Above-ground swimming pools usually come as a package. Years ago when pools first were getting sold on the internet, you would have to buy the pool separate from the other components. This was a lot harder to do to get everything you needed.
Although some internet retailers do sell above-ground pools and their necessary components separately, it has become uncommon.
A standard above-ground pool package should come with the pool wall and frame, skimmer, liner, pump/filter skid, ladder, maintenance kit, and a chemical start-up kit. There are about a dozen other add-ons that can come with the package as well depending on which one you purchase.
MUST-HAVES IN YOUR ABOVE GROUND SWIMMING POOL PACKAGE
In the early years of pool packages being sold online, there were often missing components. This was extremely annoying because, without the essentials, I cannot complete a pool install. So, if something was missing, I had to come back when the pool owner would receive whatever was missing.
Fortunately for all of us, it has become fairly rare for one of the essential things to be missing in a pool pack. If you want to be sure though, you can check and see if it’s all there before the installer comes out.
Here’s what to look for:
The wall of the pool will be easy to identify. It will be the heaviest box and be a long cube that’s about 4.5ft in length. Unless it’s made of aluminum, the wall will take two people to move.
It can be hard to tell if all of the pool’s frame is there as different models from different manufacturers will ship using a different number of boxes.
Some of the less expensive more basic models may only need one box to fit everything. More than likely though, look for two or three boxes to hold the pool’s frame. These are usually cubes about as long as the wall box (around 4’ or so)
NOTE: The only way to know for sure that the frame of the pool is all there is to open the boxes and check. If you are having the pool installed, I don’t recommend opening the boxes. Let the installer do that.
This is probably the most missed component of the pool package. The liner is what holds the water, so yeah, it’s essential.
Look for a smaller box than the wall and frame that is pretty heavy (30 – 70 lbs). The box should read the size of the pool and maybe some other info. An example would read something like (24’ UB 25ga car.)
This is another item that can be overlooked when shipped. The skimmer is a small box and usually (but not always)has a drawing of a skimmer on the outside.
The good news here is if the skimmer is missing, this may be the one item that you can get locally as some pool stores will keep a small inventory of (one or two) of them.
Pump and filter skid
I call this a “skid” because most above-ground pool equipment comes with the pump and filter together in the same box. And along with them is a plastic bottom (or skid)that they both fit on and/or attach to.
The pump and filter box also holds the fittings and two plastic hoses needed to attach everything to the pool.
Look for a large mostly square box that has the pump and filer in. And don’t expect much info on the outside of the box. I would estimate that a description on the outside of the box is on only about half of them.
NOTE: If you got a sand-type filter, the pool package will not come with the needed filter sand as it’s too heavy to ship
Again the ladder box will be a cube about four feet long. If you got an upgraded set of stairs instead, it may come in two boxes. One for the inside of the steps and one for the outside of the pool.
This will be a small box and usually has a picture on the outside of what’s inside, which will be a skimmer, brush, vacuum head, test kit, and maybe a thermometer.
This will always be in its own box. The box will be a flat square and have a 25’ to 40’ long hose curled in a circle.
Pool maintenance pole
the pool pole will not come in a box. It will just be wrapped in plastic, so you’ll be able to recognize it easily.
NOTE: You should receive a standard maintenance kit (above #s 7,8, and 9) regardless if you bought an automatic cleaner.
Chemical start-up kit
This will be in a small square box. Among possibly other things, it will have some type of granular shock and maybe something to adjust the PH both up and down with.
Some will have other chemicals like an algaecide, clarifier, or something to adjust total alkalinity. Don’t expect much from it though. Start-up kits usually aren’t very good.
OTHER THINGS THAT MAY COME WITH YOUR POOL PACKAGE (IF YOU BUY THEM)
The list of add-ons that you can get with an above-ground pool package has grown substantially over my 35 years of installing pools. Here’s a list of most of them:
There are three types of pool covers and some will get all three. They are solid, mesh, and solar. The solid and mesh covers will come in a pretty small box (probably smaller than you would expect).
Solar covers take up more space, so they come in a bigger box. Learn more about solar covers here.
This has become a popular add-on for above grounds. It will come in a medium-sized square box and may or may not be labeled.
Usually bought with the above pad, foam coving is popular as well.
Foam coving can come in a big long box or not in a box with the pieces taped together in a bundle. They will be long and white in color. Learn what pool coving is here
There are a couple of choices with lights for an above-ground pool. Whichever one you order, they will come in a clearly labeled box.
Pool alarms are rarely bought with a package, but it does happen. These will be in small boxes and clearly labeled as well.
Salt Chlorine Generator
SCG’s will come in a smaller box and usually have a clear description on the box.
Other pool chemistry-related products
There are several products now available to help with above-ground pool maintenance. Examples are chlorinators, inline mineral cartridges, and ionizers.
These products are usually clearly labeled on the boxes as to what they are.
Surplus chemical supply
Sometimes new pool owners decide to buy a season’s worth of pool chemicals when buying the pool, so it comes with the package.
These will be chemicals, so they will be clearly labeled. Knowitall tip: Store your chemicals away from anything that can corrode. Especially chlorine.
Above-ground pool fencing is bulky. Look for at least 2 large flatter boxes.
Solar systems for above-ground pools are not impressive. Look for smaller, flatter boxes than you might expect.
Pool heaters can be gas, electric, heat pump, or solar (see above #8). The size and weight of the heater you get will vary.
A gas heater can be bigger and on its own pallet with the pool delivery. So can a heat pump. Electric heaters are smaller and will come in a medium-sized box.
Prefabbed pool deck
Most will have a custom deck built later on to their above-ground pool. There are a couple of pre-made decks that can be purchased with a pool package.
These will be big and heavy. And they usually are shipped separately from the rest of the pool.
If you don’t know what nutgrass or nutsedge is, read about it. It can grow straight through your pool liner.
Some retailers offer nutgrass killer and if your retailer does, you might want to order it with the package. It comes in small bags.
THINGS THAT WILL NOT COME WITH THE POOL PACKAGE
There are a couple of things that will not come with your above-ground pool, but you need.
Filter sand for the sand type filter
Sand is heavy. This is why it is never shipped with the pool package. It’s much cheaper to purchase locally than pay for the extra shipping weight.
You can get filter sand at some big box hardware stores and some pool stores. NOTE: You can’t just use any sand for a sand filter. It must be filtering sand.
D.E. powder for a D.E. type filter
D.E or diatomaceous earth is a white powder needed for D.E. filters and almost never comes with the pool package. This powder is usually available at some hardware stores and almost all pool stores.
You don’t absolutely need a timer for your pool pump but should have one.
Timers rarely come with the pump or pool package. Some of the cheaper quality pumps have built-in timers, but it’s very uncommon with traditional above-ground pool equipment.
Many above-ground pool owners will choose to replace the cheap plastic hoses that connect the equipment to the pool with PVC piping.
It’s very rare for a retailer to offer a PVC kit to ship with the package. You usually have to buy what you need locally.
Some above-ground pump/filter skids will come with valves, but most don’t. And it’s a great idea to have them.
When PVC hard piping the equipment, make sure to plumb in the two valves it takes to shut the water off from the pool to the pump and filter.
Your pump will come with a standard three-prong 120v electric cord that is either 3ft (if made in the US) or 6ft (made overseas) long. That’s it.
There are some choices for running electricity for your pool pump. None of what you need will come with the pool package. And making sure you are protected with a GFI is up to you.
A pad for your equipment
The filter base that comes with most above ground pool equipment is designed to sit on the ground, but it’s a lot nicer to have it set on patio stones or a pad instead. This never comes with the pool package, so you have to get patio stones from your hardware store. NOTE: Usually patio stones making a 2ftx3ft area is big enough.