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Thread: Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

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    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

    Split from Question about lowing the level of water Zea3

    I'm going to tag on to this question if I can. I love in Michigan so we have a similar situation. Last year my pool company dropped the water level quite low. They probably went 6" below my returns. My problem with this is that my well water is incredibly high in iron and this resulted in a lot of iron staining this spring. My returns are 10" below the water line which resulted in removing 16" of water which is about 4000 gallons in my 12000 gallon pool. Is this actually a good practice in this situation.

    I'll also add that the bottom of my skimmer is 4.5", my jets are 4", returns are 10", and I have a light at 16". I expect the surface to freeze solid in January and to fill with snow by the end of the winter. Last year we had a nasty tadpole soup in the cover at the beginning of spring.

    Would love some suggestions.

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    Catanzaro's Avatar
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    Re: Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

    Welcome to TFP! Please add your signature and are you testing with one of the recommend test kits?

    Last year, the pool builder closed my pool ($288 later) and they did not drain any of the water. The water was about 1/2 in the skimmer. The skimmers were plugged with Gizmo's (wrapped in Teflon Tape) and they were left inside the skimmers. The 8 returns were all plugged under water. The main drain was closed creating an "Air Lock".

    Now, this year, I purchased a Cyclone and created a modified cover. However, I did lower my water below the skimmer and completely drained every inch of water out of the skimmers. The Main Drain operation was performed twice. The returns are all still underwater. I originally used winter caps that screwed on, but immediately they were leaking. I could not find any Teflon tape and this could be the reason. After all 6 caps and 2 plugs were in, I had to remove them and start the whole project over, at least with the returns. So I used the winter plugs that expand and there are no air leaks creating bubbles as I inspected underwater with goggles. . I am guessing that at least 90%-95% of all the water was removed from the returns as I plugged them. Additionally, in the pump basket I put rubber stop plugs (same ones that the pool uses), # 10 and # 11. All the Jandy valves were in the closed position for both the suction and return side.

    Now to answer your question:

    If the pool company spends time blowing out the lines, it really will not make a difference. Each return and skimmer should be blown out for at least 30 seconds, with the right equipment, and then capped. Once they are completely done, put on some goggles and check the returns to make sure that there are no small bubbles as this is not a tight seal. It will be very easy to spot bubbles, like in my situation. In the spring, I will remove one set and try the old plugs out with Teflon tape as maybe this was the problem.

    Now, getting back to the pool company. They are lowering the water below the returns to protect themselves and remove all the water out of the returns, before plugging them. Unless, it is a marketing ploy to charge extra $$$ (all depends on what they are charging you). Given your situation with well water, it is best not to drain that far below (if the company does a good job). At the end of the day, it is your call. My concern would be that given I have a liner pool, being 2' below the surface with 40,000 lbs. of concrete on top on the side makes me a little jittery. I was not comfortable below the returns. I am comfortable below the skimmers.

    My 10 year old is the one who was turning the Cyclone blower on and off (Who needs a professional), when you have a 10 year old.

    Please add your signature, because if you have a plaster pool, that is different. There would be no harm in draining that low. Only concern I would have is the well water. But if you have a lot of snow and rain in the winter and a mesh cover, this may be to your advantage. Please provide a little more detail and possibly some pictures, etc.
    14,700 gallons IG Pool Vinyl Liner - Octal Circulation System
    Hayward Pro-Series 350 LB. Sand Filter Model # S270T - 2" Plumping
    Hayward CL2002 Chlorinator - Hayward Super Pump 2 HP Model # k48m2n111
    Hayward AQR9 SWG 25K Salt Cell & TF-100 Test Kit + Speed Stir
    Gulfstream HE125RA - 117K BTU Heat Pump - Date of Build is 11-2013

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    Re: Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

    Sorry! I've added to the signature. This is a fiberglass pool. I'm pretty confident in the process of blowing and sealing the lines. I guess my biggest concern is the damage that could occur from ice moving against the returns? I should add that this is my second winter with this pool coming up. I think it was installed in 2009 though.

    Here are a couple pictures of the pool. The first shows the two benches with the shallow jets. The second shows the mess this spring before opening (full of tadpoles). There is a detailed diagram of the pool in my signature.

    ISlulfdl8x5r1e0000000000.jpg

    IMG_6141.jpg
    12,800 gal. in-ground fiberglass pool, cartridge filter system, no SWG, Pentair heater, solar cover, FAS-DPD chlorine test

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    May 2013
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    Re: Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

    I drain below the returns , but by the time the pool freezes the rain has usually moved the water level above the returns.
    Nothing has ever been damaged. I do keep an eye on it so it doesn't fill up to the skimmers and will lower to keep the water out of the skimmer boxes if needed. But never a problem with the ice freezing over the returns. I use those rubber plugs with the wing nuts.
    19,000 gal - Vinyl IG - Sand filter -1.5hp. - Taylor k 2006 - Loop Loc cover

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    Re: Do we have to drain below the returns to close the pool?

    From what I remember, last year, the amount of frozen ice was less than 1". Ironically, about 1/2" from the liner and steps, the water was not frozen. Must be some heat from the liner, steel walls and the soil behind this that keeps it warmer. Also, the plugs can't crack and water expands (upwards) when freezing. Where you are at is way colder then here in NJ. I doubt the ice will expands on the sides. If this was the case, the pool industry would have created some sort of barrier to protect swimming pools, or there would be a lot of unhappy customers.
    14,700 gallons IG Pool Vinyl Liner - Octal Circulation System
    Hayward Pro-Series 350 LB. Sand Filter Model # S270T - 2" Plumping
    Hayward CL2002 Chlorinator - Hayward Super Pump 2 HP Model # k48m2n111
    Hayward AQR9 SWG 25K Salt Cell & TF-100 Test Kit + Speed Stir
    Gulfstream HE125RA - 117K BTU Heat Pump - Date of Build is 11-2013

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