an outlet and turn it on.
  • Step 6: Check on the pump periodically to make sure it is doing what it’s supposed to.
  • Step 7: Monitor the water levels to make sure you’re not running the pump on an empty pool.
  • Step 8: Turn the pump off when there is too little water to use the pump.

The duration of this whole operation depends on the size of the pool.

Using a Siphon

You can do this quite easily if you have a garden hose that is about six to eight feet long. If you have more than one, you can drain the pool quicker than you thought. But remember not to use your mouth to start the process. If you end up swallowing the water from the pool, that’s not going to end well.

And like the previous method, you must start by figuring out where you are going to dump the excess water.

  • Step 1: Submerge the hoses completely into the pool and let them fill up with water.
  • Step 2: Lift one end of the hoses out and place them on the ground. Make sure it is shut until you have lowered it to the ground where the water will drain.
  • Step 3: Check the other end and make sure it is still in the pool.
  • Step 4: Wait until the process is done.

Make sure there are no leaks in the process. The time it takes to empty the pool depends on the size of the pool, the number of hoses, and their diameter.

No matter which method you use, there is going to be a little extra water at the bottom. You can drain that by removing the drain plug or dismantling the pool to a point where the liner is free and then empty it by turning it over.

You could also just sweep it all out by using buckets or similar containers. If you want all of it out, you can use a pump. Sometimes, a wet/dry vacuum also works quite well.

The Combination of Both

This is preferred by many users because the siphoning method gives you speed and the pump is good for removing as much water as possible. However, this works only if you are removing all the water to replace the pool’s liner.

When to Drain the Pool?

When you must drain a pool depends on the material of the pool. It is best to drain your pool (above ground or otherwise) usually when the weather is moderate, like in spring or fall.

In spring, the freshwater will be ready for your summer activities. If you do it in the fall, make sure you leave some water in the pool because the cold winter air can damage the materials that your pool is made of.

Similarly, if the temperature is more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you might want to postpone the whole thing.

When it comes to refilling your pool it might be the perfect time to consider changing over to a salt water pool system. See my guide for all the details on how you can save on maintenance costs and enjoy great quality water!

Point Being…

Essentially, there are two ways to drain your above-ground pool but many reasons why you want to do it. If you want to drain only part of the pool, it is best to go by the siphon method.

If you are draining the pool to replace the liner, make sure the pool is dry before you place the new one to avoid bacteria and algae from forming in there. Happy draining!

michael keenan author

Author - Michael Keenan

I'm Michael Keenan the owner and creator of the Outdoor Care Guide. I'm a trained horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in pool care, plant care, and landscape care! Seemed like a good idea to share - I think I can make your life easier and save you some time and money!