Drain Cleaning Tips »
How Do I Unclog a Swimming Pool Drain?

Unclog a Swimming Pool Drain

To unclog a swimming pool drain, choose the right tool for the job.

Important: a sewer jetter is not recommended to clean swimming pool drains, since the nozzle spray jets have close to zero cleaning and flushing force when submerged under water. And, swimming pool lines usually have 1-1/2" ID short-radius elbows that are too far from the drain opening to push and twist the nozzle tip through.

  1. Start by carefully loosening any debris that could be close to the strainer basket.
    • If you believe that the clog could be close to the strainer basket, gently clean the nearby section of drain using a hand held drum auger.
    • A 25 foot hand-held drum auger can be purchased for around $30.
    • Note: swimming pool drains are often built with short radius elbows that are normally found in drinking water supply lines. These tight elbows can easily get clogged by any debris that flows past a dislodged strainer basket, and can also increase the risk that a drain cleaner gets stuck in the line.
    • If you feel any drain cleaner meet resistance as it encounters a short radius elbow or transition in a pool drain, you should avoid forcing it through to minimize the chance of it getting stuck.Handheld Drum Auger
    • To use the hand-held auger:
    • Read and follow the auger safety instructions, then put on work gloves and eye protection.
    • Turn off the pool pump circuit breaker whenever attempting to clean the drain.
    • Remove the strainer basket and feed in the auger by locking the cable, turning the drum in a clockwise direction, and then unlocking and feeding the cable.
    • After you have inserted the drum auger as far as you can without meeting resistance from an elbow or transition, pull out the auger cable as you feed it back into the drum. It may take several attempts to loosen any blockage.
    • If you believe that you might have loosened the blockage, switch on the circuit breaker, restart the pool pump, and check the pump strainer basket for any debris.
    • Note: if you can't reach the clog with a hand held auger, you can try a flat sewer rod with a disk-shaped tip that can usually pass through more types of small diameter elbows and transitions, and is sold in lengths up to 100 Ft.
  2. Next, try using household water pressure to push out the debris if the pool drain is still clogged.
    • You can sometimes push out the blockage by using a small towel to create a seal between a garden hose and the drain opening under the deck-side strainer basket.
    • Turn off the pool pump circuit breaker whenever attempting to clean the drain.
    • Provide an exit path for water and debris. This is usually possible by setting the pool valves to allow flow only from the deck-side strainer basket, and then temporarily removing the top of the pump strainer housing so that water and debris can flow out.
    • Pack the space between the garden hose and the clogged drain opening under the deck-side strainer basket with the towel and then have a helper turn on the water to see if the household water pressure can push out the clog.
    • Important: this method could push the debris further into the pool drain, making other drain cleaning steps more difficult. If you're concerned about completing the job, consider hiring a swimming pool service company to help.
  3. Depending on type of material that's clogging the line, swimming pool service contractors sometimes use powerful cyclone pool line blowers to push out the debris.
  4. If you're not comfortable performing any of these steps, hiring a swimming pool service company could save you money in the long run. To find a service company in your area:Service Professional
    • Start by asking family, friends and co-workers to recommend a swimming pool service company that has completed a challenging service for them in the past.
    • If you are unable to find a good recommendation from someone you know, search local directories like Google Maps, Yelp and CitySearch for service companies nearby who have good online reviews. Don't always trust reviews from individuals who published very few other reviews, or from people who give only positive reviews to everyone. Be aware that good service providers sometimes get a small number of negative reviews for reasons that might not be relevant to your situation. Look for a company with several reviews that tell a positive, believable story about repairs that are similar to yours.
    • After you find one or more service companies that seem to have a good reputation, search online for the company name and the names of individuals at the company, if known. Take into account both the positive and negative information that you find about the company.
    • Be aware that good service companies sometimes have a backlog of several days during peak times when there are low temperatures, heavy rainfall or holidays. Sometimes heavy demand can be a sign of a company with lots of repeat customers.

If you have questions or comments please contact us.