Buying and selling a used above ground swimming pool isn’t as common as you might think. One of the premises to buying an above ground is that if you don’t like it or want it anymore, then you can sell it.
It’s very common for potential and new above ground pool owners to think that the option of selling their pool later is a strong one. In reality though, most find that they like having a pool more than they thought and never get rid of it. A few will want to get rid of their pool for one reason or another, but decide not to go through the trouble of selling it.
Typically, used items in like-new shape sell for about 50% of what they cost new. This holds true for above ground swimming pools. But it can depend on who takes the pool down and delivers it, and how old the pool is. Above grounds in good shape but five years old or older will typically sell for twenty-five percent of their original cost.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING (OR SELLING) AN ABOVE GROUND SWIMMING POOL
Note: This article is for advice on buying and selling used metal-walled above ground pools only. Most of this will not apply to the less expensive soft-sided Intex/Colman type
You absolutely need a new liner
I easily have to mention this a hundred times a season. Liners in above ground pools cannot be reused. This doesn’t change no matter how new the existing liner is. It can only be a week old and I still say you can’t take it down and then put it back up.
In addition to breaking this bad news every year, I always get someone telling me that you can reuse a liner, that they did and it worked out well. And to that, I always say “good for you”. But that doesn’t change the fact that you need a new liner whenever moving a pool.
AN UNRELATED STORY – Many years ago when the doughnut spare tire first came out, my dad got a flat and used one.
I remember when these little spares started showing up with new cars. They seemed ridiculous to me since all spare tires prior to this were the same as a normal tire. These new spares were designed for emergency use only. They were rated to run a maximum of 50 miles before needing to be replaced.
Now, my dad wasn’t the most successful guy in the world. When he got a flat tire and used his doughnut spare, he didn’t go right out and get a new tire. He instead kept that little doughnut tire on his car and ran it for over 400 miles before replacing it. Afterward, he bragged about how many miles he got out of that 50-mile max spare tire.
If you are more like my father, then by all means, reuse the existing liner in the used above ground pool you just bought. It’ll have wrinkles and most likely leak around the skimmer and/or return openings, but you’ll have bragging rights on how you proved the professionals wrong.
The age of the pool is most likely important
For me, this is the first thing I need to know about a used pool. There are many pools out there that are fairly old and still in great shape. But as a general rule, the newer it is, the better shape it’s in.
This is important because you are buying (or selling) something that has to be disassembled and re-assembled. And the better shape everything is in, the easier and better chance for a successful re-install.
An above-ground pool that’s only been up for a year or two should come apart and re-assemble fairly well. If the pool is five years old or older though, I would give it a much closer consideration.
Who is taking the pool down and transporting it?
It’s not easy moving an above-ground swimming pool. This isn’t just buying or selling something like a lawnmower. It’s a process to go from holding thousands of gallons of water in a yard to holding it in another. Who takes down and moves the pool should be part of the negotiation on its price.
If you consider paying someone to do this, finding someone who can do it may not be easy. If you do find a pool guy like me, know that I charge $300 and up for this service. And depending on what size/shape and how far it’s traveling, it can go up to as much as $1000. This really adds to the overall cost of buying a used pool.
NOTE: Oval shaped above ground pools are harder to take down and much harder to re-install. I recommend you finding a professional if taking down and installing an oval.
Rust on the pool’s wall is enemy number one for above ground pools
Personally, if I knew nothing about above ground pools, I would not buy a used one that had any rust anywhere on the wall of the pool.
This is not to say that you can’t have some wall rust and it be ok to re-install. But if you don’t know enough about what to look for, pass on a pool with a rusty wall.
Do what it takes to make sure all the parts are there
It’s often not easy to find replacement parts for some above ground pool models. And most parts to these pools are very specific, so being Macgyver and trying to make something like a missing connector or piece of bottom track will be harder than you think. Believe me on this.
If you are buying the pool and taking it down, that’s great in terms of all the parts being there. All you have to do then is make sure you don’t leave anything behind. And because some parts are in the earth, things getting left behind is more common than you think.
If the used pool has already been taken down, great. It’s nice that you don’t have to do this. But you’ll have to make sure all the parts are there. Which is harder to do when the pool is already down.
Some things will need to be replaced
Some resin frame pool models don’t come apart well even if they are almost new. This means some parts may get broken when disassembling. This happens even when a guy like me takes a pool apart.
Also, if the pool has foam pool coving, it most likely will not be re-useable. Same with some skimmers, returns, and PVC plumbing. DIYer’s can have their own ideas as to how things should go together and they glue things that shouldn’t be or overly seal other things that make them impossible to reuse after taking them apart.
I guess what I’m advising here is that things may not come apart as planned, so allow yourself some financial “wiggle room” for a part or two.
WHAT TO PAY OR SELL A USED ABOVE GROUND POOL FOR
Note: This article was written in 2020 (the year of the Coronavirus). This year, the price for used above ground pools were super inflated. My value suggestions are based on the 33 normal years prior that I have been in the pool business.
The following is just an average guideline. I have seen older used above-ground pools sell for the price the seller paid retail and I have seen people get almost new pools for free. Everyone is different in what they think something they have is worth.
If the pool is only 1-2 years old and in perfect shape, 50% – 60% of what the seller paid new
As an example, if the seller paid four thousand dollars for their pool new, then the pool used and in great shape is worth between $2000 -$2400.
If the pool is 3-5 years old and in fair shape, 25% – 50% of what the seller paid
Using the same example as above, a pool costing four thousand dollars new would be worth $1000-$2000.
Fair shape means that the pool is showing some wear. The top rails may be discolored, some rust may show, the pump/filter will look somewhat weathered, and/or the pool wall looks faded.
If the pool is more than 5 years old and in fair to poor shape, 25% – 0% of what the seller paid new
A pool package that cost four thousand dollars new at this age and condition should be valued between $1000 and free.
Fair shape is the same as above fair shape. Poor shape is lots of rust, faded or sagging top rails, and very aged pump/filter system.
ONE FINAL CONCERN
Above ground pools have metal walls that are a continuous roll that is bolted together from top to bottom near where the skimmer/return openings are. Even if just a couple of years old, these bolts and nuts sometimes don’t want to come apart.
Sometimes, these wall bolts will fuse together and have to be cut off in order to get the pool apart. This is a major pain. If not done right, can severely damage the wall to the point it can’t be reused.
When taking down or buying an above ground pool, make sure you don’t cut the wall where the bolt holes are. Also, if buying a pool already taken down, inspect where the wall bolts together to make sure there’s no damage to the wall caused by someone having to cut off the wall bolts prior.
Currently looking at a used pool for purchase? Here’s a 21 point inspection on used above ground pools.