10 Above Ground Pool Maintenance Tips You Need to Have
Are you the proud new owner of an above ground pool?
If so, you’re in good company. There are an estimated 10.6 million swimming pools in the US, almost half of which are above ground.
But while your pool will mean a lot of fun in the sun, it also means a lot of work. Many new pool owners underestimate the amount of maintenance that even a small above ground pool requires.
In this post, we’ll walk you through some common pool cleaning and maintenance issues. Then we’ll reveal 10 essential tips for proper above ground pool maintenance.
Common Pool Problems
The biggest challenge for pools – both public and private – is keeping them clean. In a recent CDC report, inspectors found health code violations in 80% of public pools.
But there are hundreds of people that use public pools, you may argue. While this is true, even a small pool for you and your family can become a breeding ground for germs.
Here are a few common issues related to above ground pool maintenance:
- Cloudy water
- Algae growth
- Slimy feel
- Burning sensation in the eyes or on the skin
- Repeated or constant filter clogging
All these problems result from improper filtration, poor circulation, or misuse of pool chemicals. The good news is that you can easily correct these issues through proper above ground pool maintenance.
Chlorine Vs. Salt Water
For decades, chlorine has been the chemical of choice to sanitize swimming pools. Lately, though, there’s been a trend towards salt water pools.
Before we discuss above ground pool maintenance, let’s briefly discuss the pros and cons of salt water pools.
One noteworthy fact is that salt water pools are nowhere near as salty as the ocean. Most pools contain about one-tenth the salinity of seawater.
Many people believe that salt water pools contain no chlorine, but that’s not the case. The system actually creates chlorine through a process called electrolysis.
Because of the lower chlorine level, salt water pools are gentler on the eyes and feel “softer” to the swimmer.
Traditional chlorine pools require constant monitoring of chemical levels. A salt water generator spares owners from buying, handling, and storing harsh chemicals.
Because the salt cells generate chlorine as needed, the water needs less maintenance than a traditional chlorine pool. This can significantly reduce your weekly above ground pool maintenance.
One drawback of a salt water system is the initial cost. A salt water generator requires a much larger investment than a chlorinated pool. Also, because the system is so complex, you’ll need to call an experienced technician for any major problems.
If it’s in the budget, salt water could be a healthier and time-saving alternative to traditional chlorine.
10 Tips For Above Ground Pool Maintenance
You’ve got your pool. You’ve got your favorite pool accessories.
Now it’s time to consider proper above ground pool maintenance so your family can enjoy the pool for years to come.
One of the biggest challenges of maintaining your above ground pool is water circulation.
Achieving good circulation in your pool involves more than simply filtering water. It means getting all the water moving into and through the filter.
In addition to filter turnover, circulation must also remove “dead spots.” These are the areas where algae, dirt, and debris always seems to accumulate.
Common dead spots include:
- the lower half of the pool
- corners (in rectangular pools)
- the exact center (in round pools)
- behind ladders and stairs
The more the water circulates, the better the filtration. As a result, your pool remains cleaner. With that said, what are some easy ways to improve your pool’s circulation?
The first and most obvious way is to use it. Swim, play, splash, and do a few cannon balls. Using your pool on a regular basis is the easiest way to circulate the water.
Just like you need to brush and floss your teeth daily, you need to brush and vacuum your pool regularly, too. Aim to brush down the pool walls at least once a week (preferably twice).
If your pool contains jets, be sure to aim them down. You also need to run your filter at least eight hours per day. Using a timer will help save money and electricity.
The next step for above ground pool maintenance is proper filtration. Once the water is circulating as it should, filtration will remove dirt, debris, and algae.
The three most common types of filtration systems are:
- Sand filters
- Cartridge filters
- DE (Diatomaceous Earth) filters
Each filter functions the same way, but sand filters remove the largest particles and DE filters remove the smallest. Whichever type of filter you choose, you should filter your pool water anywhere from 8 to 12 hours each day.
A crucial factor of above ground pool maintenance is ensuring your filter is the correct size. It’s important to never undersize your filter cartridge. While it may appear to keep your pool clean at first, over time it will create more and more work for you.
Another important thing to remember is to chemically clean the filter. You need to disassemble and rinse your filter regularly, but this won’t remove grease, oil, or embedded dirt.
To achieve that, you’ll need to clean the filter twice per season with a chemical filter cleaning product. This usually involves soaking the filter in the solution, although some brands offer spray-on versions.
You bought your pool for relaxation and entertainment. But like other “toys,” you have to maintain it – and that means cleaning.
Isn’t that what filters are for? Yes, filters definitely help to keep your pool clean.
Unfortunately, though, they don’t do all the work. You still have to roll up your sleeves and do some dirty work yourself.
The three main aspects of manual pool cleaning are skimming, vacuuming, and brushing.
Your wall skimmer will catch some floating debris. But if you have a lot of trees, you’ll also need a handheld leaf skimmer.
Attach the leaf skimmer to a pool pole and drag it across the water’s surface. A bag-type leaf rake works best on a lot of leaves or to scoop debris from the pool’s floor.
A flat skimmer net will work to quickly clear a few leaves from the surface.
You can connect suction-type cleaners into the skimmer to set up an automatic pool vacuum. You can also use a robotic pool cleaner.
If the leaves are deep or you’re experiencing an algae bloom, you’ll want to vacuum your pool the old-fashioned way.
To begin, put the vacuum head on the pole and connect the vacuum hose. Place it in the pool and hold the other end over the return fitting so the hose fills with water.
Push it into the hole below the skimmer basket and voila! You’re vacuuming your pool.
A final part of cleaning your pool is wall and floor brushing. This is the most neglected area of above ground pool maintenance, yet it’s one of the most important.
Just like teeth, pools need regular brushing to remove invisible film and bacteria. It also helps to improve water circulation.
Brush your pool at least once a week. If you have a hard time reaching the walls, it may be easiest to brush while standing in the center of your pool.
Also be sure to keep your pool brush in pristine condition. If the bristles get worn and the edges get rough, it could damage the lining of the pool.
Testing is vital to determine the “health” of your pool’s water.
Don’t rely solely on how the water looks since many contaminants are invisible. Most common complaints (skin irritation, red eyes, discolored hair) occur when the water appears clearest.
Whether you use chlorine, bromine, salt, or biguanides, you need to check the levels at least twice a week. Test the pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness, and make any needed adjustments.
If the levels are too low, algae and bacteria can multiply and cause you serious problems. If they’re too high, you’re wasting money and exposing yourself to potential health risks.
By testing regularly, you’ll protect both the filter system and the pool’s surfaces. You’ll also notice better sanitizer efficiency and eliminate common eye and skin complaints.
5. Water Chemistry
You may feel nervous about the chemicals going into your pool, but you don’t have to be. Water chemistry is one of the easier aspects of above ground pool maintenance.
For ideal water chemistry, you first need to maintain constant levels of sanitizer. Next, shock the pool and add algicide every two weeks to inhibit algae growth.
Finally, monitor and maintain proper pH balance. Without it, your sanitizer won’t work as effectively as it should. Cloudy water signals high pH levels, while ultra-clear water means a low pH level.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a pool’s ideal water chemistry:
- Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
- pH Level: 7.2-7.6
- Calcium: 250-400 ppm
- Chlorine: 2.0-4.0
Test these levels at least once a week to maintain a healthy, stable pool environment.
We’ve already touched on pool filters, which is one way of sanitizing your pool. Let’s discuss sanitizing in more detail, including other options.
All pools require the use of some type of sanitizing system. These work to kill bacteria and prevent algae. The most common sanitizer is chlorine, usually in the form of a tablet, granule, or stick.
Because some want to reduce their chlorine exposure, alternative sanitizers are becoming popular. These include salt chlorine generators, ionizers, ozone generators, and UV sterilizers.
Whichever type of sanitizer you choose, it’s vital to monitor the level and keep it consistent. Sanitizing is the main way to protect you and your family from harmful pathogens in the water.
7. Shock Treatments
No, we’re not talking about a medical procedure. Shock treatments are another important aspect of above ground pool maintenance.
Shock treatments accomplish the following:
- Prevent chloramine contamination
- Inhibit debris buildup
- Oxidize organic contaminants
- Kills resistant algae
- Eliminate contamination from sunscreen, hair products, and bodily fluids
Shock treatments are available in both chlorine and non-chlorinated forms. There are also shock treatments specially designed for hard water regions.
8. Pool Walls
Above ground pool maintenance involves more than just monitoring the water. You also need to care for and protect the pool itself.
If anything bumps into the walls of your above ground pool – even gently – it can cause serious damage. A major dent, leak, or crimp in a wall panel can happen more easily than you think.
When your kids use bicycles or tricycles in the pool area, watch them closely. They should also avoid throwing balls or other toys at the walls of the pool. Repeatedly standing or sitting on the top rail of the pool wall could cause damage, too.
If you have trees in your yard, keep them trimmed and monitor for loose branches. Even a small branch, if it falls the right way, could spell disaster for your pool walls.
9. Pool Liner
The best way to protect your pool liner is to maintain proper water chemistry.
If the chlorine levels are too high, this can make the vinyl brittle and make it prone to damage. Many things can cause holes or punctures, especially toys and street clothes.
And if your dog enjoys swimming in the pool, make sure to keep his nails trimmed. Better safe than sorry.
If you live somewhere with cold winters, you’ll need to winterize your pool at the end of each summer season.
Remove the ladder, chemicals, and cleaning supplies and store them somewhere warm and dry. Ensure proper water chemistry before you add a winter chemical kit to the water.
After running the filter for an hour, disconnect the motor and pump and drain the water from your pool. Clean and dry the pool, filter, and hoses and store all loose items in a dry place.
Finally, cover your pool with a year-round or winter cover. It will stay safe and protected until the spring.
There are a lot of steps involved in above ground pool maintenance.
Once you establish a good routine, though, you should be able to maintain a clean, healthy pool.
Looking for more tips on above ground pool maintenance? Check out our latest pool and tub maintenance posts for more helpful advice.