How to Properly Remove an Inground Pool

Written by Michael Dean
August 4, 2023

removing an inground swimming pool

As wild as it may sound, there may come a day when your pool no longer sparks joy, is taking up valuable space, or is too expensive to maintain. If this happens, it might be time to consider removing the pool entirely. Removing an inground pool is not the easiest process. In fact, it’s a pretty hefty undertaking and not a decision to be taken lightly. If you’re thinking about pool removal, this is your sign to get an in-depth understanding of what the decision involves. In this article, I’ll go over the step-by-step process of inground pool removal, the costs involved, and more.

Main Takeaways

  • Inground pool removal comes with two different options: partial removal or total removal.
  • You need a permit to remain compliant with local regulations.
  • I highly recommend hiring a professional for safety and regulatory compliance reasons.

Step-by-Step: How to Properly Remove an Inground Pool

The first steps you need to take before beginning ANY kind of swimming pool removal work are:

  1. Check with your local authorities to understand the regulations and permits required in your area for pool removal.
  2. Once you’re clear on whether it’s safe to proceed, dechlorinate and drain the pool. You can do this yourself if you have the right equipment and drainage point, or you can hire a professional to do it correctly.
  3. After the pool has been drained, disconnect all gas, electrical, and water lines.
  4. Dismantle and remove all pool equipment, such as filters, pumps, and heaters, and store them away for recycling or resale.

Once you’ve completed the above steps, the removal method is next to consider. You have two options: partial removal and complete removal. What you choose relies on your budget and local permits.

Option 1: Partial Removal

Partial inground pool removal is the faster and cheaper option. However, on the flip side, the pool area becomes “non-buildable” land, which must be disclosed if or when you decide to sell your home. There is also always the risk of the soil shifting or shrinking – especially if the partial removal is not done correctly.

Step One: Excavate the Pool

Begin with careful excavation around the swimming pool, including dismantling any decking or other infrastructure.

Step Two: Create Drainage Holes

It is vital to punch holes in or break up the pool’s flooring for future drainage. This step aids in preventing water accumulation. You can use a heavy-duty drill or a jackhammer to make holes in the bottom of the pool. 

Step Three: Remove the Top Part of the Pool

Once this is done, remove the top part of the pool using a jackhammer. Remove anything that’s protruding above ground level and cart away the debris. 

Step Four: Fill

Fill the pool with your chosen fill material, which can be dirt, gravel, or sand. The best fill material is dirt, but it is also the most expensive. So, try a combination of dirt and gravel for the best bang for your buck. I don’t generally recommend using sand as fill material because it can easily become saturated with water and shift.

Step Five: Cover Up

Once the pool is filled with gravel and/or dirt, cover the primary surface with a layer of topsoil.

Step Six: Level and Compact the Ground

Level the ground using a compactor to compress the soil for a stable surface. This stage requires some engineering expertise to avoid future sinking or swelling of the land.

Step Seven: Landscaping

Your backyard will be a mess once all the above steps are complete. So work will be needed for landscape restoration to restore your backyard to its former glory.

Option 2: Full Removal

Complete removal is ideal for inground pool removal but is more labor-intensive and expensive. It involves completely removing all pool infrastructure and restoring the excavated area left behind.

Step One: Demolish the Pool

Break down and demolish the pool into manageable chunks. Then, haul off the subsequent debris in trucks to a nearby landfill or recycling facility.

The method of demolishing a pool heavily depends on the type of pool you have:

  • Concrete pools: You need to use heavy machinery, such as an excavator or jackhammer, to break up the concrete pool walls and floor, followed by proper disposal or recycling of the materials. Inground concrete pool removals are more labor-intensive and more expensive.
  • Fiberglass pools: Fiberglass inground pool removal requires a heavy-duty saw to cut the fiberglass structure into manageable sections for removal, followed by recycling or safe disposal of the material.
  • Vinyl pools: Vinyl inground pool removal requires the removal of the vinyl liner from the pool, carefully dismantling the steel or concrete pool walls, and disassembling any underlying pool structure, such as the rebar, braces, or other supporting framework.

Step Two: Fill

A giant pit will now be left in the aftermath of the demolition. You should now fill this pit with layers of gravel and dirt.

Step Three: Cover With Topsoil

Cover the top surface of the area with a layer of topsoil. Dirt and gravel will not be good soil for growing plants, so it is necessary to use topsoil to grow grass and other plants in what was previously your pool area.

Step Four: Level and Compact

Use a compactor to compress the soil to create a stable surface. This step is necessary to avoid sinking or swelling, which is the last thing you’ll want after removing your inground pool!

Step Five: Landscaping

Restore your backyard with landscaping, and clean up the site!

How Much Does It Cost to Remove an Inground Pool?

The cost of removing an inground pool can vary significantly—it’s best to obtain quotes from the companies in your area to get an accurate estimate. But here’s a rough estimate of what you can expect.

  • Partial removal: This option is usually the least expensive, ranging from $4,000 to $6,500 or more, depending on the pool’s size and the amount of fill material required.
  • Full removal: The cost for complete removal can range from $4,000 to $22,000 or more, depending on size, the type of pool, and your area.

The cost of removal depends heavily from pool to pool. For a better idea of costs, check out my complete guide on pool removal costs.

Do You Need a Permit to Remove an Inground Pool?

Yes, definitely. Depending on the type of removal and your local jurisdiction and regulations, you may need to obtain a permit. Permits are necessary for safety and environmental concerns, to ensure you stay compliant with local building regulations, and for proper disposal of materials afterward.

Obtaining the necessary permits also gives you updated info on how to go about it safely and correctly.

However, with that said, if you hire a professional to remove your inground pool, the contractor should get you your required permit as a part of the removal process.

DIY vs. Professional Inground Pool Removal

I highly recommend hiring a professional to remove your inground pool. In rare scenarios, DIY is possible (removal of small above ground pools, for example). However, inground pools are complicated. While doing it yourself may save you a bit of money, inground pool removal is a super complicated task and requires significant manpower, specialized engineering knowledge of demolition techniques, heavy equipment operation like bobcats or bulldozers, land restoration, permit application, and proper waste disposal. It is inarguably unwise to opt for DIY in this case–unless you happen to be a pool removal contractor yourself!

Above Ground vs. Inground Pool Removal

The process of removing an above ground pool significantly differs from inground pools. Above ground pools aren’t permanently installed in the ground, making them easier to disassemble than inground pools. There’s minimal long-lasting damage or change caused to the surrounding land, meaning the area is also easier to restore. Plus, there’s potential to reuse an above ground pool since they’re portable, semi-permanent structures.

On the other hand, inground pool removal is a major land excavation project which requires filling and leveling the ground, reseeding or laying new turf, and relocation of large amounts of concrete, metal, or fiberglass debris. You need much more engineering know-how and enough manpower to carry it out.

The biggest difference, of course, is the cost. Above ground pool removals usually cost half of what inground pool removals do, both in terms of time and money. On average, above ground pool removal will cost between $500 to $3,000, whereas inground pool removal will cost between $4,000 and $22,000.

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Are Inground Pool Removals Worth the Fuss?

Considering the money and time such removal takes in the long run, you might be wondering if you should proceed with it at all. But in the end, the decision is up to you. If maintaining a pool is no longer rewarding, if it’s too expensive for you to keep up with, and/or if you need more time than you have to keep it clean and keep the water balanced, then the costs outweigh the benefits.

Whether you choose partial or complete removal, I firmly suggest opting for highly-rated professional removal services. A poorly excavated pool is a future hazard since the land can easily become an unstable sinkhole.

Do you have any more questions about pool removals? Just let me know!

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