Should I add a sump basin to my pool while its empty?


Gold Supporter
Jul 22, 2020
Front Range, Colorado
Hi guys,

I hope this is the right folder for this question:
I have a decent sized (25k g?) shotcrete pool that is 40 years old. Recently I have had some trouble with my hydrostatic relief valve (probably). I appreciate getting steered in the right direction here:

I've got the pool empty right now while I wait for replacement part to arrive and I find myself wondering if I should:
[trigger warning ;) SCOPE CREEP!]

install a sump basin in the bottom of the pool to more easily empty it out.

First, some back story. The pool is troublesome to keep clean and running well. Many decisions, years before we owned it, were not oriented towards easy maintenance.
- It has a dozen mature trees within leaf drop zone radius (they literally shade the pool). It's a beautiful woodsy setting but a very difficult cleanout each spring
- There is one skimmer
- All the plumbing is 1.5"
- There is a waterfall (more leaves!)
- It is almost impossible to cover it well because of the water fall (and just forget automatic covers)

So each spring, I end up emptying it with sump pumps etc (my water is expensive in the summer but not in the spring), removing all the leaves, and refilling it. Crazy, I know. Next year, I want to make this easier and have the domestic spending budget congressional approval ;) to make it so.

Do I:
A. Modify the waterfall surround to make the cover fit better (Ugh, that sounds like a lot of concrete work)
B. Suspend some crazy leaf net over the pool (likely decimated by sticks and winter so probably not)
C. Cut down the trees (domestic approval unlikely and $$$$)
D. Buy a really nice trash pump (recommendations for brand etc?) so I can fire and forget the sump out (regular sumps clog on the leaves (the above options make this look relatively cheap
E. Install a special hole in the bottom of the pool deep enough to hold a sump pump/trash pump etc

This post is really about D or E (not the A-C silliness) but I thought A-C might explain my problem...

Why might E be necessary? Unfortunately, the deep end part of my pool is very flat and doesn't pitch especially well to the drain. There is definitely no small low spot that allows easily draining so there a lot of gallons and leaves left when you get to the minimum depth on the sump pump. I have addressed this problem in the past by bailing into a big trash can and then tossing the sump pump in for 30 seconds or by using a shop vac and then sumping out the vac body once its full. I haven't had any luck just using the pool pump for this. Between the long 1.5" run to the main drain and the grill and the large quantity of organic materials, I just risk an epic underground clog. SUPER FUN TIMES.

So I'm wondering:
- do other people who have leaf problems have any special setups (pump pit or other) that allow them to easily empty the pool? If you do have something like this and the main drain isn't in the bottom of it, how do you keep it from becoming an algae/debris haven when the pool is operating?
- If that's just a fantasy, any recommendations for a serious leaf eating trash pump?
- If anyone has a brilliant solution for covers when a waterfall feature causes a lift off the pool deck (i.e. leaf entry opening in the winter cover), I'd be interested in hearing about that too.

Well thanks for any ideas.


TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
Morris Cnty NJ
Easiest way is to just get a winter cover custom made for the waterfall projection. You can get them fitted very nicely. If you go the trash pump route anything will really work fine being you are using it inve a year. Quality matters when its being used weekly or commercially
  • Like
Reactions: Chad1979

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
C. Cut down the trees (domestic approval unlikely and $$$$)

not the A-C silliness
C - would be my first suggestion. I would think in Colorado You must have more trees you can enjoy looking at if you removed the troublemakers. You can enjoy a mature tree from 100' away. As far as shade goes thats why they make umbrellas or small shade structures. I personally do not even really want to swim if the outside air temp is too cool. A pool is supposed to bring you enjoyment and constantly battling leaves takes a lot of that enjoyment out of it.
domestic approval unlikely
So... The entire family is in the bottom of the pool knee deep in leaves muck?? :drown::laughblue:

I do not get too many leaves However I will also keep my pool open as late as possible ( just before the hard freezes start) this allows the pool skimmer to get all of the fall leaves so there are really not many leaves left to get in the pool. I also do not cover my pool for the winter. Then I open as early as possible to avoid any green swamp issues. Not sure if any of that info will be useful in your situation.. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hopefully you find a solution that does not involve pumping out the entire pool and shoveling leaves, however if you do need to do this again I would suggest floating your pump or suction line just below the surface. I will usually use pool noodles for this. This keeps the pump clear and water undisturbed until the pump starts to sink into the leaf mat. Leaves are tough to pump even for a trash pump.


Gold Supporter
Jul 22, 2020
Front Range, Colorado

Thanks for the input. Not so amusingly, I've sprung another leak. Just like last July. So the pool is busy emptying itself and I can mentally revisit the question of whether to alter the bottom of the pool shell.

As a bonus two of those mature trees have decided to die and I'm getting 2 trees removed inside of buying a new pool pump. Not likely to help much but it looks like tree age is making the choice for me this year!

Actually, the air is so bad here due to the fires I can't even remotely think about extra outdoor projects right now.
Thread Status
Hello , This is an inactive thread. Any new postings here are unlikely to be seen or responded to by other members. You will get much more visibility by Starting A New Thread