How an Above Ground Pool Works

Above ground pools are an easy and affordable alternative to in-ground pools. While there are a variety of above ground pool models to choose from, most have similar features and construction. When it comes to how an above ground pool works, the pump and filter are the “heartbeat” of your pool. They keep it clean and beautiful if maintained properly.

Above Ground Pool

Pump and Filter System

There are many different pump and filter systems available for above ground pools. The right one for your pool depends on the size of the pool and the filter media. The pump and filter need to be located near the pool and connect to the skimmer, where water is pulled in and filtered before returning to the pool.

There are three types of filters: sand, DE, and cartridge. Sand and Cartridge filters are the most popular. You need to backwash the system when the pressure gauge is too high. When the filter is too full, the water can't pass through and it increases the amount of pressure in your pump. Backwashing is the process of reversing the flow of the water through the filter media to clear it out.

A cartridge filter needs to be removed and rinsed with a garden hose. After a period of time, a cartridge filter needs to be replaced. Cartridge filters can be more expensive than other types since you have to replace the whole cartridge instead of just the filter substrate.

Facts About Above Ground Pool Pumps and Filters

Here are some interesting facts about your pool's most important system, its pump and filter:

  • Pumps force water through the filter and circulate water.
  • They help circulate all of the water in your above ground pool within eight hours.
  • This helps to eliminate bacteria and algae, making your pool cleaner and safer to swim in.
  • Filters remove what you can see and microscopic particles you can't.



An above ground pool's wall is often made from galvanized steel. It is tasked with containing more than 90,000 liters of water for as long as the pool stands, so it must be sturdy. The galvanized steel is corrugated and coated in vinyl or another material. The more layers over the steel, the more durable it is.

The wall is shipped in coiled rolls, often in one piece. The walls need to stand on their end until installation to keep the walls in the best shape possible.


The frame secures the wall and strengthens the pool. Typically, the frame is made from coated steel, resin, or extruded resin so that it is strong enough to hold up against the elements.

Top Rails

The top rails are the top ledge of the swimming pool. The rails connect each post and are durable. While the rails could be up to 30 centimeters in width, resist the temptation to sit, stand, or walk on the rails as this is not what they were designed for.

Top Track

The top track goes between the wall and the top rails. It is sometimes referred to as a stabilizer bar. It keeps the pool liner and the wall in place.


The uprights are supportive posts for the tall and top frame. The uprights can be up to 30 centimeters wide and are available in a variety of materials. The size depends on the material used.

Base Plates

Base plates are between each upright and make it possible to connect the base tracks to the uprights.

Top Plates

Top plates attach to the top of the uprights and connect the top track and top rails between each post.

Base Track

The base track goes between the base plates and is the bottom of the structure of the pool. The wall of the pool is unrolled into a groove on the track.

Top Caps

Top caps cover the top plate to give your pool a more finished look. They are often made of resin or plastic.


Boots cover base plates to create a more finished look. Not all above ground pools have boots.

Vinyl Liner

The vinyl liner covers the inside of the pool. The liner will specifically fit your pool. Over time, you will need to replace the liner, as the lifespan of a liner is five to 10 years. Patch kits can take care of small issues with your vinyl liner and will help you extend the time before having to replace it.


The skimmer is an opening near the top of the pool, where it filters out some debris before the water goes through your filter. It can capture floating debris. It often has a flap that keeps the floating debris inside the skimmer and away from your pool's surface.

Inside the skimmer is a basket that you can empty. Keeping the skimmer basket empty will help keep your pool filter working at its best. You can also connect a pool vacuum through the connection point in the skimmer.


To keep your above ground pool in great condition, you need to:

  • Run your pump and filter for at least eight hours a day
  • Brush and vacuum walls and floor weekly
  • Test water at least three times a week for proper pool chemistry

These components work together to create a safe above ground pool. There are many advantages of choosing an above ground pool, including the pool's affordability and the ability to remove the pool if desired.