We bought a house with an above ground pool 3 years ago and never opened the pool. We just opened it and the water is brown and about 1/3 full. There's dirt, leaves and just dirty/stained in general.

People say we have to replace our liner. However, we're renting the house out pretty soon. We obviously can't leave it open like that forever. So what we really want to do is close it indefinitely and not waste money on replacing the liner now then replace it again when we get the house back from the tenants.

What are our options?

  • 4
    The people who are renting the house are OK with this? I wouldn't rent a house with this type of situation. If house has pool then get it working for renters or take out pool. There is also a liability side to something like this.
    – DMoore
    Jul 18 '14 at 15:59
  • "Attractive Nuisance". Drain it and remove the liner now so it is Not A Pool and there's no drowning risk.
    – keshlam
    Jul 18 '14 at 17:05
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    @keshlam, even without a liner, there's the possibility that rainwater can accumulate enough to create another biohazard. i don't see this as being just a drowning or falling risk.
    – alt
    Jul 18 '14 at 18:20
  • I can't judge that possibility (though certainly anything which holds stale water breeds mosquitoes). But we're agreeing in principle that a dead pool is worst of all worlds.
    – keshlam
    Jul 18 '14 at 20:21

What you see there is not just water - it's probably already an ecosystem all by itself. If you would examine it, you'll see that there may be thousands of bacterial and other microscopic species there, most of which you wouldn't appreciate living in close proximity with people.

To make sure your new renters aren't killed off by the pool creatures, please make sure it is sealed closed, with no risk of people entering it, falling into it, or otherwise being able to use it. This, of course, assumes that you need it to function as a pool once your renters leave. If you don't care for the pool at all, simply fill it in completely and erase all traces, and you should be good.

Or, you can always make it a fresh, pristine and proper pool, and charge your renters more for the privilege.

But as it stands, it's almost certainly unhealthy, and would constitute a public hazard somewhere.


If I were a renter, I would happily pay quite a bit more than usual to rent a house with a functional swimming pool. If you know who your renters will be and they are not interested in paying for it, then you have a choice of a few general philosophies:

  • Preserve the pool: Drain it, leave the drain open, and put a fence around it or a durable safety cover over it. The fence option—while expedient—may attract garbage and debris. A safety cover provides lasting value. (I looked, but couldn't find the news story about an SUV which fell into a backyard swimming pool, but was held by this type of cover only a foot or two into the water.) enter image description here
  • Erase it: You can be paid to accept clean fill from construction companies to fill it in. Then grade and pack it to either cap it with concrete to make a patio, deck it over, plant lawn/shrubs/etc., or leave it so the old pool deck is an interesting walkway. Or tear up all the concrete.
  • Restore it: This could be anywhere from a day's work to several weeks. Drain and power wash it, and see what kind of condition it is in. If it is mechanically sound but has cracks, gaps, and etc., a new pool liner for a small in ground pool can be as little as $400. If the gunite is in poor repair, a mason might be able to restore it in several days work for less than $1000. If it is finished in ceramic tile, it will be several times that and take several weeks. If the recirculation and filtering systems have been neglected, it might take hundreds to thousands of dollars to restore them.
  • An empty pool is essentially a boat. If the water level in the ground raises high enough (commonly after a heavy rain), it can start to float, doing a lot of damage in the process. Also, your insurance company will generally be substantially unhappy about providing liability coverage for a home with an empty pool (particularly if it's a rental)
    – Zhentar
    Jul 18 '14 at 20:26
  • @Zhentar: I guess if the groundwater did get that high, it would be a problem. Generally, insurance doesn't care if the pool is empty or full of water. Either way, they require an enclosing fence around the area to keep random neighborhood kids out.
    – wallyk
    Jul 18 '14 at 21:39

Or, you could turn it into a natural pool where nature cleans the water for you. And chuck in some gold fish to keep the mosquito larvae at bay. Note also that a still pool like this with fish will keep the mosquito population down for your local area as the mosquitos will be attracted to the water to lay their eggs, and will get eaten by the fish. The fish can be fed by installing floating solar powered lights to attract moths, and other insects which will fall into the water again feeding the fish. The water remains clean enough to swim in if you have enough plants around the edges to cleanse the water.

natural pool

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