Your pool is the most dangerous place in your backyard. However, drowning is the least of your concerns. Your pool creates a massive target for lightning strikes and other electrical disasters. To mitigate these dangers, you must bond the pool, but how do you do it to an above-ground pool?
Generally, you can ground or bond an above-ground pool by placing a conductive material under it. You must wrap this material around your pool equipment, deck, and anything else with exposed metal. In some cases, you may even need to stick the material into the water itself.
The exact way you must install the conductive material largely depends on local safety laws. As such, by reading further, you will learn about these safety regulations along with detailed installation steps on how to bond your pool.
How Do You Even Ground an Above-Ground Pool?
Bonding is a way to secure your pool to prevent serious injury or electrocution. Often erroneously called grounding, it works by creating an electric field around your swimming pool. This field comes from a conductive material wrapped around and fastened to your pool and equipment.
With that said, you only need to gather the following conductive materials and tools:
- Copper pool bonding wire or bare copper wire number 8
- Water Bonding Plate
- Bonding lugs, nuts, and bolts
- Wire cutter
- Measuring tape
Please note that there is no need for a grounding rod. While older methods did use a grounding rod, modern pool bonding methods just use your preexisting electrical service.
Steps Required to Bond an Above-Ground Pool
Once you gathered all your materials and tools, you can start bonding your pool. The entire process should take about an hour, but you should give yourself extra time if your pool is unusually shaped. Regardless of your situation, the installation should only take the following steps.
- Measure out the length of copper wire you will need – The wire must wrap around your pool approximately 12 to 18 inches from the perimeter wall. It must also touch the wall in 4 spots, the pump, and any other exposed metal. Leave enough wire so you can run the ends to your home’s fuse box.
- Dig a trench – the trench should be 12 to 18 inches from the wall and 6 to 8 inches deep.
- Install the bonding plate – follow the instructions that come with the plate.
- Attach and fasten the bonding lugs to the pool – you must usually supply your nuts and bolts. Use stainless self-taping screws as you must drill the holes as well. To prevent leaks, drill the holes into the metal framing instead of the main body of the pool.
- Lay the copper wire in the trench and attach it to all points – string the wire through all the lugs.
- Fill the trench and attach the wire to your home’s electrical system – attach the ends to a common ground.
Here’s a cool time-lapse video showing a binding job start to finish:
Does My Above Ground Pool Need to be Grounded?
While bonding your pool is generally a good idea, your local ordinances may require it. This is especially true if your local safety regulations were updated since 2008 and includes the National Electrical Code (NEC). The NEC demands the electrical bonding of pool water and not just the pool’s metal structure.
The NEC applies to both in-ground and above-ground pools. This includes any equipment used in conjunction with the pools such as decks, pumps, and any other metal features your pool may have. Because of this, most professional installers will bond your pool as a part of the installation.
Despite this, the code is not enforced everywhere. As such, you might be able to get away with an unbonded pool in certain regions. Although, enforcement is generally increasing across the nation. So, it might be a good idea to get your pool boned regardless.
What is The Best Thing to Put Under an Above Ground Pool?
The NEC only dictates that the bonding is done with conductive materials. However, it does not identify what materials you should use. As long as you keep a secure electrical connection with the water you are good as far as the NEC is concerned.
Therefore, you might be wondering what the best material to place under your pool is.
The truth is that you want your pool resting on something not conducive. That way any stray electricity goes to the bonding wire and not into the ground. However, you want something sturdy enough to prevent the pool from shifting and toppling over.
Place Concrete Under Your Pool When Possible
Therefore, most experts agree that you should use concrete.
There is nothing like having a concrete slab under your pool. You may want to cushion your pool to reduce tearing, but the concrete is flat, stable, and electrically neutral. The slab will ensure your pool remains in one place regardless of how much you use it.
Concrete is also very malleable during installation. You can easily build the slab to match the shape of your pool area, ensuring your family and friends have enough space to enjoy themselves.
Other Great Surfaces for Above-Ground Pools
Besides concrete, you can also use the following materials as an NEC-compliant base for your above-ground pool. You can even use some of them in conjunction with concrete to protect your pool from the concrete.
- Commercial Pad – These precut composite liners usually come designed for specific pool surfaces. So, make sure you get the right one for your situation.
- Sand – The least expensive and traditional bed for an above-ground pool. Can be used on concrete or as a standalone surface but can make the pool unstable.
- Solid Foam – Expensive but can be easily molded and trimmed to fit any pool. Can be used on concrete or grass.
- Carpet Padding – Cheap and abundantly available, but extremely thin. You will need multiple layers to achieve the same protection offered by the other pad materials,
- Flooring Underlayment – Similar to the carpet padding. Cheap but too thin for most situations
Bonding your above-ground pool is an important safety measure that will help reduce your risks of electrocution and serious injury.
For most cases, it just means wrapping your pool in a conductive wire. However, you should also always check with your local ordinances to see how to exactly bond pools in your area.