As the weather gets warmer and we begin to excitedly anticipate the pool season, it’s a great time to begin getting ready for opening our pools. If you are a new or inexperienced pool owner, this can be a daunting task, but we have some vital info for how best to complete the process. Opening your pool before the warm weather days really kick in is essential, since warm, wet environments tend to allow algae to blossom, making a slimy unappealing mess of your pool, and requiring much more effort and expense to correct.
The first thing you should consider is that being adequately prepared and knowledgeable about the process is the most important step you can take. First, there are a few key things you will need to have on hand, such as:
- a leaf net
- telescopic pole
- pool brush
- skimmer head
- vacuum head
- vacuum hose
- water testing kit
- pH alkalinity and chlorine stabilizer
Make a list and gather all the necessary supplies – if you aren’t sure exactly what you need to purchase, consult your local pool supply store – they can be a valuable knowledge resource. Gather all the supplies in advance of the day you plan to open your pool so you can be sure everything is ready to go. Familiarize yourself with the process ahead of time, too. If there are any questions or concerns you may have it’s best to sort them out before hand rather than getting stuck mid-opening. If you are not comfortable with opening your pool yourself, it may be best to consult a profession pool cleaner – they can open your pool for you, even if you plan to do the cleaning and maintenance yourself, for a one time fee. This might be a learning opportunity for you as well.
While most professionals will recommend you never drain your pool for the winter unless you have no other choice, you will probably still need to add water to reach the appropriate level your pool requires. If you need to order water, be sure to do so well in advance of your opening day.
Step 1: Removing the Cover
Clear leaves any debris from the pool cover with a leaf net before removing it. Additionally, you may have had some water accumulate on the cover. If you have a solid cover, you’ll need to use a sump pump to drain off the excess water. If your cover has a hole in it, you may end up draining the water inside the pool – be vigilant to avoid this issue. Even after the cover is cleared off, it may still be very heavy, so an extra person may come in handy for this step. Once the cover has been removed, be sure to clean it thoroughly, allow it to dry, and store it appropriately to prevent any damage before the next closing.
Step 2: Reconnect and Turn On Pool Equipment
Next, you’ll need to reconnect all the equipment that was disconnected when you closed your pool for the off season, such as the pool filter, pump, heater, automatic pool cleaner, or any other equipment. First prime the pump, then start up your filtration system. Purge all air from the plumbing and equipment, being sure to release any built up pressure in the system prior to opening your filter, pump, or chemical feeder. Lubricate all o-rings, seals and other hardware with a silicone lubricant. If you have replaced any drain plugs with winterizing plugs, exchange them for the normal ones now. When the system is fully operable, you’ll also want to connect ladders, hand rails, diving board, and any similar accessories, and check them for any damage.
Step 3: Get It Clean
Remove any debris with your leaf net or rake. Brush the pool walls to remove any clinging dirt or debris. Use a pool vacuum to remove algae, sand, and dirt. Pool tile cleaner may be used if needed. Clean or replace all baskets and filters as necessary. Once you have brushed and vacuumed the pool, allow your filtration system to run overnight.
Step 4: Balance The Water
After the pool has been cleaned, and the water has circulated at least 8 hours, you’ll want to test the water chemistry. You may use a test kit and do it yourself, or you may choose to have your water tested by a local professional. Standard chlorine pool water should be adjusted to:
- Total Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm
- pH Level – 7.4 to 7.6
- Free Available Chlorine – 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
- Calcium Hardness – 200 to 400 ppm
- Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) – 30 to 50 ppm
Never add chemicals without testing, and knowing what you are doing, or you may damage or stain your pool. Follow manufacturer’s directions for shocking your pool, or consult a professional. Clean the filter daily until the pool water is clear. This can take up to a week. Test water chemistry daily and add chlorine as needed.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Your pool is sparkling clean and ready for a full season of enjoyment!