Top 5 Mistakes Installing An Above Ground Pool

Posted by Lysti Grassman

Mistakes installing above ground pools

Avoid these common mistakes when building your above ground pool.

Mistake 1:      Building up the low areas with dirt taken from the higher areas. 
This is probably the top mistake we see people make.  If you are pushing the dirt around to level out the site for the pool, eventually the dirt will settle and your pool will no longer be level.  This might happen right away when you fill the pool, or shortly down the road, one thing is for sure, it will happen.  Pool Pros always digs out to the lowest spot so the entire pool is sitting on virgin soil.
Blog Correct way to level ground for above ground pool
Mistake 2:      Using too much mason sand.
The ground should be dug level on virgin soil always.  The sand is simply a buffer from the pool liner to the ground.  The purpose of the sand is not to level your pool.  If you are using sand to level things out you will have nothing but problems.
Too much Sand Under Pool
Mistake 3:      Setting the track on sand.
The sand should be inside the pool track, never under the track.  If the track of the pool is set on sand, it will wash out and the pool will settle or sink, reducing the longevity of your pool.
The correct placement of pool track and mason sand.

The correct placement of pool track and mason sand.

Mistake 4:      Not compacting or troweling the sand.
First the sand should be compacted with a plate compactor, and then hand troweled to a smooth finish.  If this is not done, the first time you get into the pool, your feet will sink into the sand creating divots in the sand which could lead to wrinkles in your liner, and ultimately shorten the lifespan of your liner.
Mistake 5:      Placing patio blocks under your uprights.
This is another very common mistake, especially because most install manuals will actually recommend this.  We get countless calls every spring for torn liners and when we get to the site we see a patio block that has heaved out and cut through the liner.  Pool Pros never uses patio blocks.  Again we level the entire site down to virgin soil and place the up rights and track right down on the ground.
Note:  This is only a mistake in our area and climate; do to our ground movement during winter.   In other parts of the country, I’m sure this is a fine practice, just not here in the Frozen Tundra:)

About Lysti Grassman

Lysti is the Vice President of Pool Pros in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is a Certified Pool Operator and is currently the lead Poolscape Designer at the company.


  • Alana says:

    I have u luxury above ground pool 15×28 ft and it has shown sand at the bottom I want to check if it could be a leak on the liner that’s causing the sand of if its the sand from the sand filter what’s the easier route to take many thanks

    • Hi Alana
      Luxury Above Ground Pools are just like any above ground pool. If you have a leak in your pool liner that sand is bleeding into then you would be losing water constantly. Some tips for finding holes in a liner would be to first inspect the area under the ladder. This is a high wear area and the first I would check. Second I would check the seams of the liner. Some times a liner seam may separate causing a leak. Next, I would look for areas of washout under the liner. This will indicate a location that water has leaked out and washed out the sand base under it.

      To check your filter, you can remove the filter valve and check the level or amount of sand in the filter. If you have a broken or loose lateral in the bottom of your filter it will allow sand to pass through and be blown into the pool. Try these tips and hopefully it will help with your situation.

  • Ashley says:

    We are purchasing an above around pool and are having trouble deciding on where to put it, we live in Tonopah ARIZONA so our back yard is nothing but dirt so when we get a really big storm our back years floods looks like a lake so any ideas on what to do with the pool?

    • Hi Ashley
      I would not recomend building a pool in the area you described. You will have issues. You can address this by installing drain tile, contouring the yard so the ground pitches away from the pool to an area where it can properly drain out of the pool site or installing berms to prevent water from entering the pool site. There are several options. Without seeing your pool site it is hard to say which or if any would help your situation. Address the flooding first then think about a pool. Until you can fix that issue I would not recommend building a pool. Hope this was helpful.

  • Gloria says:

    Hi Lysti,

    We are installing an above ground pool. Unfortunately, we had to dig down 4 feet before we reached virgin soil. If we can’t use the top soil that was dug out to level, what do you suggest as we don’t want to dig down that far. Thanks for any input you can provide

    • Hi Gloria
      I would recommend not putting your pool in that location. You shouldn’t need to excavate 4 feet to properly build a pool unless it is in the side of a hill. If the soil in your yard is fill or recently disturbed soil I would wait one or 2 years for the soil to properly settle and compact before building a pool. Remember each gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds. A pool with a capacity of 12,000 gallons exerts 96,000 lbs of force on the ground. Loose, disturbed or built up soil will settle under these conditions leaving you with an un-level pool. My advice is to wait or find an alternate location.

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