As homeowners hope to salvage the summer, inquiry about purchase and installation are reportedly up by 300 percent.

By Brigitt Earley
June 24, 2020
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With many summer camps cancelled and vacations put on hold indefinitely, Americans are looking for ways to occupy their families right in the comfort of their own backyards. As it turns out, everyone has the same idea for beating the heat: installing an above-ground pool. 

According to The New York Times, online searches for "above-ground pools" are up nearly 300 percent compared to data from the same time span over the last five years. The backyard recreational item has, in a sense, become a pandemic staple. Like cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, they are sold out everywhere. Even their smaller varieties—inflatable pools—are near-impossible to find. If you're one of the lucky ones who can manage to purchase an above-ground pool, here's what you need to know prior to installation.

They come with affiliated costs.

If you want to install an above-ground pool, it's important to be realistic about budget. According to data from HomeAdvisor, most people spend between $1,000 and $4,000 on above-ground pools, says Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor's home expert—and that's prior to installation. Though many above-ground pools do come as DIY-friendly kits—the Framy Swimming Pool ($280, amazon.com) is one such example—DiClerico says that the project is "above average" in terms of difficulty, especially as you get larger and add scope (building an attached deck, for example). 

If you plan to hire someone to set up the pool for you, expect to spend another $1,000 to $3,000. And if you're adding a deck, tack on another $1,500 to $4,500. 

They don't suit all yards.

Before purchasing, it's important to do your due diligence: First, check in with your municipality's zoning and building departments. Are there any restrictions that might prevent you from moving forward? Specifics vary from town to town, but generally above-ground pools must be set back at least five feet from property lines and about 12 to 15 feet from the main residence, says DiClerico. 

You'll also want to do a quick survey or your property. Is the landscape level? Are there any large obstacles like rocks or trees? "The landscape itself should be as flat and level as possible," says DiClerico. "If there's any kind of slope to the yard, large trees, or rocks that have to be removed or relocated that can potentially add significant cost."

They can take a long time to fill.

Once installation is complete, don't expect to dive right in. Allocate an afternoon for prepping the water. According to InyoPools.com, a standard garden hose releases approximately nine gallons of water per minute, or roughly 540 gallons an hour. So, even if you have a smaller above-ground pool—say a 12-footer that's 30 inches deep—you'll need about 1,718 gallons of water to fill it to capacity. This means it would take a little over three hours to fill the pool. 

They require regular maintenance.

And then you need to treat the water. "Above-ground pools are every bit as chlorinated as in-ground pools," says DiClerico. You'll need the chemicals, plus a test kit like the Taylor K2006 Complete Swimming Pool Water Test Kit ($89, walmart.com) to ensure you're maintaining the proper water balance, he explains. But water treatment isn't a one-time task. You'll need to test and treat water regularly—at least once per week. 

Though most above-ground pools come with a pump and a filter, you'll also want to have tools like a skimmer on hand to fish out any leaves and debris on the surface.  

It could affect your homeowner's insurance.

Another phone call you should make before sealing the deal on that above-ground pool? One to your insurance agent. Having a pool—even an above-ground pool—can affect the cost of your homeowners insurance. Plus, your agent will be able to inform you of any fencing requirements, says DiClerico. 

It's important to take the proper safety precautions.

First and foremost, young children should never be left unattended around water—even shallow water. According to the CDC, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day. Whether you install a fence or secure the ladder into the pool, it's essential to take all safety measures possible. It's also important to make sure any power running to the pool (like the electrical line servicing the pump and filter) is up to safety code. For this, DiClerico recommends hiring a professional electrician. 

If any of the above immediately rules out the possibility of an above-ground pool, you may want to consider a large inflatable option instead, such as the Bestway Deep Easy Set Inflatable Pool ($89, homedepot.com). According to HomeAdvisor, these more temporary solutions—they may last for a summer or two—range between $500 and $1,000, and are much less complex in terms of installation and maintenance. 

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