Skip to main content

Our new Intex pool

Written on 7/6/2020 and tagged: yard, pool

Photos of us setting up a 12' wide Intex pool, including ground preparation.

We decided to get the kids a pool and ended up buying the Intex® 12' by 30" Metal Frame Pool Set (SKU: 28211EH). I use the term ended up buying because stock was so low everywhere we looked, we were lucky to find anything at all.

While we waited for it to arrive, we knew we had to level an area of our sloped yard, so we decided to dig the high side down instead of building the low side up because we’re I’m cheap and didn’t want to buy the necessary materials. It’s free to dig, I declared, and I could foresee built-up material being washed out by heavy rain, and I ain’t having that.

The whole family got involved and we took photos of most of the process:

An area of our backyard with an orange spray painted circle marking where we’ll dig
We decided where we wanted the center of the pool to be, put a stake in the ground, tied a six-foot long string to it, and used some orange spray paint to define exactly where we needed to dig.
Our oldest son, holding a shovel, proud of the first bit of digging we did together
First, we dug up the sod along the orange line…
Our youngest son, walking in the circle of dirt where we removed the sod layer
…then we dug up the rest of it.
An in-progress photo of the most laborious part: the removal of a lot of dirt as we work toward leveling and flattening the ground
Then we started digging down, because this section of the yard is far from level.
Another photo of our digging progress; we’ve removed most of the dirt at this point
We kept digging…
The big, round hole looks nearly level and flat at this point
…and digging. When we thought we might be close to having a level surface…
Me, using a string level to determine if the bottom of the hole is level and flat
…I used a string level to check. We repeated the dig and check routine until, eventually, it was good enough for pool Jazz.
A tamper tool and the flattened surface it helped create
We then used an 8" x 8" tamper to help flatten and compress the small rocks and loose dirt.
The hole, almost covered with interlocking rubber mats
Once the surface seemed flat and compacted enough, we put interlocking rubber mats down hoping they’d protect the pool from any small rocks we didn’t remove and make it a little more comfortable. This was when it became clear just how uneven the surface still was, which was a little sad, but we pushed on…
The hole, completely covered with interlocking rubber mats
…and finished after making some basic cuts and running a broom over it a few times.
A twelve by sixteen foot tarp, in the hole, looking a little too small on two sides
Next, we put down a 12' by 16' tarp. It’s smaller than I’d prefer, but it was the only one we had on hand and we wanted to keep moving forward. Next spring, before we set the pool up again, we’ll replace it with a larger one.
In the twelve foot wide hole, we put a small three foot wide plastic toddler pool
We put a toddler’s plastic pool in the center of the hole and said, “The new pool’s ready!” to our kids; their reactions ranged from genuine concern to exaggerated eye-rolling, so I punched a new hole on my Dad Card®.
The pool liner, unboxed and rolled out on the grass so that the sun can warm it up
With the ground pretty much done, it was time to start building the (real) pool; the instructions suggested rolling it out and letting it warm up in the sun for a while to make it easier to work with, so that’s what we did.
The pool, now standing on its own thanks to the frame and legs being inserted into its liner
It was much easier than expected to set up its frame and legs; it probably took us ten minutes at most.
The pool, now placed in the hole that we dug for it
We carried it over to the hole and plopped it in, then realized the hole was just a little too small; a couple of the legs had to be angled inward and inch or two. That said, once it was filled with water, the liner bulged out and pinned the legs in position, so we didn’t bother to make any corrections. Next spring, before setting it up again, we’ll widen the hole a bit.
The filter-pump and all of its connections, set up and ready to be turned on once there’s water in the pool
Setting up the connections, hoses, and the filter-pump was relatively easy.
Sharon and two of the boys, in the pool, carefully walking around as it fills up with water
The instructions suggest walking around in the pool and nudging the liner’s floor outward with your feet as it fills up with water; it worked, because there are no annoying wrinkles.
The pool, with about a foot of water in it, and all five feet of our eight year old
All three boys got their bathing suits on and hopped in … but it was cold. Only the oldest boy stuck with it for more than 10 minutes because, well, he’s part fish.
The pool, full of water for the first time
Three and a half hours and 1,720 gallons later, it was full…
All three boys splashing around in the completed pool
…so the boys jumped back in and had the time of their lives.
A large pile of dirt and rocks that came from digging the hole
All that remains is getting rid of this pile of dirt and rocks.

It’s been about a month since we set the pool up and there are a few things we’ve learned along the way, and plenty of things we still need to figure out:

  • As shown above, the hole would benefit from being a little wider and flatter.
  • The tarp is too small; on two sides it doesn’t go up and over the wall of dirt, and that dirt has caved in. Nothing bad has come of that, yet, but it wouldn’t surprise us if it becomes a problem before the season ends.
  • We thought we’d need a ladder, but even our youngest boy can hop in / out on his own.
  • We have no idea how long the pump should run and the manual only says Filter run time depends on pool size, weather and usage level. So, we tend to let it run for about 8 hours a day on days we think the pool will be used … but we’re not sure if it should run every day, regardless of use — time will tell as we figure this out.

Also, the chemicals … ugh, we’re still figuring that out, too. For example:

  • When do we need to use 'shock'?
  • How often do we replace the chlorine tablets?
  • How many chlorine tablets … which size tablets?

The instructions on these things are very hand-wavy with specifics—just like the pump’s manual, it all depends on weather, usage level, etc. So, we picked up a water testing kit and our first test showed that our water was a little too acidic; a quick search told us we could add baking soda to move the needle closer to alkaline, so that’s what we did and a few hours later the water looked much better.