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How Anyone Can Take Down an Above-Ground Swimming Pool

Stacie L became a DIYer for many reasons—mostly to save money. She has tips that she has used herself to help with your DIY projects.

Above Ground Pool Removal

As a youngster, I enjoyed the water very much and always looked forward to the dog days of summer. I would spend most of the day in the water playing with my friends until we looked like wrinkled prunes. No one gave a second thought to the amount of maintenance involved—the cost of the chemicals to keep the water sparkling, the electric bill to keep the pump filter running, the purchase of floats and toys to keep us entertained. Children only see and dream about the fun of jumping in, doing cannonballs, diving, and practicing backstrokes.

Then one day, someone noticed that the liner was worn out and needed replacing. No one was interested in using it anymore, and the chemicals ran over $100 a month. Cooling off in my own pool was enjoyable up until a few years ago when I had to do all the cleaning, winter storage, chemical maintenance, and upkeep of the parts. It seemed that the filter and pump parts were costing more and more. The equipment, such as the leaf skimmer, intake filter, and ladder, were wearing out faster than I remembered as a kid.

The day came when the decision had to be made to take it down. Removing a backyard above-ground pool by yourself may sound like a Herculean task, but I promise that it can be done.

My sorry looking pool liner and the rust behind it.

My sorry looking pool liner and the rust behind it.

Worn Out Pool Liner

I started to realize that the fun part was shrinking and the work part was increasing. My moment of clarity arrived one morning after watching the pool level drop for the third day after filling the pool with water.

Actually, the decision to discard it came after emptying the water to replace the worn-out liner and seeing the rusty holes of the interior walls! The photo below is my actual pool and how it looked when the walls were taken down. What fun that was!

My backyard pool, flat on the ground.

My backyard pool, flat on the ground.

Tools Needed

Here is the list of tools needed to take down an on-ground pool.

  • Heavy-duty metal cutters
  • Cordless drill
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Phillips head and straight edge screw bits
  • Sump pump
  • 50-foot garden hose
  • Rope
  • Bungee cords
  • Large boxes

How Long Will It Take?

Before taking on this job, you must have the right mindset. It will not be done in just one day—3-4 days from start to finish is a more realistic goal. Organization and patience are the greatest needs. I will offer an easy alternative at the end.

How to Take Down an Above-Ground Swimming Pool

The following steps will help make the job a lot easier:

  1. Connect the hose to the top connector on the sump pump and lower the pump in the middle of the pool. Be sure to walk the end of the hose as far from the pool as possible.
  2. Plug in the sump pump to the outside outlet and check to see that water is coming out of the hose. This may take three days if you have a large pool such as 24' x 4'.
  3. When the water is so low that the pump is sucking in air, then unplug it. Remove the sump pump and remove the hose from it.
  4. Remove the filter hoses, clamps, intake, and pool filter away from the pool, if you haven't already done this. Set the filter and pump aside, put it out of the way.
  5. With the sharp scissor or knife, begin cutting the liner all around the top edge. Walk around the pool outside or inside; whichever is easier. As the liner drops, begin to pull it towards the middle, away from the wall
  6. Start removing the top connecting panels of the pool with a cordless drill or screwdriver in reverse to remove the screws. As each panel is removed, place them in a large box
  7. Now start unscrewing the wall, where it meets These bolts or screws will be larger and may require some help. After the wall is opened up, start cutting 3-foot sections of it with heavy-duty metal cutters. This will make the job of removing the pool wall much easier.
  8. After cutting and removing the sections of the pool wall, the bottom metal rim that held the wall up will need to be disassembled. Start pulling it up out of the dirt or sand and unscrew the bolts. A few large boxes will probably be needed to store the pieces.

Tips to Make the Job Easier

I have some tips to make your job and life a little easier.

  • First, please have enough patience for this job and be organized for this project. It will take at least three to four days from start to finish. Don't try to rush this process, as it is bigger than you and it will win.
  • Next, be prepared for problems. Rust can make the job tougher. Metal pieces will break off and bolts don't always unscrew.
  • Lastly, you may need help to lift the metal wall sections out and roll them up. They are heavy so don't strain yourself. If you cut the wall into smaller parts, roll them up and tie it with a rope or bungee cord. It will be much easier to remove.
  • You may want to take the parts down to the local dump if allowed in your area. I'm not sure the trash collector would be so happy to see all this at the curb.

I know you can do this job by yourself since I did it by myself.

If you can get help, then do so! Make a party out of it. Offer refreshments and have a BBQ!

A Low-Maintenance Alternative to the Traditional Backyard Pool

If you really miss the fun of the backyard swimming pool and can't deal with the work, then here's the perfect solution. A good replacement pool that is easy to assemble and take down in the winter is the soft-sided, inflatable pool.

It is lightweight, doesn't have the traditional steel walls, and supports to assemble, much less expensive to maintain.

There are several brands on the market and most large box stores carry them. Intex seems to be the most popular brand of soft-sided inflatable pools so check their products first.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Who accepts dismanteled above ground pools?

Answer: The scrap yard may pay for the metal from the pool side.

Question: Can you take a hard sided pool apart and move it, then reuse it again?

Answer: Assuming it's aluminum, yes, that should be fine.

Question: Is there anything that can be put on the ground after removal of an above ground pool to eliminate the muddy mess left behind? We will put the pool up next year. Also, I store our pool (intex blow up) in a large plus garbage can on wheels! Easier to move!

Answer: Use a plastic tarp weighed down with bricks or cement blocks to keep in in place.

© 2010 Stacie L


Sonia Braga on May 25, 2019:

What is the average cost to take down an above ground pool yourself?

Stacie L (author) on August 09, 2016:

I bought the house with the pool so I was unsure. A thinner metal cheaper pool with start to rust out faster.

My last pool was 22 years old and the wall collapsed from the ice build up. I know many people with pools that are almost 30 years old!

WCBurr77 on August 07, 2016:

How old was your pool? Ours is 20 and I'm pretty sure this will be the last year.

Stacie L (author) on January 09, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Pools are fun and a lot of work so think before installing on

swimfan from United States on January 09, 2013:

Really useful info here. I've never owned an above ground pool and had no idea what was involved in taking one down.

Stacie L (author) on June 27, 2012:

@lawahe : thanks for reading my hub on taking down a pool

If you want to link to my hub that would be great.

lawahe from United States of America on June 26, 2012:

I'm adding your hub to mine, "A dreamer's step by step guide to Creating an Outdoor Apartment." My article is on what to do once the pool is gone. You've covered step one, which I plan on just mentioning. Now I can rest, knowing that readers will be able to tackle that job. Great stuff! Thank you!

Stacie L (author) on September 14, 2010:

thank you reading and commenting twogroce.

twogroce on July 06, 2010:

Good advice Stacie, I added you as a link to my hub on swimming pools. Great job!

Stacie L (author) on April 22, 2010:

Thanks Dana for the comments.

Pools are a lot of fun and work! =)

Dana on April 22, 2010:

Thanks! We just bought a house with one of these and planned to take it down on Sunday. Now I won't be surprised when it takes us longer that one afternoon to do it. :) Also need to start draining!

Stacie L (author) on March 23, 2010:

thanks billyaustindillion...

that really was my pool! LOL

billyaustindillon on March 22, 2010:

Great hub - love that shots of the old pool!

Stacie L (author) on March 21, 2010:

oh yes!,this is what you have to look forward to! LOL

you can baby it for a few years before the walls completely rot away>..;-0

whatsiz on March 21, 2010:

Oh, NO! That is what is facing me as my pool is now 19 years old!! NO! NO! Thanks for the information,but I think I will buy another piece of equipment - something like a solar heater? Maybe just more to take down?