What Happens If the Ground is Unlevel With an Above Ground Pool?

Above-ground pools are a more affordable than in-ground pools, which require digging and serious construction. Some above-ground pools have a ring along the top that needs inflating while others are comprised of individual panels and a liner. No matter which type you want, it's important to plan the installation carefully. All above-ground pools require flat space covered in either grass or sand to operate safely. If you install your pool on uneven ground, you could have trouble with the pool walls, water level, and the liner.

Kids having fun in a inflatable swimming pool
credit: photobac/iStock/GettyImages
Proper leveling makes above-ground pools safer.

Problem with Pool Walls

If you install an above-ground pool on an uneven surface, the walls can collapse due to uneven pressure. The water will press with more force on one section of the pool than the others. This uneven weight distribution can buckle, twist or even collapse the pool wall, resulting in property damage and injury to anyone in or around the pool when it fails. A pool with an inflatable ring is more likely to fold under this increased pressure, but even a pool with solid side panels can fail.

Problems With Uneven Water Level

An uneven pool will result in an uneven water level. This difference may only be a few inches initially, but over time the pool will settle and the difference may increase. A deeper side may be dangerous to smaller children who are unable to touch the bottom of the pool and could take even an experienced swimmer by surprise. If your pool has a skimmer and the water is not at least covering it halfway, it cannot operate properly. If your pool skimmer ends up on the shallow end of your pool, the water will be less sanitary.

Damage to the Liner

If you have chosen an uneven area for your above-ground pool, the liner may not lay flat, causing wrinkles and folds. These can become hooked on pool equipment that will tear or rip the liner. Pool vacuums, for example, cannot effectively clean wrinkled liners and may ruin them as they run over the vinyl fabric. And once your liner rips, your pool is no longer watertight and will constantly leak.

Level Installation Is Crucial

Before installing the pool, look for an area away from trees and at least three feet from any other structures in the yard. If you have to level the area, sand makes a good compactable base for both the pool and any paver stones you may wish to place around it. If you have no level areas, it pays to have a professional pool installer create a level space for you. A level pool will be safer and lasts longer than one that has been improperly installed. Remember to consider local regulations that may also affect your pool placement.