It is possible to install an above ground pool yourself. If you are reasonably handy and have the patience to take your time and do it right, you can avoid the cost of a professional installation. Before you make the decision, watch the YouTube videos on how to install an above ground backyard pool. Watch several of them and then decide if you still think you can tackle this project.
When your pool is delivered, it will include specific instructions for your pool. Read them and if there is something you don’t understand, go back to YouTube or call the company you purchased the pool from. They should have technicians available to answer any questions you may have.
There are two other things you should do before you start. First, call Diggers Hotline and have them verify there are no gas lines or electric cables where you want to install your pool. Second, get a copy of the rules governing installing a backyard pool, You may need a building permit, there may be rules about the distance from your neighbor’s property and the distance from overhead lines, and there will certainly be rules on fencing.
You’ve done your homework, and you feel confident that this is a project you can handle. You will need a certain number of tools. It also is a good idea to sort all the pieces that come in your pool kit. The job will be a lot easier if you take the time to do this now.
Phillips head screwdriver
Patio blocks 2”x8”x16” (one for each bottom plate)
Carpenter’s level or transit
Garden stakes and clamps
The transit and the sod cutter are optional but will make this job so much easier. The wheelbarrow is also optional, but, if the load of sand is being dropped on your driveway in the front yard, a good deep wheelbarrow will be a necessity. All three items can be rented from the local hardware store.
Following are the basic instructions for installing an above ground pool. There may be some differences, depending on the company you buy your pool from. Always follow the instructions included with your specific pool.
1. Prepare the site. You know where you want your pool, and you have checked with Diggers Hotline. The easiest way to measure is to use a stationary object like a wall or fence and mark where you want the wall of your pool. Then measure ½ the width of your pool, plus one foot. This is the center of your pool. Stake the spot and then walk the tape around the stake and mark the perimeter of your pool. The extra foot gives you room to work and, also, it is better not to have the sod up against the pool side after installation.
2. Clean and level. After you remove the sod, you will want to remove any stones, rocks, large roots, or debris. Now you must level the area. Never fill in a low spot; you must level to the lowest spot by taking away the dirt. You want to have a level compacted surface to lay the bed of sand on. This is one of the most critical steps in the installation. If your pool is not level, your pool bottom can be damaged. You must be level within 1”.
3. Lay the bottom rails. Lay your bottom rails and the bottom plates around the perimeter of your pool. The next step is to connect the bottom plates and rails together. Measure the diameter in several places to make sure your pool is perfectly round. When you are satisfied, stake the ring in place.
4. Block bottom plates. The next step is to place a patio block under each bottom plate. You will need to dig out the soil under the block so that the top surface of the block is even with the surface of the soil. Check the level of each block. When finished, the track should be lying level on the ground.
5. Add the sand. The layer of sand will protect the bottom of the pool and provide a cushion for you when you stand and walk in your pool.
6. Install the wall. This part can be tricky, and it helps to have more than one person. Remember that the skimmer cutout has to be located in the top part of the wall. You can use the garden stakes to support the wall as you fit it into the bottom track by clamping the wall to the garden stake. Attach the wall bars that hold your pool wall together as instructed in your directions. Cover the bolt heads in the inside of your pool with three layers of duct tape to protect the liner.
7. Build the cove. Use the sand to build a cove 6-8 inches high and at a 45-degree angle to the side of the pool. This will give extra support to your pool wall. Use the tamp to pack the cove sand. If you wet the sand first, it will tamp easier.
8. Add the uprights. Install the uprights into the bottom plates. Now go over the bottom of the pool with the tamp once again to make sure it is perfectly level. Then lightly rake the surface to remove any lines from the tamp.
9. Add the liner. First lay your liner out in the sun. The heat will make the liner easier to manipulate. When you are ready to install the liner, fold the liner in a way that makes it easier for you to position it in the bottom of the pool. Remember to remove your shoes for this step so you don’t damage the liner when you walk on it. There are several ways that liners are attached to the top rail. Refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to determine how to attach your liner. Once the liner is attached, you can start to work out the wrinkles in the liner.
10. Add the stabilizer rails and top plates. The stabilizer rails hook together to reinforce the circular shape of your above ground pool. Use the level to make sure your uprights are perfectly straight, and attach the top plates.
11. Add the top rail. Place all the top rails and lightly screw them. After they are all in position, make any adjustments and screw them down tightly.
12. Add water. Add about one inch of water to your pool. Make a final check of the liner, both bottom and sides. This will be your final chance to remove any wrinkles. When you are happy with the liner, fill the pool about halfway. Then refer to the instructions for attaching the skimmer and return fittings. Connect the pool filter and pump and complete filling the pool. The pool should be filled to about 1/3 of the height of the skimmer.
These are very basic instruction for a round pool. If you are installing a larger oval pool, there will be an additional step needed to support the side walls. Originally, the walls were supported with buttresses on the outside of the pool wall. Now there is a system of straps that will go under your pool to provide the extra support.
You did it! Your pool is ready to go, and you will enjoy many years of fun from your pool!
Removing an Above Ground Pool
What if you are faced with removing an above ground pool? Can you do that on your own? The answer is yes, but it is labor intensive. Here is a list of tools you will need:
Heavy duty metal cutter
Phillips and straight edge screw bits
Sump pump and long hose
1. Empty the pool. The first thing you will need to do is empty the pool. If you have a large property or a way to drain the water away from the pool, your house, and the neighbor’s yard, a sump pump will remove the water. Attach the hose to the sump pump to direct the water where you want.
If you don’t have a good place to drain this volume of water, you will have to hire a company that will suck the water into their tanker and haul it away. If you are going to use the sump pump method, allow plenty of time—as in days. Depending on the size of your pool and how much water is still in the pool, allow plenty of time before you plan to dismantle the pool.
2. Remove the pool equipment. Disconnect and remove all the hoses, filter, pump, etc. move them out of the way.
3. Remove the liner. Cut the liner off at the top of the wall with a scissors or knife and fold or roll it into a manageable bundle. Tie with the rope.
4. Remove the top rail. Using your electric screwdriver and drill in reverse, remove all the connecting pieces from the top of the wall. Be prepared to take your time and expect that some of these screws and bolts won’t be easy. There will be rust and debris. Put the pieces in the boxes for later disposal.
5. Remove the connecting strips. The metal strips that connect your pool wall are bolted or screwed with heavier bolts. Remove them and open the wall. Cut the wall with the metal cutter to make the pieces easier to manage and remove. You can roll them and tie with the rope.
6. Remove the bottom metal rim. Once you have the wall removed, you can start pulling the bottom rim out of the sand or dirt. Remove the bolts to disassemble the bottom rim. Put the pieces in the boxes for easy disposal.
If you have any friends or family to help you with this project, it will be a lot easier and faster. Ask them to bring their tools and, with their help, you can probably get the dismantling finished in a day. Have plenty of drinks on ice and plenty of food to serve to these wonderful friends!
You most likely will not be able to put the remains of your pool at the curbside with your household trash. You may need a service like Got Junk or call your local recycling service.
Now that the old pool is removed, you can finish the area as you want. If you are replacing the pool with a new one, you may only need to add some sand, and you will be ready to begin construction. If you are increasing the size of your pool, at least you have a head start on preparing the site. Today, above ground pool sizes vary from a small plunge pool to an oval family-size pool. If you are removing the pool entirely, a little grading and some grass seed will be all you need. Other alternatives could be a garden space or a gazebo.
If the pool was removed for your elderly parents, who can’t manage a pool any longer, perhaps replacing the pool with a hot tub or spa on their deck or patio would be a great alternative. Mom and Dad might really enjoy the benefits of the warm water massaging their muscles and joints. A spa or hot tub is much easier to manage and can be designed for easy entry and exit. If they really enjoyed their pool, a spa might be a welcome alternative.