Backyard Above Ground Pools: 15 Questions (Explained)

All You Need to Know About Backyard Above Ground Pools

Above ground pools are assured destinations of fun to enjoy that pleasurable swimming experience. They are such a fantastic way to escape the blazing heat of the summer. Above ground pools are much cheaper than in-ground pools while offering an equivalent package of benefits.

Above ground pools, if appropriately constructed, can last you an average of 10 years. These pools can have deep ends. 52 inches and 48 inches are the two commonest heights of above ground swimming pools. The regularity of water changing depends on factors like the chlorine content levels, total dissolved solids (TDS) levels, and if it is soft or hard water.

There is so much to know to arrive at the perfect above ground pools that are durable, affordable, and safe. You have to know how deep do above ground pools go, how you can level an above ground pool, and if you can leave your above ground pool empty. You also should know how to detect leaks in your pool and if sand is appropriate for the bottom. How about we learn all these?

What is the Most Popular Size Above Ground Pool?

There are several popular sizes of above ground pools. These include the likes of the 21′x43′ oval pools and the 12′x24′ type. Typically, you are very likely to come across the 27′ round variant.

Deciding the size of your above ground pool involves factoring in important parameters like the frequency of usage, the spaciousness of your yard, and budget. Don’t forget the size of your family masters as well.

The chemical balance is harder to maintain on a smaller pool with significant chemical needs compared to maintaining the chemical balance on a bigger pool with far lesser chemical needs.

How Long Do Above Ground Pools Last?

Depending on the quality of the materials and the construction expertise, you can expect your above ground pools to last anywhere from 8 to 15 years. After this span, you will start noticing deterioration in the structural integrity of the pool.

Typically, the liners will need replacement at most 10 years after installation. The need for liner replacement can even come in as soon as 5 years after installation.

How Often Should You Change the Water in an Above Ground Pool?

The recreative edge of a swimming pool (whether above ground or in-ground) is in the freshness of the water. No one loves swimming in an unappealing pool, right? Poor water quality translates not only into discomfort for the swimmers but also a risk on their health. This is why it is vital to change the water in your above ground pool periodically.

For a private above ground pool shared between just you and family, you can drain and refill it at least every 24 months. The frequency at which you change the water in an above ground pool depends on some factors. Let us examine them.

What Type of Water is in the Pool: Soft or Hard Water?

The frequency of replacement of the water in your pool critically depends on the type of water itself. If your pool is filled with hard water, you will agree that it has a higher mineral composition.

With time, such denser mineral content will quickly accumulate at the bottom (as well as the walls) of the pool. Such hard water needs to be changed more frequently.

Your Daily Maintenance

If you are diligent in maintaining your swimming pool (say every day), the need for water replacement reduces. The pH and chlorine levels should be optimal. This can be ascertained via daily testing.

Chlorine plays a crucial role in combating the buildup of dangerous bacteria and algae. The chlorine levels of your water shouldn’t be at any point lesser than 1.0 parts per million. The pH balance should be anywhere from 7.2 to 7.5.

What are the TDS Levels?

Total dissolved solids (TDS) levels also determine the regularity at which you change the water of your above ground pool. With the evaporation of water, the mineral residue is left. With a hike in the TSD levels of your pool, you will need increased chemical content for the maintenance of your pool. In fact, it becomes very urgent to change the water once the TSD levels get to 1555 ppm.

How Do You Prepare the Ground for an Above Ground Pool?

Ground preparation is an essential phase of the construction process of any above ground swimming pool.

Choose the Right Site

The firsts step is picking the ideal location for the above ground pool. You have to consider critical parameters like the closeness of the pool to your home and septic systems. Also, make sure not to disrupt water lines and power lines.

Agreed, you would be leveling the ground in the long run, but choosing a site that is appreciably level first gives you a good head start and reduces the overall workload.

Take note that most districts in urban areas have codes that stipulate the distance (from existing structures and properties) where you can install your pool.

Determine the Perimeter of Your Pool Area

This involves you marking the perimeter. When you have identified the ideal center of your pool, you can indicate it by putting a metal stake there. Next is tying a string to the metal stake. Measure the center of the pool to the edge in addition to about 0.12 meters.

The string’s other end should be tied around a spray paint can. Now outline a borderline spraying the paint as you transverse the intended edges of the pool.

Clear off All Hindering Vegetation

To appropriately prepare the soil, it is necessary to take off all the hindering vegetation and sod from the site. For smaller pool areas, you may not need to hire a sod remover. Your shovel can be good enough to remove the sod. Get a wheelbarrow to transport all the vegetation and excavated sod from the site.

However, if your pool area is appreciably big, using a shovel would be exhausting. In such cases, you may hire a sod remover.

What is the Point of Least Elevation?

It is essential to identify the lowest point of the site. This would provide the platform for leveling the entire area of the pool.

It is unnecessary to attempt filling up this low point to the corresponding height of the surrounding area. This is because we need a robust base to serve as the platform for the eventual pool.


Now our pool area is almost set. Sufficiently fill it with crushed limestone. This will help you to achieve a firm base of about 1.5 inches. A wood plank could help level this base of crushed limestone. Take off the wooden stake (as well as your plank) and pour a combination of limestone flush and dirt into the opening created by the stake. This should be filled to level up with the limestone base.

How Deep Do Above Ground Pools Go?

The most prevalent types of above ground pools to see are the oval and the round type. Of course, after you’ve chosen how long and how wide your pool is going to be, then you would decide the height as well.

The typical heights of above ground swimming pool are the 52 inches and the 48 inches. Of late, more homeowners are opting for higher heights for the walls of their above ground pools.

The 52 inches above ground pool come with different advantages than that of the 48 inches. We have seen that many homeowners like the 52 inches more because it gives them increased water capacity, which translates to more swimming area.

Many homeowners also love above ground pools with higher walls because it gives them more privacy.

Others are fans of the 48 inches because of the seemingly increased safety it gives kids (given that it is less deep). At the end of the day, it all depends on your recreational and artistic needs.

Can You Sink an Above Ground Pool into the Ground?

Yes, you can sink an above ground pool into the ground. Many homeowners, in a bid to cut the budget, resort to burying their above ground pools. While burying your above ground swimming may seem cost-effective at the start of the project, along the line, you would end up spending more on procuring in-ground pumps.

These facilities are essential to raising the water. This is because, from the inherent design of above ground pumps, they shouldn’t be above the water level.

There are other considerations to make, like the longevity of the pool and its depth.

Bear in mind that burying an above ground pool will rob you of the depth that comes with a typical in-ground pool. Liner constraints will significantly limit how deep you should have gone if with an in-ground pool.

Of course, you have to recognize that traditional liners have a seeming penchant for stretching. This will limit your flexibility in incorporating a deep end. If you want to access your desired depth, you should install expandable pool liners.

Another factor to note is the compatibility of the above ground pool with being buried. If your above ground pool lacks that capacity of working fine even when buried, it will bring a lot of expensive rectifications along the way.

So the choice of installing an in-ground pool or bearing and above ground pool all depends on what you want. You have to consider your lifestyle as well as what recreational activities will be going on in the pool.

How Often Should You Drain Your Above Ground Pool?

The frequency at which you drain your above ground pools depends on the said factors we have pointed out earlier. Nonetheless, we recommend that you drain your above ground pools at least once in two years. Draining it once in three years is also fine.

Do You Have to Put Sand Under Above Ground Pool?

Without sand, there is a high possibility of the vinyl line out of your pool being damaged by rocks. In fact, it is advised that the pool should be built on a bed of sand.

Without doubt, you wouldn’t like the roughness and grittiness of the base of your above ground pool if it’s not leveled with sand. It is not only discomfiting to your feet, but it is also unsafe for the swimmers. This is why sand is vital for the bottom of your above ground swimming pool to give the peace that vital cushion.

In general we advise you to layer the base of your above ground swimming pool with a sand depth of about 1.8 inches.

Can I Leave My Above Ground Pool Empty?

Yes, you can. However, this is not too safe. When you perpetually change the water in your pool, it will create variations in pressure, which could hurt your above ground pools.

Older pool liners are notorious for experiencing shrinkages upon sustained exposure to air. Therefore when you refill your pool, there is a higher possibility of the liner tearing.

Given this, we advise that you don’t drain and refilling your above ground pool too frequently.

Don’t forget that draining and refilling your pool on a day with significant coldness increases the likelihood of your pool liner stretching.

It is thus essential that your pool liner is appropriately aligned in the course of the refilling. This makes it much easier to execute quick maneuvers before the pool gets too filled up.

Do I Have to Drain My Above Ground Pool for Winter?

When winter comes in, many homeowners hurriedly resort to draining their above ground. In practicality, it is not necessary to drain your above ground pool. Several things would contribute to how you winterize your above ground pool.

You have to factor in how peculiarly the pool was designed and the pool’s geography itself. The pipes systems of the pool are what you should be most enthusiastic about protecting when winter comes. No doubt, damaged pipes systems (from freezing) are expensive to repair.

Therefore when carrying out the drainage of your pool, ensure that you drain below the pool skimmer.

The good news is that preparing recent pool designs for winter is much easier. This is courtesy of the detachable filtration and pump designs that are being incorporated in them. In such cases, you don’t need to worry more than just removing the skimmer and the pump.

Does an Above Ground Pool Freeze Solid?

Yes, above ground pools freeze a lot. Should temperatures drop under 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect your above ground pool to freeze even up to 2 inches in one day!

For those in the southern regions, sheets of ice with a thickness of 7″ can form on your pool. In the northern hemisphere, you can expect ice sheets with a thickness of 13″ and even more.

What Happens If You Don’t Winterize Your Above Ground Pool?

For those who live in regions where the winter is not extremely cold, you may not worry too much about winterizing your above ground pools. However, for those in those regions where the winter is particularly fierce with the cold, snow, and frost, it is an absolute necessity to prepare your pool for the winter.

The major crux of winterizing your pool is to reduce the enormous amount of maintenance and preparation needed to get the pool back in shape for spring.

This involves not only having to repair structural damages from the freezing but also having to rebalance the water.

Winterizing saves your pool from contamination, relieving you of the arduous labor of cleaning the pool thoroughly again.

So at the end of the day, you are not only saving money by winterizing, you are saving your time and happiness as well.

Can Above Ground Pools Have a Deep End?

Yes, above ground pools can have deep ends, especially the round types. However, it is difficult for oval shaped above ground pools to have deep ends. In most cases, oval-shaped above ground pool make do with metal straps that are incorporated into their base. This design impedes you from realizing more depth for your pool.

Many homeowners are, therefore, curious about what depth is allowed. The size of the pool and the pool liner are the principal determinants of how deep your above ground pool can go. We advise the middle a foot higher than the deep center.

How Do I Know If My Above Ground Pool is Leaking?

Leaking above ground pools can be a worrisome mess. This makes maintenance harder and the pool more prone to deterioration. There are ways to determine what section of your above ground pool could be leaking.

One of the quickest ways to determine if your above ground pool is leaking (and where is leaking) is to get the water still. This can be achieved by putting off the pool pump. This would give you increased visibility to check out the base of the pool.

Standing on the exterior of the above ground pool, you can look through to the bottom. Most of the pools we have come across having earth bases. So when the vinyl is leaking, the earth base dissipates the water, leaving behind divots in the base.

You can see the washed away spots in the earth bottom of the pool, looking through it. This should ascertain where is leaking in the pool liner.

How Should I Store My Above Ground Pool?

Storage is critical to the durability of your above ground pool. When you are not using your pool – particularly during those cold periods when the temperature falls under 32 degrees Fahrenheit– you better store it.

Living the pool out just like that during those long periods of disuse will damage the liner. This way, it becomes excessively soiled from lack of use.

How then do you store your above ground pool?

Dry it up

The first step to drying your above ground pool is draining it and keeping it dry. You can drain the pool using a drainage plug. The drying process can be achieved by leaving the pool out in the sun.

There is the possibility of the rains taking you unaware when you wish to sun dry your pool or the day being just too gloomy.

Therefore, it would be helpful to check the meteorological forecasts of the impending weather if your chosen day would have enough intensity of sunlight.

If there is still moisture in the pool when you store it, this leaves room for the destructive growth of bacteria and mold in storage. After drying it in the sun, you may still want to go a step further in mopping the sides (with towels).


The next step after drying it up is folding the liner. You may choose to fold your liner in half before rolling. This reduces the wrinkles that it may have by the time you roll in it for use again. Certainly, there is a chance that the pool liner will get stuck together.

To avoid this, you may want to apply some little baby powder on it. Your roll should have a maximum length of 4 feet. Then you can confidently store it till the next season.

Protect it from Rust while in Storage

We have seen many homeowners complain of mice and bugs making a mess of their liners, and chewing devastating holes into them. This is why we advise that you encase your liner before storage. If possible, spare some money to buy a sizable storage bin for them.

Also, while in storage, the pool support can deteriorate so badly that it becomes unusable. This is why you should spray all the scratches owing to rusts most likely from the chlorinated water.

These rusts are more concentrated on the metal framing across the joints. Before spraying, it is ideal to remove the rusts with possibly a combination of rust remover and steel wool.

You can now store your pool liner with peace of mind!

Recommendation Above Ground Pools Review

Here is our 21 Best Backyard Above Ground Pools Reviews and Buying Guide, you can check it here.

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