Above Ground Pool Maintenance

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

  3.7 out of 5 stars on 45 ratings
(Click on a star to add your rating)

Maintenance of above ground pools is not for the squeamish. There is a lot of responsibility that comes along with having a body of water in your backyard. But the benefits of cooling off in the summer, watching your kids have a blast and even having a little fun yourself make it all worthwhile. For clean, healthy and of course sparkling water, study up on the science of above ground pool maintenance. Click for more Above Ground Pools

Step by Step


Step 1

The pump and filter form the heart of any above ground pool maintenance program, helping to keep your pool water clear. Pumps provide the force to circulate the water and push it through the filter. Ideally, you want to turn over all of the water in an above ground pool within an eight hour time period. This means that every drop of water has circulated through the filter within eight hours. The best time to run your pump is during the day, usually for 8 - 12 hours at a time. It is also important that the water circulates around the perimeter of your pool. Water in motion makes it harder for bacteria and algae to take hold and also directs more debris to your skimmer where it can be captured by your filter. Adjust the eyeball jets in your inlets to move your pool water in a circular motion.

Step 2

Your above ground pool filter is there to catch and remove both visible debris and microscopic particles. Sand and D.E. filters are cleaned by backwashing when the filter's pressure gauge indicates levels 8 to 10 lbs. above normal (always follow manufacturer instructions). Cartridge filters have a cartridge inside that can be removed and washed using a garden hose. Eventually, the cartridge will need to be replaced to ensure that the filter is working effectively.

Step 3

All above ground pools have areas with little or no circulation. These areas of minimal circulation are the breeding grounds for problems like algae growth. The walls and floor should be brushed and vacuumed once a week. Even if you use an automatic above ground pool cleaner, brushing once a week is a must.

Step 4

Test your water regularly for two key factors: pH and sanitizers. By testing at least three times per week you will begin to understand how bather load, weather (rain and sun) and chemical application affect your pool water. Regular testing of pH and sanitizer levels will ensure crystal clear water all season long. A digital test strip reader will make this quicker and easier. It is vital that proper pH is maintained in your pool at all times. If the pH is outside 7.2 to 7.6 it will greatly reduce the effectiveness of pool chemicals. Test your pH level at least three (3) times a week and use either a pH Reducer or pH Increaser to bring the pH into the proper range. If you find it difficult to maintain your pH, check your total alkalinity and be sure it is in the ideal range. Adjust total alkalinity levels accordingly.

Step 5

Chlorine tablets are the most common and efficient sanitizer to use in above ground pools. These tablets are compressed so that they dissolve slowly and steadily release free chlorine into your water to wipe out bacteria and keep your water clean. Chlorine also comes in sticks and granules. Whichever form you decide to use, you’ll want to look for stabilized chlorine which is processed to protect it from the sun's damaging rays, making the chemical last longer and work more effectively. Always keep chlorine in your skimmer, floater, or automatic feeder for continuous sanitizing.

Step 6

As debris builds up in the water - from perspiration, suntan oil, hair spray and unfortunately, urine - it can cause eye and skin irritation and dull water. Often, chlorine is blamed for irritation and odor when in fact the real culprit is contaminants which tie up chlorine, keeping it from effectively sanitizing the water. When this happens, you should use shock which is basically a concentrated chemical treatment (usually chlorine). Shocking your above ground pool once a week will oxidize contaminants, freeing up the chlorine, and keeping your water crystal clear. Regular shock treatments will also kill resistant algae in the water. There are a variety of different products available including non-chlorine shock and shock designed for hard water areas.

Step 7

Since algae are visible, it tends to be the pool problem that is most disturbing to pool owners. This is not surprising as no one wants to see black, green or yellow fuzz growing in their pool. In reality, it is not the algae that are harmful but the waste they produce by converting sunlight into food. This waste then feeds bacteria which is the real problem. Algae spores travel through the air and enter pool water. With just a few hours of sunlight on a warm day, algae can colonize your pool if your chlorine level is too low. The best way to combat algae is to never let them get started. Regularly checking to make sure your chemical levels are adequate and your pool water is balanced is vital. Adding algaecide is another preventative measure which will help prevent all types of algae from getting a foothold in your pool. You can use algaecide weekly to discourage algae growth.

Step 8

If algae have already taken hold in your pool, there are some basic steps to follow. First, shock your pool and keep your water circulating 24 hours a day if possible. You are looking to achieve 10 ppm of chlorine. After shocking, you will need to brush and vacuum the entire pool. Follow up with an algaecide designed for your particular algae problem (most common are black, green and mustard algae). Brush and vacuum again and try to repeat this everyday. Check chlorine and add more if it’s below 5 ppm. It is also recommended that you regularly clean your filter during this process.


(41 to 80 of 83)

Anonymous  Posted: 06/25/2016 17:30 PM 

I'm so confused.
Our pool will be super clear and over night it turns green.
I have visited our nearest pool store so much they know me by first name.
I have so many kiddos here during the summer that I'm so frustrated.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/06/2016 17:42 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Chlorine – If you have a small AB pool, you might want to use one or two Floaters to distribute your chlorine around the pool. You can use liquid chlorine, but it’s a hassle to keep adding it to the pool. If your pool is larger, you might consider a regular chlorinator. See our guide on “ How to Use a Pool Chlorinator”.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/05/2016 19:39 PM 

We just got a sand filter for our agp, but I'm unsure where and what kind of chlorine to use with it. I bought 1" tablets and liquid chlorine. ANY HELP?

Inyopools  Posted: 10/19/2015 9:31 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

KeyMas - Before you add any chemicals, test you pool water. Use strips or better yet if you have a pool store near you, have them test your water - usually free. Your hardness measurement should be between 200 and 400. If your hardness is less than 500, you can compensate for this by keeping your pH on the low side 7.2 to 7.5. If your hardness is above 500, you should drain a portion of your pool water and replace it with softer water. Options - get a water softener, bring in soft water with a truck service, or hook up a system to collect rain water for your pool.

KeyMas  Posted: 10/15/2015 19:11 PM 

Hi! Just finished filling up mu above ground pool with well water and will begin running the pump and blancing it. Is there anything I need to do before putting chemicals in since it's well water?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/01/2015 11:35 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

mom of 4 - See the second review by Papa Goose on this product link to "Rust & Scale (Metal Control) 1 Qt.". He appeared to have the same situation you have.

mom of 4  Posted: 06/30/2015 19:08 PM 

We just set up our above ground pool for the summer we have well water and have a very orange colored pool. This is the first year that it has been orange. How di i get rid of it without draining and restarting?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/23/2015 14:24 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Helpme - Keep your pump on 24 hrs for a couple more days. Make sure your chemicals are balanced. Take a water sample to a local pool store and have it tested. Ask for them to test for phosphate also. If that doesn't help clear the water, try Floc N Vac.

Helpme  Posted: 06/22/2015 11:38 AM 

My above ground pool eas fine then 2 dayd ago i put all 4 treatments and now the water is cloufy cant see the bottom of the pool and is only 4' deep bit when u touch the water is clear on the top what should i do to bring it back to normal.help

Inyopools  Posted: 06/16/2015 10:21 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

pool cover - Algae thrives in hot water. The hotter the water, the greater the algae and therefore the need for greater amounts of chlorine. Since the purpose of a cover is to raise the pool's water temperature, it would follow that it would also promote algae growth.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/16/2015 10:17 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Need help - If you have had your pool for a while, you may have something called chlorine lock. See our guide on "How To Break Chlorine Lock" to determine if you have chlorine lock and how to correct it.

Doug  Posted: 06/15/2015 18:14 PM 

Does the presence or absence of a cover on an above ground pool have any impact on the development of algae in the pool?

Need help  Posted: 06/15/2015 17:50 PM 

I have high chlorine levels still have a week and lots of rain. I also have low PH levels and have treated it to bring up levels. Don't know what else to do.

Inyopools  Posted: 06/14/2015 15:09 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Jo - You should have some kind of shut off valve like the one shown in step six of this guide, "How To Upgrade an Intex Pool Pump and Filter System".

Jo  Posted: 06/12/2015 17:39 PM 

How do I stop the flow of water while I service the pump?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/02/2015 12:12 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Liz - If your pH is that low, I would guess that some of your other chemicals are also out of range. Once you get the chemical balanced, your cloudy water should clear up. If you can, have a local pool store check the chemical levels in your water to establish an accurate baseline. Then see our guide on "How To Maintain A Swimming Pool Part 3 (Adjusting Chemicals)".

Liz  Posted: 06/02/2015 8:05 AM 

I got rid of the green but now the water is cloudy. I checked pH and it is 6.8. What should I do to get the water clear again?

Inyopools  Posted: 06/01/2015 8:21 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Ken - Normal run time is 8 hours, but if your pool is clear at 4 hours, I'd stay with that. As the days get hotter during the summer, you may have to increase it to get ahead of the algae.

Ken  Posted: 05/31/2015 22:48 PM 

I have a 15' above ground pool (4' deep) and I want to know the correct amount of time I should let my filter run. I have a cartridge filter and usually let it run 4 hours a day. This always works and I never have problems but should I run it longer?

Inyopools  Posted: 05/30/2015 11:53 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Frustrated - Make sure all of your chemical are within acceptable ranges, starting with chlorine. With all the debris that was in your pool, you may have to shock it again. See our guides in the in pool maintenance section "Pool Maintenance". Read the four part series on chemicals. There are also guides on "How To Go From Cloudy To A Crystal Clear Pool" and "How To Remove Calcium Scale Deposits From Your Pool Wall" which can lead to cloudy water. Although these guides are written for in-ground pools, they are also applicable to AG pools.

Frustrated  Posted: 05/26/2015 14:22 PM 

Hello! We did not use a cover on our above ground pool last winter. It was like a pond and we added algaecide to clear it up. The green faded to cloudy. When we scooped the leaves out of the pool, it stirred up the brown debris from the bottom of the pool. We repeated the shock/algaecide treatment and swept the debris out of the pool and not through the cartridge filter. Over the weekend I added floc to the pool and turned it off a few hours later as instructed. I swept it the following day with little result and the pool is still cloudy. When we have the pool water tested, it reads no chlorine, even though we add shock and have chlorine tablets floating around in the pool. Also, the walls of the pool feel gritty, which I am told has something to do with calcium. I'm beyond frustrated already! Please help! What should we focus on first? Cloudiness? No Chlorine read? Low stabilizer? Any help is appreciated!

Inyopools  Posted: 02/09/2015 9:15 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Empty pool – From your question I am assuming that you have an in-ground pool. Your biggest risk in leaving your pool empty for the summer is having it heave up out of the ground or crack from the upward pressure. If you live in an area with a high water table or have a heavy rain that saturates the ground, the pressure from that water will tend to push up on your pool shell. Without the weight of the water in the pool that pressure may damage your pool.

Anonymous  Posted: 02/07/2015 16:31 PM 

Can you leave a pool with no water in It for the summer? Will it affect the rock in the bottom?.

Inyopools  Posted: 07/08/2014 11:01 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

sueann71 - Make sure all of your pool chemicals are balanced before you shock you pool, especially the pH. After shocking, use an Algaecide.

sueann71  Posted: 07/06/2014 10:13 AM 

I poured one bag of shock and changed my filter and its been 14 hours and my pools still green? Can anyone help me with this?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/05/2014 22:57 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

dedicated mother - Here's a link to some more suggestions on cleaning cloudy water: How To Go From Cloudy To A Crystal Clear Pool.

dedicated mother  Posted: 07/04/2014 1:01 AM 

I have well water. I know I have to treat my pool with metal begone before adding chlorine. I added 32oz of metal balance to my pool as it filled ( 5312 gallons) let it filter all night. The next night I added one gallon of liquid chlorine again ran all night. Next more the water was slightly cloudy but could still see the bottom and it was tinted greenish yellow. How do I get it back clear without spending a butt load or draining?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/01/2014 9:13 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Ritaclay - If you have connected the vacuum hose to a suction port or to your skimmer port and all the connections are under water, you should have enough pressure to vacuum your pool.

Ritaclay  Posted: 06/30/2014 21:29 PM 

I shock the pool once a week I have an inter and there is no vacumn how do I clean it I have a thing that hooks to the hose they say the pressure of the water forms a vacumn but it doesn't work what am I to do

Inyopools  Posted: 06/22/2014 12:44 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Lin - I can't tell from you description why your liner is coming off but, if it comes off with 1" of water, it will not stay up with more water. If you have an overlap liner, you may have to take the top coping strips off and let the liner down a little. If you have a beaded liner, you may have to buy a new one.

Lin  Posted: 06/21/2014 17:48 PM 

After 2 years of my pool being closed I tried to clean the black water for a month and ended up emptying it. When I put the water back the liner came off . I emptied it again and put sand under the liner and started filling it up but after one inch of water the liner started coming off again. Should I fill it up fast or replace the liner ?

Inyopools  Posted: 08/25/2013 11:21 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Jojo - We would not recommend leaving your AGP empty during the winter. The water in the pool is what give the wall support. The wall would collapse and crease without it. Also, there's a good chance that the ground under an empty pool would heave with freezing and your bottom rails may bend.

Jojo  Posted: 08/24/2013 8:43 AM 

Just empty my AGP after a 3 week fight the algae. Since the summer is coming to an end, can we leave the pool with no water during the winter or will that damage the lining?

Inyopools  Posted: 07/23/2013 10:03 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

vacuuming setting - If you have a lot of debris or algae in the pool, use a "waste" setting so that it doesn't clog the filter. Otherwise, use the "filter" setting for normal vacuuming. See our guide on "How a Multiport Valve Operates" for more information.

Anonymous  Posted: 07/23/2013 1:03 AM 

I am wanting to know about the settings on the filter. When I am vaccumming, which setting should I be using - the backwash or waste?

InyoPools  Posted: 08/01/2012 14:42 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Pat - See our How To Guide on eliminating algae at this link: https://secure.inyopools.com/General/SubmitComment.aspx?ID=9

pat  Posted: 08/01/2012 10:09 AM 

I dont know which chemical to use first when you have a little algy in the pool.
What do I use first and how often do I do each one?

InyoPools  Posted: 07/03/2012 17:03 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Shock for 11,000 pool - You add 1 bag for 10,000 gallons of water. If your pool is very dirty, you can add two bags. Add the shock at night and leave your filter running.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/30/2012 23:29 PM 

to orthdeb:Keep your ph at the low end, 7.2 to maximize your chlorine efficiency. You should
probably add stabilizer as well.

Anonymous  Posted: 06/30/2012 11:10 AM 

How much shock should be used per gallon of water? Our pool is 11,000 gallons.