Building Your Round Above Ground Pool

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Swimming Pools

The installation decision.

So, you’re considering getting an above ground pool but the list to get it installed is already long. It turns out that January would have been a better time to start the process, but now, here you are. You have choices. Firstly: buy the pool and wait your turn for installation. Not bad, as a professional installation makes life much easier. Secondly: put off the purchase and likely find yourself in the same boat next year. That’s called kicking the can down the road and if you really want a pool, unacceptable. Lastly: build it yourself. It’s work, but when done properly, you get your pool quickly and save money.

I’ve discussed this before, but as the swimming pool buying season is in full swing, it’s worth a re-visit. When building your own pool, there are definite do’s and don’t’s.

Understand the ‘before you buy’.

Most instruction booklets are professionally written and thorough. If you’d like to see exactly what is involved, ask your retailer for a copy before you buy. Make sure it is for the model you are considering, as directions differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Make sure of your zoning rules. Many communities have limitations on how close a structure can be from property lines or your house. Overhead or underground utility lines? Call before You Dig is a free service that flags where underground lines are buried. As for overhead lines, look up! If present, again, check with your zoning department to find out if a pool is possible in your yard.

Permits. If required, get them before you start building. Also, find out if you will need fencing either around the pool or your yard. Already have a fence? Make sure it is to code.

Don’t build a pool that’s not level.

When building your own above ground pool, there are two major areas where the do-it-yourselfer frequently errs. Both result from a “well, it looks right to me” philosophy. The first is not getting the site properly leveled. I have always recommended using a builder’s level transit to get everything level. They are generally available from a tool rental facility, and you will quickly learn how to use it. An alternative is to use a bubble level. You’ll need a long board—ten to twelve feet in length and perfectly straight, and the bubble level. Use a long level, preferably four feet long, or longer. When digging out the ground, lay the board on the ground with the level on top. Keep leveling the ground until that bubble stays in the center of the view glass. ‘Almost perfect’ isn’t good enough. A slight grade can throw your level off several inches.

If leveling by eyesight only, you will have issues unless extremely lucky. Your dig site just won’t be level. Period. The biggest errors tend to be when digging into a hillside. Avoid the False Level Phenomenon where the excavation looks pool-table level. Properly leveled pools into hillsides will look like they are too low on the hill side. Use the leveling tool and trust the results.

Keep the pool in the round.

This is so simple to do, yet a final check is frequently forgotten. You will have laid out the wall track to be perfectly round. Good. Now, you’ve leveled the track. Recheck your level. Next comes the wall. It’s heavy, and the track will invariably move some while sliding it into the track. When finished and the wall is bolted together, check for roundness again and adjust accordingly. But if you push the wall in at one point, it may move elsewhere. Keep checking your circle and fine tune until all your measurements are the same.

Does it matter that much? Yes! A pool that is out of round will have undue pressure on vertical posts and the wall may buckle. So don’t forget that final measurement.

Electric for the filtration system.

Proper electric supply for the filtration system is necessary, and an extension cord is not acceptable. Even if using a heavy-duty cord, there will be an amperage drop which could damage the motor. Plus, an extension cord is unsafe. Electric lines should be run after the installation to make sure the pool ends up the proper distance from the supply and outlet post. Again, research your requirements and make sure you do it correctly.

In conclusion.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to build your own round above ground pool. Perform your due diligence before buying and make sure you are up to the job. Then it’s just a matter of paying attention to detail, not rushing, and following the directions in their entirety.