Above Ground Pools Questions and Answers

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In this section of above ground pools questions and answers I will cover topics like deep ends for above ground pools, best brands, installing an above ground pool and much more.  For a complete list of questions about above ground swimming pools visit the questions index page.  If you have a question you cannot find an answer for feel free to ask the pool pro.  Having installed above ground pools most of my life I am sure I could help you out.

1. How long have you been installing above ground swimming pools?

I have been installing vinyl pools in the Phoenix, Arizona area for over 50 yrs.

2. How did you get started doing this?

It started as a summer job in high school. The next year my boss had moved on to a different business and I took over. I've been on my own ever since. I install for the same stores I did 30 yrs. ago. It has been a great ongoing relationship.

3. Can I have my vinyl pool deeper than four foot?

expandable pool liner
The standard wall size has always been 48". In the last few years pools with walls that measure 52" and even 54" are becoming popular. It is very common now for liners to fit from a 52" up to a 54" pool. These taller pool walls have made deep ends almost a thing of the past. Expandable liners are still available for deep areas of depths up to 6'- 7'. On round pools the deep area can be at one side with a shallow area at the other, or the deepest part can be in the center with about a 2' walkway around the outside edge then sloping toward the center. Oval pools could have one end shallow and the other deep (good for a jump board at one end and plenty of room for the kids to play at the other) or the majority of the pool area could be deeper with just a walkway around the outside edge (great for mostly adult use and volley ball games). Not all ovals come with the right type of side bracing for deep areas, so check first.

4. How long should a vinyl liner last?

I believe there are four factors that would determine the life of a liner. First being the quality of the liner itself. Most brands of vinyl liners are 5 year liners. The lower end of this range would be 3-5 years. The best quality liners will usually last at least 10 years. In a few cases I have seen liners last up to 16 years. The second being how you clean the pool. For years the manual vacuum head on the end of a long pole was the only way. The water would cause the vacuum head to be a bit weightless and running it into the side of the pool against the pool wall or letting the pool wall guide the vacuum head around the pool would cause little holes all around the bottom edge of the pool (where the wall meets the cove). When automatic above ground pool cleaners started becoming popular finding the holes became a little harder. I used to only have to look around the bottom edge of the pool at the top of the cove to see the little holes caused by vacuums. Now I have to take a few top rails off, pull the liner back and crawl under it to see the holes in the liner, looking up from the dark they look like stars. They are the little holes caused by automatic cleaners spending way too much time in one spot. The little guys are great but they all get lazy. Don't run them all the time and just like kids, don't leave them unattended. The third factor are the chemicals you use in your pool. They need to be those made for or safe for vinyl, there is a difference. Liners becoming brittle after only 2-3 years can usually blame too much liquid chlorine, chemicals allowed to sit on the bottom before they dissolve or bad ph balance. If you are able to keep your liner going strong for several years sooner or later dry rot will set in.

Maintaining proper water chemistry is crucial for keeping your above ground pool clean, clear, and safe for swimming. Here are some of the most common types of chemicals used in above ground pools:

  • Chlorine: Chlorine is the most common chemical used to sanitize pool water and kill bacteria, viruses, and other harmful organisms. It's available in various forms, including tablets, granules, and liquid.
  • pH Adjusters: pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water is. The ideal pH range for pool water is between 7.2 and 7.8. pH adjusters, such as sodium carbonate (also known as soda ash) or sodium bisulfate, are used to increase or decrease the pH level as needed.
  • Alkalinity Adjusters: Total Alkalinity (TA) is a measure of the water's ability to resist changes in pH. Alkalinity adjusters, such as sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydroxide, are used to raise the TA level.
  • Shock: Shocking your pool with a high dose of chlorine or non-chlorine shock is an important part of regular pool maintenance. Shocking helps to kill bacteria and algae, and remove contaminants that regular chlorination may not eliminate.
  • Algaecides: Algaecides are chemicals used to kill and prevent the growth of algae in pool water. They're available in various forms, including copper-based and non-copper-based algaecides.
  • Stabilizer: Stabilizer, also known as cyanuric acid, helps to protect chlorine from being degraded by sunlight. It's particularly important for outdoor pools that are exposed to direct sunlight.

5. What are the best brands of above ground pools?

I contract with several different companies to do their installs so I can't name brands. I can say this, some pools will last 5 years, some 10 and a very few 15 years or longer. Price has a lot to do with it. Pretty much you get what you pay for. But no matter what you do with above grounds you get great value for the buck. If you spend $600. and it lasts 6 years compared to a $200. a month payment on that in ground pool, that's value. I heard just last week as I was removing and hauling to the dump a pool I had set up for a customer 14 years ago, "that was the best investment I ever made, I paid $1500. for the pool, changed the liner once and the pump once and used it every day every summer for 14 years". My only other advice on brand is this, if you are buying a new pool from a local dealer, visit a few different places and check the price, the filter, the equipment and most importantly, walk up to their display and push it, shake it, and try to move it, it's best to buy a sturdy pool.

6. Do I need a permit for a pool on top of the ground?

All cities and municipalities are different. Years ago no one required a permit, now it is not that uncommon. If this is a concern for you, check with your local planning and zoning department.

7. How many people does it take to install an above ground pool?

Not so many. A bunch of beer drinking buddies could turn into a pool disaster like seen on funniest home videos. I can build any pool made by myself without any help. I do recommend for the beginner at least one or two helpers, but that's all. Follow the install instructions carefully and you should be o-k. If at anytime you get stuck check my above ground swimming pool installation tips page or Ask The Pool Pro for some free advice. If you live in Arizona I could help you with your pool installation.

8. What size pool do I need?

I get asked this a lot. I had a 24' round for years. I had my three daughters and lots of the neighbor kids in it most of the time. It was never too small. It was not a big problem for me to maintain. A great size. But if you want to swim laps, you get three strokes before you reach the other side. For swimming laps, 30' minimum, ovals are best for this. My girls all grew up and became lifeguards and then off to college. When we get home from a hard days work now days, my wife and I relax in a 15' round pool. Just the right size for two people to float and cool off in. Round pools can come in any size from 12' to 33'. Decide how much space you have, how much time and money you have to maintain the pool, and how many people will be in it at one time. Ovals are nice for lap pools and because of some of the newer profile models with braces that don't stick out three feet on each side, they fit nicely into some really strange layouts.

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