It is January, 2017 and we are in a drought in California. Rain is a welcome event, but we have had the most constant rain I have seen in a decade. The winter months can be very challenging considering we go through spurts of rain and wind in Orange County, Ca. This season is especially challenging for every other week pool cleaning service accounts. We do the best we can with these conditions, but our customers have to understand that we cannot control the weather. Pool flooding can happen!
Many older homes do not have backyard drains which means the rain water has to go somewhere. For those that have drains, just make sure they are uncompromised and working correctly. You may even have problems with street flooding coming back through your drains to flood your yard.
Most older homes without drains should grade water away from the house, but you need to be sure. New pool owners tend to get very worried, because they have never seen their pools so filled with water. Pool flooding is a nuisance for reasons we will discuss, but it should not be reason to panic. Unless you have flooding in your yard where water is puddling or going to flood into your house or neighbor's, pool flooding is not something to panic over. Vinyl pools do have major reason for concern though which we will discuss more below.
Swimming Pools Collect Rain Water
Think of your swimming pool or spa as an inground bucket. If your yard was concrete or grass, the water would collect, puddle, and or flow somewhere. Your pool or spa catches rain water before it floods over. Pools can and will overflow with hard spurts of constant rain. Hopefully, you have drains or grading, so the flooded water flows away from your house at all angles.
The real concern is if flooded water in your yard will flow back into your house. If this is the case, your problems may not be answered by draining your pool as continued rain will cause more flooding if the pool flows over or not. You may need to use a broom, sump pump, or syphon to drain your yard and you need to be aware of your flooding issues for your own yard as they are all different.
Know how your Yard drains!
To the right is a picture of my own pool flooding over due to constant, hard rain. The pool floods out my skimmer lid to the back wall of my property away from my house. The added rain water will flood out my yard to the street behind my house. If I had a neighbor behind my back wall, water from my yard would drain down out of back wall regardless of having a pool.
If my pool area was concrete, most new rain water would flood out the back wall just like with the pool. My pool catches a couple of inches of rain water before it floods over as well. Concrete, grass, and other yard materials may absorb a little rain water as well before puddling and flooding occurs. Grass and dirt will absorb more than harder materials of course. I do not have drains in my backyard and rely on the grade of my land for draining. In my case, water is flooding out the back of my yard with or without the pool flooding.
Once dry, I may backwash my pool about an inch or so to drain in case it rains again. In this instance though, I did not backwash it for water conservation. I would be concerned if the overflowing pool water was adding to flooding in my yard that was starting to rise enough to flood my house.
Where does your Yard Flooding Go
Does your pool overflow towards your house (if it floods over) and if so, will your yard collect water and flood towards your house even if your pool is not overflowing? Anotherwords, your problem may not be your pool overflowing, but your yard drainage.
The pool can be used to collect and drain new rain water out, so less water floods your yard. Remember that only new, added water will flood out of your pool. The whole pool or large amounts of it will not flood over into your yard or house unless we get an earthquake or some other act of God.
You just need to understand that you would have more flooding in your yard if the pool was not there. The only water flooding over from the pool would be new rain water. As it floods over, it will flow out and seep through cracks, dirt, drains, grass, etc. on it's way to it's destination. You need to know how your yard drains when flooded with rain water or if you forget to turn your water off while adding water to your pool.
We do not Work Weekends or Evenings!
We do not work on weekends or evenings. You need to know if you have potential flooding problems. If you need to drain your pool or spa while we are off, you have a problem. It is possible that a pool drain will not fix your backyard flooding problems as well.
The picture to the left is alarming. Hopefully, the water is flowing away from the house. The yard could flood the house if there is no grade away from the house. Draining the pool may not fix the flooding issue in the yard. The pool water level may drop, but the yard could still flood. Know your yard!
Only Experts Should Backwash
You can try to backwash your own pool by watching some you tube instruction videos, but you need to know where your backwash water drains out and know if you have any potential hazards including additional valves or opened up plumbing lines. We do not recommend doing this yourself unless you are experienced, have done it before, and have a serious concern as we can fix the nuisance part later.
Let's look at the nuisance end of this. Pool flooding can lead to mixing of dirty yard water and cleaner pool water. Your pool will get worms, dirt, and debris during this process, but guess what........ POOLS GET DIRTY SOMETIMES! An automatic pool cleaner could be very valuable about now, but it's nothing to panic about either way.
Also, that pool water is chlorinated, so be careful if you have ancient, valuable, fragile plants or trees that can be damaged by a little chlorine or flooding. Keep in mind that tap water has a small presence of chlorine in it as well. This loss of chlorine could also affect your chemical balance in your pool along with the new rain water. This is easily balanced out on your next pool service visit though.
Vinyl Pools Should Never Overfill!!
Vinyl pools have cause for concern. They are not very popular in Orange County, but overfilling above the vinyl top edge can allow water to seep behind the vinyl surface which creates bubbles and creases. These bubbles and creases make these areas more susceptible for cuts or holes, so you really want to be careful with vinyl pools. You must prepare and be ready if you need to backwash or drain your vinyl pool!
Solutions and Preparation for Pool Flooding
It is a good idea for everyone to know how to drain their pools in case of emergency, but you don't want to learn while in a rushed circumstance. You need to know where your backwash line flows out. Are there issues with your backwash line and the location of your ptrap connection to your home sewer? Do you know all the steps perfectly? You can learn and watch how to backwash your own pool filter at youtube.com, but we don't recommend doing this yourself unless you have serious concerns, know exactly how to do it, and know your backwash line works and flows right without potential to cause damage.
There is another solution beyond backwashing and/or pumping out pool water. You can plumb in a hose bib to your pool equipment plumbing that allows you to open up the valve for draining purposes. You can drain your pool by turning the pump on and opening up the hose bib valve.
We can do this for our recurring pool cleaning customers for under $125 in most cases.You can also buy a sump pump at home depot or pool supply stores. You may need multiple hoses to direct the water down a drain or out to the street.
Avoid Waste of Pool Flooding Water
Remember that we are still in a drought in California, so please don't waste water. Water Draining to the street usually ends up in the ocean. It is better to drain your pool water down your home sewer lines if you have safe access. House sewer water goes to your water treatment facility to be recycled. Let's work together to conserve our water.
I hope this information helps you research and know your backyard flooding potential. As Benjamin Franklin said " failure to prepare is preparing to fail". Just like it takes rain and sunshine to make a rainbow, so does it for your Pool Heaven!
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