How to Take Care of an Above-Ground Pool

Reviewed by Andrada Simion, Master of Science in Chemistry

An above ground pool can last for many years if properly maintained.

Check the outer structure

  • Periodically examine the frame that supports the pool for bends or crimps.
  • If it has a PVC frame, check for cracks in the pipe.
  • Check the pool walls for dents or folds.
  • If there is an inflatable top ring, be sure it is firm and free from leaks.
  • Examine the ground around the perimeter of the pool to check for low spots or holes.
  • Keep the outer surface clean by using a soft brush and a water hose.

Maintaining the Liner

  • Regularly examine the liner for any rips or tears.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to clean the liner every other week.
  • Algae build up can be removed with a soft mop or cloth.
  • Use only approved pool chemicals in the proper ratios.
  • Improper chlorine use will dry and crack the liner material.

Pump and Filter Care

  • Use the correct size pump for the water capacity of your pool.
  • Always use the proper electrical supply to run the pump.
  • Remove the filter cartridge and rinse it with a garden hose weekly.
  • Replace the filter cartridge monthly.
  • If using a sand or salt filter, engage the valve to backwash the filter weekly.
  • Clean out skimmer baskets twice a week, or any time debris is present.

Water quality and maintenance

  • Use a skimmer or leaf basket to remove debris from daily.
  • Regularly clean filter baskets and backwash if necessary.
  • Use a pool vacuum to clean dirt and sand from the floor of the pool.
  • Run the pump a minimum of 8 to 12 hours per day.
  • Aim jets to direct water into a circular motion.
  • Use a test kit to measure pH, chlorine, and alkalinity numbers.

Chemicals and Additives

  • Poolwater should be tested every other day throughout the summer.
  • To use a test strip remove a small sample of the water, dip the test strip into it, wait the allotted time then compare the strip to the chart.
  • The pH level should be 7.4-7.6.
  • Add pH reducer or pH builder if needed.
  • Alkalinity of the water should be 100-150 parts per million.
  • A heavy rain or naturally occurring minerals can affect alkalinity.
  • Check chlorine levels. Proper chlorine level is 1.0 parts per million.
  • Use chlorine tablets in the pump basket as directed by manufacturer and additional ones in a floating dispenser.
  • Use shock if algae appears or the water becomes hazy or discolored – it should be applied directly at 1 lb./5000 gal. 12-24 hours after shock treatment, add algaecide according to the directions, wait 24 hours then test water for normal range on all indicators.

Other Concerns and Suggestions

  • Place the pool in a flat, level, open area away from falling leaves or branches.
  • Invest in a pool cover to help maintain chemical levels and keep debris out.
  • If using a ladder, be sure it is properly secured and has no sharp edges which could damage the liner.
  • Toys should be designed for pool use only, and avoid metal toys and sharp objects.
  • Have a tub or pan to use for a foot wash station. This will keep grass and dirt out.
  • Sunscreen, deodorant, shampoo, and detergents can affect water quality – use an absorbent cotton cloth on top of the water to help remove these products.

Preparing the pool for winter

  • Test the water and ensure that it is properly treated.
  • Scrub the liner with a soft brush.
  • Run the pool vacuum to remove all dirt and debris.
  • Lower the water level to below the return jets.
  • Add winterizing chemicals as directed by manufacturer.
  • Remove the hoses for the filter and pump.
  • Drain the pump and store it in a safe, dry location.
  • Inflate an air pillow or beach balls and let float on water’s surface.
  • Use a winter cover to keep out damaging snow and ice.