How to Drain an Inground Swimming Pool

Though draining your inground swimming pool isn't something you do every day, once in a while it is required. Some of the more common reasons include rebalancing your chemicals, lowering your total dissolved solids, or repairing or resurfacing the pool. Additionally, many people empty their pools to prepare it for winter, or replace their water in the spring to ensure that it's clean and well-balanced.

What most people don't realize is how difficult it can be to drain an inground swimming pool properly. Most experts suggest contacting a pool professional if you are unsure or hesitant about draining the pool yourself. If you do decide to do it yourself, make sure all of the correct precautions are taken in order to prevent any pricey damage to your pool.

Depending upon whether you have an inground pool made out of concrete, gunite or vinyl will affect what approach you need to take to empty the pool.

Concrete or Gunite

In general, draining this type of pool is the trickiest. Inground pools made of concrete or gunite are susceptible to popping out of the ground if drainage is not done properly. If there has been a surplus of rain recently or your pool is located in a wet area, it is best not to try and drain the pool yourself at all. Excessive ground water can cause this type of pool to "float" out of the ground when draining is occuring.

If you do decide to drain this pool yourself you first need to locate whether or not you have a hydrostatic valve which is found in the main floor drain. If you do not have a hydrostatic valve, it is best to call a pool professional to help you drain the pool. If you do have a hydrostatic valve and decide to proceed to empty the pool yourself, you first need to rent a sump pump from your local hardware store. Next, attach the hose to the sump pump and lower the pump into the deepest section of the pool. The other end of the hose needs to be draining into the sewer drain pipe in your yard. Turn the pump on and let it go to work. Periodically check the hose to make sure it's draining properly. Pool owners that come across problems with draining this type of pool are often draining it too slowly, leaving it empty for too long, or encountering a hydrostatic valve failure. In almost all cases it is best to hire a professional pool service to drain your inground gunite or concrete pool.

Vinyl Lined

Vinyl lined inground pools are the most vulnerable to ripping or tearing, but the process of extracting the water is similar to a concrete or gunite pool. If you decide to drain this pool yourself, you will first need to rent a sump pump that can be submerged under water. After renting the proper sump pump, connect it to the sewer access point and submerge the other end in the pool. Plug the pump into an outlet and let it go to work. If you are replacing the liner or doing repairs, make sure they can be done shortly after you empty the pool. Depending upon the condition of the pool, leaving it empty for too long can cause drying or cracking from the sun or can even cause the pool to collapse.

Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry, if you have any hesitation about draining either type of pool yourself, feel free to contact AAA pools at 847-753-9771 or

15 comments on “How to Drain an Inground Swimming Pool”

  1. lisa5/7/2014 9:27:57 AM

    I moved into a home that was empty for sometime it has an in ground pool
    That was uncovered, vinyl liner, it was black when I got here. It is inidated with leaves and dirt. I have installed a new filter and pump, shocked it twice and work on leaf removal daily. Now it is greenish and so cloudy I can't see the leaves to clean out but I continue to pull up large amounts. Should I attempt to drain??? Help

  2. AAA Pool Service6/6/2014 9:27:48 AM

    Hi Lisa,
    Do not attempt to drain your pool, as it could cause the liner to collapse inward. Contact a local professional to help resolve your situation.

  3. joey6/18/2014 12:21:35 PM

    Just got a house with hot tub and pool both in ground concrete but I'm notsure how to drain iit. I was told there was a drin in the deepest part of the pool but when I turn on the pump nothing happens. There are two main lines that run underground and I've tried turning that and then the pump. Still no success was wondering what the next step to take would be

  4. AAA Pool Service 6/23/2014 1:42:58 PM

    Joey, we recommend that you hire a professional to drain the pool. This will ensure the process is done the proper way to prevent the pool from floating.

  5. kristi6/25/2014 3:31:40 PM

    I recently bought a house with a concrete pool. I would like to leave it closed for 5 years or so. It is covered and full of water. Can I just leave it? How long can I let it go without adding chemicals to prevent mosquito breeding? Can I drain the pool?

  6. scarlet 8/22/2014 12:46:27 AM

    My pool has an extra pipe sticking up out of the ground that is not connected to anything. I was wondering if that might be for the main drain in deep end.

  7. Stephan Bashkir3/30/2015 6:36:58 PM

    I remember when a buddy of mine destroyed the liner of his pool on accident when he was draining it. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, and he doesn't really know either. The reason I say this is as a caution. If you don't know what you're doing when it comes to cleaning and repairing a pool, it's better to call a professional than to try and do a lot of damage.

  8. susan lopez6/19/2015 1:53:20 PM

    I have an inground pool, gunite, I have for about three years in the late spring, drained the pool by closing the skimmer line, have the main drain valve open fully, and the return line open fully,
    had an issue of the pool pump not priming, called out my pool company and they had to replace the pump.

    prior to the new pump , I was able to drain the pool by closing the skimmer, and put the sand filter to waste, it pulled great, I could hear the water drain out to the park in the back of my property. that is how it is plumbed. at a good rate, I stay outside next to the pool, so I can hear the water being discharged. when I hear the water not rushing out. I go directly to the equipmet. turned off the power and I opened the pump and cleaned out pine needles, leaves, washed it out completely, and returned the top. not to tight, just right. so no air leaks. etc.... turned on the power and no luck in getting it to prime. ..... it is 3/4 empty, and I don't know what steps I need to take, do I take a garden hose and fill the pump complety to insure all air is out of the line, and do I put the sand filter to normal run mode till it primes. and then stop the power and turn the dial to waste....... and then flip the power back on?????

  9. julian bednar6/21/2015 1:38:59 PM

    Susan, next time that happens to your pump. Unclog the impeller and see if it runs before calling someone to replace your pump. No reason to spend extra cash on a new pump if your impeller is clogged. When its clogged it loses prone and doesn't pull in water.

  10. Michael9/19/2015 3:26:19 PM

    We have an inground pool that we plan to have demolished next year. Is it safe to drain it and let it sit empty until we actually remove it?

  11. Sherry2/16/2016 11:07:39 PM

    Two days ago our in ground pool totally drained in one day. It had been leaking for about 2 years but something must have ripped in the leak drastically more for it to drain the entire pool in 24 hours. We know we need a new liner but can't afford to do anything till spring. My question: is there anything else we should do during this interim period of it being empty?

  12. michelle2/27/2016 7:08:43 AM

    I just drained concrete inground pool, with a sump pump. I was told it has been drained 3 of 4 times before and it fills back up. They must not of turn off water. Anyhow, now what.? clean , with what.? Then what.? What all do i do pressure spray out all jets in jacuzzi and pool. What all maintenance do i do. ? I need to do all properly.before refilled. I want to learn and do ALL by self. Only option. I don't want to refill until EVERYTHING needed to be done is done. I have lots to learn and perhaps i can look for pro help on .

  13. Dj2/28/2016 11:21:43 AM

    I have an old in ground concrete pool and Central Florida. I am wondering if I can drain it but leave water in the deep end to prevent it from popping out of the ground. I just want to acid wash and put some pool paint in next You're planning to resurface is it safe to drain my pool leaving water in the deep end I think yes but just confirming thank you

  14. Alex3/28/2016 8:24:41 AM

    Hi, Our pool is very old and was leaking from ground filter. The pool bloke has since blocked off this filter and refilled the pool. He said this is no it?

  15. Dan11/14/2016 12:19:34 PM

    my in-ground vinyl liner pool is covered for the winter but losing water most likely through a main drain or level below the steel walls. My guess is I shouldn't let the pool go all winter (Northeast) without water pushing back against the walls. suggestions for what can be done this time of year to stop the leak ?

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