Selecting and Leveling a site for your Intex pool

The most difficult part of setting up either kind of pool is leveling out the site where you want to locate the pool. Even a small incline will cause the water in your pool to be deeper on the lower side of the pool. This will stress the liner and will eventually cause it to fail. This failure might be sudden and unexpected, which could result in flood damage to property or even injury to swimmers.

The best location possible for your pool would be a smooth, level, concrete pad. However, the time and expense involved in laying a concrete pad would probably exceed the cost of the pool itself. For this reason, most owners will install their pool on an empty section of their lawn.

It is best to select a site that is already as level as possible. However you also need to take into account how close your pool is to trees (which will drop leaves into your water), shade, availability of a GFCI protected electrical outlet, access by children or pets, and existing landscaping features. Many times, the best site for a pool will be a compromise between several of these factors. This often means that you will likely need some work to make the site more level.

Leveling a site can be a physically demanding and time consuming task, especially if the soil is rocky or hard to dig in. Some owners may attempt to level their site by adding dirt or sand to the lower part of their site. However this is strongly discouraged. First of all, the material used to ‘build up’ the low side will immediately compress beneath the weight of the filled pool, so what looked to be level will quickly become off-level. Additionally, rain and water splashed from the pool will eventually erode the ‘built up’ portion causing the site to become even further off-level – maybe even severely. It will not take long before the liner is overstressed and tears apart.

So, instead of building the low spots up, you must dig the high spots down. If a shovel is the only tool available, this can be a great deal of work. On the other hand, if you have access to or can hire some heavy equipment like a skid-steer loader or tractors it can be quite easy. One very good compromise is to rent a sod scraping machine as noted in the next section that discusses grass clearing. After you’ve removed the grass from the site, you can continue to use the machine to remove about an inch or two of dirt at a time. It’s still a physically demanding job,
but the machine does save some significant time as compared to only using a shovel to dig.

Since most Intex pools are fairly large, it can be difficult to make sure that the site is level. One method for doing this is to use string and a device called a line level. Attach the string to a post or stake in the center of your site, and hold the loose end of the string in one hand. Attach the line level to the string about 12″-20″ from the end you are holding. Look at the line level will to see whether the string is level, and then measure from the string to the ground. Repeat several times at different spots around the circle, and look for the measurements to all be the same. If you find high spots, dig them down and re-measure. If you end up with low spots, try to keep them towards the middle of your pool rather than the edges. Also, keep in mind that this is not an engineering or architectural competition, so perfection is not required. It takes time, effort and patience to get your site leveled, but it’s worth it because your pool will be safe and reliable for years to come.


2 thoughts on “Selecting and Leveling a site for your Intex pool”

  1. The location that we chose appeared to be level and it wasn’t until we began to fill the pool that it became apparent that the ground beneath was not quite level. There is a 2-3 inch difference between the high side and the low side of our 15’x3′ Index Frameset pool. It this enough of a difference to warrant draining the pool? Can we deal with the slight water level difference this season and worry about further leveling the ground next season?

    • 2-3 inches is quite a bit. You need to consider the risk if the pool gives way. Would the water damage your home, landscaping or some other property? Could someone get injured? What if the pool gives way while a child is swimming? Maybe do a search on YouTube for videos showing what happens when a pool like yours does break so you know what you may be dealing with. Ultimately the decision is yours.

      One thing that may help would be to leave the pool less than completely full. This would make it less likely to break and would reduce a little bit of the potential for damage or flooding. That’s not a long term solution though. In the end, your site needs to be leveled out.


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