Have you ever tried to remove your pool ladder? Although they look bolted in and stuck in there, pool ladders are often pretty easy to unfasten!
Above-ground pool ladders are much easier to remove than inground pool ladders. In-ground pool ladders can sometimes pose unique challenges that may require some creativity in removing.
In this article, we’ll be covering how to remove an in-ground pool ladder in normal conditions and even if it’s stuck. We’ll also be answering some questions that may be on your mind.
Before we get to the actual process, it’s important to take a few precautions to minimize accidents.
First of all, you should know that the whole deal can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours depending on a few factors. Therefore, you must make sure that you have some free time to do the job with no hiccups.
Second off, the perfect time to remove your pool ladder is when you’re closing the pool for the season, usually before winter.
Do it when the weather is still a bit warm so that the ladder can easily come out. You definitely don’t want to remove your ladder when it’s frozen stuck!
Another reason to avoid removing the ladder during the winter is that it’ll be much more dangerous because the risks of slipping will be higher.
Plus, when uninstalling your ladder, you need to make sure that the pool area is completely dry to avoid the risk of slipping and hurting yourself. To boost your safety even further, we recommend wearing shoes with a hard grip to avoid falling.
What You’ll Need
The things needed for this process are basic tools you’ll find in most households. There are just three main tools:
- Rubber mallet
- Sponges and rags
- Carjack (optional)
Step 1: Drain Your Pool
Depending on your pool closing process, the first thing you may want to do before getting started is to drain your pool so that you can get to work with no interruptions or risks of slipping.
It’s best to also clean the surrounding area since build-up and debris can make the process harder by getting in the way.
You can use a pressure washer for a faster effect or simply use household sponges and rags to manually clean the area. A power washer can be a little more expensive, so if you’re on a budget, you may want to opt for the manual option.
If you’re removing your pool ladder, then you’re probably not planning on using your pool for a while. So, draining and cleaning the pool should be already on your to-do list!
Step 2: Unfasten the Ladder
At the points where the ladder goes into the ground or pool deck, there are escutcheon plates. Slide those plates upwards to reveal the bolts and anchor socket.
Then, it’s time to whip out your wrench –a socket wrench is especially useful. Unscrew the bolts until they’re around half an inch free from the ground.
Once you do this, you should see the hole that sits underneath the bolts.
Give the bolts a small whack with a mallet to knock them downwards. This should release the tension being applied by the anchor wedge that’s hidden inside the anchor socket.
The anchor wedge is a triangle-shaped metallic piece that holds the pool ladder firmly in place using the bolt. You probably won’t be able to see the wedge until the ladder has been removed from the sleeves.
You can determine if you’ve loosened the bolt enough once the ladder post can be wiggled or lifted from the anchor sleeve.
Once one side of the ladder is loose, repeat the same series of steps on the other side.
If you’re having a hard time freeing the ladder from the wedge or anchor socket, this means that the ladder is stuck. Try not to strain your back wrestling the ladder free! We have a few extra steps on how to remove the stubborn ladder without physical strain, which we’ll discuss later on.
Step 3: Remove the Ladder
After you’ve loosened the ladder in the anchor socket, pull upwards to remove it from the deck and the pool. A few whacks at the base of the ladder with a rubber mallet may help loosen it further, especially if you’ve had it in the pool for a while.
This step can be the riskiest just because you might struggle a bit to remove the ladder, so it’s important to maintain steady balance so that you don’t slip.
After the ladder is removed, it’s often worth removing the anchor wedges and bolts from the socket so that they’re not exposed to the winter weather elements. You can store these in a bag alongside all of your other pool parts (e.g., skimmer baskets, plugs, etc) so that they’re easy to find when you open the pool up next year.
How to Remove a Stuck Pool Ladder
Let’s say you couldn’t get past step two because you weren’t able to loosen the ladder from the wedges and socket. Does that mean removing that pool ladder is impossible? Absolutely not!
The process just requires a few extra steps to fully remove the ladder. You’ll follow the same steps we’ve reached so far until the point at which you can’t free the ladder from the wedges.
If that’s the case with you, you’ll need that carjack we mentioned before, so get it ready!
Why Is It Stuck?
Before we get to the extra steps, it’s important to know why the ladder is stuck in the first place to try and prevent it from happening next season.
See, ladders usually get stuck into the pool when they’re corroded. Even though many pool ladders are made of stainless steel, they are still susceptible to corrosion. Saltwater, chlorine and other pool chemicals can corrode the pool ladder over time.
A good tip to remove rust from the ladder is by soaking it in a paste of baking soda and powdered cleanser then rubbing off a new layer with a nylon scrubber. A coating of wax paste at the base of the ladder can help keep it like new!
The ladder may also be stuck due to mineral deposits –such as calcium— that have accumulated over the course of the swim season. Acidic cleaners, such as lemon juice, vinegar or other commercial products can help remove the mineral deposits.
Other times if the ladder is stuck, it may mean that the ladder posts have become dented or deformed from their original cylindrical shape. You can attempt re-bend the ladder back to original form so that it fits better in the sleeve, however, in severe cases the ladder may just need to be replaced altogether.
Step 4: Use the Carjack to Try to Move the Stuck Ladder
In order to remove a stuck ladder, try using a carjack. Afterall, if a carjack can lift a car, it’s surely strong enough to lift a ladder from the ground!
Place the carjack under the curved portion of the ladder. If the distance between the jack and the ladder is too large, you may need to elevate the jack with wood or other solid material.
To avoid damaging the ladder, you may want to place a cloth between the jack and the ladder.
After the jack is in place, turn the jack bolt clockwise to elevate it upwards towards the ladder. Doing so should start to unbudge that side of the ladder. Repeat with the other side of the ladder.
When raising the jack, perform it with steadiness and moderation because if you do it too quickly, you might bend the ladder which will make the job harder.
The ladder is not too strong so bending it can be a lot easier than you think. A good tip to prep the ladder is to go back in with the mallet to loosen it up a bit.
With the combination of using the mallet and the car jack, you should most definitely be able to remove the ladder. Just keep going back and forth between both to slowly loosen the ladder and be able to lift it off the ground.
If you’re still not able to remove it, it may be due to corrosion that has bridged the ladder to the anchor sleeve. It’s worth trying to use some mineral deposit removers, or a penetrating anti-seize product at the ladder base. Allow ample time for the products to take effect before then trying to use the carjack again.
If all else fails, it may be best advised to call in a professional since it could require special equipment to break the ladder free.
Step 5: Clean or Replace the Ladder
If your ladder was stuck and you managed to get it out, you must take steps to keep it from getting stuck again.
The cheapest route is to clean the base of the ladder along with the anchor sleeve and wedge. Mechnical removal with steel wool is a good first step. A mineral deposit remover can also be an effective means.
Once mineral deposits and corrosion has been cleaned from the ladder, apply a wax paste or other protective coating to help prevent recurrence.
If you decide not to clean up the ladder before reinstallation next season, it could become even harder to remove next time. You might even need to call in for a professional.
Alternatively, if you’re ladder has become deformed beyond salvation or you’d rather not deal with removing the corrosion, it may be worth investing in a new ladder.
Pool Rail Removal
Your in-ground pool likely has rails that can assist when entering/exiting at the stairs. Similar to the ladder, these rails are often constructed of stainless steel.
The rails are typically installed in similar manner as the pool ladder, using anchor wedges, sleeves and bolts. This means you can follow similar steps as when you remove the ladder!
What if there’s dirt in the hole of the pool ladder?
Sometimes, you can save yourself a professional’s visit if the ladder is stuck in the hole because the dirt is the reason you can’t remove the ladder.
If you see packed dirt in the hole, avoid using the mallet to loosen the ladder. The mallet will cause the dirt to pack in tighter.
Instead, use a small screwdriver to scrape out most of the dirt. After doing so, use a hose to get rid of the excess dirt. This should create a hole from which the ladder can easily come out.
What if the ladder Is frozen and stuck?
If winter has already come and you live in a snowy state, chances are the ladder is frozen stuck.
In this case, the best thing to do is just wait it out. It’s possible to get it removed professionally. However, there’s risk of damaging the pool during this process.
So, just wait until spring sets in and for the ice to melt. Then, you can inspect the ladder for any damage, and replace if needed.
At the end of next swim season, remember to remove the ladder before winter kicks in to avoid it happening again!
Where should you store the ladder during winter?
Once the ladder is removed, it’s best to store it in a dry location during the winter months.
A shed or garage are great spots if you have room for the ladder.
Otherwise, it’s OK to store the ladder outside, but it’s recommended that you cover it with a tarp to help keep it dry while it’s out of the pool.
Now that you know how to remove your pool ladder, you must be blown away by how straightforward the task is!
By following the three to five easy steps we’ve mentioned once a year, preparing your pool for the next season won’t seem like an intimidating chore.
Some things that can make removing a pool ladder easier, in the long run, include keeping your ladder free of build-up and corrosion. Preventative care goes a long way keeping the ladder from getting stuck.
Remember, work smarter not harder when removing the ladder –brute force should not be needed. Grab a mallet and carjack to help if you find the ladder stuck.
Worst-case, you can always call the local pool shop to see if they can offer assistance in removing a stuck ladder!
Next season when it’s time to re-install the ladder, ensure to take the necessary steps to protect your liner from the ladder.
Happy Pool Closing!
Husband and father of three (actually, four if you include the pool). I’m an avid DIY-er and weekend warrior that enjoys taking up new projects around the house to help us maximize leisure right at home. I enjoy researching and sharing various tips, tricks and knowledge to help others make their home an oasis.