Above Ground Swimming Pools
Pool Problems and Treatment Options.
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Solving Problems and
Making Better Choices.
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Want to swim Endlessly In Place, without having to
spend a fortune??? You can do it in any inground
pool or above ground pool, for a bit more than $200.00. You
can use a professional-grade aquatic trainer, just
like the swimming pros use.
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How to care
for an Above Ground Pool? Above-Ground
Pools are a very popular choice for a variety of
reasons. These pools come in a multitude of
sizes and shapes to suit the space requirements
or budget. Above-ground pools are constructed
from a variety of materials. The quality
above-ground pools should be expected to provide
many years of enjoyment. Make sure to get
off on the right track, by making sure that
the pool base is level, free of protruding
objects and follows the manufacturer's
recommendations. Use quality sand,
vermiculite or a pool pad, for best results. The quality constructed
above ground pool are frequently equipped with
the same of filtration and sanitation systems,
as inground pools, and should be able to provide
ideal water quality. However, the least
expensive types of above ground pools can expect
to experience difficulties in filtration,
vacuuming and maintaining proper pool chemistry.
If problems arise, refer to the
Page, as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
Do you know what's in your
water? Optimizing the water chemistry helps
maintain proper swimming conditions and allows sanitizers,
to work more effectively, If you would like to avoid problems, with stains and
discoloration, due to the presence of metals, you should be
testing for iron, copper and, possibly, manganese. Understanding,
if the potential for a problem exists, allows for
appropriate, preventative treatment to be taken. This helps select
the best treatment option, to avoid stains and discoloration. For
information about our full selection of testing options,
visit our Test
Equipment Store. For information about
discoloration and stain treatment
options, visit our Stain Treatments
Store. Understanding the nature
of the problem, should be step one.
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Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
How Many Gallons In My Pool?
The pool, we
just ordered is a 21' round, above
ground pool. To make sure that we
properly approach the pool water
chemistry, we want to be certain of
the water capacity. Thank you.
Hank E., Toms River, NJ, 3/2/2018
You are better off with the correct
water volume, as it should help with
the chemical balancing. You failed
to include the depth, so you will
have to do some simple calculations.
Go to this page:
Calculating Pool Volume.
You'll find the simple calculations
for determining the water volume of
any type of swimming pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/2/2018
► Green Algae?
This is our
first year of pool ownership. The
pool is an 18' round, above ground
pool. We seem to have developed some
algae on one side of the pool. I use
a chlorine floating feeder, with 3"
tablets and have been very careful
about the pH, alkalinity and
stabilizer. I clean the cartridge
filter weekly and run it for 8 hours
a day. What went wrong? Please help
because I won't let the kids in the
Barbara L., E. Northport, NY,
You have the most common type of
swimming pool algae problem. It does
sound like you are taking good care
of the pool. Still, bad things can
happen to good pools! This is really
not that bad a problem - just an
inconvenience. Algae is always
present in swimming
pool water. If
the conditions are right, it will
begin to grow. That means, if the
chlorine level has bottomed out
because there wasn't enough in the
water or the demands of the bathers
was just too high, algae can start
to grow. From your letter, I cannot
determine the actual cause, but I
can make an educated, insightful
guess. The chlorine
floater may not always be able to
supply all the chlorine that the
pool requires, because the tablets
are slow dissolving. Floaters are
popular with above ground pools, but
are not necessarily the best way to
add chlorine. It may be necessary to
supplement the chlorine floater, by
the addition of a quick dissolving
product: sodium dichlor, liquid
chlorine, lithium hypochlorite,
non-chlorine, shock, etc. This can
be used to give the chlorine a quick
boost, during those periods of high
bather usage: like when all the kids
are in the water for hours at a
time. Test the water for Free
Chlorine, several times a
gauge the requirements of your pool,
during these periods of peak
activity. I suggest that you use an
algaecide to help prevent the growth
of algae. To get
rid of the algae,
add 2 pounds of shock, per 5000
gallons of water. Circulate
continuously. Test the water for
Free Chlorine and keep the level at
2-3 PPM or higher, until the algae
is gone. Thereafter, resume normal
chlorination and filtration. Because
the algae formed on one side of the
pool, try and direct more water to
that area. Adding
Circulator - a circulation
booster - will help improve
circulation and sanitizing. Swimming
can resume, when normal chlorine
levels return. If the water is
cloudy, this can be due to dead
algae and organic debris: adding a
"Blue" Clarifier will help improve
the water clarity. To help maintain
better water clarity, in an ongoing
basis, the addition of a
Clarifier, which lasts for 4-6
months, would be a positive
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/23/2015
Endless Swimming In An Above
I have an
above ground pool (15' x30' oval) and I would like to be able to swim, without having to turn around.
The add-on pump systems, that create a current so you keep
swimming straight ahead, seem not practical, from my type of
pool or the cost is more
than I am prepared to spend. Do you know of a more
Farmingville, NY 7/23/2017
Swimming into a current may
sound like a good idea, but it may not be the best way to
swim endlessly in place, based
on what I have heard. For about $200.00 you can add an
aquatic fitness trainer.
It utilizes a flexible pole, a tethering line and a belt.
Belt it on, wade out and start swimming. Your pool is
more than long enough, to make this work. There are
several ways to mount the pole: deck mounted, ladder
or rail mounted or used with a portable water-filled base.
There is even a portable model, to take away with you.
It even works with above ground pools, so you pool size is
not a factor. This is professional-grade equipment,
that is use to training swim professionals and others.
The combination of the flexible pole and the tether will
really make you feel like you are swimming endlessly.
This product should be just what you are looking for.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/23/2017
What To Do About Using Well Water?
I am going to
be filling a new 12,000 gallon pool,
using well water, that I know
contains some iron. I am afraid of
stains that might result. I don't
have a water softener. Any good
suggestions? Thank you.
Barry G., Easton, PA, 7/1/2009
It does pay to plan ahead, in your
situation, to try to avoid common
Pool Well Water Problems. If you add the well water
METALTRAP Filter, the heavy
metals will be
permanently removed. When the pool
needs to be topped off, pass all the
the METALTRAP Filter.
Removing metals, as the pool fills
is the best insurance against future
problems. Remember, always use the
METALTRAP Filter to treat all new
water! There are chemicals means to
treat metal problems and/or remove
the stains they cause. Not all of
these chemicals are equally
effective, some are ineffective at
higher pH levels (over 7.8) and
others contain phosphates, which can
lead to other problems.
METALTRAP is phosphate free and
works over the full pool pH range
and beyond. Adding this chemical can
help avoid staining and/or
discoloration. Good luck and I hope
that I've been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/1/2009
Vacuuming A Splasher Pool?
I have an
above ground pool that is a 10'
diameter round and is 2.5" deep. I
guess this is considered a splasher
pool. It has a filter pump system
that filters the water and is
chlorinated and I have been able to
keep the chemicals right for over a
month now. The problem we have is I
need a good vacuum for it. We live
in West Texas and our dirt is
smaller than sand and the vacuum
that I have (one that uses the
garden hose and a filter bag)
doesn't work. Do you recommend an
automatic cleaner/vacuum? How do I
get the dirt off the bottom of the
Farrah M., West Texas, 5/10/2011
The type of vacuum and bag, that you
are using, is intended to remove
coarse debris and not fine
particulates. Try using finer
material as a collection bag.
Another option would be to
disconnect the intake line, seal off
the opening in the wall and attach
the intake hose to a vacuum head and
pole. This way the dirt can be
removed by the filter. To do this
you may need some adaptors and an
extension hose. It may take some
tinkering, but should work. A better
option, for small pools, would be a
battery-powered Leaf Vacuum. They have a
self-contained filter and the
smaller models are frequently used
with spas and hot tubs. I hope that
I have been helpful. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/11/2011
Testing The Pool Water?
We just bought our first pool - a
12' x 24' above ground model. It is
being installed next week. Can you
suggest a good source of chemical
start up information? How about a
pool water tester? I have seen those
color-matching ones and would like
something else. Thanks for any help,
you can offer.
Jenna S., Cary, NC, 5/12/2011
Welcome to the world of backyard
swimming. You will find information
on maintaining the important pool
water parameters on the website
Calculating Chemical Additions.
If you want to eliminate the
color-matching and avoid the
ColorQ all-digital water analyzer
is what you're looking for. It is
easy-to-use and will do all the
tests you need.
that this information proves
helpful. Enjoy the pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/13/2011
Inflatable Pool Air Leaks?
I have one of
those pools with an inflatable top
ring. Seems to have a leak and I am
slowly losing air. Any suggestions
about locating the leak and fixing
it? I appreciate your time and
Aimee, New Jersey 5/22/2005
Look for signs of bubbling, where
the ring is covered with water. That
will indicate the location. If you
don't see bubbling,
the leak is above the water level.
Get some swimming pool algaecide
that contains dimethyl ammonium
chloride. Make a solution of one
algaecide and 3 parts water and
stir it up with a 1-2" brush so that
it lathers a bit. They use a
technique like this to find a leak
in a tire. You don't want to use
soap, because you don't want it to
end up in the pool water. Brush it
on the seams and other areas, until
you find the leak. Once found, clean
the area with rubbing alcohol and
allow to dry off. With this type of
thin walled pool, you cannot use a
traditional vinyl adhesive and
patch, as this can damage the vinyl.
Boxer Adhesives offers a
complete line of vinyl repair
products, including an adhesive
patch that is intended to be used
with pools just like yours. If
necessary, it can even be used under
water! I hope that this information
will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/22/2005
► Pool Liner Replacement Type?
We bought our
house last year and the above ground
pool has been a problem since then.
After spending the entire summer and
too much money messing with the
chemical composition in the pool &
learning how to change the sand in
the filter, we thought we were done
all of our pool challenges, then
came the holes in the liner, (3) of
them. So here is my question, I am
replacing the liner because I made
the mistake of draining the pool and
leaving it empty for a few months. I
know this was bad. I am now looking
at buying the new liner, I have a j-
hook liner now, but in looking at
pricing, it seems that overlap
liners are much cheaper. Do you know
if I can buy an overlap liner and
use on my j-hook channel? Also do
you have any recommendations for
what chemicals I need to add after
it is filled? I live in Houston and
for some reason last year, I just
could not keep chlorine in the pool.
We have very hard water so I am
hoping that this will help in
keeping the chlorine in there, but
what else should I add? I was
spending around $100.00 a month in
chlorine, is this normal? Thanks so
much for any help you can offer.
Jeanette in Houston, 4/18/2004
A pool that utilizes an overlap
liner, has a top rail that covers
the vinyl. With a hung liner, such
as you have, the liner stops below
the rail. You can't simply use an
overlapping liner in a pool that
requires a beaded liner. My guess is
that you won't be
able to use that type of liner, but
check on the type of rail to be
certain. A $100.00 a month for
chlorine is way too high! The
question to be asked, is where is
all the chlorine
going? Are there
kids that are urinating in the pool?
Is the whole neighborhood using the
pool? Is there algae growing and
causing the requirement for lots of
chlorine? Bad water chemistry? There
has to be an answer. Your
requirements should be far less that
that. Upon refilling, I suggest that
you start with a clean slate. Adjust
the water chemistry, pH, TA and
stabilizer, and keep tabs on the
pool usage and free chlorine
readings. The answer is somewhere.
One of the limitations of chlorine
is controllability. If you are using
a granular product, the level will
rise and fall, based on product
addition. If you are using a feeder,
it is not a simple matter to get
more chlorine quickly, as it is
supposed to be slow-dissolving. A
salt chlorine generator would
help solve the cost of chlorine
problem, after the initial
investment. In addition, it should
prolong the life of the liner and
give you better water quality. Your
sand filter may not be providing the
necessary level of filter
effectiveness. You might consider
replacing the sand with
a zeolite, which is a sand filter
replacement media. It will provide
better water quality and is quite
modest in price. In any event, don't
backwash the sand filter unless the
pressure is too high, as frequent
backwashing is a mistake. I hope
that this year turns out better.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/18/2004
A Great Decorative Option
Use a Premium Pool Graphics Mat
to decorate your pool floor.
The image appears to be
tiled on your pool floor,
but that's just an illusion.
Actually, you simply set one
of these colorful graphics
on the water and push it to
the bottom, with a pool
brush. Its weight keeps it
there. Choose from 9
attractive designs, plus a
custom monogram model.
Most are available in 3
sizes: 47" diameter,
23" diameter or 10.5"
diameter. No adhesives needed
and installation is just
that simple. To remove or
place elsewhere, just lift
Here For Product and
Added Chlorine And Pool Turned
We had a 18'
pool installed and it took more than
a day to fill the pool. Everything
was OK, until I added some chlorine.
The pool turned an rusty-brown
color. We have a well and added a
bottle of some metal treatment, as
the pool was being filled, as per
the dealer's advice. Can we solve
Janice H., North Haven, CT, 6/5/2009
Pools that turn amber to rusty,
brown or blackish, after addition of
chlorine or pH raising chemicals,
usually have iron and other heavy
metals present. This is especially
true, when well water is used.
Whatever you added was not enough.
If you had filtered the well water,
used to fill the pool, through a
Filter, the heavy metals would
have been permanently removed. When
the pool needed to be topped off,
all the new well water could have
been passed through the METALTRAP
Filter, to prevent new additions of
metals. Removing metals, as the pool
fills is the best insurance against
future problems. There are chemicals
means to treat metal problems and/or
remove the stains they cause. Not
all of these chemicals are equally
effective, some are ineffective at
higher pH levels and others contain
phosphates, which can lead to other
Liquid METALTRAP is phosphate
free and works over the full pool pH
range and beyond. Adding this
chemical can help avoid staining
and/or discoloration. If staining
has occurred, it can be removed with
Stain Remover. This 100%
ascorbic acid products helps to
reduce and solubilize heavy metals,
so that Liquid METALTRAP can keep
them in solution in a chelated
state, which is less colored and
more stable. Following up with a
recirculating treatment, using the
METALTRAP Filter can permanently
eliminate the metals. All you need
is a garden hose and a small pump to
do the recirculation. Good luck and
I hope that I've been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/5/2009
► Need Better Circulation?
We have a
soft-sided, vinyl pool that holds
about 4000 gallons. Every time the
kids jump in, the pool clouds up. My
free and total chlorine and pH are
good. When I rinse the filter out it
washes out sort of dirt. I think the
problem is sediments on the bottom,
which cause cloudy water when
disturbed. The filter doesn't seem
to help with the sediment and my
vacuum (garden hose type) is
useless, for anything but leaves.
Got a good suggestion or two?
Mavis L. Columbia, SC, 6/1/2009
You have a filter that is barely
effective. When the kids use the
pool, they stir up silt that has
accumulated on the bottom. The
filter can remove only what enters
the system. By adding
Circulator, a circulation
boosting accessory, you can get more
of the silt removed and the water
will steadily improve. The
Circulator was originally designed
for inground and standard above
ground pools. However, now there is
an adaptor that allows it to be used
with soft-sided pools, from the
leading manufacturer. Adding a
weekly dose of a Blue Clarifier,
should help, as well. I have been
told that The Circulator can make a
huge improvement in water quality,
in pools like yours, in particular.
I hope that this information will
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/1/2009
► Losing The Minerals Battle?
We have a
vinyl pool that holds about 6000
gallons. We filled it with well
water and we use a paper filter
system. We filled it and we were
fighting hardness. We got that under
control. Recently, we have been
fighting very cloudy water that
settles down overnight and then I
vacuum the pool floor in the
morning. The floor looks very dirty
and you can see where you walk, and
where you vacuum I clean until the
cloudiness is so bad I can't see to
clean anymore. When I rinse the
filter out it washes out sort of
green/brown. I keep my pH about
7.6-7.8, although it does want to be
a little high sometimes. My chlorine
is also checked daily and added
accordingly. Alkalinity is about 90.
Please help if you can.
You have a filter that is inherently
inefficient. To make matters worse,
you are using well water. This
sediment is probably
passing right through the filter.
There are accessories that you can
attach to the return line and could
help remove the silt and sediment,
that is passing through the filter.
This improvement, in the removal of
fine particles, and the maintaining
of proper chemistry should make a
big difference. Better filtration is
only part of the solution. Well
water can contain metals and
minerals of all sorts. Using the
FILTER or the
PRE-FILTER can make a huge
difference. Even better would be the
Dual-Cartridge Filter, with
replaceable cartridges it removes
fine sediments and dissolved heavy
metals. These products attach to a
garden hose and remove the
problem-causing metals, before they
get into the pool. If you simply
recirculate the water using a garden
hose and a small submersible pump,
you can slowly remove the metals
from the pool water. This is better
than adding chemicals, which
sometimes break down and allow a
return of the problem. Nothing beats
removing the source of the problem!
I hope that this information will be
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/1/2007
Scrubbed The Liner Too Much?
A roofing nail
somehow ended up in my pool, while a
new single roof was being installed.
I didn't notice it for at least a
few days, because the pool was not
being used. I add some metal remover
and it did not remove the stain. So
I tried to use a scrubbing pad to
remove the stain and ended up
scrubbing off some of the liner
print. Is there any product that can
be used to add some color back?
Jeff N., Beaufort, SC, 3/26/2010
There is nothing that will colorize
the area, that I know of. However,
you should be able to cover it over
Premium Pool Graphic
Mat. They are available in
various sizes and designs. For
example you could use a Dolphin or
Turtle design and it would look like
it was part of the pool. In the
future, if you get a stain, try
METALTRAP Stain Remover and
METALTRAP. I know that
combination would have removed the
stain, without any scrubbing.
Unfortunately, vinyl liner designs
are only printed on and cannot
withstand harsh scrubbing. I hope
that this information will be
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/27/2010
On The Level?
purchased a 10' round splasher pool,
is three feet tall, and the manual
that came with it says that I have
to place it in a leveled ground and
pour sand below the liner. The thing
is that I don't have ground to
level, I have a concrete patio with
a gradient of more or less 1.5" in
ten feet from one side to the other
in both directions. What do you
suggest? is it too much inclination?
In the manual says no more than an
inch. Also, do I have to put sand
below the liner or a plastic
sheeting will be fine? Thank You
Mary Jo from Houston, 3/13/2008
If you don't install an above ground
pool on level ground, you will be
putting extra stress on some of the
vertical supports and that may
impact your warranty. In addition,
the water level will not be on the
level! I suggest that you consider
the following. Make a square frame
of 12' lengths of pressure treated
2" X 6" lumber. Add sand or pool
base and level it out. Place the
pool on top of the level base and
fill it up. Afterwards, top off the
exposed sand with gravel, marble
chips or wood chips. If you place
the liner directly on the concrete
you will probably wear a hole in it.
I hope that it works out for you.
Enjoy the pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/13/2008
► Benefits Of A Main Drain?
I bought an
above ground pool and the installer
suggests a center drain. What are
the advantages or disadvantages to a
center drain. Thanks for your time
in this matter.
Charleen O., 3/24/2009
Main drains are not common, with
above ground pools. They can be
prone to leaks and can freeze, if
not winterized properly. On the plus
side, they do help improve
circulation and help remove
sediment. However, there is a
simple, affordable way to improve
circulation, enhance filtration and
eliminate the dead spots that favor
Circulator is a device that fits
into each return jets and greatly
improves circulation, heat
distribution and chemical
dispersing. Good luck with the new
pool and I hope that I have been
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/24/2009
► Algaecide: To Use Or Not To
I have never
used an algaecide in my new above
ground pool and have had no problems
to date. My friends with pools, all
seem to use algaecides and chlorine.
Is it a good idea to use algaecide?
Jeff E., Lakeland, NJ, 6/30/2004
The best way to use an algaecide is
to add it before you have a problem!
That way, it can help you avoid a
problem. Chlorine levels rise and
fall during the course of the day,
depending upon chemical additions
and bather usage. When the sanitizer
levels drops too low, algae can
begin to grow. If an algaecide is
present, it just might keep the
algae under control, until an
adequate sanitizer level is
restored. Both above ground and
inground pools should use
algaecides. However, the choices may
differ because of the materials of
construction. I hope that I have
been of assistance.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/30/2004
Empty The Pool Periodically?
I have a above
ground vinyl pool 13,600 gallons,
with a sand filter. Someone told me
I needed to completely drain my pool
every couple of years. Is this true?
I keep it well maintained and hardly
ever have a problem. Nothing but a
little cloudy water every now and
then. Usually use a clarifier and it
clears right up. Should pool water
be completely changed every couple
of years? Any help would be
appreciated, Thanks so much!
Sharon W., North Carolina, 5/23/2004
You do not have to empty your pool.
During the normal course of the
season, you will pump water out
to backwash a filter or vacuum to
waste. At season's end you could
pump out a third of the pool, as
part of winterizing. Between backwashing and lowering to
pool to winterize, you are doing
partial water replacements, every
season. Because of this,
there is no special need to replace
the water every few years. However,
if the cyanuric level rises too
high, it might be advisable to
replace some of the water. Even
under these circumstances, it is
safer and better to replace a foot
of water each week, until the level
is appropriately reduced. You will
get better results, from your sand
filter, if you switch to
a zeolite sand replacement. I hope that I
have been helpful. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/24/2004
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