Leave return open? Safety mesh cover (AGP)

jbeelz

Member
Jul 13, 2016
15
Syracuse NY
Does anyone do this with an above ground pool?
(Or maybe leave the skimmer open on the bottom?)

To let the excess water just drain out (down to the return port level) as it accumulates over winter with snow melt and rain. When I opened our pool the very first time I found the return open (from the previous owners). I thought it was probably so the water wouldn't get too high over the winter/early spring. Pump return hose is completely disconnected at the pool wall.

When I continued this practice I added a bit of PVC to the return (outside of the pool) to direct water away from the wall. There was quite a bit of rust on the outside of the pool near the return, I assumed this was from the previous owner just letting the water run down the wall for years. I know, I know, this should have been a red flag (as a new pool owner I didn't realize) and this is likely the answer to my question (bad idea). [We replaced that pool this spring due to this :p ].

With that said, I still think the concept might have merit. I was thinking another piece of PVC on the inside threaded into the return, pointed into the pool a few inches horizontally (4"-6") and then maybe a 90/45 degree elbow pointing up. Water level should always stay at the the top of the elbow (or I could extend it up for a desired max water level). Of course I would have another piece of PVC on the outside pointed down and away from the pool wall.

Has anyone tried something like this? Or am I just crazy, should stop trying to be lazy, plug the return and go out and check/pump down the water in the winter when it approaches the skimmer. lol
 

Sweetwater76

Member
Aug 24, 2019
14
S/E Pennsylvania
I have no experience with this but, my first thought is that it would appear to be a good idea in a milder winter climate...with your freezing conditions, it might be troublesome.
 

440dodge440

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 7, 2015
303
South Central PA
I leave a return open. The pool fills up during the winter and I don't need to add any water in the spring. I put a dishpan with a piece of PVC tube that I attached to it under the return at the equipment pad. The PVC tube goes to a yard drain grate nearby. I had the pool company close the first year so I could see what they did. They left all lines open except for a gizmo in the skimmer. They said the pipes that the pool was built with can resist damage due to freezing, and was likely closed in this manner for the first 10 years of the pool's life.
 

jbeelz

Member
Jul 13, 2016
15
Syracuse NY
Thanks for the feedback!

I think I'm going to try this. I attached a picture to demonstrate a cross section of the pool wall with return.

A slightly improved method than what I was doing in the past with it just open and pvc draining out on the outside. Will allow me to keep the max water level a bit higher but away from the skimmer.

I think it should drain ok when it's above freezing and the freeze line should be away from actual return port as well. There should be little to no water in the drain pipe unless it's actively draining so I'm hoping any freezing in the drain setup wouldn't be a problem.

I forgot to mention in the initial post that I have a mesh safety cover so it's definitely going to take on excess water from snow melt and rain.

Thanks again for the replies.
 

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440dodge440

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 7, 2015
303
South Central PA
Depending on the elevation difference between your pipe and equipment pad, you may want to consider leaving the in-pool return alone and adding an extension to the return port at the equipment pad that matches the water level that you'd like to maintain. I'm thinking that even when the top several inches of water in the pool is frozen, the return will likely be deep enough to still be in liquid, giving water an escape as the outlet at the equipment pad freezes. I think with the extension in the pool, you have the possibility of both ends freezing and not allowing the trapped water to expand as it freezes. I guess if your equipment pad is significantly lower than the pool level, what I'm saying doesn't apply as much.
 

jbeelz

Member
Jul 13, 2016
15
Syracuse NY
Yeah my pumps actually in my garage piped underground (will be fully disconnected and lines blown out) so this may not apply.

With that said, If I understand you correctly this would be a bit of a U shape? Coming from the (outside) pool wall down to the pad and then back up to the height of where I would want the water level (or in my case, just like an L pointed up maybe?). If that's the case the pipe outside of the pool would be completely full of water. While the water at the return level inside the pool might be liquid, I imagine the piping outside of the pool could likely freeze and would have the potential to crack.

In the idea that I am considering, there should be almost no water in the pipes unless there has been some rain or snow melting into the pool raising the level above the top my interior pipe. Once the level drains down to the top of the pipe, water will stop dribbling out.

-I think the only way I could end up with any ice in the pipes would be a thaw (or rain) filling the pool and then a quick freeze while it's still draining down to the top of the pipe. I'm hoping if this happens the amount dribbling out and freezing would be negligible and there would likely be a fair amount of air in the pipes (so small risk of any cracking).