Is there a simple, inexpensive way fill in an inground swimming pool?

Removing an Inground Pool

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Unwanted Swimming Pool

Several years ago, we bought a house with an inground swimming pool surrounded by a very large back yard. We barely use the pool, but to keep it from turning into a cesspool, we are spending around a thousand dollars a year on water treatment. We'd like to make the pool disappear. Is there anybody out there with any experience with unwanted inground pools?

Advice from Pool Installer

I worked for a while as a real estate agent and buyers would sometimes ask me about this. So I asked a pool installer about how to decommission a pool.

I learned that you can't just empty the pool of water. If you do, it will float up out of the ground, possibly damaging plumbing and electrical connections to the pool.

You can't just fill it with dirt. With no way for rainwater to drain through the pool liner, it will become a mud pit. The decommissioning process starts with draining the pool. Then holes are drilled through the pool liner. A jackhammer or backhoe is used to remove the rim.

Then it's filled with dirt and landscaped over. It's a very permanent thing. And can cost several thousand dollars. A less expensive option would be to fill, or partially fill the pool with gravel. Then build a deck over it. Keep the drain open so that rainwater can be removed.

Removing an Inground Pool

Consider the Effect on Property Value

Before you get rid of your pool, talk to a local trustworthy real estate agent. Taking the pool out may drop the value of your property by $10,000 or more, depending on where you are located. We considered removing the inground pool or filling it with dirt and making a huge garden. We opted to not remove the pool but have cut our maintenance cost down by gauging exactly how many chemicals we need to add and how long we really need to run the filter. Two to three hours a day here in sunny, hot Texas is enough for our pool. We found by buying better quality chemicals and paying a little more we used a lot less. Find a store you can trust and they will help you. Our pool supply store told us to go to Sam's (Costco) and buy their less expensive chlorine because it was the same thing they were selling with a higher price tag. Talk to pool cleaners to find out their secrets to spending less time and less money keeping the pool up.
Debbie in Bells, TX

Must Put Holes Through Bottom of Pool

I work for a pool company in Tucson, AZ. We recently had a small apartment complex contact us about an unwanted pool. I spoke to the company's owner and here is what we told them to do. If the person does not want the pool and is toying with the idea of filling it in with dirt, please make sure they understand they have to jack hammer holes in the bottom of the pool plaster before they do dump dirt in. This makes any water from rainfall flow through the abandoned pool. If you don't do this and just fill it in with dirt, then any water from rainfall will become trapped by the pool's plaster. Over time, the ground will begin to rise up like the top of a cupcake.
Mary in Tucson, AZ

Consider Alternatives to Full Removal

Could you just drain the pool until you decide what to do? At least you wouldn't have to pay for the water treatment. Does it have a fence around it so no neighborhood kids can wander in? Also, a cover would prevent leaves and small debris from piling up. Perhaps you could turn the empty pool into a storage area, with a shed or small building over it? It would make a good root cellar.
SP in ND

With a Little Elbow Grease and Ingenuity

We had an inground pool that was old and the retaining wall was cracking. The cost of repairs and maintenance just weren't worth it! We hired a company to drill 10 core holes (16 inches in diameter) into the bottom of the pool. This was for future drainage. We then rented a jackhammer to demolish the pool deck and we dumped the chunks of cement into the bottom of the pool. We then contacted a local contractor who was excavating for a new home and offered to have him dump the soil into our old pool! He was happy because he didn't have to travel so far to dump or pay for his loads to dump at a commercial site. We dumped 25 truckloads into our "pool" for free! As the trucks dumped, we sprayed it down continuously with water to help settle the dirt. Finally, we leveled the ground to match the surrounding grass and laid sod over the exposed dirt! Good bye pool! Hello, lush grass! It was amazingly inexpensive and we did most of the job ourselves! And we did it in three weekends!

Do Your Homework

Start by calling a swimming pool installer and ask, "What is the best way to eliminate my pool?" They may need to look at it to give you an accurate answer, but it's better to get the right answer the first time than the wrong one and maybe have to pay twice. They may say you need to fill it or demolish it. You can use some of the decking to support a shed out back in many yards.

And once it's gone, keep in mind that some subdivisions may force you to remove the fencing or re-do the back yard to a certain style so do some checking before you decide. I would get several quotes for both the removal and the restoration and see what it will cost you in the long run.

You may also want to check with a Realtor to make sure that a pool is not an automatic feature that buyers expect in your neighborhood. Removing your pool could really lower your home's value, possibly triggering a request that you re-pay more on the mortgage, etc. due to the home losing value.

Check the Laws

The person with the unwanted inground swimming pool should find out what their city requires in the way of getting rid of it. Some cities require complete removal while others have no problem with it just being filled in after drainage holes are drilled.
Nancy K.

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step

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