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DIY Tips on Installing an Above Ground Pool

Posted a few years ago by John Morrison - No Comments

It’s that time of the year where if you’re outdoors you want to stay cool with all the hot temperatures, which are often times breaking records across the country.  The best way to do so, while being outdoors is to install your own swimming pool.  However getting an in-ground pool can be a hassle and expensive at the same time.  And depending on where you live, it may not even make a lot of sense getting a pool, since it may be below freezing most of the year.  If you live in Florida or other warm parts of the country, where it hardly freezes, and you’re planning to maintain a pool for years to come, then you may want to explore your options and find a local contractor to meet with you and install one. 

If that’s just not your situation, or you have no idea if you’d actually consistently use a swimming pool, your best option is to purchase an above ground swimming pool.  Keep in mind there are different types of above ground pools, some are meant to be more permanent than others.  If you really just want to try maintaining your own and you’ve never had a pool of your own, I’d recommend investing in a cheaper above ground pool you can usually buy from Walmart or other department store.  These products are usually just made with a thick lining material, built around a metal frame poles that uses a strap to hold the water in and keep it from ripping the liner apart.  When I purchased my first above ground pool, that’s what I purchased.  I had read a lot of horror stories however, that the liner was ripped, etc.  Just keep in mind when setting up your pool for the first time, that the liner is fragile, don’t get it near any sharp objects or it may tear or get punctured.

Follow the directions on the pool that you purchased, if you purchased a cheaper version of an above ground pool that uses metal poles, you should be able to set it up without any extra assistance, but an additional helper never hurts and can speed up the installation process.  Some important tips include the following:

  • When you start to fill up the Water, get in and flatten the wrinkles out of the liner. 
  • Clear the area where you will be installing the pool.  Make sure there isn’t any sharp sticks, roots, etc that could be found underneath the pool.

Remember, when your pool is filled completely with water it will weigh several tons, so whatever you set the pool on top of will get pushed into the pool due to the weight of the pool. 
If you went ahead and purchased a wooden framed pool, you should keep in mind that the pool will probably need to be installed by a professional.

Pool Chemical Maintenance

This may be the trickiest part about maintaining a pool.  It takes a lot of trial and error to perfect, before you can keep your pool clear and blue.  If you own a liner pool, I have some great tips that will help, but depending on where you live, what chemicals should be added may vary.

Below is a list of the most likely needed chemicals for maintaining your pool.  You should visit a pool store that sells pool chemicals and supplies.  Some stores may try to sell you things you don’t need or chemicals that may even mess up the balance in your water, even when you take in a sample of your pool water.  Make sure you know the goal of the company you are getting advice from.  If there primary business is to sell their service of maintaining your swimming pool, then their advice may only lead to where they have to come out and maintain it for you.  Often times it’s relatively easy to maintain a pool once you've got it balanced properly.  A good company I use is Pinch a Penny, but I’m located in Florida, so they may not be located everywhere.

  • Liquid Chlorine (Some places let you purchase a couple gallon container and you can refill it for less)
  • Chlorine Tablets for a Slow Dispenser
  • PH Up or Down (Depends on the PH of your water but usually you’ll need PH Down more than UP)
  • Algaecide
  • Conditioner
  • Testing Strips or Preferably Testing Tubes especially for Chlorine and PH.

So now that you got your pull full of water, use the next helpful hints to get the pool into balance, and then I’ll give more tips on what to keep in mind to keep it that way.
Take your testing tube and cover the holes, dunk your arm till the top water is to your elbow, and then open the holes and fill the tube.  Follow the directions on the tubes, but will probably require dropping a couple drops of different solutions into the tubes (by the way you can buy more of the drops in bulk online).  Now compare the water to the tub guides.  Now you will see where your PH level is starting at and where your chlorine currently is (most likely it’s at 0).

Now add liquid chlorine, there are formulas to how much you should fill, but I rarely keep track, and just put some in and then test again, until it reaches an acceptable range.  Make sure you check the PH when you’ve reached the level.  You may have noticed your PH has increased, that’s normal, chlorine actually naturally raises PH.  That’s why you’ll mostly likely need PH Down rather than Up as I mentioned above.  Once that’s good, you now need to add some algaecide (helps prevent the growth of algae in your pool.  I generally go with the more expensive algaecides on the market, because it only takes a small amount to keep algae out of the pool.  You’ll know you might have a problem with algae, if when you get into the pool, the bottom of the pool feels slimy.

Next your job is to keep your chlorine at a consistent level, which is where the tablets come in.  You can not use these, but then you’ll constantly need to add liquid chlorine, whereas with the tablets, if you live somewhere stuff doesn't get into the pool easily, you can probably go a couple of days or more, without worrying about your pool.  Tablets can be added to a floating dispenser and then it’ll slowly dissolve into the water.  If it’s not dissolving fast enough, I like to add a couple tablets at once, until it seems to be keeping the water consistent.  

Conditioner is also another important chemical you will need, especially if you live somewhere that gets a lot of Sun.  The sun actually chemically breaks down chlorine and it evaporates while in your pool.  If you don’t add conditioner, you will notice that your chlorine drops quickly, especially if it’s been sunny lately.  I recommend adding the conditioner by adding it to an old sock.  Fill it with a couple cups of conditioner, and then either use a twisty or tie the sock so it’s closed, and drop it into the pool.  Make sure it’s not spewing the small bits all over the pool.  They don’t evaporate in water very easily.  You should only see a cloud of white coming from your sock.  Leave it at the bottom, and it should slowly evaporate while maintaining a good level of conditioner in the pool.  If it doesn't seem to be working.  Move the sock around in the pool a little bit.  That’ll help it disperse quicker (you’ll see cloudy water around it dispersing).

My last tip to maintaining a pool, isn’t related to chemicals.  If setup the pool near a tree, or you often see things floating in the water.  It’s very important you clean out the pool constantly.  If things (leaves, twigs or dead insects) are given an opportunity to stay in the water long, these will promote the growth of algae, no matter how much chlorine or algaecide you may have in the pool.  It sounds like a lot of work, but get into the pool just about every day, and take the skimmer and clean off the bottom of the pool the best you can.  Or setup a screen over the top of the pool when you aren't using it.  If you have a screened in area that you can install the pool that makes sense (if there’s a leak it won’t flood your home for example), that may be a better place to install the pool.  The really cheap pools come with a way to vacuum the bottom of the pool, using water suction, but it’s not that effective.  Infest in a better pool vacuum, or use the suggestion I made above.

I hope all that will lead to a cool summer with a pool that you can maintain easily.  You can use this site to find more help, or get advice from an expert.  If you’ve mastered the art of keeping the chemicals in your pool consistent and they are different than my tips, feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below!

John Morrison - Author Biography

I have over 25 years experience in this industry. I have worked with general contracting work which includes electrical, plumbing, and kitchen/bathroom remodeling work. I hope to help others with their home improvement DIY needs.

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