Caring for an Above-ground Pool: A Summer Swimmer’s Guide
Contrary to popular belief, above-ground pools have many positive points. Above-ground pools have tall side walls and are hard to fall into, which is great for parents or grandparents with little ones around. They can be considered temporary, so if you are not certain that you want your pool for a lifetime, you could invest in an above-ground that will last plenty long enough, but can still be taken down after it has served the intended purpose. Above-ground pools do require maintenance similar to that of any other style, however. Care for the wall, liner, water chemistry, and equipment are important to extending the life of all components and creating the circumstances for maximum enjoyment.
Keep it Clean: Maintaining Your Above-ground Pool During Swim Season
An above-ground pool requires weekly, monthly, and annual care. You can do yourself a favor early on by investing in a high-quality, thick liner; a sturdy cover; excellent equipment; and an automatic cleaner that’s specially designed for above-grounds. The rest is regular maintenance.
- Filter the water: Because your filter is doing most of the heavy lifting, it is important to be sure that you are running your pump enough. During the peak of summer when it is the hottest outside, your pump needs to be running for at least 8-12 hours per day. The very best option is a two speed motor that you can run on low 24 hours a day and just switch to high speed when adding chemicals or vacuuming.
- Twice per week:
- Check for leaves or other floating debris and use a long-handled net to skim debris from the pool. The less time organic matter spends in your pool, the less the likelihood of an algae bloom.
- Make sure that your water level is adequate. If the water level falls below the recommended line, the skimmer can begin to take in air, which can overheat your expensive equipment.
- Empty your baskets, both of them. The skimmer basket near the top of your pool needs to be checked often for toys, leaves, etc., and the trap basket on your pump needs to be checked at least once per week to ensure that the water flow to the motor is open and clear.
- Check your filter pressure often, and backwash (or clean cartridges, if you have a cartridge style filter) as needed. With a sand filter, always remember to use the rinse setting after backwashing and before filtering so that your sand may resettle instead of blowing back into your pool.
- Clean as needed: You can run your automatic vacuum as often as needed. Keeping your pool clean is important to keeping your water swimmable.
Chemicals for an Above-ground Pool
Keeping your chemicals balanced and in check can prevent a mountain of work. Always be sure to follow the recommendations of the chemical system that you are using, but almost all types require that your pH and alkalinity stay balanced within a recommended range so that the other chemicals will work at maximum efficiency.
- Once per week: Shock the pool. Most systems recommend shocking the pool at least once per week, especially during the hottest points in the summer or after rainfall. Check your sanitizer level if you are using a chlorine system.
- Twice per week: Test pH and alkalinity levels and adjust to recommended range.
- Every other week: Test your copper level and make recommended adjustment if you are using Pure ‘n Blue.
- Once per month: Test phosphate levels in your pool and add a phosphate remover to prevent algae growth.
Of course, keep all chemicals and cleaning products out of reach from children and pets. Dispose of empty chemical containers as directed on the container and/or by your city/state. Remember to use chlorine shock at night and do not swim for at least 12 hours after adding shock or muriatic acid. Keeping your chemicals balanced and in check can prevent a mountain of work. Always be sure to follow the recommendations.
Above Ground Pool Wall and Liner
Always be sure to exercise caution around the outside of your pool. Remember these few tips to keep your wall strong for many years to come.
- Never use heavy duty weed eaters or a metal edger around the outside of your pool, as you can puncture your wall.
- Check it a couple of times a year for any rust formation and treat with a rust preventive immediately.
- Maintain a tall berm to keep sand from washing out from under your liner.
When it comes to the liner, the thicker the better, but all liners are subject to minor leaks over their lifetime. Tips to keeping your liner in great shape are as follows:
- If you feel that you are losing due to something other than natural evaporation, begin to check the liner for holes or separations. (Sometimes a wet spot on the outside of the pool wall can be a clue)
- Always cover your pool in the winter to elongate the liner’s lifespan. If it is only exposed to the harsh elements like sun and wind for half the year, it will remain elastic and in excellent condition for quite a long time.
- Keep your pH in check and your chlorine at a normal level. A prolonged high or low pH and consistently high chlorine residuals will break down your liner quickly. Keeping your chemicals balanced is not only important for swimmers, but for your liner’s health, as well.
No matter what type of pool you have or what chemical system you use, taking care of it is all about regular maintenance. And, those few hours a week you spend cleaning and testing will keep your pool perpetually ready for parties, midnight swims, and weekend lounging.