Right-o! They can blow out the pipes from the equipment pad back out to the returns. One never wants to drain a liner pool below about 2' in the shallow end or you risk the liner shifting and not going back in place. Come spring you can empty extra water via a simple hose siphon, or a small sump pump, or rent a larger pump for the day. All can be accomplished before even turning the power back on to the pool. Maddie (As the fiberglass pool- an empty or very low water level on a fiberglass pool has a great risk of turning it into a fiberglass airboat when the ground water pressure is higher than the weight in the pool. No bueno!)
I just had this discussion with my PB also. They said draining it below the skimmer was no problem, but I had concerns of the liner not liking that. So I placed a 40 lb bag of salt on the stairs at each corner of the first step, which normally only has 3 or so inches of water anyway, to hold it in place and the salt will be needed next spring. I also have a solid safety cover so there shouldn't be much change in water level at all.
Given that you have a liner over the stairs, I would suggest leaving the water level 1/2 way in the skimmer and not even draining anything. Although, I would purchase Gizzmo's that have blow out holes up top so the water can be removed properly. If not, slightly below the skimmers is fine as well. You can still close with the water this way, but most members close a little bit below the skimmer as water fills up through the winter was well. Whatever you are comfortable with is best. If you just had regular fiberglass or plastic steps, then right below the skimmer would be fine.
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