Cheap swimming pools
May 24, 2008 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I am pondering whether to get one of those $100-150 department-store above-ground swimming pools to help beat the heat. Are they a steal, or am I wasting my money? Comments from anyone who owns one?
posted by crapmatic to Shopping (16 answers total)
They're not bad, but cleaning it is a pain in the butt. And if you don't keep it, be prepared for a lovely circle of dead grass to deal with.
posted by carmelita at 1:08 PM on May 24, 2008

Well, I'll be the first to quote Mitch Hedberg on the subject: I saw a commercial for an above-ground pool, it was 30 seconds long. Because that's the maximum amount of time you can picture yourself having fun in an above-ground pool. If it was 31 seconds, the actor would say "The water is only up to here? What do I do now? Throw the ball back to Jimmy? Or put some goggles on and look at his feet?"

Seriously, a good friend of mine breaks out his above-ground pool every summer, and he and his kids seem to love it. I think of it less as a "pool" and more as an oversized cool-water jacuzzi. I don't know about ones that cheap, though - I think they usually cost way more than that. Can you link an example?
posted by granted at 1:19 PM on May 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

On a related note, you should check your minicipal laws concerning pools and mandatory fences. Especially with inflatable pools, which are so accessible to kids...
posted by ddaavviidd at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2008

You can't swim in them, but if you enjoy floating in the sun, then go for it.
posted by happyturtle at 1:32 PM on May 24, 2008

We had one when my kids were younger and we really enjoyed it. As happyturtle said, you can't "swim" in them, but you can float and splash around. They're very relaxing and great for cooling off. Just make sure you follow all of the instructions for cleaning and for keeping the ph balance correct (it sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it's very simple to maintain).

I think we spent $179 for ours (it came with a water filter and pump and a starter set of chemicals), and probably $30 for additional chemicals once the starter pack ran out, and it lasted for three summers. It was well worth it, considering the amount we would have spent if we'd gone to the municipal pool every day.
posted by amyms at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2008

Some friends of mine bought one last summer. It was kind of a pain in the ass to put together. Theirs was made in a fourth-world country and threw off so many VOCs that opening the box triggered a flashback to the plastics-extruding factory where I worked one summer fifteen years ago. And you get what you pay for--it's not going to last the rest of your life, and it's not going to be as nice as an inground pool, or even a fancier aboveground one.

But their two-year old, and all of her little buddies, and all of the neighbor kids, loved it. If you can make sure that you're always thinking 'ooh, water, in the backyard,' and not 'this thing is only three feet deep, and it seems to be leaking from somewhere,' you'll love it too.
posted by box at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Check your homeowner's insurance (if renters, check with your landlord). You may trigger a premium increase if it is anything more "permanent" than a translucent pink blow-up pool with Hannah Montana on the bottom.

Also, those cheaper above-ground pools don't usually come with locking covers, which are on my mind because I heard someone on the TV today say "when a child is missing, go straight to the pool first". Even if you don't have kids, someone in your neighborhood probably does.
posted by catlet at 5:51 PM on May 24, 2008

My sister bought one for her kids a few years ago, and like happyturtle said, you can't really swim in them, but you can splash and paddle. I visited her during a particularly hot period and oh my god, that tiny $100 swimming pool felt like the best idea anyone had ever had. We spent hours in it.
posted by kate blank at 6:13 PM on May 24, 2008

I bought one a couple summers ago and really enjoyed it. Then my landlord told us that it was a liability in case "children from the neighborhood wandered into the back yard and fell in" and I had to get rid of it.
posted by radioamy at 7:04 PM on May 24, 2008

We had one last summer, liked it despite the limitations others have mentioned above and just wanted to add that when your 80# dog jumps into it, it will pop and release a micro-tsunami across your lawn.

I'll probably get another one this summer anyway.
posted by jamaro at 9:59 PM on May 24, 2008

If the land that the thing is on is not PERFECTLY level, it will not work right. The water will seeks its own level and the pool will be lopsided.

(By level, I mean perpendicular to gravity. It doesn't have to be perfectly flat, although that helps.)
posted by gjc at 5:07 AM on May 25, 2008

You MUST have level ground to set the pool on. For the time we had ours up, it was super cool. Then it rained. The water turned green because the pool was under a tree. You need a Ph.D. in chemical engineering to figure out how to correctly apply the chemicals to keep the pool from looking like a lagoon. You'll probably fare better if the pool is out in the open, but you will still need to use chemicals for several reasons, the least of which is your pool will become a 3,000 gallon cauldron of writhing mosquito larvae if you don't. Also, tearing it down/cleaning for winter is a pain.
posted by keith0718 at 6:46 AM on May 25, 2008

Keith0718 has it. Even if the water is clear, mosquitos will take it over without pool chemicals in it. Also, remember if it's really hot, the water heats up pretty quickly and it's no longer refreshing but more like standing in lukewarm soup.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2008

We have one. We've had it for about three years and this will probably be its last year after which we'll probably get another. As others have said, you can't really swim, but you can float and relax. It's very refreshing. We haven't had the headache with pool chemicals that keith0718 has had. We have a little test kit to test the ph and chlorine level in the pool (we bought it at Walmart for about $7) and we add the chemicals as needed. Ours is always crystal clear. For bugs, buy a pool net sweeper thing. You do need pretty level ground, which you can achieve with some sand from Home Depot. The water does get very warm after a 100 degree day in NC, but we like the bathwater feel and if we want something cooler, we just top off the pool with a little cold water from the hose. We have a fenced backyard and no children young enough to drown in a pool, but you should check with your local ordinances.
posted by katyggls at 3:48 AM on May 26, 2008

Pool chemistry is not that tricky. Some of these above ground pools aren't all that small, and obviously, big is better! And then there are the nicer one's, with a deck going around, and a hole dug underneath for the deep end. Still a plastic bottom (with sand underneath), and very nice. My sister had both, and even her simple one was big enough for a fitness swim.

The plastic bottoms can get holes. Ohnoes! But hey, plastic, with sand underneath, makes for a very comfortable pool that beats concrete, IMO. Of course, chip tile is lovely too, but still not the softness of plastic and sand. I had the chip tile, but lived in the subtropics where you had to run the filters year-round, and it never got to freezing temperatures.
posted by Goofyy at 8:57 AM on May 27, 2008

Ours never last for more than one year. We've tried patching them, we've tried carefully storing them but it's humid here and they never get quite dry and end up with small holes in the ring and on the sides . Patching doesn't hold .

Still our daughter and all her friends up to several years older LOVE spashing in it. She's 6 now we'll probably do this another couple of year.

Or maybe a metal frame pool this time, but how do you store those? Anyway--if you think of them as disposable and spend less that $100 on them they are worth it (nice for adults to float in too, especially those who'd rather not show off their um...callipygian charms in the public pool)
posted by pywacket at 7:43 AM on June 1, 2008

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