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How Long Can You Leave Your Pool Empty?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Have you previously drained your pool when you need to clean it and want to know how long it can stay empty?

Maybe you want to drain it for the winter and want to know if it’s safe to leave your pool empty for a few months?

Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you! 

We know how tricky it can be to maintain your pool and care for it properly, especially as they are left outdoors and exposed to the elements.

The last thing we want to do is damage our pool, but how long can it be left empty? 

That’s what we are here to tell you! Just keep reading to find out how long you can leave your pool empty, how to maintain it, and anything else you need to know!

How Long Can I Leave My Pool Empty?

Let’s get straight into it! Your pool should be left drained and empty for as little time as possible.

How long your pool can remain empty will vary depending on the type of pool you have, some can only be left empty for 15 minutes, whereas others can be left empty for long periods. 

Don’t worry, we will now go through the different types of pools and provide you with an insight as to how long they should be left empty. 

In-Ground Pool Types

Let’s start with in-ground pools, which are some of the more common types of pools.

There are three types of in-ground pools and they are each made with slightly different foundations. Keep reading to find your pool foundation to see how long it can be left empty! 

Concrete Pools 

First up is concrete, which is the most common type of pool foundation.

Concrete pools tend to be extremely customizable and are incredibly durable.

However, they are the most expensive type of pool, so if you are considering a concrete pool, you will want to carefully consider your budget. 

As concrete pools are so durable, they are less likely to become damaged when left empty.

Although this is welcome news, we still do not recommend leaving your pool empty for long periods. 

Direct sunlight and other environmental factors like debris or harsh weather can cause cracks or erosion on the surface of your pool, leaving you with leaks or other dangerous issues.

Instead, it’s best to refill your pool after it has been drained and cleaned. 

Vinyl Lined Pools 

Vinyl-lined pools are another popular choice, mainly because they are more affordable and use vinyl, steel, or plastic wall plates in their construction.

While they are a cheaper alternative to concrete, vinyl pools cannot be left empty as this can cause lots of damage. 

Thankfully, if your vinyl-lined pool does get damaged, it can be repaired easily with underwater equipment.

It is best to not drain a vinyl-lined pool yourself. If it needs doing, contact a professional as your pool needs specialized bracing to keep it intact while it’s being drained.

Fiberglass Pools 

How Long Can You Leave Your Pool Empty?

Finally, we have fiberglass pools. These are created off-site while a hole is created in your garden in the shape of your pool shell.

This hole is then lined with materials that will adhere to the mold of the soil allowing the pool to sit in securely.

As your pool fills with water, a material is backfilled into the spaces between the foundation and the shell to keep it secure. 

Just like vinyl-lined pools, fiberglass pools should not be left empty as they can become damaged easily and severely!

The shell of your pool is designed to be filled, rather than withstand the pressure of the earth surrounding it.

Just like with vinyl-lined pools, if you need to drain your fiberglass pool, hire a professional to do this.

They can brace your pool with the correct materials, ensuring that it stays intact during the draining process.

Above Ground Pools

Don’t think we forgot about above-ground pools! This type of pool is usually purchased online or in-store and then assembled by the owner.

As the pool fills with water, the sides typically take form and are supported by metal frames to keep the pool in place. 

You should only empty above-ground pools when you are dissembling the entire pool and storing it over the winter period.

When you do this, make sure that the pool material is dry and stored in a climate-controlled space.

This will ensure that you avoid mildew or mold from developing while you are not using the pool. 

If you have an above-ground pool housed in a deck and keep water in the pool, be sure to cover it.

You will also need a method to remove excess water from the top when it rains.

Be sure to unplug any electrical equipment too, like a pump to prevent any electrical damage during the cold and wet winter months. 

What Happens If I Leave My Pool Empty?

Now that we have established what types of pools can be empty and which ones should never be drained, let’s look at what can happen when you empty a pool.

Below is a list of the damage your pool can suffer from if it is left empty for extended periods: 

  • Cracks 
  • Foundation damage 
  • Leaks 
  • The surrounding area can get damaged 
  • The pools accessories can become damaged (heating, lights, and pumps)

Your pool can also ‘float’ which is when water fills the space between the shell of your pool and the ground below.

This is rare, but it can happen if you leave your pool empty long enough.

If your pool shows any sign of these damages, it’s worth noting that they are expensive to repair and can be quite time-consuming too.

Instead of carrying out the repairs yourself, we recommend you consult a professional.

They can take care of your pool maintenance and help drain your pool when needed.

How Long Can You Leave Your Pool Empty?

Now, the list of potential damages we gave you is quite daunting, but it’s worth remembering that the extent of damage will vary depending on a few factors, such as the following:

  • The pool’s material 
  • Where your pool is located 
  • The water shelf 
  • The weight of surrounding structures 

You should be able to find out the location of your water shelf and the material of your pool easily, often by just looking at the pool.

However, if you do need more help understanding them and the role they play when emptying your pool, it is best to consult the manufacturer.

They will have more accurate information depending on the shape of your pool and if it was custom made or not and can advise you on the best way to empty it. 

For those that bought above-ground pools online or in-store, your user manual is incredibly helpful here.

Often, you can find free versions online to download if you have misplaced yours.

You can also contact the manufacturer directly if you need more information.

How Can I Leave My Pool Empty? 

When draining your pool, remember that exposure to the elements can cause erosion or an unbalanced pressure that can build up on the sides of the pool from the earth surrounding it, causing cracks, leaks, and other structural damage.

But, sometimes your pool needs to be drained, we understand that! There are some ways you can protect your pool while it is drained.

First, if you have an in-ground pool, make the most of the hypostatic pressure release valves that are built into the foundation.

To access them, break the plaster lining and open the valves. Water from your water shelf will then drain into your pool, providing some pressure relief for your foundation. 

You will also want a drainage pump attached to a hose so that you can remove any water that’s been building up.

Where possible you will want the hose to lead to a storm drain or a downhill slope so that the water runs away from your pool.

Doing so prevents groundwater from gathering near the pool, which can damage the foundation on the outside.

We see this most commonly with pools in a dip or valley. 

How To Maintain A Pool Without Draining It

For those that don’t want to risk damaging your pool when you drain it, we have some tips we think you will love!

Now in some cases, you won’t have a choice but to drain it to clean your pool, especially if it is really dirty or has a foul smell.

But you can prevent the need for draining your pool if you care for it properly.

Regular maintenance is key here. You can do the work yourself, or hire a cleaning company to take care of your pool maintenance. 

We recommend that you follow a regular cleaning and maintenance routine to keep your pool clean.

The more frequently it is cleaned and maintained, the less likely you will need to empty it to carry out a deep clean or repairs.

How Long Can You Leave Your Pool Empty?

And should you need to drain your pool for it to be repaired, make sure you have a professional present to carry out the work and that you are prepared to refill it as soon as possible.

The quicker the water is back in the pool, the less likely you are to have any long-term or serious damage! 

For those that want to do it themselves, here is what you need to do to keep your pool clean and sanitary for use: 

  • Backwashing 
  • Monitoring chemical levels 
  • Skimming 
  • Vacuuming 

If you are unsure how to do any of this, you can find lots of tutorials online that will walk you through the process.

Generally, once you have done it once or twice, it becomes quite easy and you will find yourself whizzing through the steps! 

You can also reach out to the manufacturer of your pool who can provide you with tailored advice on how best to maintain your pool without needing to drain it.

While our advice today is sound, it is a general approach that can be applied to a range of pools rather than one specific type.

It is always best to speak to the manufacturer to see if there are any extra or different steps you should be following to care for your pool!

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, your pool should not be drained for extended periods or longer than the time it takes to refill your pool!

Although it might seem easier to drain it at the end of summer to clean it, you can end up causing more damage than good! 

Although in-ground pools are strong and incredibly durable, when left empty for too long, the outside pressure of the earth can cause cracks and leaks, even damaging the foundation of your pool.

And as we all know, cracks and water do not work well together! 

While dirt and debris can fall into your in-ground or above-ground pool and cause a whole host of problems, eroding your surface, any leaks or cracks in the foundation letting water seep into the ground around your pool is going to cause more damage! 

To avoid structural damage and any long-term issues, we recommend that you have a professional pool cleaner regularly maintain your pool for you.

This will include chemical or pH balancing, backwashing, skimming and vacuuming.

Often, you can find reasonable prices for this or plenty of guidance online if you want to carry out the work yourself. 

If you need to empty your pool, make sure it is only empty for a short period of time.

This way, you reduce the risk of any serious damage that will cost you a lot of money to repair.

Be sure to enlist the help of a professional too if you have the type of in-ground pool that requires additional support when empty!

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age

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