How to Maintain Your Above-Ground Pool

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How to Maintain Your Above-Ground Pool


An above-ground swimming pool is an economical alternative to an in-ground pool. In addition to being significantly less expensive, it allows a smaller yard to have a pool for the family to enjoy – and can be disassembled and moved to your next house! Above-ground pools also are available in a wide range of sizes, with options that include upgraded features, such as an advanced filtration system that helps keep the pool pump clean.

But for all the advantages an above-ground pool offers, it still requires regular maintenance to function efficiently and provide the maximum number of years of useful life possible. According to industry experts, the average life of an above-ground pool is seven to 15 years – although higher-quality pools can last longer with proper care. Toward that goal, our Certified Leak Detection team provides the following advice and tips. Keep in mind that we don’t perform pool maintenance, but want to be sure you get the most from your investment in family recreation!

  1. Follow a Regular Maintenance Schedule – Above-ground swimming pools are no less demanding than their in-ground counterparts in maintenance requirements. In her article for The Spruce, homes writer Lisa Hallett Taylor lists the tasks that regularly need to be performed, as well as their frequency.

The following tasks should be performed daily:

  • Test the pH and ensure that it ranges between 7.4 and 7.6.
  • Check that the chlorine level of your pool is between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm.
  • Check the water level, which should be around mid-skimmer.
  • Empty the pump baskets and skimmer.
  • Check pump operation and filter pressure.
  • Skim the water surface.

The following tasks should be performed weekly:

  • Check whether the total alkalinity of your pool is between 80 and 120 ppm.
  • Properly dose your pool with a clarifier, metal control and algaecide.
  • Clean the pool deck and its surrounding area.
  • Add chlorine tablets to your pool water.
  • If the pressure gauge increases to 7 to 9 psi, clean or backwash the filter.
  1. Run the Pool Pump Daily – Even if you don’t plan to use your pool every day, running the pump daily is an important part of above-ground pool maintenance. As Bob Villa notes, the pump circulates the pool’s water. “When the water in your pool moves around, it helps keep the pool clean. More dirt and debris will find their way into the skimmer baskets, and algae growth will become less likely. Because pumps may not circulate your water perfectly, use a pool brush or another long pool supply to agitate the water in spots with poor flow. While you don’t need to leave your pool’s pump running constantly, running it for at least 8 hours each day is a good rule of thumb to follow.”
  2. Test the Pool’s pH and Chlorine Levels and Skim the Water Daily – It is important to maintain the right pH and chlorine levels in any kind of pool. Chlorine aids in keeping the pool water clean and removes algae, bacteria and microorganisms. However, with time, chlorine levels diminish due to exposure to swimmers, sun, etc. Testing your above-ground pool’s chlorine levels daily with a pool test kit can help you keep the chlorine level between the recommended 2.0 and 4.0 parts per million (ppm). When needed, add liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets.

In addition to testing the chlorine level, check the pool’s pH level daily. The pH level should be between 7.4 and 7.6. With a balanced pH, you can avoid cloudy pool water or water that causes eye irritation. Keeping the pH between 7.4 and 7.6 also helps prevent the pool’s pump, ladders and other surfaces from corroding. If necessary, add some baking soda to increase the pH level of the water. At least monthly, check the calcium hardness and cyanuric acid levels, which are also important to your overall water balance.

After testing and adjusting your pool’s pH and chlorine levels, you should also use a skimmer net to remove bugs and other debris from the surface.

  1. Clean Out the Pump and Pool Skimmer Baskets Daily – The skimmers help to pull out leaves and other debris floating on the water’s surface. This debris is then held in the skimmer basket, stopping them from finding their way to the pump or filter. Emptying these baskets as part of your above-ground pool cleaning routine will keep your pool cleaner and help prevent clogs.

In addition to emptying skimmer baskets, check and empty your pool’s pump basket every day. This basket holds debris that made it past the skimmer baskets or pulled in through the pool’s drains. Emptying this basket daily can keep the debris from getting into the pump itself and clogging the impeller and reducing the amount of water that is flowing through the system. Remember to turn off the pump before emptying the basket. 

  1. Shock the Pool Every Week – Shocking an above-ground pool on a weekly basis is another essential aspect of pool maintenance. Pool shock treatments help remove contaminants like bacteria and algae. This powdered form of chlorine increases the water’s level of “free chlorine.” Shocking the pool can be especially beneficial if several people recently swam in it, or following a rainstorm. This should be done in the evening, as midday sunlight can break down the chlorine before it’s fully able to do its job. After adding shock to the pool, turn the pump on and let it run for eight hours or more. Avoid getting in the pool until the next day.
  2. Vacuum at Least Once a Week; Preferably More Frequently – If you want to maintain your pool’s health, make sure to vacuum it at least once a week, preferably more often. Your pool filter doesn’t remove all the dirt, debris and leaves in the water, especially the particles that sink to the bottom of your pool. As manually vacuuming an above-ground pool can be challenging, invest in a robotic cleaner.
  3. Clean and Replace the Pool Filter Regularly – Whether you have a cartridge, sand, or diatomaceous earth (DE) filter for your above-ground pool, be sure to clean it regularly. The pool filter is responsible for removing particles from the water, leaving it clean and safe for swimming. Without proper cleaning, the water in the pool may become polluted. It is also possible for the filter to become clogged, leading to a larger problem.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations and clean your filter regularly. Cartridge filters should be removed and cleaned with a water hose about once a week, and they need to be replaced every one to two years. Sand and DE filters should be backwashed every month and replaced/refilled every three to five years.

  1. Unclog the Impeller – Running the pump and filter daily will stress the components. But if your pump fails, don’t close down your pool. It could simply be a clogged impeller inside of the pump, which is a detail that many above-ground pool owners may not often think about.

An impeller is the part of the pump that creates the flow of water from pump to filter. But the impeller can become clogged with debris such as leaves – which reduces, and often stops, the flow of water. To unclog the pump’s impeller, first turn off the motor, then find the location of your impeller. You may need to consult your owner’s manual. Remove the basket, and with the help of a screwdriver or an impeller cleaning kit, dig in to remove the clog of leaves and debris. Once the clog is gone, your pump will become more efficient.

  1. Clean and Patch the Liner – You may often end up neglecting the teeny tear or pinhole in the liner – especially if the hole is above the water line. However, if you don’t want major leaking problems in the future, you must patch them as soon as you spot them. Keep a pool patch kit – including underwater pool liner patch adhesive – handy for such DIY repairs.
  2. Protect the Pool Walls from Damage – Do all that you can to protect the walls, liner and pool equipment from damage. Don’t allow anyone to sit or stand (even partially) on the edges or the top rail of the pool, which can cause damage by creasing, cracking and collapsing the sides. Rusting under the top rail can result in rust falling into the water, so opt for your model’s replacement rails, which are available from your pool store or an online parts supplier (you’ll need to perfectly match the rails for an exact fit). Also, birds like to perch on the top rail. Make sure to regularly clean their droppings.

Other hazards that could damage the pool’s wall include:

  • Falling tree branches.
  • Nesting insects under the top rail.
  • Pecking wildlife at ground level.
  • Hitting the walls while bicycle riding.
  • Mowing too close to the wall or shooting debris from the mower hitting the wall.

One more caution – and this is important: Never drain your above-ground pool (unless you’re preparing to move it, of course)! As our blog post – “Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Pool for Winter” – covers, when the vinyl liner is exposed to UV rays and chemicals like chlorine, it shrinks and loses elasticity. If you drain an above ground pool with a vinyl liner, it will shrink, shift, and never return to its normal position, even after you refill it with water.

The Take-Home Message

An above-ground pool can be an ideal way for you, your family and your friends to get the most out of the Central Florida lifestyle that we love! Taking proper care of it can extend its life, and alert you to any changes that may indicate a leak. If you suspect a leak, Certified Leak Detection has more than 30 years of experience in leak detection and repair for swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and fountains. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call.

Contact us for quick, reliable service.

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