Swimming Pool Blog
by Mark Garcia October 08, 2019
Pool Water Level Hacks
Maintaining the proper water level in your pool can be difficult in times of drought as well as during heavy rains, during winter and summer, or for pools that are leaking.
Today's post is all about how to keep the perfect water level in your pool, no matter the weather or season, and a few handy hacks we've come to rely upon.
MAINTAINING WATER LEVEL IN SUMMER
- IN-DECK AUTO LEVEL: Common in arid parts of the U.S., an in-deck 'Auto-Fill' device is connected to the home water supply, and with the use of a float valve, (similar to those used in toilets), water is released into the cylinder and into the pool, to maintain water level, at a depth of your liking. These are commonly installed at the time of construction, although they could be added later (at a greater cost). Made by Pentair, Paramount and Poolmiser, you'll find these on most pools in the southern states where evaporation is high.
- ON-DECK AUTO LEVEL: This type of pool automatic filler requires no installation, as it just sits on the edge of the pool, and is connected to a garden hose. The operation however is identical, a float valve will open to release water, when the float head dips below a pre-set minimum level. As the float head rises, it will eventually shut off the water, when the pre-set maximum level is reached. Like the in-deck models, these operate just like a toilet tank float, in fact the Fluidmaster floats used on the on-deck auto fills (like our Water Level Controller) are identical.
- WIRELESS AUTO LEVEL: Kona Labs makes a wireless sensor, affixed to the pool tile line, and when the sensor dries out, this signals a solenoid valve to open, and release water directly into the pool return line. With exception to water supply line, and the water sensor mounted in the tile or skimmer, all other equipment is located aboveground, at the pool equipment pad. This makes a retrofit installation simpler, and also makes troubleshooting leaks or problems much easier.
- HYDROTIMER: We are all busy people, and besides remembering to add water to the pool, it can also be difficult to remember that you are filling the pool, resulting in over-filling the pool, or perhaps even over-flowing the pool! When adding water to the pool from the garden hose, or the regular way, a hydrotimer can be used to prevent adding too much water. It screws onto any standard hose spigot, and you can set the timer to run water into the hose from 10 minutes to several hours. Inexpensive mechanical devices are durable and reliable, you can even go to bed without worry!
MAINTAINING WATER LEVEL IN WINTER
In winter, you say? Who cares about the winter pool water level? Those pool owners with safety covers that let rain through, or pools with slow leaks, that's who!
- AUTOMATIC SUMP PUMP: Place a small automatic cover pump on the first step of your inground pool, or place it inside the skimmer well, and you can keep your pool water level safely at the bottom of the tile, where it won't damage the tile or skimmer when it freezes solid. Connect a garden hose and an extension cord and you won't have to worry about the pool water level rising to a level where it touches the underside of the cover, trapping leaves and turning your pool cover into a giant tea bag.
- LEAKING POOLS: For pools that have developed leaks, possibly unnoticed during summer, the best thing you can do it to add water to the pool, under the cover, to keep the cover supported, and to prevent damage to the pool. Pools with leaks in the deep end, or in the main drain can drain nearly completely empty, which can turn into a disaster for any pool type - vinyl, fiberglass or concrete. An in-deck autofill such as above could be adjusted to a lower level for winter, but for most winterized pools, checking the water level once or twice during winter is a good idea, just to be sure the water is still there!
- COVER PUMPS: For winterized pools with solid winter covers, keeping the water pumped off the cover is very important. If water is allowed to build up to any depth, this puts a lot of stress on the cover, weakening the seams and allowing thinner winter covers to rip with the slightest provocation. But more than just damaging your pool cover, excess rain water and snow melt on your pool cover will displace the water in the pool, under the cover, pushing it up higher. This allows water to enter the skimmer, or freeze at the skimmer or tile level. Vinyl pools can use a Skimmer Plug, and concrete pools can use a Gizzmo, but in some cases these may not be effective... enough, to prevent damage.
LOWERING POOL WATER LEVEL IN SUMMER
What does one do when the pool water level rises too high during summer, from too much rain, or from over-filling the pool? There are a few methods...
- SKIMMER DRAIN HOLE: I have seen, in my travels, one or two skimmers that have a punch-out in the top rear, just an inch or two below the lid, where water can run out of the skimmer, through a 1 inch PVC pipe or garden hose, purposely to lower water level that has risen too high. This may be too extreme for many pools, especially those surrounded by a concrete deck, but I've often thought of it as an innovative solution to lowering pool water level.
- DRAIN TO WASTE: This is the normal method, for sand or DE filters you can just backwash the filter until the water level is back to the mid-tile level. If you have a multiport valve, and you don't need to backwash the filter just yet, you can set the valve to the Drain to Waste position, bypassing the filter and running straight out the waste line. Such wasted pool water can be used to water the lawn, trees or plants, just be sure to avoid over-saturating any one place. As long as the pool chlorine level is not near 10 ppm or greater, or chock full of algaecide, there should be no concern about using pool water for purposes other than swimming!
- COVER PUMPS: Going on extended vacation, and want to keep your skimmer skimming, without asking your neighbor for help? Set up your automatic cover pump on the top step of your inground pool, and set it upon a brick to raise it up to mid-skimmer height. You can also secure it to the top step of a pool ladder, using copper wire or string to prevent it from falling into the pool. Set up the garden hose and extension cord and you can keep the water level down during rainy summer months, while you are at the shore.
- PLUMBED SPIGOT: Specifically for pools with cartridge filters, which do not have a backwash valve or waste port, a way to lower the water level is to install a regular spigot into the plumbing, after the pump. Cut the pipe and install a PVC Tee fitting, which is reduced down to 3/4 inch GHT (garden hose thread), so that you can screw-in a standard brass hose bibb or spigot. Then connect a short garden hose to lower the water level when it gets too high. Another option is to install a 3-way valve after the pump, with a backwash hose attached to the perpendicular outlet. Roll out the hose and open up the valve for high speed water level lowering, on pools without a multiport valve, or in particular for pools with cartridge pool filters.
I hope you enjoyed our little lesson on pool water level hacks! I had fun writing it! If you have any questions on the topic, or want to share your own advice or experiences with controlling your pool water level, click the link for my name above and send me a note!
Thanks for Reading!