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How to remove and clean your pool handrails or ladders.

You may have noticed your handrails or ladders corroding or rusting. While these may be made from stainless steel, there is no such thing as "stainless" steel, only various grades of steel. All steels can rust or stain depending on what chemicals they come in contact with. The stainless steel grades used in pool rails and ladders are fairly impervious to pool water that is in balance. However, unbalanced water chemistry and some other causes (poor electrical grounding, pouring chemicals near the rails, etc.) can stain or rust.
  1. Step 1

    To clean your rails or ladders you must first remove them from the pool. They are wedged in sockets called deck anchors. By lifting up the escutcheon plates-the decorative circles around the rail/ladder where it goes into the deck-you will see the bolt that raises the anchoring wedge. Using a wrench, you can unscrew this bolt about a half an inch. You may then need to knock down the bolt to drive the anchoring wedge down, freeing the rail/ladder. You now should be able to lift the rail or ladder up and out of its sockets. If the rail/ladder is stuck, you can use a rubber mallet or similar tool to bang the rail just above the deck to break it free.

  2. Step 2

    If the handrail/ladder still will not come out and you are sure the wedge is knocked down, you can try using a car jack to get the rail out. By putting the jack under the hooked part of the rail (you may need to use a short piece of 2 x 4 to reach), you can apply force upward. Be careful not to jack it too hard as you can deform the rail or bend it. Try lifting the jack just enough to apply pressure and hitting on the rail just above the anchor with your rubber mallet. In most cases this will free the rail.

    Occasionally, you may come across a rail that will not come out, even with light pressure from a jack. The rail has probably corroded to the anchor, and you may have to distort or destroy the rail to get it out. You will have to determine if replacing the rail and/or the deck anchor is worth it at this point.

  3. Step 3

    Now that you have removed the handrail/ladder you can clean it. The best cleaner for this is Naval Jelly®. Use a plastic scouring pad (not steel because it scratches the rail) to scrub with. You may want to disassemble a ladder to make cleaning easier. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning to remove all risidual chemical from the rails. Note: If you can't find Naval Jelly at your local hardware store, try using Coca Cola®.

  4. Step 4

    Now that you have cleaned them well, you can apply some car wax to them if you like. This will help protect them from the elements longer. If you close up your pool for the winter, this is an ideal time to remove and clean your handrails and ladders. By cleaning them, you will maintain that new look much longer.

How to Install In-Ground Pool Ladders

Installing an in-ground pool ladder adds a safety feature to the deep end of your pool. Pool owners often remove ladders during the winter to prevent damage to the metal railings as well as the pool. This do-it-yourself job can be accomplished alone in a short amount of time or even faster with a helper.
  1. Step 1
    Ladder cup in pool deck
    Ladder cup in pool deck

    Clean out the ladder cups in your pool deck with a high-pressure spray of water. Over the winter, dirt, leaves and grime accumulate inside these holes. Failure to clean out the ladder cups will prevent installation of the ladder. Watch out for flying debris that can be quite smelly from decomposition.

  2. Step 2

    Insert the ladder bumpers onto the bottom edges of the ladder railing. Ladder bumpers look like a rubberized cork and help protect pool liners or concrete siding from damage as the ladder moves.

  3. Step 3

    Place the ladder wedge inside each ladder cup on the pool deck. Insert the socket and loosen the wedge with a counter-clockwise turn so it lies flush against the outside edge of the cup. When tightened, the wedge holds the ladder firmly in place to prevent slippage.

  4. Step 4
    Ladder cup covers
    Ladder cup covers

    Slide the ladder carefully into the water, making sure the bumpers don't fall off into the pool. Installation works best if you stand between the ladder rails and slowly slide the ladder bumpers against the side of the pool. Slide the ladder covers up the exterior rails to keep them out of the way.

  5. Step 5

    Insert the exterior ladder posts into the ladder cups in your pool decking. Wiggle the ladder until the rails slide completely into the cups with very little play. Rails should be positioned inside the wedges to allow for tightening of the bolts.

  6. Step 6

    Attach the socket to the wrench and tighten down the bolts inside the ladder wedges in a clockwise motion. It comes in handy to have a helper to hold the plastic ladder covers out of the way when tightening the bolts. Tighten both sides completely and position the ladder cup covers to hide the point where the ladder meets the deck.

  7. Step 7

    Test the ladder to assure complete and proper installation.

How to Choose a Pool Ladder

Choosing a Ladder for an Above Ground Pool
  1. Step 1

    Measure the distance from the ground to the top edge of the pool in the area that you want to place the ladder.

  2. Step 2

    Decide which type of ladder to purchase. Ladder style steps or staircase style steps? Free-standing or installed on a deck? Stainless steel or plastic?

  3. Step 3

    Purchase a ladder that is no more than 1 foot higher than the pool edge. A ladder that is too high is a safety concern and can tip.

  4. Choosing a Ladder for an In-Ground Pool

  5. Step 1

    Determine if your pool was built with ladder anchors. For pools without ladder anchors, go to Step 4.

  6. Step 2

    Measure the distance between ladder anchors to determine how wide the ladder should be. Average pool ladders are around 18 inches wide.

  7. Step 3

    Measure the distance from the top of the pool to the bottom of the pool. Purchase a ladder that will fit within this dimension and provide a comfortable step out of the water.

  8. Step 4

    For pools without ladder anchors, purchase a drop-in staircase ladder.