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Thread: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Hi. After reading on a thread about burying AG pools, there seems to be a lot of differing opinions. Some are from folks who have never had a buried AG, some from our experts who have had lots of experience repairing buried AG's and very few are from actual owners of buried AG's.

    So I thought it might be an informative thread to begin so that those of us who have taken the chance and buried our AG's can all share with each other, as well as those who are contemplating a buried AG, the trials, problems and successes of a buried AG pool.

    I posted install pics of our AG install/bury earlier. Here's the link:

    http://photobucket.com/Doughboy_album

    We have had our pool for one full year now and absolutely do not regret burying it. Maintenance on it is a breeze, thanks to this site :P and we don't expect to have any water problems such that we'll ever need to drain it. Because we are in Texas, we won't be closing for the winters. So low water level and torrential downpours are not a problem either.

    So when contemplating an AG bury, I suppose you would need to consider all these factors. I am also copying the PM's between myself and Dennis for additional information on this issue, to-wit:

    ******************************

    Hi Dennis. So as not to continue threadjacking, I thought it best to PM you. I wanted to ask you if you ever had a problem with your pool that you buried and how much did you leave on top and how long did you have it? We've invested a total of $10K in our pool, installation and plumbing and I'd like to know what kind of problems we may be looking at. We don't close it for winter - since we live in Texas. So it's always full of water. But I did check today with Crown to ask how risky it would be to drain it for any reason, say to change out the water or install new liner. He told me definitely not more than a week and as short a time as possible. Our installer simply told us, with a very stern voice to NEVER EVER drain the pool.

    I can start a thread on this in order to help others who may be considering burying theirs. But so far, we absolutely love ours and the fact that it's almost an inground. We're hoping too that because it's mostly buried, that it will make it safer (for the pool) for kids to jump in and slide into the deep end.

    *************************************

    Hi Cherie, yes, there is a reason. The weight of the water against the side wall is the only thing keeping the pool from collapsing from the weight of the dirt on the outside. If you go above the water line with the dirt, the pool caves in around the top. Six inches is minimal, that puts the dirt close to the water line and is usually OK. One foot is so much better.

    An example. The pool is six inches out of the ground and you are on vacation. After a week the water gets a little low, near the bottom of the pool. A storm rolls in and water logs the ground around the pool and it caves in. The dirt has become unstable and there is no water pressure pushing against it. The pool becomes a very expensive mess to fix. When the wall caves in around the top, the metal rods come off, and usually wind up through the liner at some point.

    The first one I did for my self was in the ground as far as I could put it. I also kept the water as high as possible at all times.

    Later, Dennis

    *************************************

    Hi. I never had a problem with my personal pool and it was just about all the way in the ground. I only had it a few years when we sold the house. Most of my experience comes from the hundreds of liners I have changed out in pools that were sunk, and the many cave in repairs I have done.

    It takes the ground around the pool about two years to pack solid so that a liner change can be done safely. After that time it just needs to be done quickly. You drain it, change the liner and refill, over a couple day period and you should be just fine.

    The problems we have had with cave ins go something like this. The person who let the pool sit empty for the winter, planning to change the liner in the spring. The pool has usually caved in by spring, usually caused by a few days of heavy rain at some point.

    There have been a couple of unfortunate cases where they planned it right but things went wrong. A broken sprinkler line and a massive rain storm were the cause of the cave ins.

    The biggest problem we have is usually the landscaping around the pool. Changing a liner involves a certain amount of movement on the sidewall. River rock or landscaping rock of just about any type will start to work it's way behind the wall and start cave ins. This can be a real pain.

    Cave ins do not ruin a pool, they can be fixed, it just takes a lot of time. Something you want to avoid if at all possible.

    Later, Dennis

    ******************************END************************


    From what I have gleened so far is that most of the buried AG problems stem from owner-error and not from having the pool buried. But it would be nice to hear from folks who have had buried AG's for some time and share with us their problems and successes and hints to make a successful AG bury!

    Thanks. :P
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    I do not suggest doing this, its just a really bad idea. For 10 grand you could have bought a do it yourself inground kit and paid for the excavation.
    Matthew
    Involved in the pool and spa industry
    Pittsburgh, PA

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Matthew, rather than simply give a negative opinion on this issue, please provide specifics as to why you think this is a bad idea. This thread was intended to help folks make an "informed" decision, rather than a decision based solely on someone stating that it's a bad idea.

    Thanks.
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Sorry.

    -The walls are not intended for such a purpose. The corrosive resistant coating is not meant for the rigors or being buried and exposed to mosture like that. In addition to this, the ph of the soil in many areas is acidic and will speed the corrosion of these thin walls.

    -as was said above, this pool really cant be emptied. AG pools depend on the outward pressure of the water to maintain their strength. Once this is gone, the slightest amount of outside pressure will crush in the walls.

    -aboveground skimmers and returns are not meant to hav outside pressure on them and will break very easily. AG skimmers are made of a much thinner material. An aboveground return cannot be properly resealed without access to the rear of the wall. If you cut the wall to adapt these to inground fittings the rust preventative coating is breached. In addition to this, any cutting of the wall is against manufacturer specifications

    -manufacturer specifications usually list the maximum height you are permitted to bury AG pools at around 6 inches. Any violation of manufacturer specs leaves you open to civil liability in the event of an injury.

    -inground pool kits can be purchased for around the same price as this project cost with a much better final product.

    Im sure there is other stuff I am forgetting. I assumed that this pool was hard plumbed and AG hoses were not used underground.
    Matthew
    Involved in the pool and spa industry
    Pittsburgh, PA

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    I have to agree. Use it for what it was designed for. You may be able to get away with it, but for how long and how well.

    Beside the new inground steel pools with sand bottoms and liners are dang nice. I found ones to around $7,000. I could not justify spending 8,000 for a buriable solid wall AGP when I could by an inground build designed one for $1,000 cheaper.

    I have learned doing the cheaper route isn't always a good idea.

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Well, I guess maybe we should have done our homework before deciding on the AGP. We assumed the only other pools were the "inground" that the builders did and when we priced a SMALL one of those, it was $35K! So when we found out we could buy a Doughboy and have it buried, with a 7' deep end and ledge around it, and hard-plumbed for $10K, we jumped on it!

    So for now, what we have it what we have. And so far, we're pleased with it. But we'll know the next time. Our city is going crazy on taxes and taxing us to death. So we may be looking at moving in the near future if we don't win the upcoming tax battle this month!!

    We'll certainly do our research and be ready for our next home (should we end up moving)!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Had my above ground pool for 5 years. Half of it is buried because of the slope. It is about 30 inches from top of pool to ground. The PB said we could bury or leave big hole. Neither would void the warranty. We buried but I have wondered if we did the right thing. So far no problems. I examine the area for rust constantly and have not found any.

    Susan
    18x33 AGP, BAQUAPURE 200 lb sandfilter, 2 1/2hp Workhorse pump (2 speed)

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    The old style gunite pools are getting soooo expensive. When we build an Anthony brand pool back in 1976 it was $16,000. Now a days they are upwards of $40,000. As well you have to have them engineered.

    I found the new style inground pool kits with steel sidewalls, concrete bottom, and vinyl liner for $5,000 for a 20x40 pool. Of course preparing the site, digging the hole, doing the concrete bottom and wall footers adds to the cost.

    Then again, they increase your property taxes, whereas the AGP do not cause that.

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    LOL, yeh, I was the one processing loans to folks back then for those gunites! It's amazing how much they are now. We had a really REALLY big one at our other house and hubby was in charge of it. After one year, we had to drain that baby (too green and scary) refill it (wish I knew about this site back then). Then, a year later, our 1 1/2 yr old fell in (March) when her daddy YELLED at her. She looked up to see what she did wrong and sure enough ran straight into the freezing water (And yes, we had her out of there within a minute and she was fine. But daddy never did that to her again either!!) In all, every member of the family, except me, fell in. And finally, after a few years, we had it busted up and hauled away. Said we'd never have a pool again (mainly had it removed because it was cheaper than having it resurfaced and maintenance)

    Susan, thanks for sharing that you've had yours for FIVE YEARS! That makes me feel better, for sure. I just read tonight that Doughboy says we should have done a "slurry" backfill. Had no idea on that one and obviously, we didn't do it. But Dennis says it only takes a couple of years for the ground to really settle around it so that it's safe to do a liner change.

    So after looking at a site on the drop-ins, yes, those are really cool and wish we'd known about it before running out and getting this one. Not sure how one like that would do with our dried out gray clay ground. That should be something else to consider when choosing a pool type. We get really big cracks (enough for the furkid's leg to fall into) in our ground. But we're hoping with the deck running 8' out around the pool, the ground under will not crack as badly.
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    We have a buried doughboy pool. It is buried upto six inches from the top and we have a cement patio poured around it making steps up to the pool. So far, the pool has been drained twice, once to put a subpump under that liner to control ground water and once this summer (down to 1/3 full) to beat algae. So far, we've had no problems except for ground water getting around the lights causing them to malfunction.

    I will admit, I probably would not buy a home with an above ground as an inground. Mostly because we were not the owners for the install and have no idea if it was installed to specs.

    I should mention that ours is flurry backfilled and has a cement bottom. We wish the previous owners had just shelled out a few extra thousand and gotten a regular inground pool so that we don't have to mess with sinking the steps, light problems, not being able to aim the returns, etc.
    26,000 gal liner IG pool
    Doughboy with concrete construction
    Full sun most of the day
    1.5 hp pump system
    200lb sand filter

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    hlemon, would you mind posting a picture of your pool please? We plan to leave our steps in year round since we don't close for the winter. And our installer suggested we forego the pool light - said they tend to short out a lot. But we want a light in it now that we're in our 2nd season with the pool.

    I read at the Doughboy installation site something about slurry - still don't know what it is and what the difference is between just putting the dirt back vs. backfilling with slurry - unless it's a weight issue and the slurry prevents cave-ins when draining. This seems to be the case, since you've drained twice now with no problems.

    Something else I'd read last year, after we'd already installed, is that if you want to bury, paint the outside with tar to help prevent rust. The dealership assured us that we could bury, with no rust problems and that our warranty would fix any problems. But he DID NOT tell us that we had to backfill with slurry. So I wonder who would have to pay for any repairs now. I sure wish I'd done more reading before the install. But I never dreamed there could be so much info available at the tips of your fingers
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Here is one from last year. We STILL haven't really done any landscaping. It's on our "to-do" list for this summer.

    26,000 gal liner IG pool
    Doughboy with concrete construction
    Full sun most of the day
    1.5 hp pump system
    200lb sand filter

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    WOW! Nice! So now, if you ever have to replace your liner, how do you do that, with the cement over it? I'm wanting our deck to go over our pool, but DH says it will interfere with replacing the liner.
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Our cement was poured in forms that lay directly against pool top. We have actually had our liner taken off and put back in already (subpump). It's a bead liner and the bead runs about 2 to 3 inches below our cement deck. I wish I had a close up picture to show you. I will try to take one tonight.
    26,000 gal liner IG pool
    Doughboy with concrete construction
    Full sun most of the day
    1.5 hp pump system
    200lb sand filter

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    That looks great!

    I bought a house last year that has a partially-buried AGP. It's 4' to 8-1/2' deep, and about 3' of that is above ground. It was installed in 1982 (yes, 27 years ago). It has steel walls that were blue; I painted it gray outside to make it look a little better. It has the original liner so I have no idea what's underneath it. The return and skimmer are both above ground, while the rest of the plumbing is buried. It was pretty expensive when installed -- $7,500 including electric (the sellers left me all the paperwork).

    Sue

    Here's a picture from last summer (since all we've had this year is rain!)

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cherie
    Our city is going crazy on taxes and taxing us to death. So we may be looking at moving in the near future if we don't win the upcoming tax battle this month!!

    We'll certainly do our research and be ready for our next home (should we end up moving)!
    Are you appealing a tax increase due to the pool?

    As I understand it, AGPs don't increase assessments; inground pools do because they're permanent. I can see where the lines could get a little blurry, like with the pretty round pool with all that cement.

    I'm also in a high-tax area. Didn't appeal this year as I got taxes lowered when I moved in, but plan to appeal next year.

    Sue

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    Cherie's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Oh we always appeal them, Sue. But Collin County is a joke. We decided to just hire someone to do it in 2006 and have used them since. But their rates just jumped substantially (doubled). And we've let them know that THIS year, they need to argue our case such that, with this economy, NO HOUSES are going up in value - geez, lousy government!

    But they shouldn't be trying to raise the value due to the pool. I have it in writing that the pool, even completely buried, would not raise our taxes. No, this is just Collin County (and Texas in general) If they don't get to raise your tax rates, they raise your valuation substantially to make up for the citizens voting NO on the rate increase! And I'm one of those people who actively fights unnecessary bonds - Wylie was one of the few cities who voted NO again (we voted NO in November too).

    But it makes me really mad to see properties all around us (in other cities) with taxes half of what our taxes are. Wylie is not a fancy smancy city worthy of those high taxes!

    27 years? Amazing! I think I'll go peruse the Wilkes site! Looks great too! I love the decking around it.
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    I know it's been years but I'm just wondering how your pool is holding up?! I buried mine in 2008 and so far so good. NO regrets!
    10,408 gallon, 21' round, 52 in' deep AG, half in ground
    Artesian Clear Master Plus Sand Filter, Artesian Turbo King 2 hp pump, installed June 08
    Denham Springs, Louisiana
    GEAUX TIGERS!
    Pics taken 2012
    http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad25 ... CN0606.jpg
    http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad25 ... CN0607.jpg

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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    Quote Originally Posted by esim13
    I know it's been years but I'm just wondering how your pool is holding up?! I buried mine in 2008 and so far so good. NO regrets!
    Ours is holding up great too! Absolutely no regrets. The liner is faded - our pool gets no shade at all - and there are some small bump areas in the bottom. My only complaint would be with the installer who apparently did something wrong at the buttresses, at the time of the install. There are good sized bottom indentions lined up with four of the buttresses. Seems it would be linked to something faulty with the buttress install. We just have to instruct guests NOT to poke their heels/toes in them. Gosh, if it holds up another 5-6 years as well as it has the last 4, we'll be happy! We just leave pump on low 24/7, dump a little bleach in every couple of days, sweep and we're done.

    We'd do an install like this again in a heartbeat - maybe hire someone else to build the deck next time though!
    32x16 buried Doughboy, 4' shallow - 7' deep
    Pentair Dynamo 1 hp, 2-speed - Pentair 150# SD40 w/zeolite (75#)
    One skimmer/two returns/Aquabot Turbo T2

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    esim13's Avatar
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    Re: To Bury or Not to Bury an Above Ground Pool!

    4 years later and I'm still waiting to do the deck! LOL! My liner is faded too. Like you I'm in full sun with absolutely no shade. I figure if it collapses when it's time to redo the liner I'll either fix it, upgrade to a resin pool, or go gunite. Depends on how much money is available at that time... hahaha! to another 5 years!

    Erin
    10,408 gallon, 21' round, 52 in' deep AG, half in ground
    Artesian Clear Master Plus Sand Filter, Artesian Turbo King 2 hp pump, installed June 08
    Denham Springs, Louisiana
    GEAUX TIGERS!
    Pics taken 2012
    http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad25 ... CN0606.jpg
    http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad25 ... CN0607.jpg

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