Ah, yes, the question many of us dread coming across in winter months: “How far to drain my inground pool for winter?” Of course, we’ve been pool owners for years and have drained it at least once. But it seems difficult every year. Maybe you are a new pool owner, whatever the case I am here to help.
Most people know to empty some of the water in their pool, but few know how deep to drain it or whether it’s safe to drain it out entirely.
Let’s talk about how deep you should drain your pool for the winter — spoiler alert: it’s not as far as you think — and what to do with your pool during this time.
Do You Have to Drain Inground Pool for Winter?
First off is the question of whether you have to drain your inground pool at all.
Well, the short answer is no. It’s possible — in fact, recommended — to simply leave your pool covered during the winter months without any damage or safety risks. You may want to drain your pool, but you can read more about draining a concrete pool in our guide here.
It’s important to note that most times, when people say they drained their pool, they mean that they drained part of their pool. That’s because they usually keep most of the water in, just below the point where the freezing ice could cause more damage than they’d like over the freezing winter months.
How Far to Drain Inground Pool for Winter?
The standard drain depth suggestion for how far to drain an inground pool for winter is approximately 4-6 inches below the skimmer line. This depth will keep water from leaking out of the skimmer, the most sensitive part of your pool during winter. And if you have a pool cover that fits correctly, you should be able to leave the water at that level throughout the winter.
If you don’t have a cover, or if your cover is damaged, it’s a good idea to drain down further than 4-6 inches, you can drain it 15-20 inches below instead. Doing this will help prevent ice damage and allow you to start spring cleaning as early as possible next year.
Can I Completely Drain my Inground Pool Before Winter?
We get this question a lot. The short answer is that you can drain your pool to clean it, but there’s no need to drain out the water before the winter.
In fact, if you’re going to be away for an extended period during the winter months, we recommend keeping the water in your pool at least partially full. That will help keep your pipes from freezing and cracking and protect any plants or trees near your pool from damage.
You’ll only need to worry about draining it when you’re going on vacation or moving away for an extended period.
How to Drain Water from Your Inground Pool?
On an inground pool, it’s best to drain water down into the skimmer line. This practice will ensure that no debris gets trapped in your filter or pump. In order to properly drain your pool, it is important to follow these steps:
Step 1: Shut off the pump. You can do this by opening the main drain valves or turning off the power supply at the breaker box.
Step 2: Turn on all of the pumps one last time to flush out any remaining water in the lines.
Step 3: Open each skimmer and return line valve and let out any water left in them.
Step 4: Use a pool vacuum or pressure washer to clean the pipes, fittings, and equipment before winterizing them with anti-corrosion chemicals.
What Does it Mean to Winterize or Close an Inground Pool?
Winterizing an inground pool means different things to different people. Some people do it because they have to, others do it because they want to, and some don’t even know what it is.
People refer to two main ways when they talk about draining their pool: closing and winterizing. They both mean the same thing, but close can be used as a verb (close the pool). Winterizing your in-ground pool involves draining the water just enough and closing up the pool for the season.
You might also want to consider adding a winter cover to protect the surface of your pool from damage by falling leaves and other debris.
How to Empty and Blow Out Your Pool Lines?
If you plan to drain your pool for the winter, you need to ensure no water is left in the lines. For example, if your pool has a vinyl liner (which is common), then the water inside the liner will freeze and expand, causing damage to the liner.
Here’s how you can get it done:
Step 1: First, turn off the filter pump and open up all of the valves on your skimmer lines (if possible). Reduce the water level by 12 inches below the skimmer line.
Step 2: Open up the skimmer and remove the filter basket (make sure to put some towels down first so that nothing spills).
Step 3: Disconnect the pump from its plumbing connection and disconnect all hoses attached to it as well (this should include all of your skimmers).
Step 4: Connect a shop vac to the open end of one of these hoses and blow until all of your pool lines are fully emptied out. Make sure not to forget about any other hose connections that may be underwater.
The answer is a qualified yes. If your pool has had some algae growth or there are stains from minerals in the water, it’s worth adding winter chemicals to eliminate those problems before they become worse and more expensive to treat later.
Adding winter chemicals to your pool isn’t an absolute must, but it helps. They do help, however, mainly when it’s a combination of scale & stain treatment, shock, and a few other pool closing chemicals.
An excellent way to get everything in at once is by opting for the In The Swim Pool Winterizing and Closing Chemical Kit. These products will have everything you need to close down your pool for the season and keep it clean throughout the winter months.
Should You Cover Your Inground Pool During the Winter?
The answer is yes, if at all possible. While covering your inground pool is unnecessary during every season, it will help protect it from damage caused by freezing temperatures, snowfall, and other harsh conditions that may occur during the winter months.
While keeping your inground pool cover will not prevent it from freezing over entirely, it will help prevent ice from forming on top of the water or under the liner. Unfortunately, this can cause splitting and cracking of both surfaces and result in leaks that can cause significant damage over time and a loss of water and heat, which could lead to increased energy costs throughout the winter months.
Inground Pool Winter FAQs
Q1. Can Your Inground Pool Water Freeze?
Yes, definitely. In fact, it’s almost impossible for a pool not to freeze over winter. The main reason your pool can freeze over winter is that the water in your pool is exposed to the elements, namely wind, and snow.
Q2. Can Snow Get Inside Your Inground Pool?
If you’re not using a pool cover over winter, then snow can get in your pool. The same goes for rainwater that gets in through the skimmer basket or from any other opening on your pool’s surface area.
Q3. What Is a Pool Pillow?
Yes. Pool pillows create the extra space to accommodate the freezing ice in your pool when it expands. Without them, you will likely crack your liner or damage your pool structure as the ice expands and contracts over time.
In conclusion, barring some unusual circumstances, a good rule of thumb for how far to drain an inground pool for winter would be to drain the pool a few inches below the skimmer opening. The good news is it’s not all that hard, though it does require a bit of work and planning.
However, all that work will be worth it because you’ll have a much happier pool during the next swimming season, and it will be ready to go soon after that first warm spring day.
Read our related pool articles:
- Can I Drain My Saltwater Pool on My Lawn?
- Why Are Backyard Pools Screened in Florida?
- 9 Outdoor Pool Deck Lighting Ideas
- Filling a Pool with a Water Truck (All You Need to Know)
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.