How Unlevel Can An Above Ground Pool Be? (According to Experts)

If you look around, you would find more people have an above ground pool in their backyard than in ground pools. A major reason for this is because above ground pools are cheaper than in ground ones.

No matter what kind of pool you have decided to set up, the foundation of the pool is most important. While it’s almost impossible to attain a 100% flat foundation, it’s important to make the foundation as flat and level as possible. In this context, a lot of homeowners wonder how unlevel an above ground pool can be. 

If you set up the above ground pool on a unlevel surface, it will affect the water pressure, pool walls and the liner. With time, the walls can burst, causing a major accident. Therefore, the groundwork is the most important part of pool installation, irrespective of its kind. Most people tend to leave it lumpy, uneven, rocky, without being aware of the risks.

So, let’s find out the extent of imbalance that’s acceptable while installing an above ground pool and the dangers associated with an unlevel above-ground pool.

How Unlevel Can An Above Ground Pool Be?

How Unlevel Can An Above Ground Pool Be

Even the best installers find it hard to level a pool 100%. Attaining a perfectly leveled surface is sometimes challenging, especially in hilly areas. Usually, the best professionals can attain a leveled pool within an 8th of one inch, if it’s a round above-ground pool and almost half of an inch, in the case of an oval above-ground pool.

Going by the instruction manuals, you would be asked to achieve flatness within an inch. That’s not compulsory because a pool that is off by one inch completely, wouldn’t cause any harm, meaning, it wouldn’t cause any structural problems. However, the imbalance would be noticeable to others at its waterline.

Above-ground pools that are off level by more than one inch look extremely slanting. Usually, a pool that’s two inches off doesn’t cause any major problem. In some cases, people continue to use such an unlevel above ground pool. However, more than two inches of imbalance is completely unacceptable.

Can The Above Ground Pool Be Slightly Unlevel?

Can The Above Ground Pool Be Slightly Unlevel

Yes, above ground pools can be “slightly” unlevel. The term slightly here signifies an unlevel pool within an inch or two inches maximum. Remember that a pool that’s an inch off will appear titled to the naked eye. If it is more than an inch unlevel, it will look bad to the eyes, but wouldn’t cause any damage to the pool walls.

In fact, a lot of people have been happily using their “off-level” pool for years. However, with time, the damage caused by the difference in water pressure increases. Therefore, we suggest homeowners to check the water depth on all sides of the pool from time to time.

Nevertheless, if the above ground swimming pool is anymore than two inches off, it wouldn’t last long. Not only that, using such an imbalanced pool is extremely dangerous. We have discussed the dangers of using an imbalanced above-ground pool later in this guide.

Is It Okay If Your Above Ground Pool Has A 3-5 Inch Difference From One End To The Other?

No, it’s not okay if your above-ground pool has a difference of 3 to 5 inches from one end to the other. If this is the case, the pool must be taken down and reinstalled properly. One shouldn’t swim in such an imbalanced pool. Not only does it create a difference of water pressure on both sides, but also makes the deeper side extremely dangerous for people.

Due to this imbalance, water on the deeper side of the pool will exert extra outward pressure. With time, this constant pressure will break through the pool wall and push the contents of the pool in the outward direction. The result would be a collapsed pool. This can also injure kids, if they were inside the pool.

Always remember, an above-ground pool must have equal pressure on all the sides. If you keep using an imbalanced above-ground pool, you are simply risking your life and others too. One cannonball into the pool and you will have a flood in your backyard. The next steps involve lots of hassles to get your pool reinstalled. You would be filling in your tedious homeowners’ insurance papers. However, before doing that, check whether your insurance covers floods, because regular homeowners insurances do not.

Does The Ground Have To Be Perfectly Level For An Above Ground Pool?

Does The Ground Have To Be Perfectly Level For An Above Ground Pool

Yes, the ground has to be perfectly flat and leveled before installing an above-ground pool. This is a prerequisite for any kind of pool you install. The ground must be firm, and compact and shouldn’t have grasses or lumps or loose sand on the surface.

We have already mentioned that attaining a perfectly leveled ground is sometimes difficult. In such cases, if the ground is slightly off, and you lay your above-ground pool on it, it’s acceptable. A difference of less than two inches on both sides of the pool is safe.

If you find that the pool is off by more than two inches, it means the groundwork wasn’t done properly. In that case, it’s important to take down the pool, level the ground again and reinstall the pool. It’s certainly a tedious task.

You must be wondering if there are other ways to level the unlevel ground, without taking down the above-ground pool. The good news is yes, one can level the ground, without taking down the installed pool. This definitely sounds interesting but is not easy.

To level the land with the above-ground pool installed, follow these steps.

  • Drain the maximum water out of the pool carefully. Do not empty the pool.
  • Now, move to the shallow side of the pool. Remove the leveling blocks that you placed previously while building the pool.
  • Now, use a shovel to pry.
  • Use the tip of the shovel to lift the slab.
  • While you are keeping the slab up, have someone replace the leveling blocks.
  • You need to repeat this step to replace all the blocks on the shallow side of the pool and lift up the lower side of the pool accordingly.
  • After it’s done, refill the pool with water.

Now that you have a balanced pool or a less imbalanced one at least, you are good to use it.

If you are wondering why we didn’t advise to lower the higher side of the pool, that’s because it’s too technical.

Dangers Of Unlevel Above Ground Pool

Now that we have discussed how unlevel your above ground can be, it’s time to talk about the dangers of using an extremely unlevel above ground pool. A lot of homeowners continue to use such an imbalanced pool without being aware of the dangers. Whether you are yet to install an above ground pool or you already have one, go through the dangers discussed below and stay informed.

An uneven ground creates a difference of pressure in the pool. One side of the pool becomes more in depth than the other side. The deeper side exerts more pressure and water keeps accumulating on that side. If this persists unchecked, a lot of accidents can happen. Some of them have been listed below:

Pool Walls Might Collapse

The biggest danger of keeping an unlevel above-ground pool as it is, without leveling the ground properly is the collapse of the pool walls.

A pool built on the uneven ground creates uneven water pressure. As a result, force isn’t distributed equally on all sides of the pool wall. The lower side exerts more pressure as more and more water keeps accumulating on that side.

The depth of water on the low-lying side of the pool increases. With that, increases the water pressure, which causes the pool wall to buckle, twist, fold and ultimately collapse.

To avoid the occurrence of such accidents, homeowners must double-check and triple-check the flatness of the ground before setting up the pool. When the pool collapses, it destroys property, which still can be recovered. The biggest concern is that it can affect one’s safety and injure kids and adults too.

While using an above-ground pool for many years, homeowners must be vigilant to recognise signs that indicate uneven water pressure. If you recognize any such sign, you must take down the pool without delay and level the ground properly.

Becomes Dangerous For Kids

The difference of water pressure created due to an uneven foundation can be harmful for kids. The water imbalance initially appears to be less but increases with time. After months, one side of the pool will clearly have more depth than the other side.

The deeper side of the pool becomes dangerous, especially for kids. As more and more water keeps accumulating on the lower side, sometimes, even adults are taken aback. Kids, if left unattended in the pool, can drown themselves in that area.

Damage to the Liner

When the ground is unlevel, the liner cannot be laid straight. Some places of the liner become folded and wrinkled. Now, when you use cleaning equipment to clean the pool, the tools get hooked to the folded parts of the liner, ripping or tearing the liner as a result.

This usually happens when using pool vacuums. The wrinkled parts of the liner tear and get ripped. When that happens, the pool water doesn’t remain contained anymore and starts to leak.

Yes, there’s a way to patch leaking liners but that doesn’t last long. Soon, you have to replace the damaged liner with a new one. Therefore, to avoid that unnecessary hassle, we advise homeowners to level the ground, so that the liner can be laid out straight.

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The Bottom Line

Now that you know the dangers of using an unlevel above-ground pool, we hope you would be extra careful while installing one in your backyard. Yes, leveling the ground after the pool has been installed is possible.

But why would you undergo unnecessary hassles? Instead of doing some extra steps to level the ground afterwards, we advise homeowners to make the ground as smooth as possible before installing an above-ground pool.

When it comes to installing an above-ground pool, we can’t really stress enough on how important its foundation is. Though ensuring a flat, leveled surface is time-consuming and laborious, it’s certainly worth it. Not only does a leveled foundation make your pool long-lasting but also enhances your pool experience.