How to Install An A. G. Pool Water Return Correctly

Pool Return above ground
water return

You must maintain good circulation in an above-ground pool. To do this, the skimmer, return, hoses, valves should not have any significant leaks.

After watching many YouTube videos, I’ve noticed that there isn’t any easy way video showing us how to install a simple water return.

It’s not rocket science, and people, including many so-called experienced installers, get this one wrong. Let me explain how a simple above-ground pool water return gets installed.

Tools you will need:

Rustoleum Clear rust spray
Sharp Utility knife
Large Channel Lock Pliers

1st Step to Installing a Water Return

Tools Needed

Above-ground pool walls come in one continuous piece of corrugated metal. They get treated with metal protectants (Hot-Dipped). They are then stamp-cut to the length needed for a particular diameter pool.

The last process is stamping, cutting the skimmer, and water return holes. The wall is tightly rolled and shipped to its destination.

Notice how I said that the skimmer and return holes get stamped last. They are shipped with exposed metal where the gaskets will be attached.

So the first thing you do as an installer before installing the wall. Spray some protectant (Rustoleum metal clear) on the exposed metal at the skimmer opening as well as the water return opening. Do this a couple of times. This will prevent water from touching this exposed metal. Over time this can create a rusty

2nd Step

Make sure enough water is in the pool. You need enough water in the pool before you can cut in skimmer and water return. Preferably 1/3 full. Please note: Experienced installers can do this with less as they have developed fail-safe methods. If this is the first-time installer, please fill the pool halfway.

I will go over the water return and explain the skimmer in another post/video.

Two people are needed to install the water return—one inside the pool and one outside. The large nut and gaskets are removed from the return body.

The person inside gets the primary return and places a rubber gasket on it before inserting the return through the opening, before putting the assembly through to the outside.

The person on the outside cuts the liner with a sharp blade. You do not cut liner with an X. You are to cut the circle out as you see it. A Sharpe knife does an excellent job.

The inside person slides assembly through the cut opening with the rubber gasket touching the liner.

The person on the outside places a rubber gasket and a corked gasket if your water return assembly has a cork gasket. Rubber always goes against the metal surface.

The inside person holds tightly while the outside-person hand tightens the large nut. When hand tightening is done, large channel lock pliers are used to tighten the large nut a 1/3rd to 1/2 turn more. Do not overtighten. It’s resin plastic and could crack.

The person inside makes sure the eyeball mechanism is pointing in the right direction. Return hose is clamped on, and it’s just a waiting game until the pool is filled and pool return is checked for leaks.

Installing a pool return is an easy job. However, I see many of the same mistakes over and over. The biggest is when the outside person makes an x-cut in liner, pushing through the return. The outside person cuts against the threads of the return.

This can damage the threads, and it could also leave extra liner material that gets caught in the threads. When tightened, the extra liner creates an area where leaking occurs.

Other Facts About Above-Ground Pool Walls

Approximate wall lengths of Sharkline Above-ground pools

Pool Size Round Wall length ftPool Size OvalWall length ft
AG Pool Wall Lengths

As you can see, the rounds and ovals can share the same wall length. The manufacturer creates a few wall lengths instead of every diameter having a different length.

A not-so-fun fact about wall lengths and different manufacturers is different companies produce different wall lengths for the same diameter pools.

For example, you need to replace your 24ft round pool and buy a 24ft round pool from a different place than your original purchase. The new wall is longer or shorter.

So the new pool wall doesn’t line up for an easy installation. Especially if you have a deck and think that you got a 24ft round, it will be OK. It is essential to understand that even if you purchase the same diameter pool as your last one, you’ll still have issues with installation.

Always seek a professional installation contractor because internet salespeople will not let you know this fact.

Semi-In Ground Pool Wall facts

These are slat wall pools. The wall is thick aluminum slats that are tongue and grooved to slide together. The pool skimmer and water returns are treated at the factory. No on-site treatment is necessary with a slat wall pool. These types of pools can also be buried in the ground halfway.

Check out the Excursion aluminum slat wall from Wilbar. I’ve installed hundreds of these style pools. They are one of the longest-lasting pools on the market.

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