How to Drain an Above-Ground Pool Two Different Ways

empty pool in a yard

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Sometime during a pool's life, you should plan on having to drain it. Whether you are closing it for the end of the pool season or for a repair, it's important that you do it safely.

The most common way to drain a pool is with a pump or using a siphon. The better method depends on your exact type of pool and its location. However, no matter how you choose to drain your pool, always have a plan for where the water will flow before you start draining to avoid flooding and potential property damage.

Here's how to drain your pool in just a few easy steps.

Before You Begin

Before you start draining any body of water it is best to inspect what you will be working with. Give your pool a quick look over and inspect for leaks or anything else that could potentially cause a problem. Also, double check the area where you will be draining the water to and that your drainage hose is correctly placed and secure. It is not uncommon for hoses to move or disconnect when pumping begins so it is a good idea to put a small rock on either side of the hose to keep it aimed where you want it and to tighten the hose clamp.

Safety Considerations

When dealing with a lot of water you must be aware of the possibility of flooding. If you see the draining water going somewhere it shouldn’t or backing up a drain, stop immediately and either wait for the water to dissipate or re-route your hose to another area. Because of the risk of flooding, you should never leave a drain hose alone while you are removing water.


Remember that part of an above-ground pool's strength comes from the water inside the pool pushing outwards against the frame. Without water you risk a collapse of the pool frame, so be very watchful for any flexing that may occur during the draining process and proceed with caution.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Duct Tape


  • Pump
  • Hose
  • Hose Clamp
  • 6-in-1 Screwdriver
  • Extension Cord


There are two main ways to drain a pool: a pump, which uses a pump and another hose to direct water away from the pool, or a siphon, which uses the waters gravity to create a suction effect through a hose to pull the water in the pool out through the hose.

How to Drain a Pool With a Pump

  1. Connect the Pump and Hose

    Connect a hose to the submersible pump while it is above the water. You can use a garden hose or pool hose depending on what type of pump you have. Attach a hose clamp to the hose to make sure the hose does not pop off under water.

    To tighten the hose clamp, use a 6 in 1 screwdriver and tighten. If you do not have a hose clamp some duct tape will work in a pinch but this must be closely monitored in case the hose separates.

  2. Connect the Extension Cord

    Once your pump is assembled, connect your extension cord. The best way to do this is to tie your extension cord to the cord of the pump and plug the two together; this will protect the pump from unplugging if the extension cord gets moved or pulled.

  3. Put the Pump in the Pool

    Carefully move the pump's cord to place the pump in the optimal position inside the pool. If you are only draining part way, tie the pumps cord to a railing, or hang it over the top rail of the pool and secure it with a rock or other heavy object to keep it at the proper elevation while it's suspended in the pool.


    Do not let the extension cord go anywhere near the water or a wet area. The cords should connect far away from the water to avoid risk of an electric shock.

  4. Place the Discharge Hose

    Once satisfied with the pump's location, place the discharge hose where you want the water to drain. This could be down a driveway, yard drain, or another part of your yard.

  5. Run the Pump

    Once everything is properly placed and you've inspected it, plug the pump in and make sure that the drained water does not back up or flood the designated area where you want it to drain. Pumps discharge water much faster than siphons, so it's important you keep an eye on the flow of the water in the discharge area as a flood can happen more quickly.

How to Drain a Pool With a Siphon

Using a siphon to drain a pool is the best method if you do not have a submersible pump handy, lack a nearby outlet or extension cord, or don’t need to have the pool drain quickly.

  1. Locate a Steep Downhill Route

    First check the route you place the hose on and make sure that it is steep enough to have the water flow through the hose. You cannot siphon uphill or through a path filled with ups and downs as this will significantly slow the water traveling through the hose.

  2. Submerge Hose in the Pool

    Put the entire hose into the pool making sure both ends stay below the water — you need the hose to fill fully up with water. The best way to accomplish this is to grab one end of the hose and force it below the water, quickly sending your hands along the length of the hose to the other end. If done right, when you reach the other end you will see a small gush of water come out.

  3. Seal One Hose End Underwater

    When you see the water gush out, use the palm of your hand to seal off that end of the hose while it is under the water.

  4. Drag One Hose End Downhill

    Quickly drag the hose downhill to where you want the water to drain. Be careful not to lift the hose higher than needed; to keep a seal with your hand on one end of the hose; and to keep the other end of the hose inside the pool.

  5. Release Seal to Let Water Run

    Once at the appropriate downhill location, drop the hose and release your palm and watch the water flow. If you're not satisfied with the flow rate, you can repeat the process for better results. Practice makes perfect for this technique.

When to Call a Professional

If while draining your pool you see water backup from a floor drain or the water starts to pool in the discharge area at a rate or volume that has the potential to cause damage, stop immediately and call a professional. A pool contains thousands of gallons of water and can easily flood a basement or cause water damage if not properly drained.