All the filter & pump systems that come "standard" with these pools are inadequate. Period. A 3,000 to 5,000 gallon that is using a 5 (Five) square foot filter cartridge (typical "A" style cartridge) with a 1/8 HP pump will not stay clean for very long. In comparison, a typical metal sided 8,000 gallon aboveground pool will have, at minimum, a 40 - 50 square foot filter and a 3/4 HP pump.


The bather load of these pools is typically higher than most backyard swimming pools. In other words, having 6 to 8 children swimming & playing in 4,000 gallons of water is vastly different than having those same children swimming in a 8,000 gallon pool. Plus there's the poor filter system as we just mentioned.

Over the past decade the sale & use of Intex® brand or Soft-sided aboveground pool (sometimes known as "instant" pools) has literally exploded helping to get many more families into their own backyard swimming pool. That's the good part!

People purchase these pools at Walmart®, Kmart®, Target® and many other "big-box" discount stores.

By and large they're easy to set up and use. But believe it or not, they're NOT so easy to maintain. And instead of going back to Big-mart for questions and problems, many of these customers come to us.  And after much hemming and hawing, they realize that we have the answers; Big-mart does not.

3. Vacuum the pool. Do a weekly vacuum and inspection of the pool. Get out the excess dirt & debris that has accumulated.

4. Clean the filter. Especially if you have a cartridge filter. Chemically clean it. Don't just rinse it off. Chemically cleaning the cartridge removes the greases and oils that have accumulated. Think about your clothes or dishes. Do you simply rinse them and put them away? Of course not! You use the proper detergent to break up the dirt, greases & oils. And so it is with your filter. An easy to use spray on filter cleaner like BioGuard Kleen It works well & is easy to use.

A couple of DON'Ts: DO NOT use plain acid to clean your cartridge. The acid will set the greases & oils in place. DO NOT soak it in chlorine bleach. Bleaching will not remove the dirt, greases & oils.

5. Clean the Ladder. Almost everybody forgets this step. Removing and cleaning the pool ladder takes accumulations of slime and algae that grows and hides under the ladder treads. Didn't think of that did you? That's why we're here for you!

Here's one last step... get the kids involved!

Hey, they're the ones using it most and these maintenance steps are pretty simple for kids (let's say over 7 years of age) to help with. Plus, they'll gain a certain amount of ownership and respect for "their" pool.

Lastly, let's briefly take a look at some optional extras that have proven to make sense for so many of our customers.

Purchase a
Circulator. The Circulator will dramatically increase the pool's circulation. Small investment with good results.

Consider upgrading to a larger,
more effective Cartridge or Sand Filter. You gain greater filter area and capability, greater circulation. This is especially a good idea if you intend to keep the pool for several years. In the short and long term, you'll be much happier. The pool will stay cleaner and you'll actually use less chemicals.

Consider using
Pristine Blue instead of regular chlorine. Pristine Blue is economical to use and is much more stable in sunlight and warmer water. If you have hair or skin allergies or sensitivities, those are even better reasons to consider Pristine Blue.

How to Maintain an Intex or Soft-sided Aboveground Pool

2. Add a maintenance dose of Algicide. Adding this small dose of algae will help to prevent algae growth in the pool. Algicide works as a "back up" in cases of heavy use or a sudden rain storm that may compromise the chlorine level. Good quality algaecides such as BioGuard Algaecide 28-10 or Back Up work to kill and prevent algae in all those little "nooks and crannies" that are difficult to clean or vacuum.

Most customers pool water problems start because they do not perform these 2 very important maintenance steps. Shock & algaecide every week.

The water temperature in almost all Intex® or Soft-sided pools gets warmer and stays warmer much faster than other pools. Higher water temperature, higher chlorine use leading to quicker, more significant water problems (as mentioned above).

Most Intex® or Soft-sided pool owners have not or were not properly instructed as to how to use or care for their pool. The "pool-in-a-box" went into the shopping cart and out to the car with a barely a quick swipe of the credit card. These stores could really care less about your pool care needs; they just made the sale... just try bringing in a water sample for help...

Your Intex® or Soft-sided pool should be treated and maintained as if it were any other swimming pool. Use the right equipment. Follow a good chemical program. Follow the 5 Keys to Pool Care.

The GOOD news is that you CAN successfully operate and maintain any Intex® or Soft-sided pool economically. You can even have sparkling blue, crystal clear water. You may want to take a look at our "Cloudy Water" video later on.

Now that we've listed the issues, let's get down to solutions! It really is simple.

The trick is, you've got to follow these directions to the letter. If you do, you will succeed. Skimping - with the idea that you're going to save some money - WILL NOT work. I can guarantee that from dealing with hundreds of these pools over the years. Please trust us...

First, Basic Maintenance.

Getting the basics down pat is the first step in successfully maintaining your Intex® brand or Soft-sided aboveground swimming pool. Here are the things that you just have to do everyday.


1. Run the filter. At an absolute minimum, run the filter for 12 hours each and every day. Whether it's going to be used or not. Whether the weather is good or not, the filter MUST run for 12 hours daily. Monday thru Sunday. No days off. Turn it on first thing in the morning. Turn it off when you go to bed. You can not run the filter "too much"... If you want to make the filter more efficient, consider adding a Circulator in place of your regular return fitting. The Circulator will increase the pool's circulation by more than 1000% (yes, one thousand)! That simple devise can - and has - make all the difference in Intex® brand or Soft-sided aboveground pools.
 
2. Test the water. You've got to test the water to find out if the levels are proper and the water is "safe" for you and your family & friends to use. Use test strips or a good test kit. For more information on water testing click here. Be sure that your chlorine or sanitizer level is good (chlorine between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm). The pH is almost more important because the pH level controls how well the chlorine or sanitizer works! You want a pH level of 7. 4 to 7.6. Adjust the pH level as needed right away; don't wait. It can get out of your control very quickly. Learn about
good water balance here.

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3. Add Chlorine. Our customers have found that adding a small daily dose of Super Soluble everyday (about 2 - 3 oz), you maintain a solid level of sanitizer to kill bacteria and algae and keep the water clean. If the pool water gets above 85° F, and there's a lot of use and a lot of kids, then add a second dose about an hour or before you shut the pool down for the day.


If you don't want to use chlorine, we strongly recommend Pristine Blue. Easy to use. Easy on skin & hair. Very economical. Normally added weekly.

Intex® or Soft-sided pool owners also come to realize that they have purchased something that requires some regular care and maintenance. Unfortunately, some realize this fact a little too late and become frustrated and even irritated.


But, you know what? These pools serve a tremendous number families all over the country who just want to cool off on a hot summer's day. And if it's treated as a swimming pool should, (don't call it "just one of those pools I got from Walmart") then it can & will provide many summers of fun. ParPools.com is just here to help & educate you.

Here is a list of the most common problems (all treatable & even preventable), along with the cause(s), that we see with these backyard pools:

Cloudy water - inadequate or poor filter system and circulation

Algae growth - same as cloudy water and also involving inadequate or improper chemical treatment

Slimy feel to pool - see above

"Burning" eyes and/or skin - inadequate or improper chemical treatment

"Constant" clogging of the filter -  inadequate or poor filter system, poor maintenance

Before we go on, we have to realize a couple of things:

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How about salt (saline) or Baquacil or Soft Swim (biguanides)? Our experience over the years is that either of these systems is considerably more costly and less effective. It all comes to the filter system. We DO NOT recommend the use of either system.

4. Brush the pool walls.
Brushing the pool walls removes slimy build-up or algae in its beginning stages and lets the filter do the work. Think of it as brushing your teeth. Would you skip brushing your teeth every day? That's just gross...


The good news is, is that those 4 steps should take you no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Isn't your family's health & safety worth those few minutes?

Now let's look at the Regular Maintenance.  These steps should be about every week for best results. After that, we'll look at some changes in equipment that you may want to consider.


These steps should be followed about every week for best results in your Intex® brand or Soft-sided aboveground pool. Then, we'll look at some changes in equipment that you may want to consider.

These Regular Maintenance steps should be considered a "check list" of what you should be doing to not only have crystal clear water, but safe, healthy and easy to care for water.

Weekly Steps. These steps shouldn't take more than 30 minutes to perform.


1. Shock the pool. Shocking the pool is the single most important thing to do on a weekly basis. Shocking oxidizes and helps to get rid of the contaminants that eat up chlorine and make the water smell, taste and look bad. If the water is CLEAR, use about 1 pound of Lithium or Calcium hypochlorite per up to 10,000 gallons. Don't skimp! The chlorine level may be high for a day or so, but you've oxidized a lot of nasties that you don't want in the pool water.