We used to get commercial pool cleaning Mesa AZ (http://www.davispoolservice.com/) when we had a pool and although I can't tell you an exact price, I remember it not being too bad. It's worth it to have it professionally cleaned especially if your kids are going to be spending a lot of time in it all summer.
Although I have never had an above ground pool--only in ground ones, I have had a sand pump before and frankly didn't like it at all! I could never figure out how to backwash it to clean the sand and I don't think it did as good a job as a regular filter one. That being said, in an in ground pool, there is a hole in the skimmer that leads to the pipes going to the filtration system. Stick your pool vaccume hose in there and put the other end at the bottom of the pool and it will continue to drain the pool.
Quoting lovemy2boys87:We have a sand pump and it should drain out all of the water but it stops draining when it gets below the skimmer. Our pool is a 24x4 metal frame.
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