Fixing an unlevel above ground Intex pool.

NWood88

New member
May 29, 2018
3
MENTOR, OH
Hi,

This is the first summer I've purchased an Intex pool with a frame. It's a 22' x 52" round Ultra Frame soft side pool. I did extensive research before setting up my pool, on leveling the ground and prepping the ground for set up. Unfortunately there is so much info out there, that some of it starts to contradict itself.

I marked out my area, rented a sod cutter, lawn roller, ect. Strapped a 4 foot level to a 2x4 to check my work. I finally got it to a point where I felt that it was level enough to set the pool up. The area was cleaned down to solid ground. I used a few bags of topsoil to fill in any small gaps in the ground.

I considered placing paver stones under the legs of the pool, but I had read mixed information about using them. Some say its essential, others warn not to use them. (I believe Intex themselves tell you not to do this)

In the end, after considering the mixed info and my budget, I decided to not use paver stones. I filled the pool to capacity and found that there was a 2"-3" difference in water height from one end of the pool to the other. I believe this difference is from the pool settling after the weight of the water.

I babysat the frame the entire time it was filling, and everything seemed level. When it was full, I could tell that one whole side of the pool was taking more pressure than the other. One of the legs was pushing away but meeting resistance with the surrounding dirt. The weight ended up cracking the foot that the pole sits in.

I was able to lift the frame just enough to slide some of the legs outward, just slightly as to take some pressure off. I can see that about 5 or 6 of the legs were sinking slightly into the ground.

I've seen a number of people talk about using a jack to lift their pool enough to get a paver underneath the legs. But it seems for every person that suggests this, there is someone who says to drain the pool and start over because of how dangerous it is to try.

I have been sick to my stomach with anxiety over this issue. My neighbor's houses are right next to my house on either side. I also have two small children. I can't even imagine the danger and destruction of a pool collapse.

As I type this, I have thunderstorms in the forecast for the next three days. I'm worried that the rain is going to soften the ground even more. If there is anyone out there who can offer me some solid advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I've spent a ridiculous amount of money purchasing this pool, prepping the ground and filling it with water. I would love to fix this issue without emptying the pool, but obviously my family's safety and the surrounding property are my primary concern.

Thanks in advance.

Nick
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,412
Franklin, NC
Drain and re-leveling the ground is the safest way to do things. Yes, you could jack it up but that is just increasing the pressure on that area of the pool and I would not recommend it.

I don't have an AG, but I think most folks here put blocks under the legs.
 

Jamison04

Well-known member
Jun 21, 2011
686
Tecumseh, OK
I'm one of those who did the jack up method when I had our summer escapes pool several years back.

Anywho it is all really in the confidence of your skill set on doing this. The safest way is to drain the water and re-level the area.

And yes you DO want to use patio pavers under the legs. Even with pavers my pool still sunk due to soft soil from heavy rains which is why I decided to jack it up and slide another stone under the leg and paver in the areas where it sank.

But with the pavers they need to be recessed into the ground so the top is flush with the surrounding soil. Use a hand tamper and tamp the soil around each block to help pack the soil in around them, ensuring the finished height is even with the soil.

The tarp that goes down before the pool will help protect the pool liner. Even some heavy landscape cloth under over the paver before the tarp will further prevent any rubbing.

If you plan on keeping the pool up year round then I highly suggest to drain it and be very meticulous with the site prep before putting it back up.
 

tboy555

Member
May 8, 2018
8
Springfield/Ohio
I also recommend pavers. Mine were on solid ground, with only a couple "built up" because the ground was too low. I then leveled them all, and filled sand up to the level of the brick so it sat flush. What I did to protect the pool was use the ground cloth, and then as it filled I made sure each paver was pulled back as far outward as it would go with the leg on it's edge. I had my son on the inside checking with his feet to ensure he could not feel the edge of the paver.
 

Poolzzz

Well-known member
Aug 14, 2017
373
Vancouver, BC
Personally I think it needs redoing. As painful as that is. IMHO 2-3" of tilt is just too much.

The ground needs to be firm under both the pool and the legs. With that size and depth of pool I'd definitely be using pavers. I've never heard anyone warn against using them, only warnings about installing them incorrectly (make them flush with ground and don't let them touch the liner).
 

NWood88

New member
May 29, 2018
3
MENTOR, OH
Thanks for all the responses.

I started draining the pool yesterday by hose. So I'm guessing it will be empty by tomorrow evening. I ordered a new leg cap to replace the one that cracked.

My pool is a round 22', so my plan is to draw out 22' circle and place the paver stones on the outside edge of the circle. I've heard that you can use a level to go from stone to stone and make sure that you are level all the way around. I believe the poles are about 38" apart from center of pole to center of pole.

Any advice on placing these pavers would be great. I know I sound like a total rookie, but I don't want to make any more mistakes.

Thanks again everyone.

Nick
 

Casey

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 16, 2007
10,929
SW PA
Hi Nick. When you get your pool completely empty, remove the pool from the site. Go to your lowest spot and start your leveling process there by removing all the dirt around the circumference of the pool site plus 1ft so you have room to work. Once you are level, then you can put the pool frame back into place to see where your pavers will go. Remove the frame, sink the pavers and level them from paver to paver. Once you are done, you can set the pool up. This is a lot of work considering all the weork you've already done but... it will be right and most of all, safe for all, including your neighbors and property. Take your time and don't take short cuts so you don't have to do it again. Good luck.
 

Poolzzz

Well-known member
Aug 14, 2017
373
Vancouver, BC
Is your pool exactly 22'? Might want to measure if you haven't already. I'd layout the pavers based on the actual frame.

You mentioned some legs were pushed out as it filled. Suggest filling a bit and before the water is too deep making sure the bottom foot of each leg is pulled out against the strap so each leg is vertical (not bottom tipped in). Check them a few times while filing because they can move and it doesn't take long before the water is too heavy for you to make adjustments and you'll be stuck with whatever you got.

How level are you aiming for? I tried to make mine perfect and it finished 1/4 inch out once filled. I would have been happy with 1/2 inch. They say 1 inch is the max industry standard but Intex pools aren't very strong so I wa aiming for less.
 

jeffchap

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 26, 2012
1,760
Edmond OK
My pool is a round 22', so my plan is to draw out 22' circle and place the paver stones on the outside edge of the circle. I've heard that you can use a level to go from stone to stone and make sure that you are level all the way around. I believe the poles are about 38" apart from center of pole to center of pole.
Search here for 'water level' or 'bunyip'. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to insure a level site.
 

NWood88

New member
May 29, 2018
3
MENTOR, OH
Ideally I don't want the pool to be unlevel at all. But my concern isn't with how it looks when it's full, its whether or not its safe. So I don't mind if it's slightly unlevel.

I'm draining the pool and getting sand shipped in tomorrow morning. I plan to use the sand as a base and also get pavers.

I'm gonna try again, and hopefully everything works out this time.
 

jeffchap

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 26, 2012
1,760
Edmond OK
3" out of level is not safe. Undue strain will be placed upon the low side and the legs will eventually buckle and the liner will burst. Trust me, I've seen it happen firsthand.

We advise digging down to level rather than building up, especially with sand. Sand, unless properly contained by some sort of retention wall, will wash out and you'll be right back where you started.

Now if digging down is out of the question, you can do what I did here. It worked for me, but the box to hold the sand cost more than the entire pool. And yours would need to be considerably larger than mine was.

Dimension at the ground for Intex 16' Ultra frame pool.
 

robzkombi

Member
May 31, 2019
16
southern californina
I know this is an older post but after reading this post and others with paver placement in the post.

My two part question and dumb as it might sound it's just been a thorn in my side so to speak, but why do the pavers need to be flush with the ground? If the ground is level wouldn't the pavers sitting on level ground also be level?

Also how would a 1/2", 3/4", 1" even 2" foam bottom affect the integrity of the pool if the pavers are flush with the ground?
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
The pool is designed for the feet to be at the same level as the bottom of the pool. When they are too high, it can put stress on the liner and the top rail. Mine are about 1/2"- 3/4" too high this year because I failed to read that last sentence saying make sure they're flush after it said 1.2" boards. The corners are pocketed and it's clearly not right. I already drained and refilled once (old pool had leaks, bought a new one) and the workman (my 19yo) was done with messing with it. I don't think it's the end of the world, but I wish I'd recessed them properly. I may drain, fix the boards to flush and refill anyway. It's about $60 in water and a day's work plus CYA.

If the ground is level, the pavers are about 2" too high (if you used pavers, if you use boards, it's 1-1/2" nominal). I'm not sure why this is a question for you, since if you put a paver on the ground, it's clearly not flush with the ground level unless you recess it into the ground. ???

If you put a foam bottom under the pool, I'd imagine you'll want to only recess your pavers as high as the foam bottom is. If you put them flush with the ground, they would be too low.
 

robzkombi

Member
May 31, 2019
16
southern californina
Thank you for the response. I can see your view on added stress to pool liner and top of frame rail.

My wording might have confused some readers, let me do a redo on my question.

If I place pavers (15"x15"x 2") on top of level ground which has been laser leveled using road base, they should be level as well correct? now if I were to use 2" rigid foam board under the floor of the pool, do pavers need to be flush with the ground or flush with the foam? I have read conflicting opinions/responses to this question in other posts. some say flush with ground others flush with foam. Thanks.
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,833
Portland, Oregon
I'd think that whatever the case with your foam... what you want to do ideally is make sure that the bottom of the pool liner is the same height as the pavers/foot legs.

And yes, if the ground is level and the pavers are all the same height, then it would stand to reason that they too are also level.
 
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