Pros & Cons of Draining Above-Ground Pools

Pool maintenance is a year-round job. You’ve probably skimmed your fair share of leaves off the top of the water, and now that winter is coming, closing your pool is probably on your mind more often: “Should I drain my above-ground pool in the winter?” Even if it’s not quite winter yet, there are many reasons to drain an above-ground pool—and there are many reasons to leave it the way it is. No matter the weather or time of year, know when to drain your pool and when to leave it as it is. These are some of the pros and cons of draining above-ground pools in winter. Weigh your options and make the choice that best fits your needs.

Pro: A Fresh Start

How often should you drain your pool? Most pool professionals recommend completely emptying your above-ground pool every three to five years. You’ll be able to start over with fresh and properly treated water. Think about how often you use your pool. The more often you use it, the faster the level of total dissolved solids (TDS) will rise. Total dissolved solids refer to any bits of waste or chemicals that dissolve in your water. From minerals that separate from your pool chemicals to tiny bits of algae, TDS levels rise through the years and eventually need to be squashed. Fully draining your above-ground pool will get rid of all those excess solids. When you refill it and add fresh pool chemicals, you’ll know that the water you’re swimming in is squeaky clean.

Con: Compromising the Liner

When you completely drain a swimming pool, especially an above-ground one, the liner can shrink. You may not be able to notice it right away, but when you refill the pool with fresh water, that liner may stretch and tear from the pressure. Be wary of draining your above-ground pool for the winter; the cold weather can shrink the liner even more and make it more brittle. To go easy on your pool’s liner, begin refilling the pool as soon as possible after you’ve done whatever maintenance you need to do. As you refill your pool, shift the liner around to make sure it’s properly aligned. You’ll need to do this quickly, before the water reaches an inch in depth. After that, the liner will be weighed down by the water and won’t budge as easily.

Pro: Ease of Repair

If your above-ground pool needs heavy-duty repairs, draining the pool either completely or partially will make that repair easier. Most kinds of pool repair can be done underwater, but if you’ve got major work to be done, it’s best to drain it. If you can’t see the bottom of the pool from the shallowest end or if the filter’s not working, call Haven Spa Pool & Hearth for assistance. We’re the top spa and pool store in Vancouver, WA, and our team is dedicated to helping you keep your pool in tip-top shape. Always get help from a professional when learning how to drain an above-ground pool!

Con: Less Weather Protection

No matter what time of year you decide to drain your above-ground pool, leaving it completely empty opens it up to damage. Swimming pool interiors are not meant to be exposed directly to the elements—they’re meant to hold water. The liner, as discussed earlier, can crack and budge in an empty pool, especially if the weather gets chilly or windy. UV damage from the sun will also cause the liner to lose elasticity and grow brittle. Even if you cover it properly, an empty pool can still sustain damage from outside debris. Rubble that falls into an empty above-ground pool will damage it more than rubble that falls into a filled pool. If you do decide to drain your pool, don’t go it alone. Have a professional from Haven Spa Pool & Hearth do it for you. And don’t drain it completely! Leave at least six to 12 inches of water in the pool to maintain the integrity of the liner and the structure of the pool itself.

Pro: Prevent Plumbing Freezes

If you’re preparing your pool for the winter, you’ll have to do at least some draining. Be careful, though! Lower the water level in your pool to just below the returns and skimmer level and drain the heat pump of any excess water. If you keep your water level below the jets during the winter, you’ll ensure that no water creeps in over the winter. A burst pipe is a real pain to replace, especially when it’s cold out. When you winterize your pool, flush all excess water out of those pipes and keep the water level below them. A little draining is good for your above-ground pool as you exercise caution.

Con: Waste of Water

How many gallons of water does your pool hold? Most above-ground pools hold thousands, if not tens of thousands, of gallons. If you drain any water out of your pool, that water’s got to go somewhere—and it’s got to be replaced. Avoid draining your pool too much, as it’ll cost you a lot of water when you refill it. If you consult with a professional and decide to empty your above-ground pool, decide where that water’s going to go. Many people let it out in their yard or garden, but be careful about dumping chemical-filled water onto your plants. And again, generally speaking, you should not drain your above-ground pool completely unless absolutely necessary. That way, you’ll save on your water bill when you do refill it.

Pool maintenance is a hefty responsibility—and one that you should not shoulder alone. Always consult with a professional before draining any water out of your above-ground pool. There are very few situations in which you should drain your pool completely, and if you do, you should carefully consider the long-term effects it will have on your pool. Our team at Haven Spa Pool & Hearth is your go-to spa and pool store, and we’re here to help you with all your maintenance and winterizing needs. Keep the pros and cons of draining above-ground pools in mind and use common sense when performing maintenance on your pool. You can ensure that you get many years of enjoyment out of your pool by maintaining it with care and consistency.

Pros & Cons of Draining Above-Ground Pools infographic