Because it consists only of an inexpensive metal frame and vinyl lining, an above-ground pool is a great alternative to a built-in pool for budget-conscious homeowners. Unfortunately, however, the pools in the ground may collapse. The frame is usually made of corrugated sheet metal, and while it is strong, the sheet metal cannot always withstand the extra weight of a few inches of melted snow and/or ice. Even the weight of the pool water itself can be enough to cause a collapse if the pool is improperly installed on a sloped floor. Also, the metal fasteners that hold the frame together don't last forever. They corrode and fail. When this happens and the frameworks start to separate, the worst can happen very quickly.
It is best to install the pool on a concrete pad, but many homeowners prefer to save money by installing the pool on a paver. This is acceptable practice as long as the ground is level, but this is often not the case, especially when the installer is manually leveling the ground. If the water level in the pool is higher on one side than the other, the frame may fail on the side with the higher water level. According to one installer, the threshold difference is about 3 inches; less than that, the pool may be safe, but more than that, it will likely collapse.
When installing the pool on rocky or root-constrained terrain, make sure no rocks or roots are stuck in the middle of the pad. Once you've filled the pool with water, anything pressing against the liner could crack it.
Many do-it-yourselfers don't like to follow instruction manuals, but if you're installing an above-ground pool, that's a pretty bad habit. The frame kit comes with a variety of screws and brackets, and if you abuse any of these parts, the frame won't be able to withstand the weight of the water. Read the manual carefully and check all parts before starting assembly; then check the manual again during assembly to make sure you got it right.
You especially need the manual when installing the gasket. Manufacturers usually package pads in a way that makes them easy to unfold - as long as you follow the recommended way - and minimizes the chance of wrinkling when you attach the pad to the frame. Wrinkles can cause the liner to slip off the frame and spill the pool's contents all over your backyard.
Pool maintenance includes balancing the chemicals in the water and adding algaecides and clarifiers when needed. When the pool is above ground, maintenance also includes checking the frame for loose or corroded fasteners and tightening or replacing them if necessary. When a screw starts to corrode, you can usually save it by painting it, but it's safer to replace it. If you find rust on the sheet metal frame, treat it with a rust inhibitor and paint it as soon as possible to prevent damage to the frame.
When you close an above-ground pool during the winter, it's important to leave some water in it to prevent damage from hydrostatic pressure. However, the pool should not be completely filled. If so, when the water turns to ice, the expansion of the water could push the frame and cause damage, which won't happen until you reopen the pool in the spring. To avoid this, drain the water under the skimmer and back. Pour sump grade antifreeze through the return fitting and close the fitting with a threaded cap to protect the pipe.
In winter, snow and ice can collect on the pool cover, and the extra weight can damage the frame and cause it to collapse. Leaving the air pillow in the pool before covering will force the melted snow and ice to flow to the sides instead of being concentrated in the center and putting pressure on the frame. If you're not using a pillow, be sure to pump water from the lid regularly during the winter.