So, About That “Ready for Use” Pool…

Alternatively titled: Team Stimey’s tutorial on how to set up an Intex above-ground pool without getting a divorce.

Round about every May, I start to think about the kind of backyard pool my kids are going to need for the summer. When they were little, this decision was easy. We just got those hard plastic wading pools and they were delighted with them. Each of these tend to last a couple of summers.

Last year, the kiddos were a little bigger and wouldn’t reasonably fit into one of those tiny pools, so I got them an inflatable pool that was about a foot and a half deep and they were very happy all summer. I had briefly looked at the bigger Intex pools because they seemed like a lot of fun, but every time I looked at them a little closer I got kinda sweaty and nervous, which is how we ended up with the inflatable pool.

That pool was obnoxious, especially after the top ring sprung a leak and I had to re-inflate it every single time we used it. Plus, the filling and emptying of said pool was tedious and resulted in an extremely water-logged yard. It worked fine for a year, but I knew I didn’t want to go that route again.

But I had to find something, because I don’t think my stopgap plan was going to keep them entertained for long.

Easy to maintain, but dull.

Then I saw this picture on a box and I forgot everything about the cold sweats and twitchiness that came with further thought about such a pool.

They are having SO much fun!

My mom was in town visiting and was looking for a gift to buy Alex and I for our anniversary and then she got sucked into the photo on the front of the box (you know, figuratively) and she told us she would buy us this pool, which is deceptively inexpensive for such a large tub of water.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see the fine print on the other sides of the box.

After setting up this pool, which IS awesome, by the way, I have some suggestions for their packaging materials.

And if you are interested in a little foreshadowing, here is my last packaging suggestion:

We thought we had found that flat spot in our yard and proceeded to lay out a tarp as ground cover/grass destroyer. (Also, here’s a tip if you purchase this particular brand of hell kind of pool: poke holes in the tarp to prevent under-pool water collection.

For some reason, we thought that laying out sand under the pool would be a good way to even out any holes in our grass, making for a smoother, less hole poke-y pool experience.

We are fucking morons, by the way.

 At least Alex was fully on board.

See: Divorce Level Event

In fact, actual construction of the pool DID only take an hour or so, especially with the help of some highly skilled labor, a billion-page instruction manual, and a provided DVD of those same instructions.

Said highly skilled labor.

 Other members of Team Stimey were less helpful.

How’s that soft grass and the shade, kiddos?

And just like that, we had a pool!!

Or so it would seem.

Here’s the thing about Alex and I. We could have just attached the little filter that came with the pool, added some chemicals and been done with it. But we remembered in the nick of time that we are essentially very, very lazy people who would probably not remember to chlorinate the pool daily. So we decided to buy an optional salt water filter, making ours the smallest salt water pool in existence.

The selling point for this particular type of pool filter? Water with less salt content than that of human tears! Seriously. That’s what is says in the instruction book.

Anyway, we had ordered this filter, and it was not due to arrive for several days, which meant that we had a sad, empty pool tormenting our kids during shipping time, filter set up, water filling, and salt dissolving.

As soon as the filter came, I set it up and gave Sam the important job of beginning the water filling.

It was an exciting moment, y’all.

 The moment got less exciting, however, after I saw the way the pool was filling.

Being who I am, and somehow holding onto the steadfast belief that if the ground LOOKS flat and if I WANT it badly enough, that the ground will BE flat, so I should probably just continue to fill the pool with 2000+ gallons of water until Alex gets home and freaks out about the alarming cant of the full pool and insists that we empty the pool and start again.

So it turns out that when the Intex people say “Lay out pool on level ground,” that is actually an important calculation that you should not just guesstimate based on, “Sure, it looks pretty good.”

At least the thing didn’t explode with our kids inside it. That would have been HELLA dramatic. It did, however, feature an alarming bulge on the downslope and the metal frame looked to be leaning a little bit to the right.

Thus began the chore of emptying 2000+ gallons of water onto our lawn. I am really looking forward to our water bill this month, by the way.

In somewhat of a miracle, the draining system is actually really well thought out and didn’t end up causing property damage to us or our neighbors.

The downside (pun intended) to our lopsided pool was that once it was empty, we had to figure out how to make the ground flat. We were well past the point of no return and the only other pretty flat place in our yard was occupied by a swing set. We decided that the pool pretty much had to stay where it was and that we were either going to have to raise one side of the pool or lower the other side.

Seeing as how sand is not really a good option to raise a pool because it will settle and get packed down and lead to a lopsided pool, but just slightly later in the summer AND because we saw from our ineffective sand smoothing experiment of earlier, happier days, that you would need A LOT of sand, we decided to lower half of our pool.

Of course, because we were sooooo clever earlier in the process, now we didn’t just have to dig up the offending dirt, but we got to remove the 200 pounds of sand that we had inexplicably dumped on our lawn several days ago. The sand didn’t even do what we thought it would anyway. If anything, all it did was make the ground LESS flat.

It was my idea to bust out our tiller. I was due for a good idea.

If our lawn wasn’t destined to be wrecked before, it was now. Alex tilled, while I moved dirt around. Initially, all we could find was our snow shovel, which was NOT the right tool for this job. Fortunately, however, Alex eventually found our regular shovel buried under weeds in our defunct garden. I don’t know why I didn’t think to look there.

I promise that I didn’t just sit back and take pictures. I totally helped.

Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at Mr. Angryface.

Honestly, Alex was probably about an hour away from flying to Intex headquarters with the pool in his lap and throwing it on the desk of the CEO. But based on our next guesstimate of, sure that looks about right (those who do not remember history are destined to repeat it; also, those who do not remember history are welcome at our house), we determined that we were close to done.

Through all of this, the local wildlife has been delighted. The birds are thrilled that we dug up all the bugs for them and they are also grateful that we erected a giant bird bath for them.

You may have to click to embiggen to see our two bird friends.

Other members of the animal kingdom were more confused and upset.

Again, embiggening really better helps you see her
worried expression and body language.

After several hours of Operation Intex, we threw in the towel, repositioned the pool, decided to completely ignore the sharp drop off in the middle of the pool where our digging began (we call it Dead Man’s Reef), and put a few inches of water in the pool to see how successful we’d been.

Answer: Mondo successful.

Or, really, Team Stimey successful.

It’s a little caddywampus, but mostly okay.

We enlisted Jack’s help to secure the tarp to the ground again, which he did while repeatedly saying, “Whap, whap, whap” and humming the them to the original Donkey Kong. I don’t even know where he heard that. Seriously, the kid needs to put in his job application to the Nintendo people now.

“Whap, whap, whap…”

Our last hurdle with the pool was getting all the salt levels and copper something or other levels right. I think I might have managed to do that except for the fact that I dipped one of the little test strips in and it came out a color that wasn’t even anywhere on the results chart. I don’t know what that means, but the water hasn’t killed my kids yet, so maybe I’ll just pretend everything is okay. What could possibly go wrong with that philosophy?

I am a little concerned that my dog laps up the water that slooshes over the edge of the pool when kids are playing in it. If the salt level is less concentrated than that of human tears, does that mean that she won’t start hallucinating and drying out? And what is the salt concentration of doggy tears anyway?

My poor dog is really stressed out about the whole thing.

So, now that I have firmly made the point that you should never, ever in a million years attempt to construct one of these things, I should probably tell you that now that the hard labor is over, this pool is the best thing that has ever happened to us. It has been up and operational for seven days now and my kids have gone swimming for all but two of them. This pool is going to save our summer.

I’m sure that, come fall, I will have a whole other post about Team Stimey and the foibles of dismantling and attempting to store the Intex above-ground pool, but for now, we are the happiest people on the block.

Well, except for the people across the street who have an actual, in-ground pool. They’re probably happier.

Do you want to know how happy we are? (Even Alex.) I now present to you some photos from Day One of Swimming in the Pool.

Loading the water toys!
First entry.
 Could they look happier?! (Even underwater Sam is happy.)
Okay. Yes. They COULD look happier.

I asked Jack if it was awesome to have his very own pool. His response? “Yes, and by the way, OUR very own pool.”

Summer just got awesome around here.

10 thoughts on “So, About That “Ready for Use” Pool…

  1. This is our 3rd year with the same fate of previous pools! I swear the one with the big blue blow up bowl at the top had more swimming room Under the rim than in the pool.
    However, last year we bought the Intex 22′ x 52″ above ground pool and when i seen the water rising as yours did on bottom…I left it alone. And we had a low spot on one end. And it took 3 days to fill…So what did I do? I got a shovel and attempted to lower the pump side with water still in by digging under the side. It shifted yes…and it stayed, yes. But it was still unlevel a bit. Actually the pump side was the highest point! Geez!
    By the end of the Summer we had a colony of ants soooooo bad they measured 6 foot wide above the tarp and no telling how far under the tarp. One morning i woke up and the salt water pump was covered above the platform and after that….i ended up having to take the entire pool down. And deal with the deathly stench and black circle for nearly all winter.
    This year i am preparing the ground now. Some one told me to lay down Amdro for the ants, then roundup, then tarp and after pool is up roundup around it.
    Any tips on bug control? And im gonna level it, and im not surw about the sand part. Ive had one 20 yrs ago and used sand. Never had a problem with that.
    Thanks for letting me share!
    Wendy Stringer, GA

    • It’s a whole big thing, isn’t it?

      We never really had a bug problem, so I don’t have any advice for you, but I can tell you what we did for leveling the second year we use it. We hired a landscaping guy to put down dirt in a level circle, which really helped. The posts will sink into the dirt/sand over the course of the summer, which is why I think they don’t recommend building up with sand, but if you just need a little bit to flatten the bottom of the pool, I think it helps. It also made the “walking on the bottom of the pool” experience softer and smoother.

      Good luck! I hope things go better this year!


  2. Hahaha. Sooooo as my husband and I were in the middle of a divorce aka setting up the “Easy Setup” pool we were having to Google. I’m not sure why we thought we were smarter than the pool, but we decided it would be helpful to start setting up the vertical poles before all horizontal poles were attached. WRONG! We couldn’t get the very last T bracket to connect the final two poles. I’m pretty sure the “F” word was muttered more times that afternoon than through the whole movie “Wolf of Wall Street “. I honestly think someone needs to publish a book entitled “Memoirs of Intex Pool Owners” . I’m quite certain it would hit the best seller list immediately. As I type, our pool is filling up with only one side being about 3 inches lower than the rest. So be it! It’s as good as it’s gonna get. For now, my husband and I have pushed aside the idea of divorce at least until Fall when we have to take it down. IF I had only known what I know now we would’ve bought a couple of lawn chairs and a sprinkler. Hopefully when all is said and done we will enjoy our pool as much as your family. Thanks for providing some comic relief during some very intense pool setting up moments.

  3. Looking at reestablishing our pool for our 2nd year… I thoroughly enjoyed your commentary and pictorial! It reassured me that I am not the only one that loves/hates our Intex pool!
    And mind you, myself and my 6 year old daughter did the install all by ourselves!
    She learned to curse that day!
    Thank you again for the laughs,
    Coryn and Sophia
    North Florida

  4. We just purchased the 26 ft x 52″ Intex pool. As everyone says, make sure your site is level. We did what you did. That looks level enough and proceeded to set pool up. We filled it with 14,500 gallons of water. We were thrilled, it looked pretty darn good. The low spot was about 2 inches. As the next few days passed and the water started to warm, the pool began to tilt and bulge on the low side. It was bulging and the frame was tilting. Hubby decided to measure how far off it was. Well how does 5 and1/2 inches sound? Needless to say, we drained out using our garden hose attached to drain plug on one side. Our sand volleyball court got a nice drink. This was taking so long, that hubby put in a submersible pump and attached vacuum hose to it. We live by a farm drain, so we put hose where our down spout goes underground to what is actually a ditch.

    14,500 gallons of water. How much money is that? I haven’t found out yet.

    Any how, When drained and dry, 7 adults picked up pool and moved it.

    From reading posts, you can not add dirt, you must dig out high parts. One week later, we are still digging. This is all by hand and done at night after working all day in 90 degree dry weather.

    We had some very windy weather resulting in 50 mph wind gusts. Pool was ready to fly away. We had to fill it about 1 foot deep with water to keep polls on the ground, well, 1 foot on one side and a few inches on the other.

    As of right now, we are going camping for a few days and when we get back hope to get ground level, drain pool with water holding it down and get a few people to help us move it back. Hubby plans on making footings to attach to feet of posts. QUESTION: Sand or no sand?

  5. My neighbor gave me a much smaller Intex pool without the trimmings so I haven’t put it up yet and stumbled onto this blog post – I lol’d a few times and learned a lot! I’m glad it all worked out! :)

  6. Ok. We are back from camping and have finished digging and leveling by hand. 4 adults were able to lift and move back onto freshly leveled ground on top of ground cloth. Now hubby is making footings to attach to feet of supports before adding water.

  7. The 26 ft. Intex pool is filled with water and looks good so far. It only took another 10 days to get ground level, by hand. We found out as we were starting to fill it, there was a couple of lower spots. My husband used thicker board for footings, which are screwed to the feet. So, it looks straight so far. I tried it out tonight. It was really nice, just a little cold at 72 degrees. It is supposed to be around 90 for the next few weeks. Yeah, just in time!!!

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