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Do Above Ground Pools Need Chlorine? Pros and Cons

Above ground pools are usually maintained with chlorine with traditional freshwater pool installations, but do they actually need it?  There are several pros and cons associated with using chlorine in pool maintenance, but most pools do require chlorine for regular swimming use.

Above ground pools need some chlorine to help prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the pool as well as organic debris from bodily fluids like urine and sweat. Chlorine helps keep a pool clean and clear, but is also expensive and can be dangerous to use if not handled properly.

There are several pros and cons associated with maintaining above ground pools with chlorine, but how you intend to use the pool will determine how much chlorine is needed. Keep reading to learn more about chlorinating above ground pools and why it’s done.

The Pros and Cons of Chlorine in Above Ground Pools

While most people who install above ground pools for swimming use chlorine to maintain them, there are advantages and disadvantages to including this chemical in your pool treatments.

Here is a table breaking down the main pros and cons of using chlorine in above ground pools. Below we’ll go into these pros and cons in more detail.

Pros of Using Chlorine in Above Ground PoolsCons of Using Chlorine in Above Ground Pools
Prevents illness caused by build-up of bacteria (sanitation)Dangerous chemical if mishandled
Water clarity (cosmetics)Expensive and more extensive maintenance
Chlorine pools cheaper to installChlorine dries and irritates skin and hair

Here’s a video comparing chlorine with salt water, with the pros and cons list below:

Here’s a link to some Pool Accessories from Amazon and the highly recommended Sand Filter Pump to upgrade any above ground pool setup.

Pros of Chlorine in Above Ground Pools

There are many advantages to using chlorine in above ground pools, and the two biggest ones are appearance and safety.

Freshwater pools that are chlorinated are safer to swim in and they look more appealing to swimmers, too.

Chlorine Helps Keep Above Ground Pools Clean

The main benefit of using chlorine in an above ground pool is that chlorine helps keep the pool clean and free of bacteria.

This can help prevent several types of waterborne illnesses that can strike humans that are exposed to untreated drinking water, such as the following (source:

  • Diarrhea
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Conjunctivitis

Treating the water in an above ground pool sanitizes the pool, killing any latent bacteria that might cause the diseases above. 

Keeping pools clean can help prevent the spread of communicable disease and make it much safer if you accidentally drink some of the water in your pool while swimming.

Chlorine Helps Keep Above Ground Pools Clear

Along with keeping above ground pools clean and free of dangerous germs, chlorine also helps keep the water in an above ground pool clear and sparkling clean.

This cleansing quality improves the appearance of the pool and keeps it from looking cloudy or murky, which can prevent people from wanting to swim in it.

Lack of clarity in a pool can also be a serious safety issue. Pools that are too murky to see to the bottom may hide a drowning person and prevent them from getting help.

Chlorinated Pools Are Cheaper to Install

One of the trade-offs of chlorinated pools having expensive maintenance is that the cost of installing them is cheap compared to the cost of installing saltwater pools.

Since freshwater isn’t corrosive, expensive materials that are rust proof aren’t necessary for the construction of freshwater pools.

Freshwater pools also don’t require the Pool Salt, Found Here on Amazon, used to start up and install saltwater pools. Pool salts can cost up to $40 per forty-pound bag of salt depending on where it’s purchased.

Cons of Chlorine in Above Ground Pools

While there are several advantages to using chlorine in an above ground pool, there are disadvantages as well.

Chlorine can be costly to use, dangerous if mishandled, and can be hard on the skin and hair of swimmers, especially those who have chemical sensitivities.

Chlorine Can Be a Dangerous Chemical

Chlorine is a powerful chemical compound that can cause the following side effects (source:

  • Blurred vision
  • Coughing and chest tightness
  • Burning in nose, eyes, and throat
  • Difficulty breathing

If mishandled, chlorine can cause lung damage and severe burns. Treating a pool with chlorine requires protective gear and an understanding of how much chlorine to use for your pool size.

Because they are poisonous, Chlorine Tablets Like These from Amazon used for above ground pool maintenance should be kept away from pets and children.

While chlorine is not flammable, exposing other materials such as wood and gasoline to chlorine gas can make them more combustible. For this reason, chlorine should be stored safely in an airtight plastic container, such as a capped bucket.

Chlorine Is Expensive and Requires More Maintenance

Compared to saltwater pools, chlorinated above ground pools are expensive to maintain due to the chemicals needed to keep the pool clean and clear.

Unlike saltwater pools, which are naturally antibacterial and antifungal, freshwater pools are more susceptible to the build-up of algae and bacteria.

Shortages in recent years have also made chlorine more expensive. (source: Since chlorine has to be added regularly to an above ground pool to keep it clean, this accumulative cost can be a large additional cost in maintenance over time.

Chlorine Can Be Damaging to Skin and Hair

One of the constant complaints about the use of chlorine in above ground pools is that this chemical can be irritating to swimmers, especially if too much chlorine is used.

Chlorine has the following negative impacts on swimmers:

  • Burning eyes and blurred vision
  • Dry skin
  • Dry and brittle hair (can stain color-treated hair)
  • Irritation of mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and throat

Even though these side effects of chlorine can be mitigated by methods such as wearing goggles and a swimming cap, swimmers who are regularly exposed to chlorine from the pool are more likely to experience negative side effects.

Do Above Ground Pools Need Chlorine?

For safety, above ground pools that are being used for swimming should contain enough chlorine to keep them clean and clear.

Above ground pools should contain between 1-3 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine to keep the water sanitized.

Here’s a link to some Pool Accessories from Amazon and the highly recommended Sand Filter Pump to upgrade any above ground pool setup.

Chlorine Is an Important Part of Above Ground Pool Maintenance

If you plan on installing a freshwater above ground pool, some chlorine is necessary to keep the pool clean and safe to use.

The cost of this chlorine needs to be included in the anticipated costs of pool maintenance if you want to keep your above ground pool in good working order.

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