How To Fix An Unlevel Pool Without Draining It

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

Any above-ground pool can become uneven over time, due to faulty installation or because the ground under it shifts or settles. Even a slight loss of balance can result in wasted water and damage to the pool’s structure. In extreme cases, the walls may collapse, resulting in serious injury or death. This is why it’s important to level your pool.

Re-leveling can easily be done as a DIY project. There are several simple steps to follow.

  • Partially drain the water
  • Remove the leveling blocks
  • Pry the wall
  • Reinstall the blocks
  • Pack in the soil

While this project seems simple at first glance, it’s a lot more challenging than you would think. Although, that doesn’t render it impossible.

If you notice that your pool doesn’t seem to be level, this guide is for you. We take you step by step through the re-leveling process. We also explain the various options you have to repair damage which has occurred as a result of the pool not being level.

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How Does A Pool Become Unlevel?

Pools usually become un-level due to a faulty foundation. Preparing the ground correctly before installation is fundamental. If a pool is placed on a layer of sand that has been placed on grass, it will sink over time. When the foundation isn’t level, or if it’s rocky or bumpy, problems are almost certain to develop.

What If You Don’t Want To Empty The Water To Re-Level?

There are several reasons why people want to avoid completely emptying the water.

  • It’s time-consuming to drain and refill.
  • It’s a waste of water. These days, we’re all conscious of the need to conserve water.
  • Totally emptying the pool can cause the walls to collapse.
  • The walls can become dry, brittle, and susceptible to UV damage.

However, it will be harder to re-level when full because of the weight, so you’ll need to remove at least some water before you start re-leveling. You can drain it halfway or more.

How Do You Level Your Pool Without Draining The Water?

Follow these simple guidelines to re-level your above-ground pool effectively and safely.

Tools You Will Need

Only a few common household tools are needed to re-level an above-ground pool.

  • Spirit level
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Hammer
  • Wheelbarrow to move soil

Step 1: Drain Your Pool A Little

Although you may not want to drain your pool, it is necessary to partially empty it, because it will be impossible to work while it’s still full. Even if you have enough people to lift it, you’ll slosh water all over the ground as you work.

Using your garden hose, drain your pool a little bit. If possible, remove about a quarter to half of the water. If you wish, you can remove more. The lighter the pool, the easier it will be to move.

If you’re concerned about wasting water, think of ways to recycle it. Pool water tends to be chlorinated, so it’s not suitable for irrigating gardens, but it could be useful for cleaning driveways or other paved areas.

Step 2: Get Your Tools Together

As with any DIY project, you should assemble your tools before you start so that you can work efficiently. Also, wear gloves to provide a strong grip and protect your hands from accidental knocks and cuts.

You should always wear closed shoes with good soles to protect your feet for projects like this. You should expect the ground to get a little wet as you work. Don’t wear pool shoes or flipflops as they can be slippery and put you at risk of falls and injuries.

Step 3: Remove Your Leveling Blocks

When the pool was first installed, leveling blocks would have been placed under the foundation slab. Remove these from the side of the pool, which has a higher top edge and, therefore, the least amount of water.

Step 4: Pry The Wall Up

Use the tip of your shovel to lever the pool walls away from the base slab. As the pool isn’t level, you’ll need to work around the whole side that’s unlevel. While this can be very time consuming, it’s necessary for a thorough job.

Step 5: Reinstall The Leveling Blocks

While you’re holding the slab up, a second person should re-insert the blocks. This could be difficult, so hammer them in firmly. Work slowly and carefully to ensure the foundation is level, as this will affect your swimming pool’s structural integrity.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 3 through 5

Repeat steps 3 through 5 by working around the pool’s lower side until all the leveling blocks are reinstalled. You’ll know that the work has been corrected when the top edge of the pool is level.

Step 7: Pack The Ground Under The Pool

After lifting the pool, you’ll find there’s a dent in the ground underneath. Fill it with soil, hose it, and pack it closely. Repeat this process until it’s as firm as you can make it. This step is vital to prevent the pool from tilting again.

Step 8: Refill Your Pool

Once you’re satisfied that your pool is level again, it can be refilled. Use a spirit level to check as you fill, ensuring that, as it becomes heavier, the pool remains level. It’s a good idea to let your pool sit for a couple of days, and then recheck the level. If the leveling is off, you may need to repeat this process, which is why you must do a thorough and careful job the first time.

Patching A Pool Without Draining

If your pool has been uneven, it may develop a tear in the wall because of the additional pressure from the water’s weight. Or, if you didn’t winterize your above ground pool, that could be another reason it has developed a leak. Regardless of the cause, it might be possible to patch your pool without draining it, depending on where the leak has appeared.

Patches aren’t a permanent solution, although they sometimes last for years. There are no real rules about the size of a tear you can patch successfully, or how long the repair will last.

Waterproof Tape

This tape is waterproof and resistant to UV light. You can overlap some strips to create a patch for bigger tears. However, as it does peel away easily, it’s better for small repairs. The advantage is that it’s inexpensive, and in the right location, long-lasting.

Peel-and-Stick Patches

Peel-and-stick patches are most commonly used in pools and inflatables. Some patches come pre-cut into circles, which makes them less prone to peeling. Easy to use and low-cost, they’re best used for small repairs.

Vinyl Patch Kit

For more extensive damage or to create a more durable repair, a complete patch kit is a great solution. The adhesive works underwater, so they are especially useful for floors. You can purchase a vinyl patch kit at any home improvement store, including Home Depot or Lowes.

Related Questions

What if my pool is very uneven?

If your pool sides are uneven by more than 2 inches, treat this as a serious issue.If your pool is very uneven, we don’t recommend trying to fix it without draining. Even with several volunteers, it would be unsafe to do so. This DIY guide is intended to help you fix a pool that is only an inch or so away from level.

Can a pool collapse?

If your pool is installed improperly, and you don’t level the ground before installation, yes, your pool can collapse. This is why it’s so important to level before installation. Also, if you drain your pool completely, the walls can collapse, which is why it’s a good idea to re-level your pool without draining it.

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Wrapping It Up

While your goal may be to re-level your pool without draining it, that’s not entirely possible. Even the most experienced professionals have a problem navigating a project of this stature. However, if you drain it just a little bit, you’ll be able to do this more efficiently. You’ll also decrease the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

With a little preparation and some careful work, you’ll soon be able to enjoy your swimming pool again, with total peace of mind!

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Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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