Opening Your Pool

Opening your backyard swimming pool for the season takes more than just filling it up and jumping in. You have to know the importance of opening a pool correctly, for the health of the swimmers and the longevity of the pool. 

If you properly closed your pool for winter, opening your pool should be an easy process. Here's your eleven-step guide to getting ready for lazy summer afternoons in your pool.

1. Check your CHEMICALS

Before opening your pool, we recommend checking what pool chemicals you currently have on hand and what ones you’ll need to purchase. Any pool chemicals that have expired or were not completely sealed over the winter should be properly disposed of and replaced.

2. Don’t empty YOUR POOL
Unless you need to do structural work, never empty your swimming pool (yes, even if you live in a really cold climate)! No really, we mean it. That's because draining the pool can bring big problems. For example, an empty pool in a high water table can lift out of the ground without the weight of the water holding it down.

When you empty a pool in a high water table, it's very possible that the pool will pop out of the ground like a boat, which could mean a complete pool replacement.

3. Clean IT UP
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.

Next, start the process of bringing your pool up to shape with a "chemical open." Put the filtration system together, clean out all the baskets, and remove any plugs that you put in when the pool was closed last year. For now, leave the cover on the pool while you're working on it.

4. Remove and store THE POOL COVER
Only when the water is clear and you can see the pool floor should you remove the cover. Remove the cover too soon and you'll end up with more leaves and pollen and debris to clean out.

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. Make sure the cover is completely air-dry before rolling up or folding for storage. This will prevent mildew and deterioration. Be sure to keep the cover stored in a dry place away from insects and moisture.

5. Inspect THE POOL
If you have a vinyl-lined pool, check for tears or washouts. Any small tears can be repaired using a patch kit. For concrete and fiberglass pools, look for cracks in the waterline tile, chips in the plaster, or depressions in the pool decking or coping. If there is any damage that you’re unsure how to repair, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Some minor repairs can be made yourself; however, more serious defects should be left to the experts.

6. Top IT OFF
If the water level has fallen over the winter, top it off. Make sure to clean the filter before you turn it on. Clean a cartridge filter by removing the cartridge and wash with a hose. If you have a sand filter, set the filter to backwash, which will clean the sand. Then turn it to the normal setting.

7. 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.

8. Start the filtration system & VACUUM THE POOL
Turn on the power to the pool system and 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.

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 usually recommended that you bring a water sample to a local pool professional, who will provide you with instructions for balancing your pool water. However, we understand that may not be possible due to the current pandemic. 

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.

10. 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). After the filter has run for a few days, test the water again to ensure it is properly balanced.

Now time for some chemistry..

PH levels between 7.2 to 7.4.
The pH level dictates how much chlorine turns into hypochlorous acid in the water. Use soda ash to increase pH; muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate to decrease.

Total alkalinity from 80 to 120.
Alkalinity is a pH buffer—pH levels will be consistent if the alkalinity level is correct. Use sodium bicarbonate to increase alkalinity, muriatic acid to decrease it.

Calcium hardness from 150 ppm to 250 ppm (parts per million).
This is directly dependent on the hardness of the water. The softer the water, the more calcium it will absorb from its environment. Adjust the calcium hardness by using calcium chloride.

Chlorine from 1 ppm to 3 ppm.
A popular product for backyard in-ground pools is cyanuric based tablets (the ones that look like large white hockey pucks). Cyanuric acid inhibits the sun's ability to burn off chlorine. It's like a sunscreen for the water.

You can put the tablets in your skimmer baskets, but their low acid content means they'll eat metal—a problem if your pool has a metal filter system or a heater with a copper heat exchanger. You can get a plastic chlorinator, which attaches to the filter system. Get a pro to hook this up.

Once the water is properly balanced, you can see the pool floor and you have stored the pool cover, you’re ready for the final step…

11. Jump in!

Now, remember to maintain! For the rest of the season, keep the filter clean, vacuum the pool each week, and test the chemical levels every day. We also recommend having a pro test the water once a month.

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