Draining the neglected swamp like pool
What does it take to clean out a pool that was shut down and neglected for a couple of years?
The problem – A badly neglected pool.
In June 2016, I was facing a 20,000 gallon in ground pool that, because of a couple of years of neglect, resembled a swamp. When I say swamp, I mean frogs had taken over and there were dozens of frogs along with hundreds of tadpoles. I’m not sure what else was in there as the visibility was about 2 inches. My GF had suggested filling it in. When I looked into it it seemed to be unfeasible. I would need to get a permit, rent heavy equipment and purchase fill. In addition, most townships prohibit any future building over a filled in pool. Besides, I like to take a swim. (See the end of this post – I revised my thoughts on keeping the pool)
I tried hundreds of dollars worth of shock and other chemicals to no avail. The best I could do was to have a pool with a deathly dark grey hue for a day or so. Then it would revert to swamp green.
Fortunately that June had been fairly dry. I decided that the only course of action was to empty the pool completely.
Preparation for draining
Pool before draining and after several years of neglect.
I realized that I could probably not empty it using the filter pump. I purchased a clear water pump at Harbor Freight for something like $150. Notice I said “Clear water”. A 1″ rigid hose is hideously expensive. I rigged up an intake pipe with 1″ PVC. That worked fine. However, the hose I connected to the outlet was a joke. It kept splitting which resulted in comical geysers of swamp water.
I purchased a pump hose from Harbor Freight that has held up very well.
Draining the pool
I had the pool filter set to ‘waste’. In order to keep suction, I ran a hose to the skimmer intake. That kept enough water so that the skimmer didn’t start sucking air.
It took a couple of hours but the water level kept dropping until we got near the end. The waterline at the shallow end was finally below the steps.
The water finally got down to the level of the sump. The bottom was covered with dead algae and slime
The remainder was a slimy, gelatinous muck that we could not pump out with the clear water pump or an electric sump pump. There was probably 50 to 100 gallons remaining. My son tried a wet vac but that didn’t work that well. He also emptied quite a bit by filling five gallon buckets and carrying them out of the pool. (yes, the electric came from a GFCI outlet)
The remaining muck had to be removed by scooping it out and using a shop vac
While I was at it, I replaced the out of code sump guard with an anti-vortex safety guard.
Re-filling the pool
Now it was time to rack up a couple of hundred dollars of water usage. Filling a 20,000 gallon pool with a garden hose took about 2 days.
There was finally enough water to run the filter. That was totally unnecessary but it looked cool.
We finally had a pool where you could actually swim and not worry about getting some weird swamp disease.
As you can see from the photos, the pool needs a lot of work. The bond-beam is broken in spots. The deck is a half-assed collection of patio blocks. The tiles are cracked which is a result of the bad bond beam. The other problem is that trees in my yard and my neighbor’s yard shade the pool. There are a couple of possible solutions.
- Rebuild the pool and enclose it. I’m already good looking but when I become wealthy and good looking I might try this.
- Try solar heating the pool. Unfortunately, in spite of being on 2 1/2 acres, there isn’t a good place to install the panels.
- Run the gas pool heater and sign my checks over to the utility company.
- Fire up Mr. Chainsaw and at least drop the trees on my property which would give me some additional sun each day
- Don’t let the pool become a swamp.
- At some point, you can throw all the chemicals you want at the problem but you will still have a problem.
- If someone is installing an in ground pool think about the stinking trees. They grow. When they grow they cause additional shade for the pool.
- The draining operation was a lot of work.
- I need to look at getting the pool re plastered and the coping, tiles and bond beam repaired.
Update November 2019
The pool has once again reverted back to nature. The location was poorly selected when it was built 50 years ago. Debris from the surrounding trees makes maintenance a nightmare. The trees prevent solar heating except for perhaps two weeks out of the year. The bond beam needs serious work and it should be re-lined. There is too much other work to allow me to maintain it. Having a service to clean it would mean spending money that could be used elsewhere. Not having to run the pump and fill it is saving even more money.
We were talking with some people and they got a quote for about $4000 to fill a similar sized pool. So, I am going to raise the white flag and surrender. When I get the money set aside, I’ll get it filled in. When you do that, you need to get a permit in most towns.
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