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Drains & Pool Inlets

Pool drains and inlets play a pivotal role in water circulation, helping to maintain clarity and hygiene

From main drains that handle large volumes of water to various types of pool inlets that optimize water flow, each part is designed to enhance the swimming experience. 

Understanding the different types of pool drains and their specific parts is crucial for anyone looking to maintain or upgrade their pool system. Explore our comprehensive guide to learn everything you need about swimming pool inlets and drains.

Importance of Drains and Pool Inlets

Pool drains and inlets are fundamental in ensuring your swimming pool remains clean and safe. By effectively managing water circulation, pool inlets, including swimming pool inlets and main drains, distribute clean, filtered water throughout the pool. 

This process helps prevent the buildup of algae and contaminants. Pool drains are equipped with specific safety features, such as compliant covers, to minimize the risk of accidents. These components are vital for maintaining the pool's overall health, highlighting the necessity of understanding the various types of pool drains and the essential pool drain parts involved in system maintenance. With years of experience, we recognize these features' critical role in pool safety and operational efficiency.

How do Drains and Pool Inlets Work?

Drains and pool inlets are integral to a swimming pool's water circulation system, working together to ensure the water remains clean, clear, and safe for swimmers. Here's a detailed look at how each component functions:

How Drains Work

  1. Water Intake: Drains, particularly main drains at the pool's bottom, act as water intake points. They pull water (and any debris that has sunk to the bottom) from the pool into the filtration system.

  2. Safety and Filtration: The water passes through grates or covers, which prevent large debris and ensure swimmer safety by minimizing the risk of entrapment. The water then moves through pipes toward the pool's pump and filter.

  3. Assisting Circulation: By drawing water from the bottom of the pool, drains help maintain an effective water circulation pattern, ensuring that cooler water at the bottom mixes with the warmer water at the top.

How Pool Inlets Work

  • Returning Filtered Water: After the water is heated, filtered, and treated with chemicals in the pool's filtration system, it is returned to the pool through inlets.
  • Optimizing Water Distribution: Pool inlets are strategically located around the pool to evenly distribute clean water. This distribution helps maintain uniform chemical composition and temperature throughout the pool.
  1. Wall Returns: These are commonly used to direct water into the pool from the sides, often slightly angled to promote a circular water flow.
  2. Floor Returns: Located at the bottom of the pool, these help in lifting water upwards, enhancing the mixing of chemicals and temperature.
  • Enhancing Water Quality: The strategic placement and direction of the water jets from inlets are crucial for driving debris toward the skimmers and main drains, where it can be removed from the pool, thus maintaining water clarity and cleanliness.

Types of Drains and Pool Inlets

When choosing parts for your swimming pool, knowing the different types of pool drains and pool inlets can help.

Pool Drains 

Pool drains come in a few key types:

  • Main Drains: Found at the bottom of the pool, main drains are essential for pulling water down into the filtration system. This heavy-duty drain handles the bulk of water circulation, helping keep the water clean and debris-free. It is crucial for the overall pool maintenance, as it ensures that water continuously moves through the cleaning system.

  • Skimmer Drains: Positioned at the water's surface on the sides of the pool, skimmer drains are designed to catch leaves, bugs, and other floating debris before they can sink. They are an important part of the pool's cleaning system because they prevent debris from decomposing in the water, which can lead to cloudiness and contamination.

  • Overflow Drains: These drains are used to control the water level in the pool, especially during heavy rain or when the pool is overly full. Overflow drains help prevent water from spilling over the pool's edges and causing potential damage to nearby structures or landscaping.

Pool Inlets 

Pool inlets also vary based on their placement and function:

  • Wall Returns: These are fitted into the sides of the pool and play a crucial role in reintroducing filtered, treated water back into the pool. Wall returns help ensure that the clean water is evenly distributed, which helps maintain the balance of chemicals and the consistency of the water's temperature across the entire pool.

  • Floor Returns: Located on the bottom of the pool, floor returns are crucial for upward water circulation. They help evenly disperse chemicals and maintain uniform water temperature. By pushing water upwards, they ensure that the lower parts of the pool do not become cold spots or breeding grounds for bacteria.

  • Jet Returns: Known for providing a high-pressure flow of water, jet returns are especially useful in areas of the pool that are prone to having stagnant water. They help in enhancing the circulation and aeration of the pool's water, which is vital for both the clarity of the water and the health of swimmers.

Major Brands of Drains and Pool Inlets

Several top brands stand out regarding high-quality pool drains and inlets: Waterway, Hayward, and Sta-Rite. Each brand offers unique features that make them leaders in the pool equipment industry. Waterway is renowned for its durable and efficient pool drain parts, making it a favorite among pool owners looking for long-lasting solutions. 

Hayward is celebrated for its innovative technology in swimming pool inlets and drains, ensuring optimal water circulation and cleanliness with user-friendly designs. 

Sta-Rite is another respected name known for its reliable and high-performance pool equipment that can handle the demands of any pool system. These brands consistently deliver excellence, helping to maintain safe and sparkling clean pools all year round.

Maintenance Tips for Drains and Pool Inlets

Here are some straightforward maintenance tips to keep your pool's drains and inlets in top condition:

  • Regularly inspect drains and inlets for signs of wear or damage.

  • Clean out debris from the skimmer and main drains weekly.

  • Check and tighten any loose fittings or connections monthly.

  • Ensure drain covers are securely attached and undamaged.

  • Flush out inlets to remove any buildup of dirt or sediment.

  • Test the flow rate of inlets and drains to ensure proper circulation.

  • Schedule professional inspections annually to catch potential issues early.


Understanding and maintaining the pool drains and inlets are key to ensuring your swimming pool remains a clean, safe, and enjoyable environment. Whether you're dealing with main drains, skimmer drains, or various types of pool inlets, each component plays a critical role in your pool's water circulation and cleanliness. 

Regular maintenance and familiarity with your pool drain parts can prevent costly repairs and enhance the overall functionality of your pool. Learning about your swimming pool inlets and drains can ensure a healthier pool and more delightful swimming experiences for everyone. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Pool Drains And Pool Inlets?

Pool drains are designed to remove water from the pool for filtration, capture debris, and prevent contamination. On the other hand, pool inlets return filtered and treated water back to the pool, ensuring even distribution and chemical balance.

How Often Should I Check My Pool's Main Drains And Inlets?

Inspecting your pool main drains and inlets at least once a month is best. Regular checks help identify any potential issues early, ensuring that your pool's water circulation remains optimal.

What Types Of Pool Drains Are Most Effective For Large Pools?

For large pools, main drains are most effective due to their ability to handle high volumes of water. Skimmer drains are also useful in these settings to manage surface debris efficiently.

Can I Replace Pool Drain Parts Myself, Or Should I Call A Professional?

While a DIY-savvy individual can replace some pool drain parts, it's often best to call a professional, especially when dealing with complex components like main drains, to ensure proper installation and function.

Why Is It Important To Maintain Swimming Pool Inlets Along With Drains?

Maintaining swimming pool inlets is crucial as they control the return of clean water to the pool, ensuring it stays clear and hygienic. Poorly maintained inlets can lead to uneven chemical distribution and water quality issues.

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