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15 important things to know when buying a used above ground swimming pool


Buying and selling a used above ground swimming pool isn’t as common as some might think it is. Out of the nearly six thousand pools that I have installed over 35 years, only maybe a couple hundred of them were used.

UPDATE: Since 2020, more people are buying a selling used above ground pools

Many people buy above ground pools on the premise that they will be able to sell it one day when they move or don’t want it anymore. This does happen, but not often. Usually, above ground pool owners discover that they want to keep their pool much longer than they thought. That’s a good thing.

The biggest thing people need to know when buying a used above ground swimming pool is that it will ABSOLUTELY need a new liner. Coming from a professional installer, there are no exceptions to this!

Even though buying and selling used above ground pools isn’t common, it can still work out well. You can get a good deal on a pool and it can go up well and last for many years. Here are some things to know first:

15 THINGS TO KNOW WHEN BUYING AN ABOVE GROUND SWIMMING POOL

Before buying a used pool, it’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect it. Here’s my 21 point inspection for a used above ground pool.

1 You will need a new liner.

I want to get this out of the way straight off. A used above ground pool needs to have a new liner. Period. Used liners will shrink when you drain the pool and may not fit the pool anymore.

This has been an argument that I’ve had with people for years. Some just don’t want to accept this fact. I don’t blame them. It’s hard to conceptualize needing a new liner when you can see it looking nice and working well. And it’s hard to have to spend another $300 after you just paid for a complete product. So sorry.

I’ve heard, “But the liner is only a month old”. It doesn’t matter how new the liner is. If it was installed and water was added, it can shrink when emptied. Plus, the skimmer and return holes were made and it will be hard to line them back up when the pool is re-installed.

Now some have successfully re-used the liner that came with a used pool, but not many.

A FUNNY STORY. (WELL, AT LEAST TO ME)

I once had a lady that was so mad at me for refusing to re-use the liner for a used pool installation. She texted me after she had the pool installed by someone else to tell me that they had successfully installed the used liner and it looked great. “Good for you”, I texted back.

“Well, I guess you don’t know everything”, she then texted back. I left it at that. This made me wonder if my stance on not re-using a liner was correct. At that point, I had been installing for many years, but she was right in that I didn’t know everything. Maybe liners can now be re-installed.

A week later, I ran into the guy who installed her used pool and re-used the liner. He confirmed how mad the pool owner was at me for not doing her job. He then told me that the used liner came out OK. It had a few wrinkles in it but looked fair. This guy had only been installing pools for a year or two, and that’s why he agreed to re-use the liner. He didn’t know better.

A month or so later, I ran into him again at the concrete plant some of us installers would go to get the caps we used for leveling. He came up to me laughing and said “Remember that used pool I put up where the lady was so mad at you”? I, of course remembered and said so. “Well, she called me back and said her skimmer was leaking. I had to wind up putting a new liner in that pool”

“Nooo shit” I exclaimed.

“Yeah. I had to put that liner in for free. She bought the liner, but I did it for nothing. Shit man, that sucked. You were right. I’m never installing a used liner ever again”.

“Hey I get it, buddy. Years ago, I installed two of them before saying never again. You live and you learn I guess”. We both had a good laugh and went about our day. Funny how that lady never texted me to tell me that she wound up having to get a new liner after all. Oh well, maybe I DO know everything. LOL.

So, if you are like that lady and don’t want to believe me about this, then cool. No worries and good luck. And you might as well stop reading this article. It won’t do you any good.

2 Find out the age of the pool

This is important in gauging the condition of the pool. If the pool is only a year or two old, then you are probably good to buy it. Chances are at that age, there’s not much for rust if any.

If the pool is five years old or older though, I would start giving some pause. For me, the cut-off is five years old. This isn’t to say that one older than five isn’t good. It may be but will need a much closer look before qualifying it as a good used pool.

Many times the pool seller won’t know the age of the pool. This is a potential red flag. Many will also think the pool is newer than it is. This is very common. I’ve had people tell me their pool is six or seven years old and it will turn out to be ten or eleven. A lot of times, I can tell the age of a pool based on the model. Most models don’t hang around for too long.

NOTE: Above ground pool warranties generally do NOT transfer. This doesn’t matter much though as the warranties aren’t that good.

3 Rust or corrosion in the pool’s wall is the biggest concern

An above-ground pool can be pretty old and look pretty bad, but still be quite reusable. Conversely, a pool can be only a year old and look great, but has rust in the wall and not a good candidate to be re-located.

When you go to look at the pool, be careful to inspect the wall of the pool from top to bottom for rust. Look especially in the area under the skimmer box and return fitting. Those are the areas where leaks are most common.

Sometimes, there will be rust at the very bottom of the wall where it fits into the bottom track. This area is often slightly buried with earth or decorative rock or mulch. Clear away what you need to in order to see the bottom track of the pool. It’s fairly important to know the condition of the wall at the bottom track.

THE ONLY REAL WAY TO KNOW ABOUT RUST IS TO SEE THE INSIDE OF THE POOL’S WALL

The most dangerous rust for an above ground pool will usually begin on the inside of the wall and corrode outward. This means you often do not see it on the outside of the wall.

You must be able to look at the inside of the pool’s wall. Unfortunately, the only way to see the inside of the wall is by removing the liner. This is impossible when the pool is up and full of water.

If the used pool is only a year or two old and looks to have been well taken care of, then you are probably good to not first see the inside wall. But…., I wouldn’t hand any money over until I see the inside of the pool’s wall. Period.

Note: If the pool has an aluminum wall, you still need to see the inside of it. Aluminum will corrode and be damaged just like steel will. Look for small white spots and very small pinholes.

4 Used oval-shaped pools are riskier and harder to deal with

As a career above ground pool installer, I have so many issues with oval pools. Moving and re-installing them is on that list.

When buying a used oval pool, know that it will be much harder to take apart, much bulkier to transport, and harder to re-install.

When disassembling an oval, take more time doing so. Be careful to wash clean the areas where the buttresses come apart and hit the bolts and screws with WD-40(or something of the like) before trying to take apart. Keep the buttresses as intact as you can and still be able to transport them. This will help during the re-installation.

5 A sand type filter is hard to move

I’m not a fan of sand filters to begin with. And when you have to move one because that’s what came with the used pool you bought, you won’t like them either.

For round pools, I can take them down and move them all by myself with no problem, unless the thing has a sand filter. You’re gonna need a good hand truck and at least two guys to move these heavy and bulky mini-monsters.

You could empty the sand from the filter body to make it lighter. If you do that (or if the sand filter is already empty), you may need to know the size filter or how much sand goes in it later when using.

6 The pool may have foam coving and a liner guard/pad

These two options have become more and more popular over the last ten years. If the used pool you bought has foam coving, then they will most likely NOT be reusable.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy replacement cove. You may just opt to make an earth cove when re-installing the pool. There’s nothing wrong with using the earth of sand for coving. It’s still more common than anything else.

If it has a liner pad or guard, then there’s a good chance it can be re-useable. You’ll just have to shake out any dirt on it and fold it up for transport and re-use.

7 Unless the pool is only a year or so old, don’t pay too much for it

I’m writing this article during the summer of 2020. This has been a crazy summer as above ground pool manufacturers ran out of pools for the first time in my 34 years of installing them(Due to the corona virus).

This caused the price of used pools to go through the roof. But it’s been short-lived as new pools are already becoming available. I bring this up because the used above ground pool market is usually a “buyer’s market”. This means that you usually don’t pay too much for them.

Some will put crazy prices on their used above grounds. After a while, when no one buys them, they go down to a reasonable figure.

With this being said, I recommend only paying a decent amount for a used pool if it is nearly brand new. Otherwise, check back with the seller later and offer the price you are willing to pay.

8 Consider who will be disassembling and transporting the pool

The overall price of the pool should be based on some things. One is that a new liner will be needed (See #1). Others are who will be taking the pool down and who will be transporting it to your place.

Typically, I will charge in the range of $300 – $600 to take down a pool and move it to a new location. With oval pools, this can be a few hundred more and you can add more if the travel distance is longer than 15-20 miles.

Most people will take down and move the pool themselves. But that is still a price consideration for sure. And on that note, I would want to disassemble the pool I buy myself. This will give me an opportunity to make sure there is no rust and ensure that all the parts make it to my new install site.

Having the seller take down and move the pool may be more convenient for you, but what happens when you go to install the pool and there’s a part missing? Yeah, that would suck.

9 The pool’s warranty usually doesn’t transfer, but that really doesn’t matter

To some, a warranty means a lot. We do live in an insured world, which makes people feel warm and fuzzy about life and the purchases they make. When buying a used above ground pool though, you most likely will have to go it without that added illusion of insurance. Warranties don’t really transfer, even if they say they do.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that warranties for above ground pools aren’t very good anyway, so you’re not missing much. If you want more info on pool warranties, go here

10 If needing an installer, find one first. Some won’t install used pools during the busy season

For most areas of the country, it’s hard enough to find an above ground pool installer. When it comes to needing one to install a used pool, it may be even more difficult.

Typically, used pools are harder to install than new ones. This is because installers are used to things being new in the box with the parts not being misshaped or dirty or rusty.

During the busy summer season, I won’t install used pools. I’m too busy with my commitments to installing new pools for certain websites and local retailers. I will install them in the offseason though.

There are some used pools that I won’t install any time of year. If the pool is old and rusty, I don’t deal with that junk and many experienced installers won’t either.

Unless you are planning of putting the pool up yourself, my advice is to line up an installer before you buy a used pool. It may be a good idea to send him some pics of the pool too just so he knows what he is dealing with.

11 When taking the pool down, make sure not to lose any parts.

I cannot stress how important it is to not lose any parts when taking down, transporting, and storing a used pool. It is common for used pools to be missing a part or two. That’s right, I said it’s “common”.

Just about every part of an above ground pool is necessary, so don’t think you can just get by if something is missing. You may not be able to.

Parts for above ground pools are easier to get than they used to be, but they used to be impossible to get. Now, if the pool is a Wilbar made one, then you may find what you need from inyopools.com.

If the pool is made by someone else, then oops, you may not find a replacement part. Are you getting what I mean here when I say “make sure you have all the parts of the pool”?

The used pool will be in the ground a little, so it’s easier than you think to leave a piece behind as they can hide in the earth. Count all the pieces after the pool is completely down to make sure.

12 Intex/Coleman type soft-sided pools don’t last very long. Don’t pay a lot for them

This article is really more for metal walled pools, but there are so many Intex pools out there that this is worth mentioning. Here in Florida, most of the cheaply priced soft-sided pools only last one season. Occasionally, I’ll hear about some guy that limped his Intex along for five years. That’s not the norm.

These pools don’t cost much to begin with, so don’t pay much at all for them when they are used. There’s no telling how long a used Intex/Coleman will last. It may not even survive the takedown and re-install. Then you’ll be out whatever you paid for it.

13 If there is a wood deck with the pool, know that they are extremely hard to move and reassemble.

Wood decks can be the most expensive part of the overall above ground pool set-up, so it’s good to be able to buy it used with a pool.

Wood decks are a pain in the ass to take apart and move though. You may save a couple thousand dollars or more by buying an existing wood deck, so it can be worth what it takes to get it to your new location.

Disassembling a wood deck will take some patience and hard work. And it will usually take more than a pick-up truck to move it. Have some common sense about the deck. Check it’s condition to make sure it’s not rotted out anywhere.

14 If already disassembled, count all the parts before buying

It’s not uncommon for used pools to have been already taken down when they are sold. This can be good and bad. It’s good in that you don’t have to take it down yourself or have to pay someone. It’s also good in that you can take a good look at the pool’s wall for rust.

It can be bad too in that you won’t really know if the pool is all there. And unless you are an experienced pool installer, it may be hard to tell if it’s all there. When the pool is up and you take it down, you know for sure that it’s all there.

When buying already disassembled, count all the parts. Makes sure there is the same number of bottom rails, bottom connectors, top connectors, top rails, top caps, and top stabilizer bars. In most cases, these will all have the same number of parts.

Using a 24’ round pool as an example, most will have 16 of each of the above parts. Some 24 round pools will have 17 parts of each. If there are even one of these parts missing, that can be bad.

Note: Oval pools are different and have many different parts. It may be impossible for a non-pool installer to truly know that the pool is all there.

15 It’s better if the pool was previously installed professionally

Above ground swimming pools aren’t Swiss watches. There’s not much precision with their design and assembly. I say this because above grounds can be put up poorly and still work well.

If the used pool you buy was installed poorly, it will be harder to re-install properly. Let’s say the pool is a 24’ round but was installed in a more egg shape. With this, the distance across one spot may be 23’ 7”, while the opposite area measures 24’ 3”.

This egg-shaped pool may have been fine and stayed up with water in it with no issues, but you won’t be wanting it to be that shape when you re-assemble it. It will come apart with no problem, but when you go to re-install it to its proper round shape of 24’x 24’ across, it will give you a hard time.

The parts of the pool will have a memory of being egg-shaped, so it will be a struggle to get it to what it should be. I’ve been in this spot many times and can tell you it makes the install tougher.

A used pool that was assembled properly to begin with will go up much easier the second time.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY FOR A USED ABOVE GROUND POOL?

I wish I could give you a definitive answer for this, but it’s just not possible. There are too many variables and factors involved in just taking a percentage of the new price.

Most things in great shape sell used for 50% of its new price. Above ground pools are assembled though, so that usually means you can pay less than that as value is taken away when something is assembled.

It’s been my observation that most pay between 50% and 25% of the retail price of the pool. When buying a used pool, always remember that a brand new liner will be needed, so factor that in with the price.

danknowitall

Dan writes with the knowledge of having 35 years (and counting) in the above ground pool industry.

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