How Hard is it to Maintain an Above-Ground Pool

How Hard is it to Maintain an Above-Ground Pool?

Above-ground pools are a source of long summer days, fun with family and friends.

They are a great way to beat the heat and cool off during the worst heat summer has to offer.

But, as Spiderman would say, with “the great cooling effects of backyard pools comes great responsibility.”

(Pretty sure that’s what he said…)

But the good news is this: maintaining your new above-ground pool isn’t as complicated or as difficult as you might think.

And it definitely shouldn’t deter you from learning the basics of above-ground pool maintenance.

In fact, once you have the right tools and the right schedule for maintaining your pool, it’s actually quite simple and straightforward.

Above-Ground Pool Maintenance – The Basics

Let’s jump right in with some of my all-time favorite tips for maintaining an above-ground swimming pool.

Put together a cleaning and maintenance schedule.

The number one thing I recommend every new above-ground pool owner do is put together a scheduled routine for maintaining and cleaning the pool.

This puts you into a proactive position, staying ahead of potential problems.

Yes, this will require some time that could be better spent enjoying your pool, but when you compare the amount of time that reacting to pool problems, whether it’s having to shock the water, buy a new pump and filter, or having to hand scrub an inch of algae off the pool walls, a little proactive scheduling will save you a ton of time down the road.

Get the right pool chemicals.

We all know the main pool chemical that is used for disinfecting the water, and that is our old-buddy-old-pal chlorine.

Pool chlorine (which is a blend of chlorine and sodium hydroxide) is crucial for drop-kicking algae, bacteria and other microorganisms that can quickly turn our pool into a disease pit.

Available as tablets (here is a review of the top chlorine tablets for backyard pools), they are easy to add to your pool and can even be placed in floating pool chemical dispensers for “hands off” application.

This pool maintenance task is easy. For example, a 3” chlorine tablet is often enough to keep a 10,000-gallon pool properly chlorinated for a week.

Test the pool water regularly.

The number one issue pool owners face is cloudy water. Nothing is more infuriating than pulling the cover off the pool to see water that has turned milky or green.

Fortunately, you can avoid 99% of the problems that come with pool water by simply testing.

At least twice a week check for chlorine and pH levels. (There are other things to test for, like calcium, cyarunic acid, and others, but these can be done weekly or monthly.)

Testing is straightforward and can be done with one of the many pool test kits on the market, including liquid pool tests, test strips for pools, and the priciest (and most accurate) of the bunch, digital pool testers.

Testing the pool water takes a couple of minutes and should be done 2-3 times per week, making sure that the chlorine and pH levels are within target ranges.

Clean the pool manually.

Yes, I know—more work? Time to fire up some of that elbow grease.

Using a basic pool skimmer, a pool vacuum, and a pool brush you can stay ahead of a lot of the issues that plague above ground pool owners and users.

How often you do this three-punch-cleaning-combination depends on a few different factors, including how much stuff is falling into the pool (is your pool under a bunch of trees, for example?).

Skim, brush, and vacuum (in that order) the pool. These tools are known as “soft” tools as they are designed for vinyl pool liners and won’t puncture or pierce the walls of above-ground pools.

The first time you do this process you might be taken aback by how cloudy the pool becomes. This simply means you got the junk and dirt off the walls and floor.

Vacuum what you can and let the pool filter handle the rest. After a few hours, come back and empty out the debris basket from the pump and filter.

Run the pump like a boss.

Above-ground pools should have a pump and filter that helps circulate the water. Doing so helps push water through the filter, which collects organic matter and other unwanted guests in the filter and skimmer.

There are a few different pool pumps on the market, and they vary widely in price. Intex, makers of some of the best above-ground pools on the market, have their own line of Intex pool pumps for pools of every size.

The pump should be run each day according to the size and volume of your swimming pool. Pool makers typically recommend that you run the pump for 8-12 hours a day to ensure that water is circulating and being cleaned.

Cover the pool when not in use.

Covering your pool, either with a solar cover or a more tight-fitting cover, helps reduce water evaporation and keeps unwanted guests from jumping into the water and causing algae growth or clogging up your filter.

Solar pool covers are one of your best friends when it comes to saving money and keeping debris and rain from entering the pool. Solar covers can reduce heat loss by up to 95% and also help you save money on pool chemicals and water usage.

Larger, tighter-fitting covers are perfect for when the pool is not going to see any use for longer than a day or two. Covers will save you a lot of time cleaning the next time you get into the water and also reduce power usage on the pump.

Winter pool covers protect your pool in a more heavy-duty fashion, securing the pool over the chilly months.

Keep dirt and grass out of the pool.

One of the things new pool owners are most surprised by is how quickly the water can get dirty and cloudy. This is partly due to swimmers hoping in the water and sweating, peeing, and leaving oil in the water.

Another sneaky intruder is dirt and grass coming in on the feet of swimmers entering the pool. A simple solution is having a bin that pool guests rinse their feet in before hopping into the water. (It’s also one of my favorite accessories for above-ground pools.)

This is especially crucial for above-ground pools that don’t have a deck and are surrounded by dirt, grass, and mud. Tracking all of that stuff into the pool will turn the water un-swimmable in a hurry.

Maintaining Your Pool a Little Helps You Enjoy it a Lot

I know, maintenance and cleaning isn’t joyful.

Especially when compared to the sheer joy of executing a picture-perfect cannonball into your above-ground pool.

But it’s essential.

And with some practice, and as you settle into the routine of maintaining your above-ground pool, you will become a natural, freeing you up to enjoy your swimming pool with confidence.

To recap:

  • Stock up on the right pool chemicals
  • Have the right manual pool cleaning tools on hand
  • Run the pump to keep water circulating and filtered
  • Cover the pool to save energy and keep debris out
  • Provide a clean entry for swimmers
  • Write out a maintenance and cleaning schedule

Recommended Reading

5 Best Heaters for Above Ground Swimming Pools. Want to get more time and use from your backyard pool? Here are our hand-picked selections of the best heaters for above-ground swimming pools.

6 Best Pool Ladders for Above Ground Swimming Pools. Looking for the right pool ladder for your above-ground pool? Here’s a breakdown of the best ones on the market, including key features, price, and more.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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