Calling Those of you without main or floor drains

IcemanK2

Silver Supporter
Aug 26, 2018
77
Dallas, TX
So Dirk brought up building my pool with no floor/main drains. Dirk are you the only one with this set up ;) or does anyone else have experience with it that can give their insight/opinion.

How has it worked out?
How long have you been running your pool without?
What would you do if you had it to do over again?
Why aren't more people doing it this way?

I'm planning on living with this pool for the next 20-30 years minimum so I want to get it right.

Thanks!!
 

mclifford

Well-known member
Aug 29, 2017
175
Van buren, AR
I have no main drains in my pool and I have had no issues. I have been up and running 1 season. At this point I would not add a main drain.

However, I do have Aqua Genie skimmers and they return the water through a pressure throat that spreads the water out very well.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
804
Bangor Maine
Many many pools are built with no main drains with zero issues. You just have to keep an eye on evaporation because if the pump is starved of water it will burn out.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
10,600
Evans, Georgia
Iceman, you didn't ask *my* opinion but I'll give you the other side of it. My main drain (2) are on the side wall but near the bottom of my pool. One thing I like about having them is that if ever my skimmer was clogged up the main drain would still provide water to the pump so it wouldn't seize.

Just something to think about....

Maddie :flower:
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,153
Chapel Hill, NC
How has it worked out? Fine. Only time I miss it is when I have a lot of debris in the bottom (eg after hurricaine Florence) and have to manually vaccum it out (every 3 years or so, the rest of the time the Polaris works just fine).

How long have you been running your pool without? Since it was built, 22 years ago. We recently had it renovated and had the option to install a main drain but I declined.

What would you do if you had it to do over again? Probably the same - no main drain. Mainly for safety reasons - don't want to worry about VGB issues.

Why aren't more people doing it this way? Old habits die hard!
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
13,060
Bedford, TX
K2,

I have two rent house pools and my pool. The two rent house pools have non-operating main drains that are plumbed into the skimmer. My main drains are plumbed back to the equipment pad through a Jandy valve.

The two rent houses have single main drains, with raised (VGB) covers, even though the drains don't work.. I have double main drains with VGB covers.

I take care of all three pools and I can't tell of any difference in how they operate.

In my mind, the safety factor of not having a main drain is waaay over blown. It is absolutely true that single main drains with flat covers are a hazard.. But main single drains with VGB covers and dual main drains, are very safe. Nothing is perfect of course, but it would take a lot of effort for someone to get stuck on them.

I can't see enough of an advantage of having a main drain to go to the expense of upgrading the two rent house pools so that that current main drains work.

If I were to build another new gunite pool, I would install main drains because it does give you the option to run the pool with the Skimmers shut off. I fully admit this is not something that I normally do, but since the cost of having a main drain is so little, I can't see not having it installed. I also have a vacuum port in the sidewall of my pool that I have yet to use. Again, the cost to add it was next to nothing and it gives me that option if I should ever need it. (I have Robots)...

I would never add a main drain to a liner pool...

I guess my point is... Main drains or not, I doubt you will really notice the difference, but you should make the decision based on facts and not on scare tactics..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

scdaren

Bronze Supporter
May 20, 2018
334
Clovis, CA
I have main drains, but they are usually shut off, with water coming into the pump through my skimmer and suction side pool cleaner. Usually the skimmer valve is kept at about 30% open, and the pool cleaner fully open. For regular water circulation, there is no need for the main drains to be running.

The only time I use them is when we are swimming -- we like to run our 3 sheer descent waterfalls. We like to turn off and remove the pool cleaner when we swim to get it out of the way, and having all the water coming in through the one skimmer seems like it's too much through the skimmer.

So that may be a use case for having main drains -- in order to safely suction water for a water feature without having it all go through a skimmer or pool cleaner.
 

JasonJoel

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2018
100
BOERNE, TX
I would never build a pool without a floor drain.

I find it much easier to keep the pool clean versus pools I've had without, and it is very handy to not worry about water level if on vacation (no autofill here) - I just turn off skimmers and take all suction from bottom drain.

It also makes chemical addition/distribution easier, as most chemicals sink and get sucked right up by the bottom drain and distributed immediately.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,848
Pacific NW
I've owned pools with and without main drains.

I don't find them necessary. I wouldn't pay extra for one if I did a new pool.

The low water issue if you are out of town is a good point though.
 

IcemanK2

Silver Supporter
Aug 26, 2018
77
Dallas, TX
These responses are great! I think this makes it even more difficult try and decide. Yes, safety is a concern since I have little kiddos and girls with long hair. Other big things that draw me in draws me are aesthetics of no drains, ease for robot/cleaner to get around, and less $$$/areas to fail/leak. I really don’t think I want them but just don’t want to build without them and wish I had, that’s really what worries me.

The pump starvation and low water issue is negated if you have an autofill right? This autofill is another very difficult topic, even my PB doesn’t want to use autofill which I can’t understand.

Not sure I’m any closer to knowing which way to go drains or no drains. :(
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
13,060
Bedford, TX
K2,

Just to be clear... You cannot feel the suction at the main drain... You can put your hands or feet on them and would be able to feel any water movement. The main drain is NOT going to reach up and suck someone down on top of it. That just cannot happen..

Before the VGB act, the drain cover where flat and smooth. With flat covers, it was possible to put your belly or rear end on the cover and cut off all the water flow. This caused a vacuum and in rare cases caused the swimmer to be trapped and held in place by the suction. This is just impossible to do with the VGB raised covers and even more impossible to do with split drains. With split drains, your rear would have to be 8 feet wide to cover both drains at the same time... :p Main drains are just no longer a safety issue.

That said... you can just turn them off if you want.

Most new robots sit higher off the floor and do not get stuck on the main drains.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,153
Chapel Hill, NC
An autofill would address the issue of water loss while away for any length of time, but they are just an additional source of potential failure. If that's a major concern, go with the main drain.
 

JasonJoel

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2018
100
BOERNE, TX
Different people have opinions on the matter. The good part is that you're not really going wrong either way. This is more a matter of personal preference than a right vs wrong issue.


So don't stress the decision too hard. You can have a really great pool either way.
 

trivetman

Bronze Supporter
Jul 14, 2017
217
Jenkintown, PA
Main drains are useful for draining the pool below the skimmers. Whether for closing for the winter or if you have a CYA/CH buildup. I'm not sure how this is done with no main drain except by having a separate pump.
 

smracing

Well-known member
Jun 1, 2011
196
Carlsbad, NM
I always have a small amount running to my main drain. I open it all the way when I'm brushing the pool, then push all the debris down to the main. For this reason alone I think it is worth having the main drain.
 

Grape Ape

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 12, 2009
121
Seattle, WA
Main drains are useful for draining the pool below the skimmers. Whether for closing for the winter or if you have a CYA/CH buildup. I'm not sure how this is done with no main drain except by having a separate pump.
For a few bucks you can get a manual vacuum hose that plugs into the skimmer.
 

Adamphotoman

Well-known member
Aug 18, 2018
146
Dieppe New Brunswick
Both of my pools have been 25 plus year olds. My first pool did not have a main drain. My current pool does have a main drain.

Both pools work just fine, however, the main drain requires a cyclone or equivalent to winterize as a shop vac won't work. This is also an extra cost wether a you hire a pool service or purchase the equipment yourself. The pool with a side port is easily winterized with a shop vac.

The pool with the side suction vacuum port can also get a kid stuck to it. Hey I got stuck to it myself which was perhaps more unexpected than life threatening but I am only saying it could be potentially a problem scaring a smaller person.

Having a main drain in a heated pool helps to equalize the water temp. I think the heated pool without the main drain had more temperature striations....

I think the pool with a main drain circulates more evenly and quicker.
 

Mayorb

In The Industry
Mar 16, 2010
143
For vacation purposes, there is a fill valve that attached to the garden hose that sits over the edge of the pool. You can build one yourself for about $30.
I do not recommend the in deck auto fill units. They can cause a lot of headache. Don't forget about water timers also.

As far as the main drain, they have been proven to be completely unnecessary, as far as circulation goes. They are useful for cleaning and low water issues.
However, most skimmers have two holes on bottom. Sometimes one hole is plumbed through the pool wall. This outlet sits about a foot below the skimmer throat, and allows low water to get to the pump.
 

scdaren

Bronze Supporter
May 20, 2018
334
Clovis, CA
How widespread are auto fill problems? My PB is a friend of mine who primarily does pool repairs for home warranty companies. Thousands of pool repairs a year. His view on them, at least in our region where the summer heat means lots of evaporation, is that it would be crazy not to install one as part of a build.