3 Methods on How to Drain an Above Ground Pool

So in this short guide, we’ll discuss three methods on how to drain an above ground pool as well as a discussion on the reasons why you’ll need to drain it. Let’s get into it.

Due to the high cost of water, it might feel like a good decision to continuously re-use the pool water of an above-ground pool instead of draining your pool completely. 

Quoting Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher: “There is nothing permanent except change.” True to the quote, there are certain changes in conditions or time periods in which you’ll need to completely drain your above-ground pool. 

So in this short guide, we’ll discuss three methods on how to drain an above ground pool as well as a discussion on the reasons why you’ll need to drain it. Let’s get into it.

1st Method: Using the Main Drain

The first method on how to drain an above-ground pool that we’ll be talking about is the easiest one. However, it is the most condition-based out of the three. 

Condition-based because an above-ground swimming pool doesn’t normally have a main drain. For example, you can take a look at the above-ground swimming pool product list of Intex and Atlantic.[1][2] This is a given since above-ground pools are designed to be easily assembled and disassembled. 

So before using this method, check first if you have a main drain installed. It’s usually installed in the bottom center of the pool that looks like a basket filter. If none, skip this method and use the next two methods.

Drain an Above Ground Pool - Main Drain in the center

Plan Out How to Drain the Pool

Since this method will be the simplest one, planning out how to drain the pool completely is quite simple and very straightforward. 

The first thing you’ll need to plan out is tracing the piping to which the main drain of the pool is connected. Normally, an installed main drain is connected to a 3-way valve or a series of interconnected two-way valves that leads to the electric pump, return jets of the pool, and the sewage. Then, the next you’ll want to do is identify the right valve settings to direct the pool water to the sewage system.

After identifying the right valve settings, the next thing you’ll want to do is check that there are no clogs in the drain pipes. This is an essential step. Because if it is clogged, you won’t be able to drain the water and might lead to a backflow on connected drains inside the house.

During this planning stage, it is also important that pool owners consider what repair and maintenance work they can do after draining the above-ground pool. List and ready the repair materials like pool repair kits, chlorine, and chemical balancing test kits

Execute the Plan

The first step to drain your pool is to turn off the electric pump. Doing so will make sure that there is no water flow while doing changes in the valve settings. Thus, preventing any possible damage due to the water hammer.[3] Then, if you have a line for make-up fresh water, then you’ll need to turn that off as well to prevent wastage.

After stopping the pump, the next step is to set the valve settings according to your plan and observe if water is draining from the pool. If not, then check the settings again if it’s right. If the pool water still didn’t drain after rechecking the valve settings and waiting for a few minutes, then there might be a clog in the pipes or valve.

Before you check for clogs in the valves and piping, you’ll need to put a drain plug first on the main drain and the skimmers. This will prevent pool water from gushing out as you remove the pipes and valves. 

Disassemble the pipes and valves and check for clogs and defects. You might need to replace parts depending on the need. Once done, remove the drain plug and wait for the water to completely drain.

2nd Method: Using a Submersible Pump to Drain the Pool

The second and third methods you’ll find below are recommended for pool owners that don’t have main drains on their above-ground pools. These two methods can be used at the same time if you want to speed up the draining process. Submersible pumps can also be used on an above-ground pool with main drains if you need to drain the water faster.

Using a Submersible Pump to Drain the Pool

Like what its name implies, a submersible pump is a tool that can be submerged in pool water. Turning it on while submerged in pool water will cause it to pump out the pool water. We will be discussing more on the proper usage of this equipment below.

Plan Out How to Drain the Pool Water

The first thing you’ll need to check is, of course, if you have a submersible pump. You can get a decent submersible pump for around a hundred dollars.[4

When buying, we recommend getting a sub-pump that has a low base. So that you’ll only be left with a low water level which you’ll remove using a dry/wet vacuum once the submersible pump can’t pump out any more water.

Then, what you’ll need to do next is plan out where to lead the pool water that’s gonna be discharged from the pump. If the installation of your above-ground pool has followed the recommendation of the pool manufacturer, then there should be trenches around it that are connected to the sewage. If there are none, then you’ll need to find a good dumping place for the pool water.

The next step is to prepare a hose that will span the distance from the pool to the selected dumping location. Another thing to consider is the fittings that you’ll need to attach the hose to the pump. The last thing to consider is the power outlet in which you’ll plug in the pump, make sure it’s protected against water.

Execute the Plan

After meticulous planning, let’s now proceed to execute the plan. To start, turn off the pump for pool filters and close the valves. Then, connect the hose to the submersible pump using suitable adapters and connectors. 

Next is to clamp the other one end of the hose to the selected dumping place. This firm connection will prevent any continuous water delivery to the desired location despite the water pressure created by the pump.

Plug the pump into the power outlet and turn it on to start the pumping process. Before leaving the pump to operate, make sure to clear any large debris that can clog the submersible pump, especially plastics. To estimate how long you’ll wait, just divide the total water capacity of the above-ground pool (in gallons) by the gallons-per-minute (GPM) rating of the submersible pump.

Turn off the pump if it can’t pump out any more water. You’ll notice by this time that there is remaining water in the pool and this is a given. To completely drain the remaining water, use a wet vacuum. You can also siphon it out, which we’ll talk about later in this guide.

3rd Method: Siphoning the Water Out to Drain the Pool

The last and slowest method of draining is by siphoning. Siphoning is a natural phenomenon brought about by gravity in which a fluid in a higher potential level pushes fluids into a tube going down to lower potential energy. 

Siphoning the Water Out to Drain the Pool

In simpler terms, it is just water seeking out its own level. For us to better understand this you can watch this video that demonstrates how the process of siphoning works.[5] This is the natural phenomenon that we will use to remove the remaining water from the pool. Don’t worry we will guide you on how to do it, step by step.

Plan Out the Draining Process

If you want to use siphoning as the method for draining the pool, there’s not much planning needed. The only thing you’ll need to prepare is a long hose (can also be a garden hose), pool water discharge location, a nearby faucet, and some weights or clamps. Please keep in mind that in order for this to work, the hose needs to be continuous, not segmented.

Another important thing to remember is that when planning a location for the pool water discharge location, it needs to be at a lower level than the base of the above-ground swimming pool.

The faucet requirement is also essential because we will be using it to fill the hose siphon with water. The water from the faucet will serve as a primer for the siphon and will ensure that there are no air pockets inside the hose siphon. 

While it is not impossible to suck out the pool water into the tube like a straw, it is very difficult. But there is a way that we can circumvent this if you have no nearby faucets, we will talk about that later in the plan execution.

Execute the Plan

Like the previous draining methods, we will start off by turning off the pool filter pump. Then grab the hose, clamps, and weights then proceed to the pool.

Faucet Method

Let’s first discuss the method of using the faucet. The first step is to place one end of the hose at the bottom of the pool. Ensure it is firmly placed at the bottom by putting weights or clamps on it. Then grab the other end and connect it firmly to the faucet. 

Turn on the faucet, go back to the pool, and you’ll notice that bubbles will come out of the hose at the bottom of the pool. Wait until no bubbles are coming out and go back to the faucet. Disconnect the outlet hose from the faucet, hold it at the floor level, and you’ll notice that there’s water coming out from it. Drag the hose to designated water discharge location while maintaining it at floor level. Wait for the hose to drain the pool.

Submerged Hose Method

If you don’t have a faucet nearby, you can opt to use the submerged hose method. To do it, clamp or weight down one end of the hose at the bottom of the pool. Then, submerge the whole hose until it is filled with water. 

Using your hands, squelch the hose’s free end to seal the water inside and pull it up and pull it outside the pool at floor level. Slowly release your hand that is squelching the hose and watch as the pool water pours out. Drag it to the designated discharge location while keeping it at floor level.

When Should You Drain an Above Ground Pool?

Draining an above-ground swimming pool can be due to several reasons. Below are some of them. 

  • Storing it for Winter – Some above ground pools are recommended by manufacturers to be drained and stored for the winter. This is because temperature drops can cause damage to certain parts of an above-ground pool like the pool liners, ballasts, and filters.
  • Repair Works – There are major repair works that need to drain your pool completely. For example, if the foundation of an above ground pool shows shifting or movement or installation of new u-bases.
  • Balancing Water Chemicals – Severe chemical imbalance might not be salvageable by adding chemicals or additives. It might be better to drain your pool and introduce freshwater.
  • Moving the Pool – House renovations or moving-out of the house can cause you to drain the pool completely. 
Drain the Pool 1

Check out these articles as well. In this article, we are going to guide you on how to correctly heat an above ground pool and what kind of above ground filter you can use at home.


There are three ways on how to drain an above-ground pool: by using the main drain, using a submersible pump, or by siphoning it. Whichever choice you make, all of the mentioned methods are effective. It’s all dependent on what your preference is and the equipment available to you.

To drain an above-ground pool perfectly, you’ll need to plan it meticulously, take into account the condition of your above-ground pool, and execute the plan.

Once it has completely drained, take time to inspect the parts of your above-ground pool for damages, as well as taking this opportunity to clean the pool liner.

Draining an above-ground pool is needed when doing a repair, balancing water chemicals, moving the pool, or preparing it for storage during the winter season.

Maintaining your swimming pool properly is an essential part of keeping it clean and healthy. You can find a variety of articles about how to take good care of your pool on our website.


  • [1] https://intexcorp.com/products/above-ground-pools/
  • [2] http://www.atlanticpoolproducts.com/above-ground-pools.php
  • [3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoLmVFAFjn4
  • [4] https://www.astralpool.com/en/products/swimming-pool/pumps/submersible-pumps-7/
  • [5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZmP0vsRBZ8
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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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