So it's now Summertime, the kids are out of school, many public pools and outdoor activity spaces are closed out of an abundance of caution in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, so what do you do? Anyone with kids can tell you that staying inside 24 hours a day isn't really an option and there's really only so many times one can run around a backyard before it just isn't fun anymore. So what DO YOU DO? Get a pool!! Well not so fast kiddo!
Let's rewind 4 years ago....
Charisse was gung ho and totally for getting one as soon as possible, I however remained apprehensive as I knew nothing about owning a swimming pool aside from guessing it was going to entail a ton of maintenance (and even more money). Well guess what, I was sadly very correct! Pools are loads of fun but equally loads of work and I'm here to attempt to save you a bit of both! If you're on the fence about buying one or have a "fairytale view" of what its like to own one, I encourage you to read on!
Let's Get It Started!
This is the 4th season we've owned our Coleman Steel Flex pool and surprisingly its held up. I always thought these "Pools In A Box" were low quality and wouldn't last as long as the more expensive "rigid" above ground ones. Our model is 24x52, making it wide enough to easily fit several large pool floats and still leave lots of room to swim or in the kids case, goof off.
While pool shopping, you definitely need to realistically consider how much space you have available. Sure we all want the BIGGEST pool, but having enough yard space to accommodate it may be a different story. So it's a good idea to measure the available area you have first before purchasing. Another equally as important bullet point is that you'll need 100% LEVEL ground to sit your pool on and from experience I can tell you just because the ground looks level, there's a massive chance it's not. A 2% downgrade (or slope) sounds minor, but when you have a pool filled with thousands of gallons of water minor difference becomes hugely exaggerated.
So now that you've found the pool that'll work for you, it's time to get put it together, fill it up and get to splashin like fish right? Well not so fast Flipper!
As mentioned before, you'll need to level your ground to cover any bumps and ruts. To do this you'll want to buy play sand. For rather large pools, it's going to be much more cost efficient to buy in bulk. Most garden centers carry exactly what you need at a price that's cheaper than buying 30 plus bags from the hardware store. You'll want to take the sand and spread it evenly over the surface area where your pool will sit then cover it with a large tarp (Oh yea, sorry, you'll need to buy one of these also). Now you'll have a soft bottom area for your pool to sit, free of debris that could over time wear holes into the liner.
Filter / Pump - 99% of all "Pools In A Box" come with terrible cartridge filters that aren't capable of cleaning the large volumes of water these pools handle, so expect to allocate money to a new one immediately. We bought an Intex Sand Filter that can clean 2800 gallons per hour (GPH) and is also powerful enough to handle additional aftermarket attachments. You'll want to keep this in mind as all filters don't have the ability to clean a whole pool or handle accessories. When shopping for one take note of the GPH / Horsepower and if its compatible with your pool or if you'll need to purchase attachments. You may also want to research if a Sand or Saltwater pump would be better situated to meet your needs.
Cleaners - The biggest thing to understand that I didnt is there's a difference between filtering and cleaning (when I say that outloud it's easier to understand LOL). The filter does just that, filters the water and recirculates it and when done right, removes bacteria, however it wont clean most of the debri out.
We chose 2 different methods to tackle this issue, a skimmer and an automatic pool vacuum. The skimmer connects to your filter and thru the use of suction creates a "vortex", drawing water towards it and removing debri that float on the surface of your pool. They're available in either "In the wall" or "Over the side" versions. We went with the former as the ITW version on an above ground pool requires you to cut into the side wall, something I wasn't comfortable with doing.
For the floor of the pool there are also several options but the one that was best suited for us was an automatic pool cleaner. You connect it to your filters output, set it in the bottom of the pool and that's it! the force of the water will automatically propel it around the pool while it picks up sediment at the bottom with ease. We let it run overnight during the usual filtering cycle and by morning the pool is ready for action! As an alternative, you can buy a pool vacuum but most require you to actually get in and walk around while using. The automatic cleaner was a must as you know we sorta have our hands full with these 7 kids.
Lastly you'll want a Solar Cover. We've seen these for years and didn't think much of them, I mean what exactly can what looks like blue tinted bubble wrap do? Well A LOT! these are a must have as they not only help keep leaves and other random items stuff out, the "bubbles" actually help to create a "greenhouse" effect keeping your pool warm, even on rather mild days!
Just Add (How Much) Water....
Ok now it's time to fill'er up! And also the point where you'll have to make another large decision, "Where will I get all of this water?"
Our pool holds about 15,000 gallons (yes, no typo, although I wish it was) and the 2 questions to ask yourself are:
How fast do I want this pool filled
What's the cheapest option
We called several local water hauling companies and the issue with them was the biggest truck around could only haul 5,000 gallons at a cost of $250 per trip (for a total of $750!!!), then there was a 2 week waiting period, so the only option remaining would be the tried and true garden hose.
I strongly recommend only filling your pool during daytime hours as you'll need to periodically walk around and adjust the legs as they'll continuously move with the increase in volume. It's suggested to not set the pool legs directly on the ground as the weight will eventually push the legs into the ground causing your pool to fall out of alignment at some point. To prevent this we use regular landscape blocks as footers. Keep in mind its next to impossible to adjust the legs once the pool is even partially filled.
It takes just under 24 hours to fill our 15,000 gallon pool, so use that as a guide when planning your timeline.