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 you have a leak in your skimmer housing and need to fix it or replace the skimmer housing 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 the water below the skimmer
You can use the pool’s pump to lower the pool’s level below the skimmers but, in order to do so, you will have to ensure that you close the valve/s that control 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.
On some pools there may be just one diverter valve that controls where the suction comes from which is turned either towards the skimmer/s or the main pool drain.
With the valve/s selected to just 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 into your yard, depending on your particular setup.
If you were to leave the multiport valve in the “filter” position then 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 would also use this method to drain your pool completely or after heavy rain.
How to drain 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.
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 “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 down into the pool and put the other end through the top of the skimmer and into the suction hole.
Now 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 to have 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.
Pool Maintenance Course
When I first bought my house with a swimming pool, I knew nothing about cleaning and maintaining it. I was recommended Swim University’s Pool Care Handbook and video course so I bought it and have never regretted it.
It was probably the best money I spent that year as I have saved thousands by doing it myself.
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 then the pump should be shut off as it may be damaged if it runs dry.
If you have deliberately lowered the pool’s level (for winter or repairs) then 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 and 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 then to drain your pool water below the skimmer’s level you will either need to use a submersible pump, a shop vac or siphon sufficient water out using a garden hose.
Pool Winterization Video Course
Save over $300 a year by closing and winterizing your pool yourself using Swim University’s step-by-step video course. It covers closing both inground and above ground pools.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER to visitors of this site
Use the discount code EASY10 at checkout to save 10% on this Swim University course.
I have had hot tubs for many years and a pool for the last 9 years. I had to learn how to clean, maintain and fix them the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you.