Replacing/Retrofitting Top Rails and Verticals
by Jason Miller
Hello- I have a 4 year old Mighty Sun (Asahi) 24 foot round 52" height above ground pool. Last summer (2018) I noticed that the top rails on a section of the pool (about 20 feet worth) had popped up a little above the top of the pool wall. When I went to investigate it, it turned out that the vertical support no longer fit between the foot plate and the top plate.
We have a lot of clay content in our soil where we live, so we get a lot of heaves and shifting between winter and summer. The foot plate had "risen" up a little, but was still buried in the ground. As a temporary fix last year, I pulled the verticals away from the wall about 4 inches and dug them into the ground about 3 inches. This allowed the top plates, rails, and all the components to seat back down properly on the top of the pool wall.
This year when I opened up the pool, I noticed that the same section had "popped" up again that I had fixed last year, and a new section of about 15 feet. I figured it was from the ground shifting again. As I went to fix them as I had before, the curved section of the top rails broke where they connected to the top plates. (of note, the foot plate, verticals, top rails, and connection covers are resin with metal connecting plates). As I began to move down the line to fix the remaining sections, two more top rails broke in the same manner. At this point, I was pretty upset and figured that most of the plastic resin had aged or dry rotted, so I removed all the top rails, verticals, cover plates, and connector plates. The only thing remaining on the top of the pool is the coping and some of the guide rails.
Now I have been advised by three online companies and one storefront company that I am now at a
high risk of collapse. They have all universally said I need to drain the pool at least half way.
I am waiting for a 100 foot discharge hose to arrive from Amazon as I am in a more rural area and have to drain the pool to the drainage ditch, which is 75 feet away. Now, all of these companies have also said that based on the problems I am describing, I probably need to replace the whole pool. Since this is prime time pool season, I am having a hard time getting anyone out to see the pool to make sure that I do indeed need to replace the whole thing. The storefront company wanted $125 just to get someone out to assess the pool because they are so busy. I cannot find any other company to come out either.
Here is my thought and question (finally...LOL) I have been reading a lot of the posts here and on other sites. It appears that the strength and integrity of an above ground pool wall is in the top rails. I have read that the bottom rail does not bear weight. I have read that the foot plates are primarily for leveling. I have also read that the verticals are primarily for holding the top rails in place. With that being said, couldn't I just order an inexpensive set of; or replacement parts for a 24 foot round 52 inch height above ground pool? Drain half the water, install the rails and verticals, and refill? I really don't want to take the pool down because it will be a couple years before we can afford a new one. Please let me know what you think.
For the most part I agree with what you are going to do. Drain the pool half way is good. You can use just about anything for uprights and top rails. The most important thing is to make sure all of the metal top rods are in place, over the coping, and held in place by your top caps.