Why a “Cheap” Inflatable or Easy-Set Pool Isn’t Cheap
Above Ground Pools, Education, Pools
What to know before you buy
Here at Pettis Pools & Patio, we happily answer all types of pool questions, but one we wish people would ask before they buy an inflatable or easy-set pool from a big box or discount store is, “What am I likely to spend after I come home with my pool-in-a-box?”
You’ve seen them at Wal-Mart and Target; pools in colorful boxes promising summer fun and easy set up. And you may be tempted… but in the back of your mind find yourself wondering if this is really such a good idea.
They look like a larger version of a “kiddie” pool, but they come with very real code requirements that must be met. The term “swimming pool” generally means any structure, basin, chamber or tank which is intended for swimming, diving, recreational bathing or wading and which contains, is designed to contain, or is capable of containing water more than 24 inches deep at any point.
To be code compliant, all swimming pools with more than 2 feet of water are required to have at minimum, a 48” (4 foot) barrier. The pool wall itself may serve as this barrier as long as it is at least 48” high and the ladder is capable of being secured or removed to prevent access. That means ANY INFLATABLE OR EASY SET POOL LESS THAN 48” HIGH DOES NOT MEET CODE, IS NOT SAFE, AND WILL REQUIRE FENCING TO BE LEGAL OR YOU MAY BE ASKED TO REMOVE IT. The average fencing for this type of pool would run roughly 4X the original pool cost. Now, it’s not so inexpensive any longer…
Any homeowner who installs a pool, inflatable or not, above-ground or not, also has to get the proper permit and obey the local code about how far back it sits from the property line. If you don’t pay attention to local set-backs, you would have to move the pool even if you already have it set up.
Insurance—check with your insurance company to make sure they are covered under your policy.
Installation— yup, the box says it’s easy but talk to anyone who’s actually installed one of these pools and they’ll tell you a different story. Just like a more permanent pool, these pools require a level surface and there is quite a bit of work in preparing the site.
Filtering—the filters for these types of pools are small and underpowered, which can quickly have everyone swimming in a dirty pool. Your “easy” pool won’t be so easy to care for when the water is green and/or cloudy all the time. Also, the filter intake is further below the water surface than with permanent pools, leading to the possibility of hair getting caught in the filter.
Chlorine—You still have to take care of the water by tracking the pH, chlorine and other levels. You can’t just fill it with the hose and forget about it.
Electrical—You have to be able to reach an electrical source to blow up the pool and your filter system still requires a code compliant electrical connection.
Punctures—Once your pool is punctured, you’ll have to use a patch kit to repair it. It is difficult to almost impossible to fix them well enough for continued use, though and you may find yourself adding air every day to keep them from losing water and collapsing.
Goodbye Grass—The pool will kill the grass it is on top of so you need to move it around—or resign yourself to a circle of dead grass once the pool is put away.
Lack of Longevity—these pools will only last a couple of seasons at best and are really not designed to stay up through the winter. So each season you will have to put it away and then bring it out again in the spring.
Here’s a final thought from code enforcement officer, Dave Romig in Lock Haven, PA. “Upgrade from an inflatable and get an above-ground pool with hard, straight walls that are at least four feet high. You’re going to spend a little bit more, but it’s cheaper than buying a fence,” he said.
With 50 years of experience in helping families all across the Greater Rochester area find their perfect pool, Pettis Pools & Patio is happy to answer all of your questions about above ground pools—just call or stop in.