A new pool is no fun until it’s holding water and proper installation is extremely important. In fact, nothing will get you heated up more than an incorrectly installed pool. Some of the problems that result from badly installed above ground pools may include uneven floors or a buckled/wrinkled liners. It’s much better – and less expensive - to do it right the first time. Many homeowners decide to tackle this project themselves. Here are some guidelines to help you install your new pool. Click for Above Ground Pools
Tips & Warnings
Things You'll Need
Step by Step
Before you do anything, call upon your family, friends or neighbors to get some volunteers. Installing above ground pools is a job that takes more than one or two people. It will go faster and probably be a lot more fun if you get a crew together.
Preparing the foundation for your new pool is the first step. Remove any sod that would be beneath the pool. Do not underestimate the persistence of grass. Nut grass, bamboo grass and Bermuda grass can grow right through an above ground pool liner. You will also need to remove sod all the way around the pool wall. Code in some areas of the country requires as much as six feet of sod removed from around above ground pools. This would mean a 6-foot wide “dirt road” around your pool.
Once sod is removed, the ground will probably not be level. The higher ground within the sod-cleared area needs to be dug out to match the lowest ground. The ground must be measured using a level or a transit; you cannot determine level ground just by looking at it. It is not recommended to build up low ground due to the immense weight of water above ground pools hold. This weight will simply compress the earth back down. If the ground is not leveled, there is the potential for serious damage to the pool and injury to those in or near it. The wall could collapse or sink into the ground. If conditions require that you raise ground instead of leveling it, you should consult a pool professional familiar with installing above ground pools.
Above ground pools can cause water to gather in your yard where it never had before. This is due to the pool blocking the normal flow of drainage. Often when water gathers around a pool, the owner assumes the pool liner has a leak and then tries to patch or replace the liner. This can be tedious and expensive so it pays to make sure you have adequate drainage before installing the pool. The advice of a professional is recommended, especially if your yard forms a natural valley.
When the ground is level, you'll want to lay a foundation for the pool. Clean sand is the traditional base material for above ground pools. The sand acts as a barrier between the ground and the liner and helps to protect the liner from any rocks, roots or other hard objects. It also provides cushioning for the floor of the pool, making it more comfortable underfoot. For additional cushioning and liner protection for above ground pools, Gorilla floor padding is a tough, felt-like material that is extremely hard to penetrate. We recommend always using sand and adding the floor padding for extra protection. It is worth the investment to protect the pool liner as replacing a liner involves both the cost of the liner itself, installation, and refilling your pool. A uniform, 2-inch layer of sand is standard (check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pool). Beware of using high alkaline substances such as peat moss as a base because it can corrode metal parts.
Next will be the foundation for the pool frame, typically either patio stones or blocks which are sunk until flush with the ground. These blocks are placed beneath the pool posts and buttresses in order to support them. Each block must be level in all directions (both from side to side and front to back). Then you will also need to make sure the blocks are level with one another. From one block to the next block, there can be no more than 1/16” out of level. As with leveling the ground, you will need to use a transit to be sure each block is level. Unlevel supports can cause the walls of above ground pools to buckle, even with a variation of only 1/8” between the blocks. Your pool will come with the manufacturer’s specific instructions for placement of stones or blocks.
Now you're ready to assemble the pool. Installation instructions for above ground pools vary based on the manufacturer and model so follow the guidelines provided in your owner's manual. Above ground pools will typically include the following parts: bottom rails, bottom plates, uprights, pool wall, top rails, caps for uprights, coping, pool liner, and hardware. A skimmer and return fitting is often included. If your pool is delivered by truck, you have the right and responsibility to open and inspect each package before signing the bill of lading. Don't let the driver rush you to sign the paperwork. You're responsible for any concealed damage so take your time and be sure no damage occurred in transit. Compare what you have to the manufacturer’s parts list and be sure you've received all necessary parts in good condition. Nothing is more frustrating than having a half-assembled above ground pool only to discover you’re missing part AB19 and it will take the manufacturer 2 weeks to ship it.
Once the pool frame and walls are up, you should create a cove. This is a 6 – 8 inch wedge of sand built all the way around the inside edge of the pool wall. Creating the cove is mandatory for above ground pools – do not skip this step! The cove will keep the liner from slipping under the pool wall and provide a protective layer between the liner and the metal frame of the pool. Bevel the sand to form a 45 degree wedge along the entire inner circumference of the pool wall. The sand should be uniform all the way around and tamped down. As an alternative, pre-manufactured pool cove is available in two forms, Peel & Stick which has adhesive backing, and Clip & Stick which snaps onto the track of the pool wall. When the cove is completed, tamp down the sand in the entire pool area to even out the ground and reduce divots in the floor of the pool. Any sand on the pool wall above the cove should be removed to prevent it from rubbing against the liner and possibly causing pinholes to form.
Now comes the fun part of installing above ground pools - the liner. Since this is the most delicate part of the pool, we recommend inspecting it first. Open the box containing your liner very carefully - do not use a sharp object. Unfold the liner and spread it out, making sure the ground is clear of anything that could puncture it. Check for any holes or tears and examine the seams to make sure they are properly sealed. This is very important as you do not want to discover a defect after you’ve filled the pool.
After your liner passes inspection, spread it out in the sun. The sun's heat will warm up the vinyl, making it more pliable and easier to work with. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding preparing the liner. Your owner’s manual should give you details about installing the liner, including punching out the skimmer and return holes. Remember, above ground pool liners are not meant to bear any of the weight of the water so they must rest on the ground in all areas. Properly installed, there should be no air space between the liner and the ground, and no downward pressure on the liner. How you hang the liner on the pool wall will depend on the style of liner (overlap, beaded, or j-hook) so refer to the instruction manual for your above ground pool.
Since there is extra material to compensate for any shrinkage of the liner, wrinkles in the liner material is normal and unavoidable. To smooth out the floor of the liner, gently push it toward the wall. To avoid damage, do not pull, drag or stretch the liner. Air between the liner and the above ground pool wall can contribute to wrinkles. To decrease this, you can use a vacuum hose, inserting it through the skimmer hole in the pool wall behind the liner. Use masking tape and cardboard to seal any gaps around the skimmer hole and vacuum hose. Turn on the vacuum and gently adjust the liner while the vacuum is running. You can turn the vacuum off periodically if you reach any areas where the liner becomes difficult to adjust. The vacuum can continue to run as you fill the pool but be sure to keep the hose above water level at all times. You can fill above ground pools with a common garden hose, or hire a water truck which is much faster.
Once your above ground pool is up and filled with water, you'll need to connect your pump and filter system, heater, lights and any other pool equipment you may have. Follow the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer for each piece of equipment. The same goes for adding chemicals to above ground pools - the packaging should have instructions based on the volume of your pool.
Inyo Pools carries a full line of above ground pools. We also provide all of the equipment, chemicals and accessories necessary for above ground pools. Please feel free to visit our Above Ground Pools Store.
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Tips & Warnings
Carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions to be sure your above ground pool is safely installed and will be covered under warranty.
If you hire an installer to set up your above ground pool, try to get a personal referral. Research the company online and be sure they are reputable.
Inyo Pool Products is not responsible for any injury or damaged equipment
while using our guides. Using our guides is doing so at your own risk.
These guides are suggested use of your pool or spa equipment and may vary
depending on which product you are using.