Can an Above Ground Pool Break? Here’s How

If you’ve only thought of traditional inground pools whenever the term “swimming” is brought up, you might be cautious of above ground pools, which seem to be relatively fragile. You would be partially correct to be skeptical of their longevity. While pools can last up to 15 years above ground in some cases, they aren’t guaranteed to last without care.

An above ground pool can break or collapse if it is not assembled properly or maintained regularly. Overfilled pools can exert pressure on the frame and cause it to collapse, whereas weakened fasteners can lead to the same result even with little water in the pool. 

In this article, you will discover the five reasons why above ground pools fall apart. Most homeowners fail to notice some of these causes (like the fourth one). Moreover, you’ll find out how you can safeguard your swimming pool from these potential dangers by following a three-step strategy. Read on to learn more.

How Can an Above Ground Pool Break?

Any material thing can break given enough physical reasons not to hold up. That’s why the more practical question to ask is what can cause your above ground pool to break. Here are some of the most common reasons such pools can fall apart.

Weak Assembly

Most people believe their pool’s security lies in the integrity of the material, mainly its panels. But what they fail to realize is that water exerts pressure in all directions. If your panels aren’t held together by a strong enough frame, the pool might break even if the panels don’t. 

This can cause a more devastating impact than if one of the panels started leaking. If your pool falls apart due to frame weakness, water will flow in all directions. As a result, your water filter and the electric outlet next to it can get soaked and become a hazard.

Poor Quality Material

This reason is a little more obvious. If your pool is made of poor material, you cannot expect it to last a long time, especially above ground where the exterior is exposed to the elements. You must realize that almost any material used in a standard above ground pool can be considered weak depending on the context. 

If you live in a frigid climate, a resin pool will get surface-level cracks in a few months and begin leaking in under two years. But in the same climate, you might be able to build an igloo-like above ground pool with ice blocks. While that’s not practical (because of water temperature), the point simply illustrates that ice, which is not considered a strong material, can be stronger in certain situations than resin.

Now that I have established the importance of context in strength, here are some things to watch out for when you’re building an above ground pool using specific materials.

  • Inflatable pools are weak against sharp objects. Avoid having such a pool in a home with pets or a backyard with live animals like squirrels.
  • Wooden pools are weak against conditions with mold-inducing humidity and high-activity microbe environments. If your region is considered semi-tropical, avoid building such a pool there.
  • Metal pools are less likely to break but can rust or erode if you don’t regularly seal the exterior and secure the interior liners or replace them on time.

Overfilling the Pool

Homeowners are generally advised not to fill their pools to the brim because of the water displacement caused by people entering the pool. Still, there’s another reason why filling your pool to the brim might not be such a good idea: liquid contents of the pool can cause the pool to collapse. If a pool has room for 100 gallons of water, you cannot assume that it has the strength to hold as much water.

Remember, when a pool is inground, the force of the entire earth is holding it together. When it is above ground, the “container” is relatively weaker. Think of a carton made of regular stock paper. The size of said carton would not directly imply its capacity to hold objects. 

Of course, your above ground pool isn’t as fragile, but the analogy illustrates the point. Room is no indication of the ability to hold. Please read manufacturer guidelines for the specific frame to have your final answer regarding how much water your pool can hold.

Fasteners at Fault

You may have the best material and assemble it to perfection and still have your pool collapse at the most inconvenient time if you do not check up on the fasteners regularly. As mentioned above, using a lot of water can strain the structure of your pool. However, that doesn’t mean your pool will collapse the first time it is under such stress. Usually, such strain can impact the fasteners, undoing them slowly.

After repeatedly offending your pool’s water-holding capacity threshold, the fasteners may only be hanging by a threat, and something as simple as jumping in the pool could lead to your pool’s collapse. 

Please keep in mind that even though water weight is the main reason fasteners get undone, it isn’t the only reason. Fasteners have their own material weaknesses: metal fasteners ruse, Alloys can dent easily, and wooden fasteners, albeit rare, can get eaten away by termite.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure is better discussed in the inground pool literature even though it impacts above ground pools. It refers to the pressure exerted by still water on its surroundings. Since this pressure builds up with stillness, you must make sure you drain your pool during long periods of inactivity (like winters). 

Filling your pool to the brim during winter can generally lead to cracked frames thanks to the expansion of ice, a phenomenon that occurs because ice occupies more volume than the water of the same quantity.

How to Keep an Above Ground Pool From Breaking

All above ground pools are temporary. They can last to varying degrees depending on the material uses; you can read my post about how long above ground pools last for reference. This section covers the steps you can take to ensure your pool has its best shot at not breaking.

Buy a Kit of Higher Capacity

If you are a family of five, purchase a kit that accommodates six people. This gives you room for more, and you don’t have to constantly worry about having overfilled your pool. More importantly, you don’t have to supervise how many people get in when you have a pool party. Err on the side of more when it comes to pool capacity.

Get Professional Assembly

When you purchase a pool kit online, many manufacturers and suppliers offer the option to get inexpensive professional installation. Regardless of how proud of a handyman you are, it is advisable to take professional installation as it prevents headaches down the road.

Conduct Regular Checkups

Whether you’re ensuring your frames’ integrity or looking at fasteners, you’re keeping your pool from falling apart by checking up on it regularly. These checks also include applying stitches in time in the form of timely replacement of parts, draining the pool to ease the pressure on frames, and even replacing certain sheets/panels when you notice erosion.

Final Thoughts

All in all, above ground pools, can last their maximum guaranteed timeframe if you avoid overfilling them and make sure you drain and replace the water in your pools semi-regularly. You should also make sure that the pool is assembled professionally and that the fasteners, as well as the frame panels, are in top shape. Timely replacement can keep your pool from collapsing at an inconvenient time. Above all, you should err on the side of higher-capacity to ensure better integrity of your pool kit’s material and structure.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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