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Draining the Swamp like pool

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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.

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.

Pool before draining and after several years of neglect.
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.

Gas Powered Pump to help drain the pool.

Gas Powered Pump to help drain 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.

The pool about 2/3 drained

The pool about 2/3 drained

It took a couple of hours but the water level kept dropping until we got near the end.

 

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 slime after nearly emptying the pool

The remaining slime after nearly emptying the pool

Chris working on the remaining muck

Chris working on the remaining muck

While I was at it, I replaced the out of code sump guard with an anti-vortex safety guard.

A safety strainer for the pool sump

A safety strainer for the pool sump

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 a day or two.

Starting to refill the pool

Starting to refill the pool

There was finally enough water to run the filter. That was totally unnecessary but it looked cool.

Running the filter just because

Running the filter just because

We finally had a pool where you could actually swim and not worry about getting some weird swamp disease.

An almost full pool with clean water.

An almost full pool with clean water

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.

Lessons learned:

  • 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.

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