Above Ground Pool Main Drains

Should You Install One?

Long ago, above ground pool main drains made sense, before the large filter systems and automatic pool cleaners.  The extra circulation the drain offered helped the smaller systems turn the water over.  They were also beneficial in keeping the pool cleaner as the dirt could be brushed towards the center and drawn into the drain.

Today's filter systems have no problem turning over the water in a reasonable amount of time.  Automatic pool cleaners help in this regard also, drawing water from the bottom of the pool.

automatic pool cleaner
There is no longer a cleaning advantage with a center drain because automatic cleaners have taken care of that and they do a much better job.

An automatic pool cleaner is a much better cleaning solution than cutting a large hole in the liner of your pool.  Main drain leaks are very hard to detect, and left alone, can cause considerable water loss.

Vinyl pools can start leaking for any number of reasons.  In most cases it is small holes around the outer edge of the pool.  It is also possible to have pin holes across the bottom of the pool.  Cleaners spending too much time in one spot can cause these.  Skimmers and returns can also leak if the screws are not tightened periodically.

Holes in vinyl liners can be from many different causes, there is no reason to add one more possibility, one that is almost impossible to detect.

When properly installed the drain is seldom the cause of leaks, but I have always been amazed at how every one with a drain is sure that is the cause of their water loss.  This is seldom the case, but it is the one spot that is next to impossible to do anything about.

If you are going to add an extra hole in your liner it should be for an additional return.  Large filter systems perform better with two return flows.  At least this type of opening is easy to detect a leak in, as opposed to a bottom drain.

Those are my reasons for not installing a center drain but you will find many people who would not consider owning a pool without one. If you are going to do it you might as well do it right. It is now highly recommended that two drains get installed instead of just one. In some places you will find this written into the building codes.

The reason for this is a safety issue, If the skimmer is off and all the suction is coming from the drain, and if the pump is strong enough, a person's hair could get sucked into the drain for a long enough period of time to cause that person to drown. So now instead of cutting one large hole in the bottom of the pool you are cutting two. In some places they are so strict it would be illegal for me to install a liner in a pool with only one drain without first converting it to two.

Here is what a dual drain setup looks like and this kit would provide you with everything needed for the installation.

Center Drain Kit

Above Ground Pool Bottom Drain Kit  (#ad)


Learn more about automatic pool cleaners and why the Lady Bug is my personal favorite.

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