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How to Take Care of Above Ground Swimming Pools

A Woman in a Swimming Pool

It has become fairly easy for families to quickly set up their very own backyard swimming pool with the proliferation of quick-assembly above ground swimming pools. These instant pools are easy to set up and use; but in truth, maintaining them is not quite as easy as it seems.

Some of the most common problems with above ground swimming pools include poor circulation and filtration systems, which cause cloudy water and constant clogging of the filter. Improper or inadequate chemical treatment causes algae growth, as well as a slimy feel on the pool’s sides and floor. This may also cause a burning sensation on the skin and eyes. However, these problems are treatable and even preventable. Here are some tips on how to take care of an above ground swimming pool.

Above Ground Swimming Pool Basics

Above ground swimming pools come with their own standard and sometimes inadequate filter and pump system. For example, an above ground swimming pool with a 3,000 to 5,000 gallon-water capacity comes with a 5-square foot filter cartridge, and a 1/8 HP pump. An 8,000 gallon-water capacity above ground pool usually comes with a 40 to 50 square foot filter, and a ¾ HP pump. On the outside these fittings may seem adequate, but not when the pools are used by 6-8 kids and/or adults, in the case of the smaller capacity pool, and more than 10 in the bigger capacity pool.

Above ground swimming pools get warmer and stay warmer longer than in ground pools. The higher the water temperature is, the higher the chlorine use, which leads to more pool water problems such as the ones mentioned above.

Store-bought above ground swimming pools do not come with the proper maintenance and care instructions. The truth is, even store-bought, instant above ground swimming pools should be maintained and treated like any other swimming pool.

Keeping and Maintaining Above Ground Swimming Pools

blue tiles swimming pool water reflection texture image

We have established that all swimming pool types need daily filtering, cleaning, and observance of proper chemical levels for it to have clean, clear, and sparkling water. There are also pool maintenance procedures that need to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

  • Daily Maintenance Procedures

The pool filter and pump system needs to run for at least 12 hours daily, sometimes up to 18 hours, depending on the pool’s condition. In some cases, 5 hours of filtration is sufficient. Filtering the water will prevent water stagnation. It is important to realize that missing a single day of filtering will affect pool water circulation, and could turn the pool water cloudy and green.

The pool water level should be maintained with the mid-skimmer and not below or above it. From the moment the pool is used, the chlorine and pH levels should be 2.0-4.0 parts per million (ppm) and 7.4-7.6 ppm. As chlorine is pH dependent, increasing or decreasing the pH level is necessary to maintain an efficient chlorine level.

Emptying the skimmer and pump basket should not be overlooked.

The filter and pump pressure must be inspected daily. When the pressure is over 7-9 psi, cleaning and backwashing the filter is required.  DE and sand pool filters have valves that can be turned to reverse the flow of water through the filter, effectively flushing out trapped dirt. In the case of cartridge filters, the pump should be turned off so the filter can be removed and manually cleaned.

  • Weekly Maintenance Procedures

Cleaning the pool deck from floating debris should be done daily. Using a flat skimmer net is adequate for quick skimming. Vacuuming the pool floor is a must to eliminate the accumulation of dirt and the development of algae.  Brushing the pool will help in proper water circulation, as the process will remove invisible slimy films that could lead to algae blooms. Weekly brushing is sufficient unless the water is too warm. Backwashing is ideally done on a weekly basis, unless the filter pressure gauge rises to 7-9 psi.

The water’s total alkalinity level should be from 80 to 120 ppm. The pH level of the pool is dependent on its total alkalinity level. If it’s too low, the pH level will drop, and if it’s too high, the pH level will be difficult to adjust.

Adding maintenance doses of clarifier, algaecide, and metal on a weekly basis is a must to keep the pool water clean and sparkling blue. Algaecide will help prevent the pool water from turning cloudy, green, and swampy.

If a floater or chlorinator is used, chlorine tablets should be added to maintain the required level to 2-4 ppm. Generally, above ground pools require from 2-4 chlorine tablets weekly.

  • Monthly Maintenance Procedures

The hardness or softness of the pool water should be tested on a monthly basis. This is done by testing the calcium hardness level, with the ideal level being between 200-400 ppm. Water that is too soft facilitates the appearance of vinyl liner stains, which could lead to foaming that can interfere with proper filtering and sanitation. If the hardness is below 150 ppm, calcium hardness increaser must be added to the water.

The cyanuric acid level of the pool water should be from 30-50 ppm. Anything less or over could affect the chlorine content of the water, as cyanuric acid stabilizes chlorine and protects it from the sun.

Shock an above ground pool in the evening by adding a 2-pound pool shock per 10,000 gallons. This can be easily done by pouring the pool shock into a 5-gallon (16 liters) bucket of water and dissolving it before pouring the mixture on the pool’s edge. Granules left on the pool’s vinyl liner should be brushed away to prevent bleaching.

Check for possible algae growth behind ladders and steps. Clean the water line to remove oil, scale, and dirt.

Protecting the Outside Walls

A woman on a floating mattress in a swimming pool

Above ground swimming pool walls are susceptible to dents and dins, so care must be observed to prevent this from happening. The pool’s liner can turn brittle if chemical levels are not balanced. They can also be punctured by sharp objects that are non-pool toys or clothing.

Pool Master is one of Thailand’s swimming pool contractors, providing excellent products and services relating to all types of swimming pools. There is no swimming pool related question that we cannot provide an answer or solution to.

Contact us today for a free consultation.