How to Drain a Pool Safely: A Step-by-Step Guide

Paul West/ Backyard Maintenance

Draining your pool might seem like a challenging job, but it’s a necessary step for maintenance or before a big clean-up. Whether you’re dealing with murky water or preparing for a fresh fill, knowing how to properly drain your pool can save you time and hassle. This guide will walk you through the essentials, ensuring you get the job done efficiently and safely. With the right approach, you’ll find that draining your pool is simpler than you might think. Let’s jump into the steps to ensure your pool is ready for whatever comes next.

Step 1: Gather your equipment

Before diving into the pool draining process, it’s crucial to ensure you have all the necessary equipment on hand. This preparatory step is key to a smooth and efficient operation, saving you both time and hassle. Let’s break down the essential tools and materials you’ll need to successfully drain your pool.

First and foremost, a submersible pump is your go-to equipment for this task. It’s designed to remove water quickly and efficiently. Ensure the pump you choose is suitable for your pool’s size and the amount of water that needs to be drained.

Next on your list should be a discharge hose. This hose will connect to your submersible pump, allowing the water to be directed away from the pool area and into a suitable drainage area. The length of the hose should be enough to reach your designated draining point without any issues.

A power source is another critical component. Whether your submersible pump is electric or battery-operated, make sure you have the necessary power source or batteries at hand. For electric pumps, an extension cord may be needed to reach the nearest outlet.

You’ll also need a pair of waterproof gloves to protect your hands during the process. Pool water can contain chemicals that might irritate your skin, so it’s better to be safe.

Finally, having a water test kit is advisable to check the chemical balance of your pool water before draining. Some areas have regulations on pool water disposal, especially if it’s chemically treated. Testing the water ensures you comply with local environmental standards.

Gathering these items before starting will streamline your pool draining process, making it as straightforward and effective as possible. With your equipment ready, you’re well on your way to successfully draining your pool, paving the way for the maintenance or cleaning you have planned.

Step 2: Turn off the power

Before diving into the mechanics of draining your pool, it’s imperative to address a crucial safety measure: turning off the power. This involves not just the pool pump, but all electrical equipment associated with your pool. The importance of this step cannot be overstressed, as it eliminates the risk of electrical hazards, ensuring your safety and that of those around you.

To ensure you’ve covered all bases, follow these steps:

  • Locate your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box.
  • Identify the switches or circuits dedicated to your pool’s system.
  • Switch off the power to these circuits. If labeled correctly, look for tags indicating “pool pump,” “pool heater,” or similar. If you’re unsure, it’s safer to turn off the main power source temporarily.

By doing so, you’re creating a safe environment to work in. Electrical components and water do not mix, and ensuring these systems are inactive is critical. This precautionary step not only protects you from potential electrocution but also prevents damage to your pool’s electrical components that might occur if they were to operate without water—a scenario that can lead to costly repairs or replacements.

Also, take this opportunity to inspect your pool’s electrical installations for any visible signs of wear or damage. Frayed wires or loose connections pose serious risks and should be addressed by a professional electrician before you proceed any further. Ensuring your pool’s electrical systems are in top shape is just as important as the physical draining process itself.

Summarizing, the deactivation of your pool’s electrical systems is a non-negotiable step in the draining process. It sets the stage for a safe, efficient operation, allowing you to proceed with the next steps in draining your pool with peace of mind.

Step 3: Drain the water

After ensuring your pool’s electrical systems are off and safety measures are in place, it’s time to begin the draining process. Draining your pool might seem daunting, but with the right approach, you can do it efficiently and safely.

First, position your submersible pump at the deepest part of the pool. This ensures that the pump operates at maximum efficiency, removing as much water as possible. Attach your discharge hose securely to the pump. The other end should lead to an area where water can be safely disposed of, following local regulations to avoid any legal issues. Commonly, water can be directed towards storm drains or designated sewer connections, but never into the street or neighbor’s property.

Next, connect your pump to a power source. Make sure that any extension cords used are rated for outdoor use and are plugged into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet for added safety. Once everything is set up, turn on the pump and monitor the process to ensure it’s working as expected. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the draining progress to prevent the pump from running dry, which could damage it.

Throughout this process, regularly check the water level and adjust the position of the pump as necessary to continue draining effectively. This step may need to be repeated several times as the water level decreases.

If you encounter any large debris or obstacles that might block the hose or damage your pump, remove them manually. Waterproof gloves come in handy for this task, protecting your hands while ensuring the pumping process isn’t interrupted.

While waiting for the pool to drain completely, take this time to plan your next steps. Whether it’s cleaning the pool, inspecting it for any necessary repairs, or preparing it for a fresh fill, having a clear plan in place will streamline the entire process.

By following these steps carefully and paying close attention to the details, you’ll ensure your pool is drained safely and efficiently, setting the stage for whatever maintenance or enjoyment comes next.

Step 4: Remove any remaining water

After most of the pool water has been drained using a submersible pump, you’ll often find that some water remains at the bottom. This residual water needs to be removed to prevent algae growth and to help cleaning or repairs. Here’s how to tackle this final stretch effectively.

Use a Wet Vacuum

A wet vacuum is your best bet for removing the last pools of water. It’s designed to handle water without damaging the unit, making it perfect for this task. Ensure the vacuum’s filter is appropriate for water, to avoid any potential damage. Move it slowly across the pool floor to suck up all the remaining water.

Mop Up the Residual

For very shallow layers of water that a wet vacuum can’t manage, resort to mopping. You’ll need:

  • A heavy-duty mop
  • A bucket

This method is particularly effective in corners or on steps where water tends to accumulate and is harder to reach with larger equipment. It’s a manual process, but it ensures your pool is completely water-free.

Use Absorbent Materials

In areas where both a wet vacuum and mop struggle, absorbent materials like towels or sponges can be used. Lay them over the wet spots and press gently to soak up the moisture. While this method is more time-consuming, it’s effective for ensuring a completely dry surface, necessary before any repair work or thorough cleaning begins.

Each method plays a crucial role in removing every last drop of water from your pool, laying a clean slate for the next steps in your pool maintenance or renovation project. By following these step-by-step instructions, you’re ensuring that your pool remains in top condition, preventing any long-term issues that standing water might cause. Remember, the key is not to rush the process but to ensure that all water is thoroughly removed for the best results.

Step 5: Clean and inspect the pool

After you’ve successfully drained your pool, the next essential step involves a thorough cleaning and inspection process. This ensures any underlying issues are addressed before refilling the pool, guaranteeing a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.

Start With Cleaning

First, remove any debris like leaves, twigs, or insects that may have settled at the bottom. Use a pool brush to scrub the walls and floor vigorously. Areas with algae or mildew buildup require special attention. For these, a mixture of chlorine and water often proves effective. Ensure to wear protective gloves and eyewear during this process to avoid skin or eye irritation.

Next, focus on the pool’s filter system. Clean or replace the filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure optimal performance. Clogged or worn-out filters can significantly hinder the system’s efficiency, leading to poorer water quality.

Inspect the Pool Thoroughly

After cleaning, meticulously inspect every inch of your pool. Pay close attention to any cracks, leaks, or signs of wear in the pool’s structure. These issues, if not promptly addressed, can lead to more significant problems down the line. Areas to check include:

  • Pool Liner or Tiles: Look for tears or cracks.
  • Pool Lights: Check for water ingress or malfunction.
  • Skimmers and Returns: Ensure they are not blocked and are securely attached.
  • Drain Covers: Verify that they comply with safety standards and show no signs of damage.

If any repairs are needed, it’s paramount to address these before moving forward. Small cracks or leaks can be fixed using waterproof sealant designed for pools, but more significant damage might require professional intervention.

By carefully cleaning and inspecting your pool, you’re not only ensuring its aesthetic appeal but also the safety and well-being of every swimmer. Regular maintenance and vigilance prolong the life of your pool and enhance the overall pool experience.


Draining your pool doesn’t have to be a challenging job. With the right equipment and a clear plan, you can safely and efficiently remove all the water from your pool. Remember to always prioritize safety by turning off all electrical equipment before you begin and to follow local regulations for water disposal. Monitoring the draining process and removing debris will ensure a smooth operation. Once the water’s out, you’re set to deep clean, inspect, and repair your pool as needed. This not only extends the life of your pool but also enhances your swimming experience. So, roll up your sleeves and get started. Your pool awaits its next chapter, and you’re now fully equipped to tackle it head-on.

Paul West
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About Paul West

Longstanding and passionate about really having family fun in the backyard. I'm no expert but I've picked up a thing or two along the way!