An inflatable pool is a convenient option between a low-cost plastic wading pool and a permanent in-ground or above-ground pool. An inflatable pool has durable, soft-plastic sides with an inflatable ring around the top for added safety and comfort. Filling the pool with water causes the ring to rise, pulling up the sides. Most inflatable pools have a uniform depth of about three-and-a-half feet. They are made to be filled and left up for a season and to be taken down between seasons. An inflatable pool requires regular maintenance with pool chemicals, cleaning equipment, and filtration systems, just like permanent pools.
Inflatable pools have several benefits over in-ground pools or hard-sided, above-ground pools. The major benefit is the cost. Discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target often have inflatable pools available for as little as $100. Inflatable pools may cost even less if purchased during sales or during the off-season.
The other benefit to an inflatable pool is how easy it is to get one and set it up. There's no need to go to a specialty store---you may be able to pick one up along with your weekly groceries. Take it home and set it up yourself in an hour or so. Inflatable pools are made to be set up by those with no experience. Just inflate the top ring, then fill the pool with water.
The plastic in inflatable pools is sturdy and not likely to suffer rips or holes from regular use.
If you do manage to tear your inflatable pool, you will have a hard time fixing it well enough for continued use. Also, while the pools are made to last several seasons, they will wear out eventually.
Many people complain that it's hard to find a level enough area in their yards for such a pool. You'll probably have some depth difference from one side to the other because even slight grade variations in a yard. If the ground is too uneven, excess pressure on one side of the pool can cause it to tear.
With an inflatable pool, the filter intake is further below the water surface than with permanent pools, leading to the possibility of hair getting caught in the filter and causing a drowning death.
Zoning laws about inflatable pools vary widely. Some cities require a permit to put up an inflatable pool, and in some places there are regulations about how long the pool can be left in place.
Another question is whether a fence is required around an inflatable pool. Most laws require a fence around a pool that is more than four feet deep, which means most inflatable pools squeak in under that regulation. However, inflatable pools are deep enough to warrant caution against drowning, and many communities recommend a fence around an inflatable pool for safety's sake, even if it's not required.
Because it's so easy to get and set up an inflatable pool, many parents think of them as something closer to a toy wading pool than a regular pool, and as such ignore safety precautions. Always watch children and pets around the pool, and teach your children to stay away from the pool unless an adult is present. Consider installing a fence with safety latches to prevent accidents.
Also, keep up with maintenance on your pool to minimize water-borne illnesses, making sure the chemical balance is right and that the filter is in good working order. Make sure your filter has a drain cover, and check it regularly to make sure it's not cracked or broken.