7/28/2014

Pool - Level Ground and Setup 2014

Last year we bought an old pool on Craigslist.   We did get a few good days out of it, but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.   We had problems with the filter, leaks, seeds and leaves falling in, chemicals, and uneven ground.  Here's what the pool looked like a year ago.  Naively we just started filling it up on the ground that "looked" flat.
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And here's the pool rings we made.  They served a dual purpose to keep out some of the leaves and to try and warm up the water.  Our backyard is surrounded by leaves and only receives sun for a few hours of the day. 
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This year i knew that i had a lot of work to do before even thinking of turning on the water.  Probably the biggest problem was that we set up the pool in an area that was not level.  

Here's a video i made of setting everything up this year

Intex Pool Setup - 18' x 42"

 
http://youtu.be/T3srOPlSYlA

The previous owners of our house had an area of the yard where we could tell a pool had been set up before.  I thought we could just set up our pool on the same area without a problem.  But when we set up the new pool it was much larger and the rubber edges hung over the leveled area of dirt. Unfortunately one of those ares of dirt was much lower, which meant that the water was right up to the top at one end and very low at the other end.  The bad part was that at the low end of the pool was where the filter was located and it was not able to clean the water properly.  That meant that throughout the year we had problems with dirty water.

The second problem we had was with the Intex pool inflatable ring.  The top of our pool has an inflatable ring that is inflated in order to keep the sides up.  I looked and looked but i could not find the leak.  But this was a problem that i would try to fix after the pool was all set up, because it will still stay partially inflated and the water should hopefully not pour out.

So before I did anything this year I knew I needed to level the pool area.  We have an 18' x 4' Intex rubber "bubble" pool.  I got out my measuring tape and marked off an area of 19 foot in diameter.  At first I just used the shovel and eyeballed the ground level.  I knew from the year before that the area by the wood fence was high and the area by the back of the yard was low.   So using a shovel and a wheelbarrow transferred much dirt as I thought necessary to the low-end.  I also knocked down some of the high spots in the old existing ring of dirt.  Here's what the pool area looked like.
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Luckily I also own a laser level.  It wasn't bright enough to work during the day but I checked the level with it at dusk.  It turned out that the eyeball test was pretty good.  I was only off an inch or so from the highest point to the lowest point.  But I'm glad I used the laser level to check every few feet or so.  There were some spots where it fluctuated.  I used a rake and shovel some more to knock down the high points and level everything out.

Here's another picture of what that area looks like after I moved a few yards of dirt to try and level it out.  Exciting i know...
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With the pad level it was finally time to start setting up the pool.  This picture shows are filter, pump, chemicals, cover, and tubing.  We also needed a bag of fine sand, which gets added to the pool filter. It's not the original filter that came with the pool, the previous owner upgraded because he was tired of cleaning out the small cloth filter.  And the cover was something i picked up on clearance over the winter at Meijer.  They are surprisingly cheap in the middle of February when they need shelf space.   I'm really glad I got a pool cover because the seeds which fall down from the large tree in our backyard really wreaked havoc with the pool and its chemical balance.  Not to mention having to use the pool strainer to clean out everything every time we swam. 
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I used a metal dolly to carry the heavy rubber pool from the garage to the back yard.  Here you can also see the special filter pools sand we needed to use.
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It took about a day to fill up, but this year went much faster and turned out a lot better.  We didn't have problems half way through, realizing it was out of level.
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Also there was a bit of a learning curve the first year with how to set up the filter and pump. There was weird hose clamp and rubber tube connections that took us a while to understand.  But this year I remembered how it went together and it all went together smoothly.

There are still some problems though. The inflatable rubber ring which goes around the top of the pool has one or many leaks, i'm not sure.  I've checked it several times this year but still cannot find the leak.  I even used soapy water to spray over it, in hopes of finding an air bubble, but nothing.  After reading some more i realized that this was a common problem with many other people.  Some people said that it could be from microscopic holes in the rubber which happens when the rubber is exposed to sunlight over time.  We tried filling it up every three or four days but it became pointless exercise.

Also there's holes in the rubber pool itself which needed patching.  They are small, slow leaks that they become annoying wet spots in the back of our yard.  My method for fixing the leaks is to heat up our hot glue gun, unplug it, then run out there and squeeze as much hot glue in the puncture as i can before it cools down.  Immediately when the glue touches the water it hardens, but it works pretty well.

We say that this might be the last year of having in setting up a pool.  Our great $75 Craigslist purchase has been fun at times, but it's also lots of work.  Not to mention three or four times that cost in water bills, chemicals, cover and electricity.

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