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    How to Install an Aboveground Swimming Pool

    December 22, 2011

    DIY aboveground pool installation, you can install your own pool Installing an aboveground swimming pool is easier than you think. A weekend  project  for you, but a great savings for your wallet.  Lets go with a 24 ft round pool for example.

    To start your aboveground pool installation, place a stake in the center of the ground where you want the pool to be installed.  Slip the end of the tape measure over the stake and measure to 13 ft.  Measuring 13 ft from the center gives a diameter of 26 ft - so you will have 1 ft all around  to work with. Walking slowly around the perimeter, use spray paint or lime to mark the outer perimeter of the circle.  Remove all the grass and uneven top soil with flat shovels or spades, within the circle.

    Once the rough stuff is removed, it's time to level out the area. A most important step! This can either be done with a site level, transit or line level. Set bricks flatly into the dirt on each side of the pool area, to an equally placed brick on the other side. Do this at several spots around the pool perimeter, to ensure that the surface is level.  If you don't have access to these fancy tools, you can lay 8ft 2x4's across the area you just cleaned and leveled to "check level" with a carpenter’s lever.

    Again I want to stress the importance of this step in the process of installing your aboveground pool. Any slope to the ground, even a centimeter of difference from side to side, will cause your water level in the pool to be uneven. If it's more than a slight difference, an aboveground pool with uneven water level can have uneven pressure on the walls located on the high side of the pool.

    After the pool floor area has been leveled, bring into the middle of the pool area your floor material - whether it will be sand,  stone dust or vermiculite.  Start to assemble the Bottom Track connectors to make your 24’ round circle.  Go back  around and check to make sure it is the same diameter all around and not 23’6” one way and 24’6” the other way.  Some 24 ft round pools do not necessarily measure exactly 24 ft. Some may be slightly smaller or larger, depending on the brand of above ground pool. Regardless, just make sure that it's not slightly oblong, but has been laid out in a perfect circle.

    Now, place a few stakes behind the rail into the ground to prevent it from moving, while you continue to work. After the circle is round it’s time to dig down an inch, and place a 8” x 16” patio block under each rail connector. Patio blocks look like flat cinder blocks, only 1.5" thick; you can get them at any Home Store. The blocks should be set into the ground, even with the surrounding ground, so you don't raise the bottom rail up and off the ground. The bottom rail must sit on solid ground all the way around, and on the patio blocks at each connection.  Proceed to level the rail going from 1 block to the next . Make sure that all blocks are equally and exactly level to each other, and the rail is firmly supported all the way around.

    After the bottom rail is completely level, it’s time to put up the pool wall.  Take the wall out of the box and flatten the box out.  Place the box on the ground, inside the ring, and set the wall on it. As you unroll the wall (they come in one big roll), you will turn the roll on the cardboard while putting it in the bottom rail. This will prevent the wall from digging itself into the ground while you are installing it into the bottom rail (track).  Start by placing the wall into the track in the middle of a connector, and pay close attention to where the skimmer and return cut-outs are located. This is where your filter and pump will be located, close to these wall cut-outs.

    When you get the pool wall inserted into the bottom rail all the way around, you may need to make some minor adjustments. Line up the holes by moving the wall in one direction or the other.  After the wall has been installed all the way around, the next step is to spread your base material evenly around the pool bottom and into a "cove" approximately 6” up the wall all around.  Alternative to using base material to create a transition from floor to wall, you can install foam pool cove at the base of the wall.

    Smooth out your base material with large trowels or wooden floats and then tamp the floor with a heavy tamper tool. Next, use a push broom and gently sweep the pool floor,  this is to remove the tamping marks and to ensure a smooth and level bottom.  After tamping and smoothing, spray a light mist all over the pool bottom to solidify and firm up the floor. If you are installing a floor pad, to protect the liner, and provide a smooth pool bottom which is resistant to heel divots and markings, now is the time to install either floor padding or liner guard.

    Next a very important step is to remove your shoes, and be sure to walk lightly across the pool floor. Placing long, smooth boards across the floor will help to prevent divots and dents at this stage.

    Place the pool liner box inside the pool and unfold it.  If the weather is cold, keep the liner stored indoors until ready to use, to make the vinyl more pliable. Put the seam around the bottom perimeter half way up the cove. Hang the liner over the wall (assuming that it’s an over lap liner) and secure the liner to the top of the wall with the included coping clips. Have someone on the outside of the pool wall start putting on your uprights (side supports) and install the under rail over top of the coping strips to keep the pool rigid.

    After you get the liner installed, you will use a Shop-Vac to "set" the liner, using the suction to pull it tight against the pool wall and floor before filling with water. Run the Shop-Vac hose through the skimmer hole between the wall and the liner, and down about 3” from the pool cove.  Using Duct-Tape, tape up around the skimmer hole and return hole and the turn on the Shop-Vac.  This will pull the liner into place all around, and  if any wrinkles exist you can move the liner around to loosen them, and push them towards the wall.

    Keep the Shop-Vac running and start filling the pool, by placing a garden hose (or two) into the middle of the floor. When you have about  6” of water up the side wall shut off the vac and gently pull it out from behind the pool wall.  Keep the pool filling while you put on remaining top rails and top connectors.  When the water gets right below the skimmer and return holes shut it off.

    Where your return hole is located, use a razor knife and make a small X in the liner, through the return fitting hole in the wall.  Install the return wall fitting with the back ½ (large nut) already off and push it through the wall from inside of the pool to the outside - with the gasket already mounted. Trim away the excess vinyl wrapping the threads outside the pool, and place the gasket and nut on the outside and tighten by hand. After it’s snug, give one more turn with a pair of channel locks or large pliers.

    Where the skimmer hole is located, use a razor knife and make a small X in the liner, through the skimmer opening in the wall. Now take your skimmer face plate and gasket with the top center screw and put it through the inside to the outside of the pool.  On the outside of the wall, place 1 gasket on the skimmer body and snug it up.  Do the same to the bottom center next and when they are both tight, install the remaining skimmer faceplate screws. Make sure these are very tight. After they are all tight, use your razor knife to trim out the inside of the skimmer, removing the excess vinyl from inside the skimmer opening.

    Before you know it, the day is getting long, and you're done!  Now to me, installing your own above ground pool is worth doing to save at least $1,000.00 dollars or more, not to mention bragging rights and the smiles on your family's faces.  Only thing left to do is blow up your pool raft, install your volleyball net, add some chlorine, and enjoy your new aboveground pool - that you installed!  

    Larry Weinberg
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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