How to Drain an Inground Pool Below Skimmer




There are generally two reasons why you may want to lower your pool’s water level below the skimmer:

  • To reduce the risk of the water freezing in the skimmer and pipework during the winter and damaging it.
  • If there is a leak in your skimmer housing, you need to fix it or replace the skimmer completely.

You can drain the water in an inground swimming pool to below the skimmer by running the pool’s pump in the filter’s waste position and with all water being drawn in through the main drain, NOT through the skimmer.

Let’s take a look at how to achieve this.

how to drain pool below skimmer

How To Drain Pool Below Skimmer: To drain a pool below the skimmer, follow these steps: 1) Turn off the pool pump and close the skimmer valve. 2) Attach a backwash hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the filter. 3) Open the drain valve and let the water flow out. 4) Monitor the draining process and ensure it’s moving away from the pool area. 5) Once drained, disconnect the hose and close the drain valve.

How to drain inground pool below skimmer

You can use the pool’s pump to lower the pool’s level below the skimmers, but to do so, you will have to ensure that you close the valve/s that controls suction from the skimmers and open the valve that controls the suction from the main drain at the bottom of the pool.

If you didn’t do this and left the skimmer valve open, once the level in the pool reached the bottom of the skimmer’s opening, then air would be drawn into the system (possibly damaging your pool pump), and no further water would be expelled from the pool.

In some pools, there may be just one diverter valve that controls where the suction comes from, which is turned toward the skimmer/s or the main pool drain.

With the valve/s selected to use the main drain, turn the multiport valve of the pool filter to the “waste” position. This will make the water flow out of the system either into your drainage system or your yard, depending on your particular setup.

If you were to leave the multiport valve in the “filter” position, you wouldn’t drain water out of the pool as it would just be pumped straight back into the pool. The same would be true with the lever in the “recirculate” position.

Now switch on the pool’s pump and run it until the pool’s level lowers to the required point, probably a few inches below the skimmer’s opening.

You can also use this method to drain your pool entirely or after heavy rain to lower the level.

How to drain pool below skimmer without a main drain

If your pool does not have a main pool drain then you will need to use another method to lower the level of the water to below the skimmer, otherwise the skimmer will start drawing in air once the level drops to the bottom of the skimmer..

Drain using a submersible pump

If you put a submersible pump attached to a hose in the pool, you can run it until the level has dropped to the required level below the skimmer opening.

Drain using a pool vacuum

Connect up your manual pool vacuum to your hose and pool pole. Then, insert the hose into the skimmer suction hole, as you usually do when vacuuming your pool.

Then, with the vacuum at the bottom of the pool, run the pump until the level drops to the desired level.

Drain using a “cheat” hose

To do this, take a length of pool hose 3-5 feet in length. Attach a weight, such as a rock or some other heavy item, to one end using duct tape. Lower the end with the weight attached into the pool and put the other end through the top of the skimmer and into the suction hole.

When you run the pump, water will be drawn up through the hose even after the water level reaches the bottom of the skimmer.

Should I drain pool below skimmer?

Under normal circumstances, you would not want the pool water below skimmer level as, in that case, they would not work, and floating debris would accumulate on the pool’s surface.

However, if you live in an area where it gets cold enough in the winter for the water in the skimmer to freeze, then lowering the water so that the skimmer is empty will help prevent damage to the skimmer housing and the pipework. This will form part of your inground pool winterization process.

Also, if you need to make repairs to the skimmer, perhaps due to a leak, or even replace the skimmer housing due to it being cracked or broken in some other way, then you will need the level of the water to be below this to enable the repairs to be made.

How Far Below Skimmer To Drain Pool For Winter

To ensure the pool’s longevity and facilitate proper winterization, it is recommended to lower the water level by approximately four to six inches below the skimmer.

This allows for adequate expansion of freezing water without causing cracks or other structural issues in the pool. By following this recommended guideline, pool owners can safeguard their investment and minimize the potential for costly repairs in the future.

Can you run pool pump if water is below skimmer?

If the pool level has dropped below the skimmer due to evaporation or a leak, the pump should be shut off, as it may be damaged if it runs dry.

Suppose you have deliberately lowered the pool’s level (for winter or repairs). In that case, you can continue to circulate the water in the pool through the filter while the level is below the skimmers by shutting off the skimmer feed and only having the water drawn in through the main drain.

What happens if pool water is below skimmer?

If the water level drops below the level of the skimmer, either deliberately for the reasons given above or due to evaporation or a leak, then it is likely that air will be drawn in through the skimmer.

Eventually, the pump will fail due to running dry for an extended period. That would be an expensive mistake.

Should you drain above ground swimming pool below skimmer?

If you will not be draining your above-ground pool completely for the winter, then at least draining it below the level of the skimmer is a good idea to prevent water freezing in the skimmer box and damaging it.

Since you will not have a main drain at the bottom, drain your pool water below the skimmer’s level, you will need to use a submersible pump, a shop vac, or siphon sufficient water using a garden hose.


During the winter season, it is essential to properly prepare your pool for the colder months. One of the crucial steps is to drain the pool water below the skimmer level. This process ensures that the pool equipment below the water level remains protected and prevents potential damage from freezing temperatures.

To drain the pool water below the skimmer, you will need to follow a few simple steps. First, locate the skimmer in your above ground pool; it is usually positioned on the side of the pool. Once located, determine how many inches below the skimmer you need to drain the pool water. Generally, it is recommended to drain the water around six inches below the skimmer level.

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