Module 5 – Pool Service

Chapter 13: Starting Up, Shocking & Draining

Pool Service

When an abandoned property has a recreational water source(s) located on the property (i.e. Pool, Spa, Jacuzzi, etc.) a potential safety hazard is created due to the retained water. If a fence is not present (with a minimum height of 4 feet) with all entrances to the water source secured, then, at a minimum, the water source should be covered regardless of the amount of water that is being retained. The covering is to protect against a person or animal from falling or unlawfully entering these unsafe areas.

Pool securing and other services for post-sale properties are generally dictated by the broker and client requirements.  These requirements should take into account local codes and ordinances surrounding the handling of stagnant water and the securing of the potential safety hazard.  If they do not, it is important to communicate these guidelines to the client.  Failure to adhere to these guidelines can leave clients and contractors open to fines and lawsuits should an accident occur.

Starting Up a Pool Filtration System

In-ground pools and above-ground pools that remain intact must often be restarted and maintained in order to assist in marketing the property and meet the requirements of many local ordinances and Investor guidelines.  In order to determine if a pool can be restarted, the contractor must assess the condition of the filtration system as well as the pool itself.

A pool filtration system includes both the pool pump and filter components.  The pump is responsible for circulating water from the pool through the filter and returning it once cleaned.  Filters come in a variety of forms and typically utilize sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), and cartridge filters for cleaning.  Each uses their specific medium to remove impurities from the water including dirt, oil, hair, bugs and other particles that may pollute the water and lead to algae and bacteria growth.

To verify the system is working properly, first check to see if electricity is operational at the property.

  •  If operational, check to see if the breakers are on and that the unit is receiving power.
  •  If electricity service is not active and local code requires that the system be operational, communicate with the client to have the service restored and determine if cleaning/shocking should be postponed or completed immediately.
  •  If electricity is active but not properly flowing to the system and local code requires that the system be operational, provide a bid to correct the problem and communicate with the client to determine if cleaning/shocking should be postponed or completed immediately.
  •  If electricity is not active and local code does not require that the system remain active, do not proceed with verifying the status of the system and complete cleaning/shocking as necessary


Once it has been determined that the unit is receiving power, turn off the filter and clear the intake of any debris that may be present.  Check the flow of water through the system.
If the filter being used is of the cartridge variety, remove and clean it.  If not working with the cartridge type of filter, turn on the backwash cycle to clean the system.  Replace the cartridge or turn off the backwash filter and check the flow of water through the system.

If the water flow within the system is high but the amount coming out is low, take the filter apart and clean out the pipes and reactivate the system.

If the water emerging from the filter appears to be unclean, the cartridge may need to be replaced or sand/DE may need to be recharged.  However, if the water coming from the filter appears to have sand or DE in it

  •  Check to make sure that the backwash valve is in the correct position
  •  Check the laterals in the sand filter for breakage, replace if necessary
  •  Check the septum in the DE filter for wear, replace if necessary

How to Troubleshoot Pool Filter Systems |


Pool shock, also known as oxidizer or burner, is used to remove water-soluble impurities in the pool.  The type of “shock” treatment used will depend on the type of pool present at the property.  There are both chlorinated and non-chlorinated versions of this product.  Contractors should follow the instructions provided with these products to ensure the appropriate amount of product is applied to the pool and that it is circulated properly.  In many cases it is recommended to drop pool shock products into the deepest part of the pool and circulate with a pool skimmer or other similar implement.

When using a chlorinated product on especially dirty pools, it is recommended that the chlorine level be increased to 10 parts per million until the water begins to clear.  This can result in several return trips to the property as more than one treatment will likely be necessary to maintain this level of chlorination.  If the pool filter is not restored and maintained subsequent shocking treatments will likely be required to ensure that the pool remains as clean as possible.

In addition to traditional pool shock products, there are also products designed to treat pools to remove algae and impurities without creating the temporarily harmful effects of the traditional chlorinated methods.  These natural products work by causing the algae to drop to the bottom of the pool and eventually dissipate leaving the water free of impurities and chemicals that may harm pets, wildlife, and mosquito eating fish (required in some municipalities).  One such product on the market, The Green Bullet, will provide these benefits with one treatment and will maintain a pool in clear condition for between four to six months.

Safety Note:
When working with pool chemicals be sure to work in a ventilated area and use gloves, goggles and boots as necessary to decrease exposure in order to reduce the risk of respiratory problems and adverse skin reactions.

Pool Chlorine Start Up Procedures |


Pool draining should not be completed unless specifically requested or mandated by local code.  The water table in many areas may not support a drained in-ground pool causing it to cave in or rise out of the ground, also referred to as hydrostatic floating.  Pools in this state are unstable and pose risk to the contractor performing the work as well as the surrounding community.  Above-ground pools will likely be dismantled and removed, however, if left intact and required to be drained, at least 3 feet of water should be left in the bottom of the pool to prevent collapse.  If requested to drain a pool, field service professionals should check local codes to see if there is a minimum water depth that should be maintained and advise the client if drainage is not permitted.


  •  Water pump with 100’’ hose

To drain a pool:

  •  For in-ground pools if possible, locate the main drain located in the floor of the pool.  Check to see if a hydrostatic valve (pressure relief valve to prevent ground water pressure from damaging the pool) is present and open it if available.  If there is no valve, but a plug is present, remove it instead.

∙  Treatment may be required prior to drainage to allow for access to this plug

  •  Check to ensure that the chemical balance of the water is acceptable.  Remaining water from pools that have been acid washed should not be drained until it has been appropriately treated.  Chlorine levels should be less than 1 part per million and phosphate levels should be less than or equal to 200 parts per billion.
  •  Lower the pump hose into the deepest part of the pool.  The output hose should be placed directly into a sewer drain or storm drain.  Check with local codes to determine permissible drainage locations.
  •  Turn on pump and drain the pool.  Maintain a close eye on the drainage location to ensure that the system is not being overwhelmed.
  •  Stop draining once an appropriate depth has been reached, typically 4 feet or as dictated by local ordinance.

Best Practice: Never remove all of the water from a swimming pool unless it is being dismantled.