On a hot summer’s day, it’s hard to beat the feeling that comes with jumping into the cold, crisp waters of your own backyard swimming pool. You could try jumping into one of those Scrooge McDuck-style money vaults, we suppose, but we hear that’s more painful than refreshing.
But if you don’t have the room in your yard, or the gold coins in your McDuck vault, for a traditional swimming pool, Intex pools offer a budget- and space-friendly alternative. Want a pool that’s easy to set up in the spring and then store when summer ends? Explore pool ownership without a life-changing commitment.
Intex Pools vs. Traditional Pools
Compared to inground or above ground models, Intex pools require less investment and zero construction. Options range from basic inflatables to steel-framed models you can convert to a permanent part of your yard. They often include a ground cover and debris cover.
Intex pools often include cartridge filters and pumps as well, which makes it easy to get swimming sooner. The filter pump’s capacity varies with the pool size you choose. Intex pumps also have a built-in ground fault circuit interrupter that automatically shuts down the pump if any electrical current is exposed to water.
Types of Intex Pools
The shared foundation of these above ground pools is a liner made of triple-ply polymer. More elaborate versions add a frame to improve durability.
You can choose from several different sizes and styles, depending on your needs.
Easy Set Intex Pools (Inflatable)
The smallest and most basic model lets you blow up some fun without blowing your space or investment budget. You can inflate the top ring, fill the pool, and get swimming as soon as your water’s balanced.
Easy Set pools are round and range from 8 ft. (2.4 m) to 18 ft. (5.6 m) in circumference and 30 in. (76 cm) to 48 in. (122 cm) in height.
Metal Frame Intex Pools
More durable than Easy Set model, this circular pool boasts a strong frame of powder-coated steel to resist rust and weathering. It also sports a band of reinforced polymer material that circles the whole pool like a girdle for extra support—something we wish we could get when swimsuit season rolls around.
Metal frame Intex pools have an 18 ft. (5.6 m) circumference and stand 48 in. (122 cm) high.
Oval Frame Intex Pools
A slightly different take on the traditional rectangular pool, these babies straddle the line between the Easy Set’s convenience and the durability of higher-end Intex pools. The elongated shape fits into narrow backyards that might not otherwise accommodate a pool.
This model also makes a perfect lap pool if one of your crew has Olympic aspirations or their eye on crossing the English channel, wot wot.
Oval Frame Intex Pools are available in two sizes:
18 ft. (5.6 m) long by 10 ft. (3 m) wide by 42 in. (107 cm) high
20 ft. (6.1 m) long by 12 ft. (3.7 m) wide by 48 in. (122 cm) high
Instead of all-around legs, these pools use a snap-on frame that provides support where it’s needed most without taking up extra space.
Ultra Frame® Intex Pools
Boasting a larger footprint, the cream of the Intex crop has upgraded materials and aesthetics that more than justify their somewhat higher price tag. Their powder-coated steel frames are rust resistant and extremely strong, and the extra-durable three-ply liner and exterior band feature an upscale grey and white color scheme.
Round Frame Ultra Intex Pools range from 14 ft. (4.3 m) to 16 ft. (4.9 m) in circumference and from 42 in. (107 cm) to 48 in. (122 cm.) high.
Rectangular Frame Ultra Intex Pools are available in 18 ft. (4.9 m) long by 9 ft. (2.7 m) wide by 52 in. (132 cm) high, or32 ft. (9.8 m) long by 16 ft. (4.9 m) wide by 52 in. (132 cm) high.
These pools often include a cartridge filter pump, but you can spend a bit more to get a model with a sand filter pump instead.
Prism Frame™ Intex Pools
Nab the perks of the most luxurious Intex pools—in a more compact package. You can get a sharp-looking showstopper without buying more pool than you need.
Like their bigger cousins, these models have a powder-coated steel frame that’s designed to fit together without bulky extra pins. They also have the premium color scheme.
Round Frame Prism Intex Pools range from 10 ft. (3 m) to 24 ft. (7.3 m) in circumference and from 30 in. (76 cm) to 52 in. (132 cm) high.
Rectangular Frame Prism Intex Pools are 16 ft. (4.9 m) long by 8 ft. (2.4 m) wide by 48 in. (122 cm) high. They have an enhanced, full-body version of the frame used on Oval Frame Intex Pools.
Square Frame Prism Intex Pools range from 14 ft. (4.3 m) to 16 ft. (4.9 m) in circumference and from 42 in. (107 cm) to 48 in. (122 cm) high.
How to Care for Your Intex Pool
Don’t let the convenience or its potentially temporary installation fool you. Intex pools have all the same needs as the fanciest rooftop retreat or humblest suburban “cement pond.” Regular maintenance keeps Intex pools in prime condition.
Your new backyard oasis needs a pump, filter, and a few tools to keep it clean and running smoothly. A little homework might be required to master regular maintenance and the right mix of chemicals to keep the water clean and sanitary. You can also choose whether to clean and store your pool during the off season, or let it winter in place.
Start with the Basics
Before you dive in, take some time to get to know your Intex pool. Figure out how and when you’ll be lavishing all this tender lovin’ care on your new pool. If you’re a new pool owner, familiarize yourself with the “three Ts” of pool ownership: Tools, Techniques, and Terminology.
You don’t have to enroll in a night class at the learning annex, but developing a solid understanding of what your pool needs is the first step to enjoying it safely. Plus, you won’t have to listen to your weird neighbor making fun of you for wearing the skimmer as a hat.
If you don’t already have them, stock up on pool care tools, including:
- telescoping pole
- pool vacuum
- nylon-bristled pool brush
- extra hoses
- test strips or a water testing kit
- adequate supplies of:
- chlorine or your preferred sanitizer
- pool shock
- any other chemicals needed to keep your water balanced
Get on a Schedule
Knowing what to do and how to do it leads to knowing when to do it. Set up a pool maintenance schedule for the season or, if you plan on making your Intex pool a permanent fixture, the full year.
Planning ahead can help you budget the time and money you invest in your pool so you can avoid nasty surprises and prepare for larger expenditures of both when needed.
Balance Your Water
Any pool with unbalanced or unsanitary water is a pool nobody can enjoy. It’s gross, might be hard to look at, and can even make you sick. Understanding basic pool chemistry is critical to safe, happy swimming.
Monitoring and adjusting pH and alkalinity levels is just as important with Intex pools as any others. Pay attention to your water hardness and sanitizer levels too, but the foundation of healthy pool water is balanced pH and alkalinity, because balanced water helps your pool sanitizer do its job more effectively.
Before you swim, grab your water testing kit and test your pool water. Take a look at your pH levels. The ideal pH range for a swimming pool is 7.0 to 7.6.
Aim for an alkalinity level of 100–150 parts per million (ppm). Alkalinity protects your pool from wild changes in pH by buffering it against sudden shifts. Stock up on alkalinity increaser so you can tweak your levels as necessary.
If your pH is too low, your water is acidic. Add a base, like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), to your water to raise the pH. If your water’s pH is too high, or basic, add an acid such as sodium bisulfate, also known as dry acid or pH decreaser, to lower it.
Keep in mind that adding alkalinity increaser will also raise your water’s pH, so be sure to monitor all levels carefully.
When you test your pool’s calcium hardness, aim for 150–400 ppm, ideally smack in the middle. If your water’s too soft, your hardware and plumbing could corrode, while water that’s too hard can cause scaling and mineral build-up. Yuck.
Make testing your water part of your daily pool care routine, and it’ll be easy to keep your water where it needs to be—and nip any potential problems in the bud.
How to Shock Your Intex Pool
Under normal conditions and for optimal sanitizing, the chlorine levels in your pool will be in the range of 1–3 ppm. But as chlorine in the water hammers away at contaminants and gets bound up with them, you need a way to recharge it. Regular doses of pool shock are the answer.
Shocking your pool breaks the bonds between your pool’s chlorine and the contaminants it’s attached itself to, freeing it to sanitize once more. Shocking your pool kills off bacteria and algae that might otherwise be setting up shop.
How often you shock depends on how often you use your pool, and the climate you’re living in. We recommend shocking Intex pools every week, especially if you’re having a heat wave or heavy rains. Heat and excess water can knock your chlorine levels to sub-par levels pretty quickly.
Use a pool shock with at least 70% available chlorine, and run your filtration system after you shock your pool. The water might appear cloudy after you shock, but will clear as it’s filtered.
The Importance of Proper Filtration
You can think of your filtration system as your pool’s kidneys. If they don’t get a chance to work, all sorts of icky things can build up in a flash. Your filter pump circulates the water, evenly distributing sanitizer and other chemicals while cleaning the water.
Run your filter pump for at least 12 hours a day, every day. This will make sure all the water in your pool circulates at least once. In an ideal world of bottomless money vaults, you could run your pool pump 24 hours a day, but 12 hours is a good compromise.
Replace the cartridge filter at least once a year, or when you open and close it if you store your pool during the off season. Also replace it when it’s worn, torn, or as recommended by the manufacturer to make sure your water is as clean as it can be.
How to Clean Your Intex Pool
People. Debris. Rain. Critters. It might seem like everyone, and everything, wants to take a dip in your pool. And while you’ve probably invited at least some of them to join you for a dip, they bring with them assorted bits and bobs that can ruin your swim.
Leaves, sand, dirt, and other visible debris are not only unsightly, but can clog your filter system and throw your water chemistry out of whack.
The same is true for the lotions and potions swimmers can bring into the water, from soap and perfume to sweat, dead skin, and, er, other bodily fluids.
Just like you, your pool’s at its best with a regular daily cleaning. Our motto is simple. On the whole, cleaning the pool is good for the soul. Or at least the pool.
Use a skimmer to remove visible debris every day. If your pool isn’t seeing much use, or you somehow have the one pool on earth that doesn’t attract leaves from five counties away, you can probably get away with brushing and vacuuming every other day. But if it’s party central for you and the trees, brush and vacuum daily.
Make sure you use a pool brush with nylon bristles only. The vinyl liner needs a gentle touch and might tear or scratch if you use a stainless steel pool brush.
Intex makes a filter-line vacuum unit that’s designed for their pools. Simply attach it to your system, and you’ll be ready to suck away sediment and other debris.
If don’t want to futz around with attaching the cleaner to your pool, make things a little easier with a rechargeable manual vacuum. It uses internal power instead of your pool’s filter system to clean. Push it along the bottom and the debris gets sucked up into a filter bag inside the cleaner. It’s a Dustbuster for your pool, without the ’70s haircut.
Robotic Pool Cleaners
We love above ground automatic pool cleaners for saving us a lot of manual scrubbing and skimming. You probably will, too.
Small robotic pool cleaners work well with all Intex pools, except the Easy Set. Robotic pool cleaners and inflatable pools do not compute. In fact, Intex makes its own automatic cleaner.
Vinyl walls make side-suction automatic pool cleaners a poor fit for Intex pools, so stick to manual cleaning if you’re not ready to splurge on an aquatic assistant.
Just remember, no robot can replace a human, at least until SkyNet goes live. Cleaning gives you a chance to keep an eye out for frogs and birds, as well as algae, mold, mysterious stains, and other problems waiting to happen. Even if you use a robotic cleaner, make sure to give your pool a thorough once-over daily.
Troubleshooting Your Intex Pool
Given its simple design and DIY construction, your Intex pool probably won’t have some of the more advanced problems you might encounter with other pools. Alas, no pool’s perfect, and you might find yourself with a torn liner, a malfunctioning filter pump, or a broken support pole, to name a few examples.
Some problems, like Bermuda grass growing up and into your pool (and threatening to rupture it) have simple solutions, like a good herbicide and a ground cover mat. More advanced issues, like a sneaky pool leak or a misbehaving filter, might require some research and a little DIY repair work for you or the person you’ve bribed with ice-cold beverages to help.
You can also go right to the source and ask the horse, so to speak. Intex has an extensive library of support videos and documents for its products, giving you specific and useful information with just a few clicks. They can also help you with warranty issues, parts, and upgrades.
Stashing Versus Winterizing
Owning an Intex pool means that, at pool season’s end, you’ll have a choice other pool owners don’t necessarily have: do you clean, dismantle, and store your pool? Or do you winterize your Intex pool in place?
Freezing temperatures can cause serious damage to your Intex pool. If you need the space, don’t want to deal with winterizing, or live in an area where winter temperatures dip below freezing, stashing your pool is easy:
- Remove all toys, floats, accessories, etc. from the pool.
- Clean the pool thoroughly.
- Drain the pool completely.
- Allow the pool to dry completely.
- Disassemble the pool.
- Apply cornstarch liberally to the liner to prevent sticking and absorb any trace amounts of remaining water
- Roll the pool liner to prevent creases.
- Place the filter, manual, and any small parts into a single box to keep them together.
- Store the dry pool components indoors until needed
If winter doesn’t get too gnarly where you live, you can winterize your pool in place:
- Remove all toys, floats, accessories etc. from your pool.
- Clean and balance pool water. If you have an Easy Set Pool, double-check that the top ring is fully inflated.
- Replace strainer grid if necessary.
- Clean and completely dry all pool accessories before storage.
- For 10 ft. (3 m) and 12 ft. (3.7 m) pools, insert the Inlet and Outlet plug into the fitting from inside of the pool, using the provided plug.
- For 15 ft. (4.6 m), 18 ft. (5.5 m), and 24 ft. (7.3 m) pools, close the Inlet and Outlet Plunger Valve.
- If your pool has a ladder, remove it, let it dry completely, and store it in a safe place.
- Disconnect the pump and filter from the pool.
- Add appropriate winter chemicals, as suggested by your local pool dealer.
- Install the Intex pool cover. note:Keep in mind that the standard Intex pool cover is not a safety cover. Take appropriate precautions to keep people and creatures away from, and out of, your pool.
- Clean and drain the pump, filter housing, and hoses.
- Remove and discard the used filter cartridge. Make sure you have a spare on hand for next season.
- Store the pump and filter parts indoors in a dry, safe, and preferably heated place.
Customizing Your Intex Pool
Who wants to be a cookie cutter? Don’t just toss an inflatable castle into the water and declare yourself Lord Fancypants, King of Summer. You can improve performance and make caring for your pool easier with a few strategic additions and modifications.
Embrace the Three Cs
The Three Ts got you started down the path to Intex Pool mastery. But to get better performance from your pool and save money while you do it, make the Three Cs part of your pool care routine.
The first and most important C is circulation. It’s the key to the other Cs: cleaning and chemicals. The better your pool’s water circulation, the less cleaning you’ll do, and the fewer chemicals you need. Control the first C, and you’ll conquer the other two.
Your pool’s return jet circulates water, but it only flows in one direction. Modifying your return jet with a circulation enhancer creates a 360° mini-maelstrom of rushing water.
It’s especially useful if your Intex pool has a heater or a salt system, since the improved flow mixes the heated or treated water throughout your entire pool more effectively.
Warm Up to Solar Pool Heating
Installing a gas heater on your Intex pool would probably lead to some pretty epic Wicked Witch of the West-style melting action, but vinyl-based psychological trauma doesn’t really play well on a sunny summer afternoon. Instead, harness the sun’s power to heat your pool water with an Intex solar pool cover.
Using this cover warms your your water during the day, and helps your pool maintain that heat even after the sun sets. Upgrade your standard cover to the solar model designed for your pool and get cookin’.
If you’re not interested in a physical cover, you can try one of the liquid solar covers on the market. Just pour it on once a month to help conserve water while gently, and safely, heating your Intex pool.
Want more power? Rev things up with a solar mat from Intex. Attach it to your pool’s filter line, and water will travel through its serpentine tubes, warming as the sun blasts the pitch-black mat. Every cycle warms your pool a little more.
Use an Intex solar pool cover with the solar mat for a killer combo. The solar mat brings the heat, and the cover seals it in like Tupperware. Well, if Tupperware harnessed THE MIGHTY POWER OF THE SUN, that is.
Upgrade to an Intex Salt System
Why settle for a pool when you can rule your own tiny sanitized sea? Stop adding chlorine to your pool and convert your Intex pool with a salt generator system.
The Intex saltwater system is a two-stage mechanism that pulls the salt’s chlorine out in the first stage, and then creates powerful, pool-sanitizing oxidizers from salt water in the second.
With this system installed, you add salt to your pool instead of chlorine. The salty water then runs through the generator, producing a steady flow of chlorinated water. The second stage, called electrocatalytic oxidation, pulls compounds out of the water that work in concert with the chlorine to kill bacteria and algae. Poseidon himself would be hard pressed to do a better job.
Upgrade Your Intex Pool Filter Cartridge
The standard filter cartridge that comes with your Intex pool is perfectly functional. But you might see improved performance with an after-market filter cartridge.
These filters may have a longer functional life, with improved filtration materials that allow you to change your filter less frequently during the season due to wear and tear.
Consider Yourself an Intex Pool Insider
Look at you, balancing beauty, price, and performance with versatility. You’ve unlocked the secrets of Intex pool ownership and customization. Forget the backhoes and the budget-busters. You’re ready to turn your backyard into a white-hot supernova of DIY swimming fun.
You’ve got everything you need to choose, maintain, and enjoy your Intex pool this season—and in the years ahead. Come on in—the water’s fine.