Installing a frame set pool - lots of questions

Jun 13, 2008
My DH was initially adamant against getting a pool so following the examples of others I was able to talk him into one of the "portable" frame set versions at WalMart (15'round x48" - 4440 gal) as a sort of training pool to try it out & learn more about it.

1st: Currently we're wrestling with the black gumbo (clay) in our yard trying to get it level (Using a 4ft level). Anyone else had to deal with carving out that impossible stuff? Seems like it will take forever. We'll be putting in a couple of yards of sand & I've ordered a gorilla bottom pad to protect it from the nutsedge. Any other helpful tips?

2nd: Also, I've been reading about the inadequacies of the Intex/Sand'n Sun pumps, etc. I'd like to make things as low maintenance & efficient as possible to convince DH that this won't be another major chore. I want to use a saltwater chlorine generator. Intex has one either to add on to its mediocre pump that comes with the pool or as a combination pump & generator together. It doesn't give a HP - it just says the add on SWG "requires 700 Gal/H or larger filter pump" OR the combination SWG+pump says "2000 Gal/H built-in pump is included" Should I get the add-on, the combination or something else?

3rd: Additionally, can anyone recommend a good vacuum for keeping the pool clean as opposed to that hose version that comes with it? Anything else that I should know about or get?

PLEASE, I need to make this as easy (& hopefully not too costly) as possible so that DH will see this as a positive or at least neutral thing. Can you all help with any recommendations, advice or personal experiences?


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
May 20, 2007
SWSuburban Chicago, IL
I was reading about the intex pumps online to help a fellow TFP member clear his pool.

If you want the SWG get the higher gph filter, the one you said 2,000 is second to their highest which is 2,500 gph. I would not use anything less than the 2,000 gph. The stronger your pump/filter the better time you will have circulating (clearing) your water. Your vacume is really only as good as your suction. So with the better pump/filter combo, vacuming will be easier with any sort of head. Just keep reading the threads on here about intex pools. Do a search, if you haven't already on Intex and read every post you can about them, which will give you things to look for and prevent, etc.

I can't help you on the installation issues, tho, but the gorilla pad sounds like a good idea. Wish I had one....

You will save the MOST amount of money if you follow the advice of the TFP experts on here and stay out of the pool store unless they are testing your water and/or you can't find a specific pool chemical at the grocery store or walmart :wink:

You don't need algeacide. Don't use the 'bags' of "shock". You don't need floc. You don't need PH "up" or "minus"....etc., etc. :-D

Bleach, Borax, Baking Soda, Muratic Acid and Cyanuric Acid. Those are the main ones you will likely use at least 3/4 of them. There are a few others but those are the basics. And you will find them to be much cheaper at the grocery store or Wal-mart laundry aisle than anything at the pool store.

The site here is undergoing some upgrades so some links might not work or the tips might not have the articles connected, but there are many helpful tips in many articles and threads, so read as much as you can and if you have any questions just post them here, but when you do I would suggest that you please post a set of water test results with your questions.

Welcome to TFP! :mrgreen: Good luck!

Nikki in IL

Active member
Aug 2, 2007
Central Illinois
We bought an Intex "easy set" pool (the blow up ring on top) last summer as a "training pool" for the same reasons you did and have had great luck with it. Can't help you with installation except to say be liberal with the sand. To make your level more useful, lay down a longer 2x4 board and put the level on it; that will help you level a longer surface with a shorter level.

I don't know what specific equipment came with yours, but the little pump that came with ours ("Krystal Clear" model 635) has worked surprisingly well! I rinse the filter with the garden hose once or twice per week (a few minutes); last year one filter lasted the six weeks we used the pool. We use bleach to shock and borax to raise ph as needed. On the advice of duraleigh, based on the fact that we drain and store the pool in the winter, we use tricholr pucks for routine chlorination. He had said he didn't expect using trichlor would raise our CYA too high in just one swim season. I'll check CYA later this year and switch to bleach only if it gets toward the top end of the range.

For cleaning, I use only the equipment the pool came with. I was skeptical of the garden hose vacuum you reference at first, but was impressed with how well it worked; as a matter of fact, our neighbor asks to borrow it to clean her pool b/c it works so well. The pool catches the breeze and leaves from a large willow tree nearby, so we always have at least a few leaves to vacuum up. The potential downside to it is that it adds water to the pool; usually not a problem, but we've had so much rain here this year that our pool is already overfull (and we're expecting 1-2 inches of rain today). Our pool also came with the "deluxe accessory kit" that included a vacuum which hooks directly into the filter, and I just tried it out yesterday for the first time since I didn't want to add more water. It worked fine, too.

We had perfect water everyday for the six weeks we had it last summer. We've had it up and running for a couple of weeks this summer, and even with the ridiculous amount of rain we've had (10 inches last week alone!) the water looks, feels, and tests fine -- I've shocked a bit more often to keep with the constant rainwater, but that's the only change I've made to the normal routine. Like you, I'd rather have the SWG, but our setup is working fine for now, so I'll wait until we have a larger pool.

My husband had originally not wanted a pool either, and agreed to this as a trial, too, before graduating to a larger above-ground pool. He has been impressed...the only work he does is help put it up and take it down. I take care of all the routine maintenance, and it's just minutes a day. The only "problem" I ever have is keeping the kids out of it long enough to let the water calm enough to vacuum effectively. The good news is now he's talking about an above-ground with the new deck in a year or two!
Jun 5, 2008
Raleigh, NC
We got our 15'x48" quick-set metal frame pool 2 weeks ago, and I have to say that I really wish I had gotten one sooner. I put 1/2 bag of shock in it (before learning about the BBB method here... how to do it right) when I filled it up. The next day I added 1 lb of CYA, and a floating trichlor dispenser. Then I stumbled upon this forum! Luckily I had not added too much CYA by that time. I've maintained crystal-clear, good feeling water ever since I put it up thanks to finding TFP using BB and B so soon after setting it up. The pool gets about 8 hours sun per day, and I have no problem maintaining water quality thanks to duraleigh's test kit. The stock filter and (1000GPH rated) pump do a fine job of keeping the water polished. I run the pump 24/7, but I will probably put a timer on to run it mostly only during the day. I have only had to change the filter once so far last weekend. I slid a new one in and cleaned the old one (a dishwasher cycle does wonders after hosing off the big stuff). Remember that you can buy a whole lot of bleach for what that SWG costs, so weigh the expected lifetime of this pool and maintenance using BBB against the SWG.
The pool, test kit, and the BBB costs not much more than running the boat for 2-3 weekends, so I think this will save some gas money this year!


Well-known member
Jun 13, 2008
Port Neches, Tx.
8) The guy's that put up our pool used a sod cutter to remove the grass and level out the dirt. You might be able to rent one for a couple of hours and save ya'll alot of back breaking work.
Jun 13, 2008
Re: Installing a frame set pool - sod cutter to level?

Thank you so much everyone!

Newnick (& anyone else who might know): We did rent a sod cutter from Home Depot, but none of the 3 guys there knew how to operate it much beyond starting the engine. (HD should be ashamed for not better training their people in these things) The 3rd one finally puzzled out with my DH how to lower the blade, but we still had to dig out a starting place for it with each row or it couldn't get down below the grass into the dirt. Is that the normal way to use one of those things? We did at least get most of the grass off that way though.

I had heard about using it to level off the dirt, too, but can't figure out how that might work since the wheels which are in front of the blade pull it along the slope of the ground so the one time we tried it we almost dug below the level that we needed in the starting place while only shaving the mound down a bit. Did you notice how they used it to get the dirt level?


Well-known member
Jun 13, 2008
Port Neches, Tx.
They whipped out a 26' circle so fast I didn't really pay attention. I was helping roll up the sod also. I do know the guy operating it just set it and went with it, he didn't use a shovel at all. We haven't had any rain in quite some time so the ground was very dry and cut easily. I'm going to rent one when I get around to the deck.
There also might be different styles of sod cutters that work better than others.
Jun 13, 2008
Thanks, newnick!
We're going to check with Lowe's & do some online research & see if we can dig up ( :roll: ) more helpful info as soon as DH is off-shift. Appreciate the help!
Aug 8, 2007
Orem, Utah
I have the 15"x42" metal frame Intex pool, wish I had gotten a bigger one.

Our pump is average, not great. We always have dirt on the bottom of the pool, even after swimming around and fluffing it up. Our pool gets alot of use from neighborhood teenagers. It might be cleaner if we let grass grow up to edge of pool but I'm afraid hubby will weed-whack it into oblivion. Men are dangerous with those things. So we put pavers down and they are always dirty somehow. And we get dust storms.

I use a hose vaccum once in awhile to get out leaves and if you put a cotton sock (the ones that lose their mate in the dryer) inside the knee-hi, you can get some dirt out that way.
After my husband built a fence near the pool and all the sawdust went into it, we had to use a Shop-Vac to get the saw dust out of the bottom -- that worked great. Get one that has a switch to 'pump out' the water when it fills up the Shop Vac.
I use a leaf screen on a long pole every day to get out bugs, etc. We also have a skimmer and it helps, and a solar cover to keep the pool hot.

DON'T put any granular chemicals in the skimmer, even though everyone here says you can, their pumps are much bigger and better-made. I ruined TWO Intex filter pumps before I realized the little Intex pumps cannot handle a clump of granuals. (sp?) Now I put them in a knee-hi and hang them in a floating chlorinator dispenser and they eventually dissolve. (Use a separate dispenser if you still use those little pellets of chlorine -- don't mix chemicals in the same dispenser.)

Just keep up on the BBB balance so you don't have it go green because all your neighbors will talk badly about "little pools." (while they are paying some pool boy $$$ to come out each week....)

Keep an eye on the safety of the crappy ladder, it will rust and eventually fall apart just as you have your backside up in the air where all the neighbors can see over their fences. Screaming as you fall only draws more attention. Build a deck with ladders or buy something better ASAP.

When you drain it and store it in the garage in the winter, there WILL BE spiders when you unroll it in the spring. Don't hysterically kill them with a shovel and then be surprised when the pool leaks. With the glue and patches, you don't need to drain the pool, the glue works underwater but cut the patches in a round shape and glue around the edges, so a sharp edge doesn't stick out and scratch you.

As you put it away, go on-line and order any replacement parts like frame pins, pole feet, patch material, etc., that you will need next spring. You will not want to 'have to wait for it to come in the mail' when it IS next spring.

Every year you have to re-level your ground a little before setting up the pool and always check for rocks, sticks and new tree roots.

We live in a drought area, so when I drain mine in Fall, I do it in stages and let it water my lawn some each week. So far mine has lasted three years. It's big enough for 5 teenagers to splash each other, or my hubby and me to lay out on floats, but I wish I had gotten the 24 foot one I saw I could actually SWIM.



Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
Marana, AZ
Two things about using chlorine vs. a salt water generator to think about:
1. You still have to test your water with a SWG, so you really aren't saving any time there.
2. It only takes a few minutes a day to measure a cup or so of bleach and pour it in your pool, so you really aren't saving any time there.

I find it really quite easy to maintain a good chlorine level without an SWG. And, as someone else mentioned, if you are going to drain at the end of the season, you can probably get away with using trichlor in a floater, which is very easy. Just keep an eye on your CYA if you do that. I know Intex puts out a portable SWG, though, for a quite reasonable price. People who get an SWG are usually extremely pleased with it.
Jun 13, 2008
Central VA
We have an Intex as well. I have done the BBB method since the beginning. Thankfully a friend turned me on to it. So far I have had no issues with my water. It is crystal clear and has been even with our yucky well water. I spend less than 5 minutes a day and about once a week I'll spend about a half an hour cleaning the cartridge and vacuuming the bottom. Our filter works suprisingly well. You should see the junk that comes out of that thing! I agree about the ladder. It makes me nervous and I won't step on the top platform. My kids love the pool, and it's big enough for several adults comfortably. We floated in it tonight watching the fireworks on the ridgeline. Also, my husband is talking about building a deck out to it next year, with a better ladder. And then after that maybe getting a nicer permanent AGP. :mrgreen: Anyway, good luck. I would play with it a season or so before making any major investments in upgrading.