Here in the Orlando and Central Florida area, we are accustomed to heavy rains, especially those late afternoon storms during the summer and fall months. Most of the time these storms are welcomed, as a good rain usually cools down the temperature and provides our lawns and landscaping a much needed watering. Hurricane season has also just begun, meaning we are more susceptible to perhaps seeing some big storms. When strong storms like tropical depressions or hurricanes do hit, they can dump too much rain on our property, including excessive water being “dumped” into our pools. But what do you do when your pool’s water level gets too high? Plus, exactly how high is too high? Here’s what you need to know about draining your pool, when to be concerned, and how you can lower your pool’s water level.
Draining Your Pool to Lower the Water Level
Accumulation of excess water is one of the largest problems caused by heavy rains and is the cause of multiple problems. When your pool overflows, it can lead to debris and extra runoff in your pool and can also flood your pool equipment like the filters and pumps (an essential and expensive component to your outdoor recreational space). Even if your pool doesn’t overflow, yet the water rises enough from a heavy rain, your surface skimmer will no longer effectively skim the surface debris into the skimmer basket and draining it back to the correct level is necessary. If you know a hurricane or heavy storm is coming, you may want to consider draining your pool, lowering the water level in your pool by 1 to 2 feet as a preventative measure. Luckily, doing so is a relatively straight forward process, but differs depending on what type of backwash valves you have. Here’s what you need to do for each type of set up:
- Multi-port or Dial Valves: The first thing you want to do before you start is to make sure that you’ve turned off the pump and attached a backwash hose or waste line. Next, switch it to the “waste” position and then turn the pump back on again. Continue draining your pool until one to two feet of water has been removed from your pool. Finally, turn the pump off again, turn the valve to the filter position and then turn the pump back on again.
- Push Pull Valves or Slide Valves:With these types of valves, you’ll follow the same exact directions as described above. If you have a diatomaceous earth (DE) filter, be sure to recharge the filter with more DE.
- Cartridge Filters: These types of filters do not have backwash valves and each system with this type of filter is different. You may have a hose bib plumbed into the line which you can use for draining the water down to the appropriate level.
In each of these set-up scenarios, make sure that you turn off the skimmer suction. If left on, air can be sucked into the skimmer, thus causing damage to the pump motor.
Preventing a Popped Pool
Although rare, it is possible for a pool that is emptied all the way to “pop” out of the ground. In-ground pools that are made of gunite or concrete are susceptible to this, especially if the pool is not properly drained. Most of these cases occur if there has been a surplus of rain recently, such as a major flood event or hurricane, or if your pool is located in a wet area. The excessive amount of ground water can cause these types of pools to “float” out of the ground when draining is occurring. The weight of your pool is 80% water and, when full, this is what is holding back the hydrostatic pressure, or the pressure of the underground water, keeping your pool securely in place. Imagine your pool as a boat in the ground, if there is not enough pressure weighing it down, it will float out of the ground if there is underground water pressure. So, please, make sure you take the steps to drain your pool properly, realizing the ABSOLUTE importance of not draining your pool all the way!
Overflow Issues and How to Prevent Them
Accumulation of excess water in your pool can be a dangerous situation and one of the largest problems caused by heavy rains. Not only does the heavy rainfall have the potential to cause flooding in your area, but if you have a pool, spa or any body of water in your backyard, then your chances of flooding increase drastically. When your pool overflows, it can lead to excess runoff, flooding of your pool filters and pumps as well as debris. If the waters rise high enough after a heavy rain and your pool doesn’t overflow, it can still cause your surface skimmer to malfunction, causing it to no longer effectively skim the surface debris into the skimmer basket.
Typically, unless you have heavy amounts of rainfall or experience long extended periods of rain, your pool will be fine after an afternoon shower. If you are seeing that you have water runoff into your pool and yard, you’ll want to have someone take a look at your gradient. When properly installed, your deck and landscaping surrounding your pool should slope away from the pool by 1/4″ for every foot. Seeing runoff into your pool after a light rain means that your pool is at greater risk of overflowing during a large storm or heavy rain. You’re also more susceptible to other, larger problems such as malfunctioning pool equipment, algae accumulation and deck damage.
Improper Pool Function
In order for your pool skimmer to filter out the debris and insects that get into your pool, the water level cannot be above the skimmer opening. If the skimmer becomes completely covered by being “under water”, floating debris will not be able to get in and will stay in your pool water, which is bad news for your filters and pumps – the debris can cause clogging which makes it even more difficult to clean any debris from the pool. A good tip is to look at your pool’s mid-tile line to determine if there’s too much or too little water in your pool. If it is at mid-tile line, it’s perfect. Over mid-tile, it’s too full; under mid-tile, it’s too low.
Making sure your pool is functioning properly before a storm by regularly maintaining it will help relieve any potential headaches that a storm may potentially cause. Check for any cracks around your pool regularly, as heavy rains can make the problem worse, similar to what would happen if you have weak spots on your roof.
A solid Florida rainstorm can cause the bottom and surface of your pool to be covered with sticks, leaves, dust, pollen and algae spores; the greatest concern of them all being the growth of algae. The pollen and plant matter that rainstorms bring can encourage the growth and spread of algae, throwing your pool’s water chemistry out of balance. If the pool water with algae growth is left untreated for any period of time, it can become very difficult to remove or repair any damage that the algae growth may have caused.
Balancing your pools chemicals before and after a big storm will help decrease the likelihood of algae forming. Make sure that the pH and alkalinity are within the correct range (pH between 7.4 and 7.6; alkalinity between 100 ppm and 150 ppm) and that the chlorine level is maintained between 1 ppm and 3 ppm.
Pool Deck Damage
A completely filled or overflowed pool that is allowed to sit for any extended period of time can cause extensive damage to your deck such as lifting, cracking and heaving if water gets underneath. Luckily for Florida pool owners, this usually is only a problem if you live somewhere with clay-based soil, which compacts more easily than our sandy soils. Even still, deck damage can cost a lot to fix and it may not go back to its original level after rain water has caused it to elevate. Make certain that your pool deck is properly installed, with the deck and landscaping around your pool sloping away from the pool by 1/4″ for every foot.
Pools by Bradley is Here for YOU
Everyone here at Pools by Bradley lives and breathes our mission of designing and building your ultimate outdoor pool atmosphere. We intend to inspire you to improve the recreational time you spend with your family and friends in your new outdoor environment. BUT – we especially want to protect your investment by knowing why draining your pool is important and when it is necessary! Our motto is “take care of the customer and everything else will take care of itself”. When you choose Pools by Bradley to help you build your dream pool, you can rest assured that you’re choosing the very best. As a local family owned and operated company founded in back 1996, we have received numerous design awards and honors. Pools by Bradley is rated as one of the top 50 pool builders in the U.S., plus recognized as the “Best Pool Company” in Orlando by Orlando Magazine several years in a row! We offer custom built pools and spas with additions ranging from water features and lighting effects to rain curtains and water slides…the sky’s the limit! Contact us online or call us today at 407-323-7496 to see how we can help you build the pool of your dreams!