Pool Spa Life
Pool Spa Life
  • Home >
  • Blog >
  • Why, when and how to empty a fibreglass pool

Why, when and how to empty a fibreglass pool

Fibreglass pools are a popular choice thanks to their durability, low maintenance and aesthetic appeal. As with any swimming pool, circumstances may require you to empty it at some point, but it’s not something you should take on without consideration, caution and expert advice.

This article explores why you might need to empty a fibreglass pool, the risks involved and whether you should do it yourself. Spoiler alert: you really shouldn’t.

Why empty a fibreglass pool?

There are really only a couple of reasons you need to empty your pool:

  • Repairs or maintenance: You’ll probably need to drain the pool if you’re carrying out extensive repairs or maintenance like fixing major cracks or replacing equipment that can’t be easily or safely accessed when the pool is full.

  • Renovation or remodelling: If you’ve decided to give your pool a facelift – like resurfacing the interior – the water will obviously need to come out first.

In virtually all other circumstances, including cleaning or water balancing, we’d recommend against draining your pool.

Even when you have repairs or remodelling to do – and there’s no DIY challenge you wouldn’t accept under normal conditions – we’d strongly suggest you shouldn’t go it alone.

Why not?

For many pool owners – particularly those that are new to the game – getting the water chemistry right can be frustrating. When your pool water is cloudy or green, misdiagnosing the root cause and incorrectly treating it can lead to additional problems. An unsatisfying cycle of trial and error might make draining the pool and starting from scratch seem like a great idea, but here’s a few reasons why it isn’t:

  1. All pools are designed to be full of water but it’s particularly important for fibreglass. When your pool was installed, it was dropped into the hole that was dug for it and earth was replaced – or backfilled – around it.

    When a pool is filled, the water exerts pressure against the sides of the floor and helps maintain structural integrity. Draining the water subjects the pool shell to external pressure from the ground around it, which can cause it to buckle, crack or warp. A qualified professional will generally install bracing before they drain a fibreglass pool to prevent these types of structural issues.

  2. The hole your pool was dropped into doesn’t stay dry. Groundwater levels rise and fall according to the time of year, the prevalent weather conditions and the type of soil around the pool shell. You shouldn’t drain your fibreglass pool if there is water in the surrounding cavity, so it needs to be removed or you’ll have to wait for a more suitable time of year.

    Hydrostatic valves located in the bottom of your pool are designed to allow groundwater to enter the pool once it’s emptied, in order to equalise the pressure. This is not an area to dabble in if you are not a qualified professional. If you don’t know what you’re doing, the pool could ‘float’ or collapse due to hydrostatic pressure.

  3. It’s not just the pool, either. Surrounding areas can become destabilised when you drain your pool. Any ground movement that occurs has potential to damage other parts of the pool, like the deck or coping, which all add up in avoidable and expensive rectification work.

  4. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to comply with local requirements around water disposal and refilling. Pool water shouldn’t enter the stormwater system because it has been chlorinated and needs to be treated. That means checking with the local water authority on how to discharge into the wastewater system before you decide to drain your pool. It’s not unusual across much of Australia to have water restrictions in place, meaning you might need a permit or other special permissions to drain and refill a residential swimming pool. You shouldn’t attempt any of it without checking first.

  5. An empty pool is a safety hazard, even when it’s complies with local fencing regulations. A huge hole in the ground spells trouble for people, for pets and for local wildlife, so it’s always best avoided or kept to a minimum, time-wise.

If it has to be done, call a professional

There are occasions when draining your pool is unavoidable, but it’s important to call in the experts.

Where possible, get in touch with the company that did the installation. If the pool came with the house when you bought it, look for a qualified fibreglass pool repairer or installer who can do what you need – from repairing cracks to resurfacing. This is the kind of work these guys do every day, so they know all the pitfalls and how to handle them.

They’ll be able to advise on water disposal and refilling, they’ll know how to brace the pool shell to avoid structural damage, they’ll monitor groundwater levels and take steps to prevent issues caused by hydrostatic pressure. They’ll have all the equipment needed to do the job and the  knowledge to do it properly. They’ll also have the WHS processes in place and necessary insurances to ensure a safe working environment.

Check out the Get a Quote page on PoolQuotes.com.au and select ‘Renovation – Fibreglass’ to be matched with three qualified providers close to you that can help.

Inspecting, cleaning and maintenance

When the water’s out, your pool professional will do what they need to do. They’ll also inspect the pool interior for further signs of degradation like cracks or chips. Once all the repairs have been carried out and it’s good to go, they’ll fill it back up and hand over to you.

As a pool owner, the best thing you can do to protect your investment is commit to a solid maintenance program. Regular cleaning, testing and water balancing not only ensures a safe and enjoyable swimming experience, it also prevents harder-to-deal-with problems, like algae growth, from setting in.

While plenty of people are happy to go it alone and carry out their own maintenance, some would rather leave it to the experts. If that sounds like you, be sure to check out the Find a Provider page of the POOL & SPA Lifestyle website for a list of qualified SPASA member technicians near you.

Other Articles