How to Open a Pool
Spring is in full bloom and Memorial Day is right around the corner. For many pool owners across the country, this means it’s time to start getting the pool ready for the summer swim season. If you properly closed your pool for winter, opening your pool should be an easy process. Follow these instructions for how to open a pool for summer and ensure a great season of swimming fun.
1. Check your chemicals.
Before you open your pool, it is recommended that you take inventory of the pool chemicals you currently have on hand to see what supplies you’ll need to purchase. (This will also eliminate the hassle of taking multiple trips to the pool supply store.) Any pool chemicals that have expired or were not completely sealed should be properly disposed of and replaced. Also check the amount of product available in the remaining containers to see if you’ll need additional supplies.
2. Clean the pool cover and deck.
Before removing the pool cover, clean the deck area to prevent debris from being swept into the swimming pool; this also gives you an area for preparing the pool cover for storage without the worry of scattered twigs and stones causing punctures, advises Thomas Cal Brown, executive vice president of Aquatech, a society of pool-building professionals.
If you have a solid vinyl pool cover, remove any leaves and debris from the cover with a pool rake or leaf net. This prevents any extra debris from entering the pool, which you’ll eventually have to vacuum out. Once most of the debris is gone, use a submersible cover pump to remove as much standing water as possible. When using the cover pump, don’t place the pump near or over any seams of the cover--this will cause water to drain from the inside the pool.
3. Remove and store the pool cover.
Remove the pool cover and lay it out in an open area such as a deck, patio, or driveway. Sweep or brush off any remaining debris and then use a mild detergent to clean the cover. Let the cover air-dry completely before rolling up or folding for storage to prevent mildew and deterioration.
Be sure to keep the cover stored in a dry place away from insects and moisture.
4. Inspect the pool.
If you have a vinyl-lined pool, check for tears or washouts; these can occur when groundwater erodes the sand under the pool’s vinyl floor and causes the liner to rest on sharp rocks and stones. Any small tears can be repaired using a patch kit (available at your local pool supply store). Consult the pool’s manufacturer or a local swimming pool maintenance company for any damage that you’re unsure how to repair.
For concrete and fiberglass pools, look for cracks in the waterline tile, chips in the plaster, or depressions in the pool decking or coping. Some minor repairs can be made yourself following the advice of a pool professional; more serious defects should be left to the experts.
5. Remove the plugs.
Remove expansion or freeze plugs from all of the water inlets. If your pool equipment was winterized with antifreeze, you’ll need to lower the water level in the pool until it’s below the inlets. Then remove the plugs and drain the antifreeze into a bucket.
6. Reinstall skimmer baskets and fittings.
Remove the winter plate (if used) from the skimmer box and reinstall the skimmer. Hook up any hoses from the skimmer and return jets that lead to the pump and filter. Make sure all fittings are clean and tight.
7. Reconnect the equipment and plumbing.
Reconnect the filter, pump (if you removed it), and heater (if you have one) and inspect them for signs of wear or rust. If anything needs to be repaired or replaced, do so at this time. Remove the top of the filter and check that your filter media (sand, diatomaceous earth, or cartridge) are in good condition and clean. Make sure all valves are open and fill the pump with water so it primes properly.
Also check O-rings and gaskets for damage and make sure all have been lubricated
8. Fill the pool.
Grab your garden hose and add water until the water level reaches midpoint on the waterline tile or the middle of the skimmer opening to allow for proper circulation. While you’re waiting for the pool to fill, skim out any leaves, twigs, and debris, and remove any debris from the leaf basket. Re-attach any equipment such as ladders, rails, diving boards, etc. This is also a good time to remove any scale from the pool tile.
9. Start the filtration system and vacuum the pool.
Turn on the power to the pool system (you may need to turn on the circuit breaker if your pool was winterized). Following manufacturers' instructions, start the pump and filter system. Look for leaks, split hoses, and cracks. If some pieces of equipment are damaged or not operating properly, turn off the power and contact a service technician for any repairs.
Once everything is in working order, hook up your vacuum (pool cleaner) and vacuum/ sweep the entire pool and clean the walls with a wall brush.
10. Test the water.
Allow the pool water to circulate 24 – 48 hours to mix up the old and new water. Then test the water chemistry following the instructions on your pool water test kit. To ensure proper analysis, it is recommended that you bring a water sample to a local pool professional, who will provide you with instructions for balancing your pool water.
For pools with a mesh cover, it is recommended that you add two or three gallons of liquid shock to the water about two weeks before you plan to open the pool to ensure good water clarity since these covers allow debris and sunlight to get through to the water which can lead to an algae bloom. It is also best to open your pool early (late April, early May) to avoid strong sunlight and temperatures above 80 degrees which can quickly turn the water into a green “swampy” mess.
11. Run the filtration system until the water is clean.
Continue to run the filter until the water begins to clear (it may take several days). During the first few days, it may be necessary to backwash sand and D.E. filters a few times or clean your cartridge filter, depending on how dirty the water was when you started. After the filter has run for a few days, test the water again to ensure it is properly balanced. Chemical levels should be as follows:
pH: 7.2 – 7.6
Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm ( for unstabilized chlorine); 100 – 120 ppm (for stabilized chlorine, chlorine gas, or bromine)
Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400 ppm
Chlorine: 1 – 3 ppm
Bromine: 1 – 3 ppm
Cyanuric Acid: 25 – 50 ppm
Once the water is properly balanced, you’re ready for the final step…
12. Jump in!
REMEMBER: Routine maintenance is essential to retaining a beautiful pool all summer long. Check out our Pool Maintenance Guide for tips on keeping your pool clean and healthy.
Photo courtesy of APSP; Vernon Poolman