how to fill your above ground pool?

Filling Your Above Ground Pool

So you’re finally getting that swimming pool. You’ve figured out which above ground pool to buy, how big it will be, and where it is going to be placed in your yard. You have an installer lined up (or have talked some really good friends into helping you install it), the date is set and you’re ready to go. But what about the water? Where is all that water going to come from in order to fill your swimming pool?

To a pool guy like me, the answer on how best to fill a pool is usually obvious, but I get asked this question all the time under all types of circumstances. To my surprise, over the years I’ve come across many scenarios where the answer isn’t so obvious. Generally, there are five options for filling an above ground swimming pool. For some all five options are viable. However, for some only two options are viable and some have only one viable option. If you have only one option then this decision will be easy. If you have more than one viable option, let’s weigh them up together. Shall we?

Generally, there are five options for filling an above ground swimming pool. For some all five options are viable. However, for some only two options are viable and some have only one viable option. If you have only one option then this decision will be easy. If you have more than one viable option, let’s weigh them up together. Shall we?

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The Five Options for Filling an Above Ground Pool

  1. City or municipal water from your house
    Most people now have access to municipal water at their homes. Some homes have septic tanks for their used water and some have to pay for municipal sewage. It is cool  if you have a septic tank, because the water company will only charge you for the water to fill your pool. If you have municipal sewage, it can be expensive to fill your pool as you will be charged the sewage fee for all those gallons of water that the pool took to fill up. Money saving tip: Call your water company and tell them you are planning to fill a pool. They may give you a discount on the sewage or not charge for it at all.

    City/municipal water is excellent for filling swimming pools, because the water is already treated and balanced. 
  1. Well water directly from your well
    Many homes out in the country don’t get municipal water and only have a well. This is not a problem as long as the quality of the well water is good. If your well water is not that good (meaning it’s smelly, cloudy or discolored) it’s still OK, but you’ll have to treat the water in the pool to get it clear and healthy. It will cost you more because you’ll have to get chemicals and it can take a few days to clear up. 
  1. Well water coming through a softener system
    Most homes that have only wells will have a water softening system attached somewhere. Running between 10 000 and 20 000 gallons through a softener has a cost as it will take a good amount of salt and chemicals to do so. 
  1. Water from a delivery service
    This is a nice option, but is usually too expensive for new pool owners. Here in Central Florida there are two guys that offer this service. One guy charges $500.00 for 9 000 gallons and the other guy charges $275.00 for 6 000 gallons. The water quality is always excellent and the pool gets filled really fast. So, it’s a good option, but it is pricey. Also, water delivery services are rare so chances are that you will not have this option anyway.Sometimes there can be issues with filling an above ground this quickly. If the liner is set too tightly or if it’s a beaded liner, it could come out of the bead channel. Keep an eye on things when filling a pool this fast.
  1. Water from the fire department
    Long ago it seems in places far, far away, fire departments kindly used to fill swimming pools. This is now a rare occurrence in most areas, although some still do it usually for a donation or something. This method fills the pool fast too, so keep an eye on the liner while filling your pool.

Expensive Municipal Water Versus Cheap Well Water

A lot of homes have access to both municipal water and a well. If this is the case, do you fill the pool with municipal water that you have to pay for or do you fill it with your well water that’s free? The answer depends mainly on the quality of your well water. If your well water is completely clear, use it. You may have to shock it a little more initially and adjust the chemistry, but it’ll be much less expensive.

If your well water is just OK (meaning it’s a little cloudy and has a bit of an odor), you still may want to fill your pool with it. Certainly this water will take some extra start-up chemicals to get it right, but it’ll still be more cost-effective than filling it with municipal water.

Some other considerations are the condition of your well and its pump. Do you have issues with your well’s pump? Do you feel it’s on its last leg and you have to give it a break often? How about your well? Does it kick up a lot of sand or start to pump really slowly after a while of continuous use? Am I asking too many questions in one paragraph? A pool needs many gallons of water and if you are having issues like this, it may be better just to fill it with your municipal water.

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What to Do While the Pool Gets Filled and What to Do Afterwards

Keep an eye on your pool while it is filling up. Make sure the liner isn’t coming loose and that there’s no moisture anywhere around the pool. Also, make sure that you install all of the top rails of the pool and connectors before the pool is more than halfway full. It can be much harder to install these parts after the pool has been filled.

You can take a water sample to a pool store so that they can analyze it and you can get the chemicals it needs for the start-up. You can shock the pool when it’s at least half full, but I would wait until it’s completely full because you can then turn on the pump and run the filter.

85 thoughts on “Filling Your Above Ground Pool

  1. Hi Dan thank you for being here to answer our questions. I keep searching for the answer to my question, but have not been able to find it anywhere.
    Is there such a thing as a pool spigot/faucet like a bathtub that can be installed to easily turn on near the pool when it needs water added? Or can a fountain be configured to either recycle the water or fill? If something like that does not exists, someone needs to invent one.

    1. Nothing like this exists for sale but I see many people use pvc to plumb a spigot connection from their home’s water source that hangs over a top rail and into the pool.

  2. Ok I’m clueless,buying a steel 24×52 pool details are not clear if it has a liner or not.when I ask all I get is” it has a shadow box”????? So is that a yes or a no

  3. Hello, I have an important question I need answered please. Last summer me and a friend put up my first above ground pool. When it finished filling up I noticed that it’s off level, but it’s only off level on one side just around one column. Everywhere else looks good. I was wondering if I drain the majority of the water if I could get something to lift that column up and add 1 or 2 more stones to bring it up would it be ok? Do you have any suggestions? Please help me. Thank you

    Btw, it’s a 52 by 24 ft. Round Above ground.

    1. Yes you should be able to do that. I have jacked up small portions of a pool’s wall when the pool is full, but I like your idea of draining down the water level. It’ll move easier that way.

  4. Thank you, it is not as easy as just setting it up and filling it and in you go. These set ups can be costly,
    depending on your choice and monetary values. Any pool is high maintenance for health and hygiene.
    So consider your wants and needs, don’t overdo it, less is more, trust me i have been there. Always
    consider children & pets around your pool. ALWAYS follow set up directions and safety, never cut

  5. Hi there, we just bought a 22ft above ground pool, it’s about half full. I’m not able to buy the shock or an extension cord for the pump until tomorrow. But I was wondering if it’s okay if my kids swim in it tonight? Will their be algae by the morning? Is it a bad idea or do you think it’ll be fine?

    1. You should never run a pool pump/filter via an extension cord. It should be nearest to a power source, SAFETY.
      Treatment for your pool can be added during filling, say at 50% full, add half or your full dose (depending on the size of your pool and treatment plan (ratio etc). When your pool is at the recommended capacity add the other half of the treatment. You can swim in it after about 2 hours of filter/pump running, (depending on the treatment (read instructions). In the meantime, yes the kiddies had certainly had a splash while the pool is filling under adult supervision. Sorry , seems to me that you rushed this so your kiddies could have a swim. I do not think algae will be a problem. My suggestion is to do a shock treatment in the next week or so, if you adhered to the initial instructions, wait a few hours, and after that enjoy.
      Splash Splash

  6. I have a 16 x 42 easy set pool it almost completely filled can I go ahead and turn the pump on now? I would like to get in the pool in a few hours.

  7. Just bought a 14’ round above ground pool and I have a well that I’ve been filling up with . I let it run for a few hrs and the water started coming out a little dirty and then the water stopped pouring from the hose . Is this an issue with the well pump ? Should I fill a little at a time ?

  8. Hi there I have a cartridge filter when you first fill the pool. Does the cartridge get dirty in the first couple of days because mine is still white. Does this mean my filter is not working correctly?

    1. No, it does not mean it is not working. It just means it hasn’t had enough dirt go through it. if you filled the pool with fresh clean water, it isn’t going to have enough dirt to darken your cartridge. Enjoy the days in which your cartridge material still looks white while you can.

  9. I’m a new pool owner ,so I’m trying to YouTube all the information that I don’t know,the pool was giving to me . How high do I have to fill the pool if It doesn’t have a skimmer ,it’s a Coleman 16*48 . Also I’m guessing this is why the pump isn’t working correctly because the water isn’t over the two holes. Thanks so much

    1. Yes, I would guess that would be the problem. The return and the suction line should be under the water level. There should have been an instructions manual that came with your pool to explain proper water levels.

  10. Hi, while filling my above ground pull should I go ahead and test ghe water and add balance to it

  11. I’m getting ready to get a above ground pool I don’t have a septic tank it runs thru the city after they install how does it work do you just turn your water on and it runs thru the filter I know it’s a dumb question but I don’t have a clue

  12. Hi I live in Australia I have a inground pool been to 2 pool shops for information about topping up the pool with tank Water all they say you must use chemicals all the time to ad to the pool the owners before installed a $10.000 dollers water system for it so you think you would not have to add chemicals all the time please help I thought for that amount of money spent on it it would be sufficient

    1. Sorry Marlene. I can’t understand what you are saying. Don’t they use punctuation in Australia? Yea, You’re gonna need that to communicate by writing.

          1. Right, I was enjoying reading these helpful hints, then got to that one. Are you an English teacher or pool expert?!

          2. It was impossible to follow what she was saying. His reply might have a bit harsh, but his point was valid. If you’re going to ask someone for help or advice, at least proof read it to make sure its comprehensible. You don’t have to be and English teacher to write something that makes sense.

      1. Sorry, I thought it was awesome. No one seems to think commas, periods, etc., are required, but they are. It’s lazy and I’m glad he called her out on this.

  13. WE just installed a above ground steel sided pool. 24 x 54. WE filled it with well water and need to find out what to start with to get the pool clear. WE have not installed the skimmer or hooked up the pump yet ( doing it this weekend ). Just want to know what to do first and then what to do after that to keep the pool clear and the water nice.

  14. WRONG!!! i burned mine up and i wasnt on full bore and didnt even do it for more than a couple hours ata time…DONT DO IT if you have an old pump!!

    1. The info I wrote is correct. Your pump could have died due to age, running dry, or countless other electrical issues. Pool pump motors can run all day and night and the only thing it would hurt is your utility bill.

      If your pump was already “old” there was a chance it would have gone to the great motorshop in the sky, anyways.

  15. We have a 22 ft avobe ground pool, we run the motor continually. The only time we turn it off is when we go swimming, and in winter. Not problem at all.

  16. I live in a small town in New England. We put up a 14 foot by 42-inch pool in our backyard. The fire department came to fill up the pool and we gave them a donation. However the water from the fire truck was very silty, our pool water is completely Brown and we can’t see through it. We were told to wait a couple days for the silt to settle down to the bottom and then vacuum the water, but its not moving quickly, even with fiktering it. I don’t feel comfortable with this dirty water. What do I do?

    1. 14′ pool 42″ high? Is this a soft sided pool? Yea if so, your pump/filter probably won’t bring that water to clear. I say drain it and refill with the water from your home(providing its good clear water). Then learn some basic pool chemistry.

      1. This will not damage the liner.. I have trucks lined up from 2 companies as they are fitting me in.. gonna get about 9 inches in pool then fill remaining der over next 4 days..27 round.. this would be ok for liner someone told me it could shrink exposed to sun.. it will be 75 to 80 and partly cloudy these days thanks

    1. I also live in Dearing Ga and was wondering if you had any luck on the fire dept filling your pool. I need to fill my pool but would rather not use my well.

  17. i just bought an above ground pool at costco. Can i fill the pool before i have the filter completely set up?

  18. How often is normal to have to fill your pool? I moved & in my new house we have a pool. I’m having to fill it up another 4-5 inches on water every 3 days. The water is under the skimmer line every 3 days, could there be a leak or is this normal? The pool is medium sized kidney shaped, & after shocking it & cleaning it I see there’s several holes/where the aqua paint is on the pool is gone/scrapped away looking (I first thought it was a design on the shallow end of the pool then realized it wasn’t!). How often is normal to have to fill your pool?? This is getting ridiculous.

    1. Michelle the normal evaporations rate for a pool is about 1/4 inch of water a day, in the summertime. I am not sure where you are, but it is Winter here, so you should not see evaporation close to a 1/4 inch. It sounds like you have a leak. If your pool is concrete, you can get a concrete patching at a local hardware store.

  19. Dan, one more question. We have some guys down here at West Palm that are using those type of tanks as portable units and charging to fill pools using your well water. Four carbon tanks and one tank which has some sort of medium like a resin tank. The only thing that’s missing from processed water is the softening stage. The tanks aren’t that expensive so I may try it myself but what medium would you use to filter out iron, sulfur and manganese? That should be about all you would need.

    1. Dan’s answer:

      You can use any type filter you want but you’ll have to add something to allow the filter to catch them. I’m not a pro on this so I would ask a water treatment company about it.

  20. Dan, what about running the incoming well water through a carbon tank and then a resin tank as it fills… the fiberglass tanks used on well water treatment systems?

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