Repair a Center Drain in an Above Ground Pool
The sand around the center drain of our above ground pool is eroding (under the liner), and the liner is being pulled into the eroding area and away from the center drain.
I want to be able to take the center drain apart, enough to put more sand in the area that has eroded, and then put it back together. Is this difficult?
I don't know where to start to take it apart. Do I need to drain the entire pool? How do I disassemble the center drain? Is this something I can do myself?
There are several possibilities that could take place. If the liner is within a couple years old it is possible to drain the pool, repair the sand and refill the pool. If the liner is older it will probably shrink and not stretch back out when you are refilling.
Let's start with a liner that is older than three years. You could take the chance of ruining the liner, but if you drain, repair and refill all in the same day, with the refill taking place in the heat of the day, it might work. If the liner does not refill properly then it is time for a new one.
If you really want some more years out of the liner you could drain the pool down to a foot or so and patch any areas where the liner has pulled out of the drain. Cutting a patch that would wrap around the drain could be applied so that it could seal to the liner and the drain faceplate. This would eliminate all of, or at least most of the leaking from this area. If the liner has not come completely out from under the faceplate your best bet is to leave it alone until you either need a new liner
or until it needs a patch.
If the liner is fresh, and it has not separated from the drain faceplate, I would start by completely draining the pool. You can then remove several top rails and pull the liner back enough to crawl in underneath it. You could then go to the center, re-smooth the sand, and crawl out without removing the drain faceplate. This would be fairly easy to do. The liner could be reset in the exact location it was before draining and water could be added ASAP.
If the liner is torn from the faceplate, it will have to be removed. With the pool empty you would first remove the safety grit. You would then remove the screws holding down the faceplate. The biggest mistake people make when working with main drains is filling the screw holes with sand. If there is still water, any water, in the pool the holes will fill up with water, dirt and sand. If dirt and sand get into the screw holes the screw will not tighten back up when you reinstall the faceplate.
You can lift the faceplate up and reach under the liner and redo the sand. The holes in the liner can then be lined back up with the holes in the drain and the faceplate reinstalled. If the liner has torn you may need to add some patch material. The best place to add the patch is under the liner as opposed to on the top side. This makes it almost invisible and does a better job of patching. Allow the patch to cover the rim of the drain and protrude into it. The faceplate will be installed over the liner and patch, the screws tightened and then the excess patch liner can be trimmed.
This may or may not address all of your concerns, feel free to post back if you need more help.