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Intex Pool Care: How To Maintain An Intex Above Ground Pool

There’s an endless amount of information on how to properly take care of a traditional inground swimming pool, be it concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl liner.

When it comes to above ground pools, however, Intex pools are where it’s at. They’ve long been the go-to above ground pool due to their ease of use, excellent quality, and low cost.

But how does Intex pool care differ from maintaining a traditional inground or above ground pool?

What Is “Intex Pool Care”?

Intex pools are essentially an all-in-one above ground pool, providing everything you need to get your new backyard pool up and running.

This includes the pool shell, pool pump, pool filter, hoses, and a few other accessories depending on the model. 

When it comes to caring for an Intex pool, it doesn’t differ much from a traditional pool. The main difference is that the majority of Intex pools are smaller and have a uniform depth, so they’ll be easier to clean.

You may also find their competition (such as Bestway), but when it comes to longevity and material quality, Intex is the king of specialized above ground pools.

Chemistry For Intex Pools

Anytime you’re adding chemicals to pool water, you need to know the volume of the pool for accurate dosing.

Checking the manual can tell you your pool’s volume, or you can simply Google the model you purchased. 

A pool calculator can come in handy too, as all you need to do is take some measurements and plug in the numbers.

Water pH And Alkalinity

Pool water needs to stay balanced at all times. If it’s not in a neutral state, the water will become dangerous for swimmers, and pollutants (such as algae) will thrive.

The pH level should always measure between 7.4 and 7.6 on the pH scale, with 7.5 being ideal. Anything under 7.4 and the pool will become acidic, and anything over 7.6 will turn the water too alkaline (or basic).

Most acidic pools cause surface etching, but this isn’t a problem with Intex due to their triple-ply polymer vinyl walls. However, acidic water can still damage the pool equipment and irritate swimmers’ eyes, nasal passages, and skin.

On the flipside, a highly-alkaline pool will have scaling and cloudy water issues. Similar to acidic pools, alkaline water also irritates swimmers’ eyes, nose, and causes itchy skin.

Total alkalinity (TA) is another level you need to keep an eye on. It’s the total concentration of dissolved carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides and cyanurates in the pool water.

TA affects the pool’s pH level, and essentially acts as a buffer, protecting the pH level from wild fluctuations. If TA doesn’t stay in this range, you will end up with an acidic or alkaline pool.

You’ll need to keep total alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm (parts per million), and it’s important to be aware that this will drift upwards or downwards with your pH level – as they strongly influence each other.

Sanitizing Chemicals

Sanitizing chemicals are added to pool water to kill off harmful bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic health hazards.

The most popular (and cheapest) form of pool sanitizer is chlorine, which can be found in either powder, granule, tablet or liquid form.

For Intex pools, the go-to approach is to place 2 to 3 chlorine tablets in a floating chlorinator for slow-dissolve release, topping up when they start to run low.

You’ll want to keep the chlorine level at around 1 to 3 ppm. Any higher and the water will be too harsh on your skin and eyes. Any lower and the chlorine will struggle to fight off contaminants.

Alternatively, you can convert to a saltwater pool by installing an Intex salt chlorinator. This is a sizable upfront investment, but it works out much cheaper to sanitize and maintain your pool in the long-term.

Doing so will give your pool the ability to generate chlorine by pouring in regular table salt, and while this is still technically a chlorine pool, it’s noticeably less harsh on the skin.

Shock Treatment

Pool shocking is the addition of a massive dose of chlorine to the pool.

The shock level has to be 10 times the amount of combined chlorine in the water in order to raise its free chlorine level and reach breakpoint.

This is usually done to oxidize chloramines (combined chlorine) and kill off any bacteria and viruses that may be present in the water. This process also increases the ratio of free available chlorine in the water, making it more effective at sanitation.

Shock treatments are commonly done once a week, and with Intex pools this should be no different. However, frequency does depend on how much use the pool is getting, and things like rain water and backyard debris can deplete the water’s chlorine levels as well.

If chlorine levels are low, a chlorinated shock can be used to bring them back up. If the level of chlorine is already high, a non-chlorinated shock is used.

Shocking dosages are generally 1 lb. per 10,000 gallons of water. It’s also important to shock the pool overnight so the chlorine won’t burn off too quickly (the sun’s UV rays eat it up).

Other Specialized Chemicals

A high bather load and a smaller filter size can sometimes cause Intex pools to become dirty pretty quickly. 

This is when you may need a few more chemicals to lend you a helping hand in clearing up the pool water.

  • Algaecides. This chemical is added to the pool weekly during your maintenance schedule to prevent algae from blooming the pool. It works by dissolving the algae’s outer layers, so chlorine can disinfect it.
  • Clarifiers. Pool clarifier is a handy chemical that coagulates small pollutants. By clumping them together, you can skim them off the surface of the pool easier, or allow the pool filter to remove them.
  • Enzymes. These are added to break down non-living organic materials that are in the water. These are things like body oils, sunscreen, dead skin, pollen, and dead leaves. By removing these non-living pollutants, chlorine can more effectively sanitize the water.

Filter System For Intex Pools

The filter system works the same as any other pool, requiring both a pump and filter to circulate and clear the water of debris.

Since Intex pools are smaller than most, this can sometimes present challenges that you rarely find with inground pools.

Pump

The pump’s job is to suck in water from the pool, send it through the filter, and then return water back to the pool, fresh and clean.

The pool pump that Intex includes is usually on the smaller side, and in accordance to the size of the pool.

This can pose a problem at times, as you’ll need to run it for a longer period of time (usually 12 hours), for a full cycling of the water.

If the pump is run less, the sanitizing chemicals won’t be able to keep the entire body of water clean, and you’ll begin to have water issues.

Filter

Whereas sanitizing chemicals such as chlorine break down harmful pollutants in the water, the pool filter is what removes them from the pool itself.

Like the included pool pump, the Intex filter will also be smaller than most. This can cause water issues as the filter can become overwhelmed and will need to be cleaned more frequently.

For this reason, many Intex pool owners will eventually upgrade their filter. 

Intex pools use either sand filter or cartridge filter systems depending on the model. Cleaning a sand filter can be as simple as backwashing, while cartridges require manually rinsing or replacement.

Troubleshooting For Intex Pools

The ease of setup and use is Intex pool’s calling cards. But there will still be things you need to take care of from time to time.

Water Testing

Testing your pool’s water will be the most frequent maintenance task you’ll have to perform to keep the water in check.

Thankfully, it’s not very hard to do and doesn’t take up too much time.

Intex pool owners have their pick of test strips, liquid test kits, and digital testing kits to choose from. 

Test strips are inexpensive and only require you dip them into a sample of pool water to get your levels. Liquid kits are a bit more involved and can rival a chemistry experiment, while digital kits are the most expensive but also the most accurate. 

Cleaning

One of the advantages of having an Intex pool is that they require less cleaning due to their smaller size. However, they still require cleaning.

Skimming the surface of the pool with a net should be done every couple of days to keep leaves and various types of bugs out of the pool. If you have heavy foliage in your yard, you’ll need to skim more often.

The walls of the pool and the floor should be brushed down using a soft bristled pool brush that won’t damage the pool liner material. 

If the floor of the pool takes on heavy debris, you can vacuum it up using either a suction-side, pressure-side, or robotic cleaner.

Repairs

The triple-ply polymer liner that Intex pools use is very durable, but at times it may require repairing.

Small holes in the liner is usually an easy fix, as there are patch repair kits that Intex sells in case you spring a leak.

You may also encounter issues with your pump filter, where it doesn’t pull in water to circulate it.

This is usually caused by a dirty or clogged filter, and can be easily rectified by either rinsing/replacing the cartridge filter or backwashing the sand filter.

Opening And Closing An Intex Pools

Unless you live in a tropical climate, you’re going to need to learn how to winterize your Intex pool in the fall, and reopen it in the spring.

Winterizing

Winterizing the pool must be done if outdoor temperatures drop below 5°C. This requires you drain the pool and disassemble it, as cold weather and ice will damage the liner beyond repair.

Unlike traditional pools, draining an Intex model can only be done using a garden hose, taking the drain time to anywhere from 2 to 3 days in some instances.

Before draining, always make sure you fully clean the pool with a skimmer net, pool brush, and if needed, a vacuum.

Once the pool is drained, you’ll break it down, and store it indoors where it won’t be exposed to the cold temperatures. 

If you live in a climate that gets cool but not frighteningly cold weather, you may keep the pool assembled but you’ll still want to winterize it.

This is done by first cleaning the pool and balancing the water. You’ll next add winterizing chemicals to keep the water clean. These are things like additional shock or algaecide, and you’ll have to run the pump for a day to fully distribute them throughout the pool.

Plugging the pool drains, disconnecting and cleaning the filter pump, and putting a cover on the pool will be all that’s left to do.

Reopening

Reopening your Intex pool is no different from reopening any above ground pool.

Whether you’re setting it up from scratch, or just taking off the pool cover, you’ll need to start by balancing the water with the proper chemicals. 

Your pH must be between 7.4 and 7.6, your total alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and your chlorine between 1 and 3 ppm before you can safely use the pool.

Of course, if you have to set the pool up all over again, you’ve already done it at least once so you should be familiar with getting the pool up and running.

Optional Extras For Intex Pools

Intex pools provide you with all the essential components, but you may want to make upgrades along the way.

Heater

Intex doesn’t sell a heater, but due to the smaller size of their pools you can heat them very efficiently using solar power.

Solar blankets are your best bet, as they rest on the surface of the water when the pool isn’t in use. They resemble a giant sheet of bubble wrap and work by locking in heat from the sun as well as the outside air temperature.

Variations of solar blankets are solar sun rings, which work the same way but are individual rings that interlock via magnets, or liquid solar cover, which is a chemical additive that forms an invisible barrier on the surface of the water to lock in heat.

If you are into DIY projects, you can also try your hand at a homemade pool heater, which are usually cheap and effective.

Cover Reel

If you decide to go the route of a solar blanket, a cover reel will make your life much easier.

An above ground solar cover reel will be elevated to match the height of the pool, and only requires you unspool the cover and respool it when you want to use the pool.

Keep in mind, if you are using a solar blanket and cover reel you may need to cut the cover to shape, as most solar blankets are for rectangular pools.

Intex Pools Aren’t All That Different

Intex pool care doesn’t differ much from most above ground pools, or even inground pools for that matter. 

Taking care of your pool is a full-time job no matter the style, and if you can master this your pool will always be in top shape.

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