The Adventures Of The Above Ground Pool Continue

by Amber Leventry
Originally Published: 
Author photos/Amber Leventry

Britney Spears is not the only saga playing out this summer. Her struggles are much bigger than mine and I’m very invested in her freedom, but those of us not trying to end conservatorships are trying to get through the summer with our kids. The pandemic isn’t over, but this summer is much safer than last and we are all trying to figure out what “normal” looks like. My kids are back in day camp after staying home all last summer, and the above ground pool that I purchased last year as a way to make the pandemic more fun has returned as well.

Feel free to read about the event that became a part-time job which required the income of a part-time job to sustain, or get caught up with this summary: I bought a 10-foot Summer Waves pool that came with a small pump and the promise of an easy and quick set-up. I was humbled by a three-day set-up, hundreds of dollars in soil to level the ground, a blown pump motor, an attempt to bypass a pump with chemicals that only clouded the pool, weeks of dealing with customer service, and then the inability to find filters for the new pool pump. I’m pretty sure Amazon is still promising delivery between now and Labor Day 2024.

Courtesy of Amber Leventry

Thanks to many of you fine readers and your helpful if not kind comments, I learned that a pool net and a cup of bleach keeps the pool clean. By the end of last summer, I was a proficient pool boi. My kids had mostly given up on the backyard pool and preferred wearing a mask during limited hours at the public pool, but they were grateful (i.e., entertained) by my efforts. We all agreed that this year would be better now that those first-year kinks were worked out.

And better it was … for a bit. I set up the pool like a champ a few weeks ago—yes, I used old towels as shims to level one side—and life was good. The kids were having a blast in the pool. I noticed that the innertube that kept the pool sides up deflated a little after a couple of days, but I just blew it up and thanked my lucky stars that was the only issue I had to deal with. I skimmed the pool, added bleach, and was feeling like parent of year after my twins’ outdoor birthday party. The pool was a hit and all kids went home happy and with the promise of many returns this summer.

Courtesy of Amber Leventry

We got storms and hard rain the night of the twins’ party and when I woke up the next morning, the innertube had deflated and many gallons of water had poured out into the yard. My ego was also deflated, but I told myself it was just the rain and wind that made the pool collapse. I blew up the tube, refilled the pool, and smugly walked away. An hour later the same thing happened. Before looking for slow leaks and holes, I looked to the sky for answers. Why do bad things happen to good people?

I looked for slow leaks and holes, but couldn’t find any. I did the trick where you spray soapy water over an inflated surface to find a tiny pinhole but couldn’t find any. In an ideal world I would have seen bubbles bubbling enthusiastically at the sight of a hole and would have promptly taped over it and went on with my day. Instead I used a liquid, waterproof sealer and went over the seams of the innertube in the event the leak was happening from there. The tube kept deflating and I got sticky stuff on the sink faucet and my phone case. Thankfully we had all of that leftover pandemic hand sanitizer with alcohol to cut the sticky residue.

While trying to find a solution to my pool problem, YouPorn was officially replaced by YouTube. However, the shame of looking for something that will satisfy you but only leaves frustration, a false sense of confidence, and a bit of confusion is still the same when looking for answers to problems you aren’t sure how to define.

Once I realized I wasn’t going to try to find holes by using plastic wrap and am conditioned to believe sleep is stupid, I stumbled across videos of other people who were also experiencing the second-year hangover that comes with these above ground pools. Several folks explained that their tube would no longer hold enough air to keep the pool sides up so they used pool noodles instead. One guy used half-gallon milk jugs, but that felt like too much work.

Apparently $86, 15 pool noodles, waterproof Gorilla tape, and a lawn toy my kids had to have while I was looking for pool repair supplies that I said yes to because I stupidly thought it would keep them out of the house for 10 minutes wasn’t too much.

Courtesy of Amber Leventry

Per the YouTube videos and sneaky way lifehackers make everything look so easy, I cut a hole (large slit) in the innertube and shoved pool noodles into it. I had to cut two slits, because there was no way I was going to fight to push noodles all around the pool. I ended up using two and a half wide noodles taped together to create the buoyant top ring of the pool.

Courtesy of Amber Leventry

As I started shoving these noodles into the tube, I realized I never rinsed off the soapy water from the hole-finding adventure because when the tube got wet, I slipped and almost threw myself into the pool as I leaned into the job. I felt a bit like Ross from “Friends” when he was using lotion to try to get his leather pants up and ends up hitting himself in the head after his hand slips. The top of my head went into the pool, but I caught the rest of myself on the ground.

After an hour of work, the pool was once again erect. I taped the holes, filled the pool, and rejoiced in my handiwork. Of course there’s more. A section of the plastic innertube pulled away from the pool at the seam and one part of the pool sagged again and came dangerously close to losing water. I was and will forever be committed to this pool, though. I got a couple of garden stakes, more noodles, Gorilla Tape, and rope.

Courtesy of Amber Leventry

The workaround is working — so far. I’d like to say that saying that would jinx the whole operation, but we all know that I was jinxed from the purchase of this pool. The goal at this point is for the pool’s functionality to limp along until the end of the summer. If it lives to see a third season, I’m buying a lottery ticket, because luck is keeping this thing together as much as the $25 I spent in tape.

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