maintaining an above ground pool

Maintaining an Above Ground Pool

OK, so you bought an above ground swimming pool. You have decided what size and where to put it and either paid some somewhat sketchy guys to come install it or worse, you and your spouse did it yourselves. Now it’s in your yard full of water and looking good. So what now?

Just like everything you have in your life that’s an extra, swimming pools need this annoying thing called “maintenance”. This means you can’t just enjoy it while it is nice and clean and clear. You’ll also have to pay the price of keeping it that way and that price includes a weekly dose of chemicals, cleaning, and a daily dose of electricity. I could write a really big book on how to take care of a swimming pool, but this is just a blog post so I’ll try to keep it short.

The Start-up: What to Do Firstclear above ground pool water

This may sound obvious, but once your above ground is full, plug in the pump and turn it on to make sure it works. Make sure water is flowing back well to the pool. After it turns on, leave it on and either take a sample of the pool’s water to your new favorite pool store so they can test the water and sell you a bunch of chemicals (most of which you probably don’t need) or test the water yourself. Using test strips is the new way all the cool kids now test pool water, so get a bottle of strips.

If you took a water sample to the pool store, bring back all the bottles and containers of stuff and start following the directions for applying all those chemicals to the pool. Be happy about it. You just paid to have a professional tell you what to do chemically to start your pool. Even if he were only 18 years old. If you tested the pool yourself, then use whatever they gave you in the pool’s start-up kit and begin your journey of learning about pool water chemistry.

Regardless of who tests your water or what the test says, I say shock the pool right off. Real life definition for SHOCK: The term “shock” simply means adding a whole lot of chlorine (or other sanitizers) to a body of water in a really short period of time. Even if the initial chlorine level is pretty high coming out of your hose, shock the pool anyway. You want to show that pool water who is boss right off. If the pH is off, you can adjust that too if you want.

Now unwrap your manual pool cleaning gear and teach yourself how to vacuum the pool. If you have a timer (and you should), set it for about eight hours daily during the day. Read up on any add-ons you may have gotten with the pool package and plug them in or add the required salt to get those things going.

Congratulations, you now started up your pool. You can now throw the kids in and relax for about six days until it’s time to service the pool again.

Weekly Maintenance: What to Docrystal clear above ground pool water

So this weekly maintenance thing isn’t for everyone. Those with the money who can find a pool service guy who will do an above ground pool won’t have things to do weekly.  They’ll instead have to write a check to the pool guy once a month. Oops, I meant pay online with your debit card (who still writes checks?).

Back to reality… So, many have asked me, “Do I really have to maintain the pool every week?” And my sarcastic answer is, “Well, no. Not if you’re OK with the water turning cloudy and then green every once in a while.” For you new pool owners reading this,  do yourselves a favor and just make it a habit of giving your pool attention at least once a week especially in the summer months. Bringing a green pool back to a clear and healthy state can be tricky and expensive. So just stay on top of it. ‘K?

Test the water once a week (preferably on the same day). In the summer, you’ll more than likely have to add something to the pool every week including probably shocking it.  While you are at it, skim, brush, and vacuum the pool too. Even if it doesn’t look like it needs it. Cleaning the pool once a week will make it easier when you really do need the pool to be clean and will also make you feel better about your pool during the week. Also, while you’re at it, empty the skimmer and pump baskets and do a quick check of your equipment to make sure everything looks good and it’s clear of weeds and ants under the pump motor. Drain or add some water to the pool, if needed.

It may be a pain when you think about maintaining your pool, but you’ll feel great when you’re finished and the pool is clean and properly chemically fed. I promise.

Monthly Maintenance: What to Do

Now about every four or five times you are doing your weekly pool maintenance (which is about once a month, duh!), you’ll want to clean your pool’s filter. Well, you may not want to, but do it anyway. If it’s a sand filter, backwash. If it is a cartridge type, pull it out and spray it clean and replace. For a DE type, backwash and replace with new DE.

In addition to this monthly service, check any equipment add-ons you may have. If you have a salt chlorine generator, then check the salt level and check to see if it’s time to clean the cell (which is usually cleaned every three or four months). Check out your ionizer or Ozonator or mineralizer to see their working status. If they aren’t working well, don’t worry about them. They’re not that great anyway. Just kidding (not really). Also, lubricate all of your O-rings.

So, that’s about it. Do these things and you’ll like your pool better. If your pool gets excessively dirty or takes more chemicals than usual, you may have to do twice a week maintenance during the hotter months. Lots of leaves? Empty the basket and skim that puppy every day if you have to. Always lots of swimmers and rainy weather? Test the water and treat more often. Do it, ’cause you really have no choice anyway. It’s called maintenance and your pool needs it.

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12 thoughts on “Maintaining an Above Ground Pool

  1. Hi
    I’ve been struggling with algae all last summer. In the end of the season I shocked the pool, vacuumed it to waste and closed it. This year when I opened the pool water was a bit cloudy but clear. I balanced PH and Alkalinity and shocked the pool (2lb for 10k gallons). The next day I brushed and vacuumed and at night added another 1lb of sock. The next day I see light grey substance on the bottom that looks like what I vacuumed to waist in the end of last year after killing algae. The substance is light gray color and decimates when touched. What could it be. Please help I am at a complete loss and desperate. I wish I could post pictures.
    Thank you so much.

  2. It is very important to have timely and regular maintenance of your pool to ensure clean, hygienic waters and safety for you and your family

  3. I just bought a house that has an existing 27′ above ground. The water is clean. I noticed yesterday, after moving in 2 days ago, that the pump seemed to be pumping wide-open.
    I’ve never had a pool and know very little about them. After nosing around some, I noticed that the filter bowl was stuffed completely full of leaves. As soon as I reached in and started pulling them out, the pump shut off and water started flowing out of the pool. It was about 2″ from overflowing when I caught it.
    I also opened the clear bowl near the pump, briefly, then realized that that would be too much water coming in near the pump too fast so I closed it.
    Problem is, the pump hasn’t come back on yet. Is something broken?
    The former owners left no paperwork, brochures, instructions, warranties, etc.
    Thank you

    1. Make sure your electric breaker is not tripped. If not, feel the motor and make sure it’s not hot. If hot, make sure it’s not running by listening for a constant hum. If humming, try to prime it (look up how to prime a pump somewhere). If not hot, probably time to replace.

  4. Ok open a sand filter for 24 x 48 round above ground. And generally you don’t add chemicals to the skimmer. But I was told since it is a sand filter i can add all chemicals in the skimmer other wise absolutely not. Is this true? I have an automatic clorinator where I just but the tabs in and let her do it thing. This is the first time I’m adding chems because we just got the p ool and put it up and it’s ready to go. It i read on here that if I run shock with an auto feed my stuff could explode. Is that still true with a sand filter?

    1. The filter type doesn’t matter but I wouldn’t add any chemicals to the skimmer regardless. Just make sure and completely dilute any non-liquid chemicals in a bucket of water before you throw it in the pool and all is good.

  5. Hi. I just purchased a house that has a pool in the backyard. It’s an above ground pool. Its about 2/3 full with disgusting looking water and a cover that’s under water. I want to get it up and running asap for the kids to enjoy this summer. Should I pump out the old dirty water and refill or shock the heck out of it as is? Also, im not sure of the condition of the pump and filter. Can I start shocking it without the pump or filter running? Or are they needed when you shock a pool?
    Thank you,

    1. I cannot say for sure what you should do as it depends on how bad the pool is. If you drain it though, refill immediately as the liner will shrink without water in it. And no. Make sure the pump and filter is working well before you start trying to clear the water with chemicals. You may be wasting your money if the pump/filter doesn’t work.

  6. I like that you pointed out you should clean your pool filter every month. It would be smart to have a professional help you clean the pool if you aren’t great at maintaining your pool. I have a hard time figuring out how to change any type of filter.

  7. Thank you for all of the information about above ground pools. This is my 4th summer and this is the first year I feel I have cleaning and keeping it clean down. The problem I’m having is trying to get the chlorine level up? I’ve shocked, added liquid chorline it just won’t come up to the level that the testing calls for. HELP

  8. I have an 18×33 oval pool the wall on the straight sides keep lifting out of the bottom track and im afraid to let anyone swim in the pool for fear of collapsing any insight would be greatly appreciated

    1. An answer from Dan:

      I would need more info. If the wall “keeps lifting out of the track”, then how is it that you are able to put it back? My guess is that the track may be sagging down from the wall which is no big deal. Check the level of the wall by referencing it to the the pool’s water line/level. The water line must be level so if the wall is level with it, then you are good.

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