Inflatable pool care
July 4, 2011 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Inflatable kids pool - best way to warm the water and keep it clean over a long weekend.

We got out the inflatable kids pool for the weekend. Its lovely and hot here, so I've been leaving the water to heat up during the day, then the kids play in the water in the shady afternoon. I filled it up on Saturday morning, covered it Saturday night, and they played in it again on Sunday. I noticed that the surfaces of the pool and the pool toys had a slightly slimy texture on Sunday. What's going on, is this the beginnings of algae? I emptied, cleaned and refilled it this morning.

Do I need to put something in the water to prevent this happening, or just empty, clean and refill every day? I estimate it has about 100 gallons of water in it (its about 7' x 4'), and I do have chlorine tabs meant for my 60 gallon emergency drinking water barrel. Should I put one of those in for future weekends, or something else?

Bonus science question - I covered the pool with a clean roll of painters drop cloth - clear plastic, but textured so its semi-opaque. Would covering the pool with plastic during the day make it warm up faster, slower or make no difference? The pool is sitting in full sun all day.
posted by Joh to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a pool supply store nearby? Stop in and ask them if a small amount of some variety of pool chemical (a very, very small amount) would help.

Another good thing is to put a dishpan of water next to the pool for the kids to rinse the grass and sticks off their feet before they hop in.
posted by Wroksie at 11:05 AM on July 4, 2011

Maintaining even a small pool can be an ongoing science project. For a 100 gallon pool that you don't want to keep emptying, cleaning, and refilling, you will want a small portable filter. It's basically a pump that sits on the outside with flexible pipes that provide inflow and outflow. Even a kiddie pool may have a removable plug for these.

Then you'll want an appropriate supply of chlorine tablets, to be used regularly, and a weekly "shock" treatment that will overwhelm anything growing. Problems with algae, etc. may need to be treated on top of that. You'll want to test the pH regularly or have a pH thingamob that gives you a constant display.

You may decide it isn't worth it and just dump/clean/refill, especially if you have no water supply concerns where you are.
posted by dhartung at 12:24 PM on July 4, 2011

When you say it's 7'x4' I assume you mean 7 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall.

Volume of a cylinder is V = pi * r^2 * h. If you fill it with 1 foot of water that is a volume of: pi * (3.5)^2 * 1 = 38.5 feet^3. Google says that in gallons that is 288 gallons! Unless I've screwed up my math somewhere.
posted by sbutler at 12:35 PM on July 4, 2011

Nevermind, I guess now that I think of it a 4' tall pool -- while awesome -- would look strange. Guess my childhood bias towards circular pools crept in!
posted by sbutler at 12:42 PM on July 4, 2011

Best answer: You need chlorine! For a small pool you can use household bleach. This website is very helpful and has calculators. As for warming it, I have only used the sun. Some folks with hot tubs use insulated covers to keep them warm. Perhaps once the pool has heated up from the sun, you could cover it with an insulated cover at night?
posted by wandering_not_lost at 2:28 PM on July 4, 2011

Response by poster: Its rectangular, 7' long by 4' wide, approximately. And I only filled it about 6" deep, because my kids are toddlers. I don't plan to keep the water in their constantly, it would just be nice to inflate it on Saturday mornings, then use it over the weekend, and empty it again on Sunday evenings. Refilling both days seems a bit of a waste of water.
posted by Joh at 3:14 PM on July 4, 2011

Covering it with something dark will warm it more. Cut open a black plastic trash bag and lay it on the tarp.
posted by theora55 at 5:28 PM on July 4, 2011

You could put several drops (8 or so) of grapefruit seed extract (found at health food stores/Whole Foods and the like) in the water. This would help keep the water clear over a weekend and still be really safe for your kids, since it is food safe. You would probably still want to empty it every few days though.
posted by LyndsayMW at 7:36 PM on July 4, 2011

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