Above ground pool mistakes, or things you should never do to an above ground swimming pool.
I installed pools for 50 years. During that time I had to fix many a mistake that could have been avoided, if only they had known. This page deals with mistakes made after a pool is installed, I also have a page about pool installation mistakes, if you have not installed yet it is worth checking out.
The most costly mistake has to be leaving an in ground, above ground pool, empty. Above ground pools are meant to be just that, above the ground. We do, however, put them into the ground. They do quite well in the ground except when left empty. An empty above ground pool in the ground is a disaster waiting to happen. The first time it rains, the dirt around the pool gets heavy, and the pool caves in. Now, instead of just needing a new liner, the entire pool needs to be removed, straightened out, and reinstalled. Before the pool can be reinstalled a lot of dirt needs to be removed from the hole. All the dirt that caved in plus all the dirt for about 2' around the pool frame. It is a very expensive mess to fix.
Probably the most common above ground pool mistake people make is to let grass grow up around the outside of their pool. Grass growing up to an above ground pool on the outside can easily grow into the pool and up through the liner. I have been called out on hundreds of calls where grass is growing through a liner. In almost every case the grass is coming up near the edge of the pool and it is thriving on the outside. When the area around the pool is treated, covered with plastic and decorative rock, grass seldom becomes a problem inside the pool.
And how about those automatic pool cleaners? I know I have loved them since I owned my first Lady Bug. But if you leave them in the pool running every time the filter runs they will, sooner or later, find a spot, or an area, where they sit and do nothing but vibrate. This vibration grinds against the liner and wears pinholes, hundreds of them at times. Again, I love automatic pool cleaners, just do two things. Spend some time with the cleaner and with the instructions. Really, read and follow the instructions. They will help you keep the cleaner in motion. There are many adjustments that can be made with the angle of the return flow, the length of the hose and the regulators. It takes time to dial these things in just right. And even then, they might still have a place or two where they like to rest a little too long. Use them to clean the pool only, then take them out. They do not need to run every time the filter runs, just when the pool needs vacuumed.
The reason I know so much about holes in vinyl liners is simple. I have crawled under more liners than I would ever care to count. When my entry is closed off by the person on the outside holding the liner, every thing is dark on the underside of a pool liner. Every thing except the daylight coming through the holes. When a pool cleaner has been acting badly it looks like the milky way. When it is a hand held vacuum to blame the holes are in a straight line around the outer edge of the pool. It's dirty work, but you do learn a lot from the underside of a vinyl liner.
Another mistake that has always been a big money maker for me is draining an above ground pool to clean it. The liner shrinks, the pool cannot be refilled and I get called to replace the liner. Do not drain a vinyl liner pool. It is pretty much that simple. I said pretty much, because nothing is that simple. If the liner is fresh, within the first year or two, it is possible to drain and refill. Do this only on a sunny day and do it fast. The only reason for draining a pool is to do a repair of some sort. If your pool needs a repair, that requires the liner to be completely empty, you will know within the first season or two. After that there is seldom a reason to ever completely drain an above ground pool. If you are having bad water issues and feel the need to drain the pool, leave at least a foot of water in the pool and refill immediately.
Next on the list of above ground pool mistakes is not running the filter enough. It is common for new pool owners to set their pump timers for six, or eight, hours a day and leave it that way year round. Pool filters need to run longer the hotter it gets. During the peak of the summer months twelve to fourteen hours a day may be required. So, the hotter it gets, the longer the filter needs to run. Another thing that seldom gets done, and would save hundreds of dollars in pool chemicals, is this. If your water gets cloudy, or turns bad in any way, run the filter nonstop until the water is clear. Normally, all that is needed, is to add a bag or two of vinyl pool shock, run the filter for a day or two, and the water is back to clear. The pool store may say add this, this and this, but if you are still running the filter only six hours a day it is probably all a waist of money.
Another costly above ground pool mistake is building a pool deck over top or your pool top rails. If you have an overlap liner, at some point, these rails will need to be removed to change the liner. If this is your intention, then a beaded liner is what you need, and you can build any kind of deck you want and never worry about liner changing time.