Above ground pools are no different than inground pools, at a minimum, all pools need regular cleaning, daily filtering and a constant chlorine level.
Keeping an above ground pool clean is not much less work than cleaning an inground pool – and the tools and techniques are the same. If you have trees and a breeze, you’ll need to do skimming, vacuuming and brushing.
Skimming: The wall skimmer will get some floating debris, but a wind storm will be too much for it to handle. Attach a leaf skimmer to the pool pole and pull it across the surface. A bag type Leaf Rake works best when you have lots of leaves, and you can use it to scoop stuff from the pool floor, too. A flat skimmer net can be used for a quick skimming of a few leaves.
Vacuuming: You can set-up an automatic pool vacuum by connecting suction type cleaners into the skimmer, or by dropping in a robotic pool cleaner. But when leaves are really deep, or for algae blooms, you may want to vacuum it the old fashioned way. To vacuum an above ground pool, put the vac head on the pole, and connect the vac hose. Put it in the pool and then hold the other end of the hose over the return fitting to fill the hose with water. Push it into the hole below the skimmer basket and now you’re vacuuming ~
Brushing: All pools need to be brushed, and many people could stand to brush their pools a little more often. It helps circulation, and removes invisible films and the small beginnings of algae blooms. I brush the pool once per week, usually from inside the pool, which makes it easier to get the walls. Be sure your pool brush is in good condition – when the bristles wear down and the edges get rough, it could damage your pool liner.
Run the pool pump every day for 8-12 hours (at least). If you miss even a single day, the water can turn cloudy and green. For best results, use a pool pump timer, backwash when the pressure gauge tells you to, and clean the baskets often.
Pump Timer: For above ground pool pumps that plug into an outlet, the easiest timer to use is a plug-in pool pump timer. They are also the cheapest pool timer to buy and install. Set your clock to run about 10 hours daily, or longer for hot periods, or when the water looks like it needs more filtering.
Backwashing: Sand filters and DE pool filters have a valve that is turned to reverse the water flow through the filter, which flushes out all of the dirt that the filter has trapped. Do this when the pressure gauge is 8-10 pounds higher than the clean, starting pressure. A cartridge filter is not backwashed; instead the pump is shut off and the filter is removed and hosed clean – again, when the pressure gauge has risen 5-10 lbs, or if the water flow drops off noticeably.
Baskets: You have a skimmer basket and a pump basket. The skimmer basket will need more frequent cleaning, but don’t forget to empty the pump basket after vacuuming or about once a week. When replacing the pump basket, be sure that it’s positioned properly and the pump lid is screwed on tightly.
To maintain your pool water, you need to test the water a few times per week, to be certain that the chlorine level is constant and consistent, and to see if you need to adjust pool water balance.
Testing Water: Either test strips or a test kit can be used, as long as you use it! I use the 7-way test strips most of the time, but I also have a dropper type test kit that I also use. They agree with each other most of the time. Liquid kits are more accurate than test strips, especially if you are a bit color-blind!
Chlorine Levels: Use chlorine tablets in a floater to keep a constant level of chlorine in the pool. At least 1.0 ppm – around the clock, is important to prevent anything green from growing. The minute you let your guard down, algae and bacteria will begin to take over. Use granular shock (powdered chlorine) to boost chlorine quickly if it drops near zero, or if algae is spotted.