How to Keep Above Ground Pools Clean: Tips for New Pool Owners

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Owning an above ground pool comes with responsibilities, and the most significant responsibility is keeping your pool clean.  After all, how can you enjoy fun & games in your pool if it is not clean?

Maintaining the cleanliness of your pool happens on a daily, weekly, and monthly period, and knowing how to keep your pool clean is vital to help avoid more expensive maintenance or dangerous swimming conditions. In this article, we discuss the main reasons for cleaning your pool and the variety of ways how to keep above ground pools clean.


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Reasons for cleaning your pool

It’s beneficial to understand why you need to clean your pool. Before discussing everything you can do to keep your above ground pool clean, here are the top 5 reasons for cleaning your pool:

  1. Keeping your pool water circulated: One of the reasons for cleaning your pool is to keep your pool water flowing. Water circulation is essential when cleaning your pool because it lowers the chance of unwanted debris from accumulating.
  2. One-time debris cleaning: You might want to clean large debris from your pool that you can visibly notice before swimming.
  3. Pool water chemistry: You might want to adjust your pool chemistry so that you are swimming in water that is balanced at safe levels.
  4. On-going maintenance: You may need to provide on-going maintenance on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to keep your pool staying clean.
  5. Interior surface cleaning: Even with clean water and no visible debris in your pool, your walls and floor of your pool might need extra cleaning.

How to keep above ground pools clean

Whether you are cleaning debris, managing water chemistry, providing on-going maintenance, or just cleaning the surfaces of your pool, there are a variety of ways to make this happen. The following lists the different actions you can take to make sure you keep your above ground pool cleaner.

1. Get a good filter and pump

Your filter and pump are critical parts of pool cleanliness. Without a filter and pump, you will be left with debris and possibly unsafe swimming conditions because of the chemicals that can be introduced to your water. A pump will circulate the water and will push the water through a filter that cleans your water before it enters back into your pool.

Your pool filter and pump should ideally be running 24 hours a day to maintain proper water flow and circulation. However, if you can’t leave on your pump all night, consider keeping it on for at least 12 hours each day to maintain proper flow.

Tip: When installing your output jets, adjust them to help move the water in a circular motion around your pool. This adjustment further helps with pool water circulation.

2. Use a good pool vacuum cleaner

There are many good pool cleaners on the market, as well as a variety of pool vacuums that can clean multiple areas of your pool. Some vacuums require you to manually position and clean the different areas of your pool, while others can work autonomously. Cleaning your pool thoroughly with a pool vacuum cleaner will help maintain cleanliness and avoid having to perform significant cleanings in the future.

3. Frequent cleaning of pool interior

To avoid having to perform substantial cleaning of the walls and floor of your pool in the future, clean your pool interior with pool surface cleaning brushes and natural cleaning solutions. There are times when a pool may have too much calcium or have a buildup of copper, or even excessive algae at one point or another. All of these scenarios can cause staining to the walls and floor of your pool interior.

The staining usually doesn’t happen overnight, and you can avoid staining from starting or continuing by scrubbing and vacuuming the walls and floor of your pool.

4. Test your water regularly

Pool water is greatly affected by factors like weather, chemicals, how often you use your pool, and many other factors. Understanding how these factors change your pool water will help you choose how to fix it. You can test your water by using either test strips or a digital test strip reader.

Your pool chemicals are as effective as the current circumstance. If the weather and external chemicals cause your pool’s pH to rise too high or get too low, you may need to use a pH reducer or pH increaser to ensure you have a proper range of pH. Testing your water and adjusting the pH accordingly can assure you that your chemicals will work properly, which makes your pool water safe to swim in.

5. Balance your pool water

Testing your pool water can help you decide to adjust your levels accordingly. But how do you regulate these levels? It happens by balancing the pool water chemistry. There are three crucial parts to your pool water chemistry.

  1. pH level: Your pH level shows you how acidic or alkaline your pool water is. The ideal pH range is 7.4 to 7.6, and going above or below this range could require the addition of pH reducer or pH increaser.
  2. Alkalinity level: Alkalinity is what avoids spikes one way or the other in your pH level. The ideal alkalinity range is between 100 to 150 ppm (parts per million).
  3. Sanitizer level: Your sanitizer level is how much sanitizing material you add to your pool to maintain proper levels. The most popular type of sanitizer is chlorine, and knowing how much chlorine should be in your pool depending on its size can determine whether or not you need to add more.

Knowing these three levels is vital in balancing your water. There are chemicals you can add to your pool to create a safe balance of cleanliness in your water.

6. Shock your pool water

Shocking is a term that means adding a concentrated amount of chlorine or other chemicals to your pool to destroy the chloramines that have built up in your pool. Shocking is also known as super-chlorination, and essentially means you are super-chlorinating your pool when needed.

You only need to shock your pool water if it hasn’t been maintained well enough or adequately treated with the right amount of chemicals. Your water could need a shock treatment solely for excess use of your pool. Too many people in a pool can cause products and chemicals from suntan lotion, sunscreen, face cream, makeup, hairspray, oils from your hair and skin, to be added to your pool. These unnatural additives can quickly lead to excess bacteria and other chemicals that can cause algae buildup and can cause your pool to become unbalanced.

Testing your pool for chlorine and chloramine can help you decide whether or not it needs a shock treatment. Shock treatments might be necessary every week or hardly ever depending on how well you maintain your pool and how often it is used.

7. Sanitize your pool water

Sanitizing your water means exterminating the bacteria and bad chloramines in your pool with the addition of chlorine or other chemicals. Chlorine is the primary additive in pool water and can be the best and only sanitizer you need. You can decide how you add the chlorine, but one of the most popular ways of adding chlorine to a pool in a safe way is to use chlorine tablets.

Chlorine tablets are efficient because of how compressed they are. They don’t fully dissolve into the pool water right away, and instead, they help add small amounts of chlorine to your pool a little at a time. This slower approach gives you a longer-lasting chlorine treatment, so you don’t have to keep adding chlorine or shocking your pool unnecessarily.

8. Keep your water clear

Keeping your pool water clear can become a massive task if you don’t take care of it before it happens. You want water that you can see through, and at the very least, you don’t want your pool water to be colored with a green or brown tint. Any tint of yellow, brown, green, or even shades of blue can be a sign of algae formation, and you will have to purchase additional algaecides to remove already-formed algae.

The best thing you can do is get a pool clarifier liquid that you add to your pool to help maintain its clarity and clearness. These pool clarifiers help remove substances like hairspray, makeup, natural oils, and lotions so that algae and other bacteria don’t form as quickly.

If you already have a formation of algae in your pool, you will have to use an algaecide to get rid of the algae and wait until the algae is removed before entering your pool safely again.

9. Clean your pool filter

There will be times where you will need to clean your pool filter. This filter cleaning is also known as backwashing your filter. Because the filter is used to remove small debris and substances from circulating in your pool, an excess of these substances in your pool could mean your filter is full. You can check the pressure gauge of your filter to see if you need to clean the filter. Use the numbers and advice from your filter’s instructions to determine whether or not you need to clean your filter.

Some filter systems have backwashing modes that can handle cleaning in the push of a button, but many filters will require you to empty or replace the filter to be able to continue using it effectively. A dirty or full filter system could turn into the equivalent of not having one at all, so make sure it is clean at all times before you use your pool.

10. Maintain your pool during winter

If you are closing your above-ground pool during winter or any cold months, there is a way to clean your pool and get it ready for winter so that you don’t have to continue to maintain it as stringently as you would during the heat of summer and swimming season. This winter pool maintenance is referred to as “winterizing” your pool.

Here are some major steps to follow when winterizing your above-ground pool:

  1. Remove equipment: The first step is removing every piece of equipment from your pool. Remove ladders, hoses, filters, and pumps from your pool.
  2. Trash old filter cartridge: Get rid of the old filter cartridge so you can use a new one at the start of the next pool season.
  3. Clean equipment: Thoroughly clean all of your pool equipment. Some equipment can be hosed off while other pieces of equipment like hoses might need to be submerged in soapy water to remove chemicals.
  4. Drain hoses and filter tank: Make sure your hoses don’t have any leftover water in them, and drain the entire filter tank to avoid sitting water.
  5. Balance pool water: Balance your pool water as you would before you would safely swim in your pool. Test the water and add chemicals until your water is balanced.
  6. Add winter chemical kit: There are select chemicals you can add to your pool when you won’t be using it for more than a month. These chemicals will help keep your pool maintained while it is not in use without having to continue maintaining it. Get yourself a pool winter chemical kit and add these chemicals to your pool water.
  7. Cover your pool: To avoid any debris from falling into your pool and the weather from affecting your pool’s water balance and chemistry, using a pool cover to cover your pool is recommended.

Create a pool maintenance schedule

The implementation of a pool maintenance schedule will help you keep your pool as clean as it should be. Adhering to your schedule can also help avoid larger maintenance costs in the future. There are three pool maintenance schedules you can create – a “before each use” schedule, a weekly schedule, and a monthly schedule. Based on the maintenance tasks you learned about previously, here we discuss each schedule and list the maintenance tasks that should be included.

“Before each use” pool maintenance schedule

  1. Run the pool filter at least 12 hours a day (consistently).
  2. Ensure the water level is not too high or too low.
  3. Test the pH level to ensure it is within the safe range.
  4. Test the chlorine level to ensure it is within the safe range.
  5. Empty the skimmer and the pump baskets if needed.
  6. Ensure filter pressure is within the safe range.
  7. Ensure the pump is operating effectively.

Weekly pool maintenance schedule

  1. Skim the surface of the water.
  2. Brush the walls and floor of the pool.
  3. Vacuum the pool.
  4. Test for alkalinity to ensure it is within the safe range.
  5. Add algaecide, clarifier, or chlorine shock if needed.
  6. Add chlorine tablets if needed.
  7. Backwash or clean the filter if needed.

Monthly pool maintenance schedule

  1. Test for calcium hardness level to ensure it is within the safe range.
  2. Test the cyanuric acid level to ensure it is within the safe range.
  3. Add algaecide, clarifier, or chlorine shock if needed.
  4. Ensure that all equipment is performing correctly.

Your individual pool maintenance schedule could vary a little bit depending on the climate in which you live, the frequency of pool use, and how well you maintain your pool. One person might not need to shock their pool for over a month while another person might need to shock their pool every week. Some pools never have problems with algae, while other pools see a buildup of algae every couple weeks.

Use the above maintenance schedules as a guide. Find out the necessary “safe ranges” specific to your pool and circumstances, and understand how much chemicals to add based on the size of your pool and the numbers that your tests reveal. Tweak these maintenance schedules to fit your own pool maintenance needs.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a pool clean through continuous maintenance can seem like a lot of work, but it can be simplified when you create and adhere to a strict schedule. Maintaining your pool can be rewarding when you consistently have clear, shining waters that contain no bacteria, algae, or other substances that cause unsafe swimming.

Each pool is different and will require a different set of maintenance tasks. You won’t know exactly how your pool will react to chemicals, frequent use, or the climate in which you live until you start testing. As long as you understand the safe levels of chemicals and the chemical balance or chemistry that is needed in your pool to keep clean, you can adjust your maintenance as required for your unique situation.

Final tip: Keeping a handle on your pool cleanliness and maintenance schedules will help save you time and money when you don’t have to fix major problems that can happen without it.

Keep your pool clean and have fun swimming!

Photo by anjanettew




16 thoughts on “How to Keep Above Ground Pools Clean: Tips for New Pool Owners”

  1. We had an above ground pool for many years. All was well until we switched out our cartridge filter for a sand filter. And then keeping the water clear was a struggle for the rest of the time we owned the pool. We finally just got rid of it. 🙁

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  2. I like the idea of creating maintenance schedules to make sure you’re on top of an issue and can catch it before it becomes a big problem. Thanks for sharing this information!

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  3. We set up an above ground temporary pool every summer, and boy are they a lot of work! You definitely have to keep up on the cleaning and maintenance of them.

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  4. This has me SO excited for the fact that warmer weather is just around the corner. We moved to this house 3 years ago and it has an above ground pool in the backyard. It has been a GREAT treat each summer to have our own special summer getaway! Thank you for all the great tips!

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