Suburban Philly Pool Renovation - Main Drain Importance?

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
Hey all, been lurking for a while and decided to start posting some questions about a pool renovation we'd like to do in the next year.

We have a really big (perimeter = 140 linear feet), approximately 50 year old Sylvan pool that we'd like to completely renovate (plaster, coping, tile, plumbing).

It appears that the main drain for our pool was, at least partially, filled with cement by a previous owner but I don't exactly know why. There is still a valve in place that would allow me to switch from the skimmer to the drain, but of course, there's no water flow as its stopped up.

Anyway, my question is would it be worth trying to re-plumb that main drain? I've gotten 5 estimates for the renovation and only one contractor seems interested in investigating the state of the drain and trying to fix it. Everyone else basically says "don't bother" - cement over, add a second skimmer and 1 or 2 more returns to improve water circulation.

I'm sort of leaning towards just cementing over as I now main drains can be problematic, but a lot of folks in the service industry really seem to endorse them especially for larger pools.

Anyway, any input/experience/advice is appreciated. Here's a photo of the beast!

sylvan-pool.jpg
 
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trivetman

Bronze Supporter
Jul 14, 2017
256
Jenkintown, PA
I like having my main for draining the pool below the skimmers for the winter. I have no idea if it helps circulation or not. I think most folks on this forum will tell you not to bother with it
 

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
For draining I could always just use an external pump so that’s not a big concern. I think what I’m looking for, in part, is better circulation to move water through the pool. The pool only has 1 return and 1 skimmer. The return is in the shallow end to there’s hardly any turbulence in the deep end to move the water. I do have a retrofitted pool cleaner line which helps kick up dirt in the deep end. Part of the renovation would include core drilling a dedicated cleaner line OR just going with a robot.

I like having my main for draining the pool below the skimmers for the winter. I have no idea if it helps circulation or not. I think most folks on this forum will tell you not to bother with it
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,396
Morris Cnty NJ
Ditch the drain it's too costly to replace the line. They covered it because it leaked and or bad piping. Add some returns it will be cheaper and do way more. Add a skimmer if you can that helps alot too. Robotic all the way a Polaris or powered cleaner uses the pump and alot of electricity to do so the robot uses almost nothing.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
5,459
Central MD
The cleaning capability of our robot for very fine dust-like debris is miles above what our pressure side Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend II. Not to mention it would never reach all parts of our pool consistently. No matter how it was adjusted from day one, it was prone to circles and arcs all leading back to the deep end. So I bit the bullet, removed the booster pump and bought a robot. There's no choice for me now.
 

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
You've got a lot of trees nearby. Does your skimmer ever get clogged up with leaves, etc?
Sometimes. In the years since we've moved into our house we've had a few dying trees removed. This year its been much more manageable and that's without a Polaris running because my booster pump died. I decided not to spend the money to replace it out right while I deliberate on our renovation options.
 

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
Ditch the drain it's too costly to replace the line. They covered it because it leaked and or bad piping. Add some returns it will be cheaper and do way more. Add a skimmer if you can that helps alot too. Robotic all the way a Polaris or powered cleaner uses the pump and alot of electricity to do so the robot uses almost nothing.
Awesome, thanks!
 

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
The cleaning capability of our robot for very fine dust-like debris is miles above what our pressure side Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend II. Not to mention it would never reach all parts of our pool consistently. No matter how it was adjusted from day one, it was prone to circles and arcs all leading back to the deep end. So I bit the bullet, removed the booster pump and bought a robot. There's no choice for me now.
Great to know. I'm looking at a few Polaris and Dolphin models.
 

l1ltaral1l

Bronze Supporter
Jul 16, 2019
270
Walnutport, PA
Great to know. I'm looking at a few Polaris and Dolphin models.
You'll see it mentioned here often, but Marina Pool out in CO has the best pricing on Maytronics robots. We just bought one - Margaret is very helpful in deciding what you need for your pool without the upselling fluff. Highly rec them!
 

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
353
SW PA
Your pool is in very close proximity to a lot of trees. You have only 1 skimmer that you said sometimes gets clogged up. In that scenario, I would want a main drain to protect my pump. I personally think it would be worth at least investigating why the line was filled. That way you can determine if the cost of repair is such that the possibility of burning out the pump is worth the risk. It may be, assuming spring and fall are the only trouble months.
 
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Bam Bam

Gold Supporter
Sep 14, 2019
63
Columbia, SC
I installed a skimmer wizard and it does keep the leaves out of the skimmer. They just agglomerate and float around the pool and typically get blocked by the Polaris tube until I get out and remove them. I just put a hair net over the wizard to collect some of the smaller things that got through. Mostly bugs of which are quite abundant now.

I know - anything named wizard is like "as seen on TV" but this thing works well for me and others. Blocks pine straw as well.


Does anyone know how long it takes for a leaf to fall to the bottom of the pool?
 

PhillyRay

Member
Sep 29, 2019
9
Philadelphia, PA
You weren't asking me, but we also have lots of trees near (and one skimmer). At this time of year I empty the skimmer basket daily and it is pretty full of leaves.

Checking your sign and your pool's size 20' x 40' is about the same size as mine. Do you find it difficult to keep up with the leaves when its open this late in the year?

I'm strongly leaning towards just cementing over my drain and adding the second skimmer to keep things cleaner.