Why You Should Never Drain Your Pool Yourself

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Maintaining your swimming pool on a regular basis is essential to keeping it a beautiful asset to your Central Florida home. Those who are regular viewers of Zombie House Flipping – set in The City Beautiful – have doubtlessly seen episodes in which the team encounters long-neglected pools in the distressed properties they buy. Such worst-case scenarios should serve to remind you that following a pool cleaning schedule is essential for basic upkeep of the pool itself as well as keeping the water suitable for swimming. Our blog post – “Pool Cleaning Schedule – What You Need To Know” – covers the must-do’s in detail.

Yet, there is a dangerous belief that somehow persists – that a residential swimming pool sometimes needs to be drained, and that this is a DIY job. Cutting to the chase, there are very rare circumstances that require draining a pool. These include:

  • Replacing the liner (vinyl-lined pools).
  • Repairing tile.
  • Refinishing the pool surface.

For these rare circumstances, you need to hire a professional pool service to do the job without causing major damage to the pool structure and/or liner, if applicable. While Certified Leak Detection does not offer swimming pool maintenance, we believe in educating pool owners to follow best practices for pool care.

Risks for different types of pool construction

As aptly stated by the good people at R&R Pools, a pool is rather like a fish tank in that draining is not the way to clean it. “Even if your pool water is absolutely gross, a thorough cleaning regimen of vacuuming, filtration, and several days of shocking the water, should be sufficient.”

The reasons against draining your pool are as follow:

  • When too much pool water soaks into the ground, the resulting upward water pressure could crack the bottom of your pool or cause it to float right out of the ground.
  • In the case of fiberglass pools, the floors can split altogether, necessitating repairs to the fiberglass shell, plumbing, side walls (which can bulge outwards or even pop as a result of the sudden lack of water pressure) and pool deck.
  • For both inground and above-ground pools, the liner can shrink when the pool is drained, then tear when the pool is refilled. Refilling promptly and shifting the liner in the early stages of refilling can mitigate this. This is not a good idea with older liners.
  • Excess ground water can cause pool liners to float away from the walls, causing wrinkles.

A wise word of caution from R&R Pools: If your pool has a hydrostatic valve, don’t think you’re safe in draining it yourself.  That valve was never designed to compensate for complete drainage of the pool.

The role of hydrostatic pressure

The force that water exerts on other objects when not in motion is called hydrostatic pressure. If the ground surrounding your empty pool is full of water – either due to rain or the water table – it can exert enough force to damage your pool. The pressure can cause the pool shell to crack, bulge or even pop out of the ground.

Pool expert Holly Jender of River Pools provides an in-depth article on the science of hydrostatic pressure and how it works. We recommend you read this informative post in its entirety – it isn’t as technical as you might think, and it could save you a lot of expense if you’re still entertaining thoughts about draining your pool yourself!

How to find the right swimming pool company

Ray Cronise, co-founder of Trilogy Pools, provides valuable advice on finding the right swimming pool company to drain a pool, if necessary.

  • Read reviews online. Spread your research across multiple review sites.
  • Call or make an impromptu visit to the store or the business. The way they treat you when you show up says a lot about what you can expect as a customer.
  • Ask your friends and family members for recommendations.
  • Visit the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) website for recommendations and a list of association members. Look for the APSP logo on the door of the pool professional’s establishment, or inquire about membership on the phone. While membership to the association is not a requirement, it does help you find reputable professionals who meet APSP guidelines. APSP certifications include: CBP Building Service Pro, CSP Certified Service Pro, CSP Certified Service Tech, CMS Certified Maintenance Specialist and CHTT Certified Hot Tub Technician.
  • Ask about insurance coverage. Do not do business with any company, especially swimming pool and hot tub professionals, that cannot provide you with proof of adequate insurance coverage. You don’t want anyone to walk onto your property without the proper coverage to protect themselves and your pool.
  • Ask about warranties, service warranties, and any other protections offered by the pool company specifically or the manufacturers they work with that furnishes the equipment for your pool.

Be smart, and enjoy your Florida pool for years to come

By now, we hope you see that draining your pool is most likely unnecessary – and that if it does ever become necessary, you don’t try to save money by draining it yourself. Hiring a pro is ultimately far less expensive than dealing with major damage or a popped-out pool shell. Regularly maintaining your pool should be enough to keep it in top shape for many years to come.

Part of being a diligent pool owner, of courses, is keeping on the lookout for changes that could indicate a leak. Our blog post – “Five Ways to Detect a Pool Leak” – offers some easy troubleshooting methods. If your water level goes down seemingly without reason, or you otherwise suspect a leak but can’t locate the source, contact us!

Certified Leak Detection uses technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business. In addition to quick detection and repair of swimming pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection and repair for spas and hot tubs, as well as slabs and foundations. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call!