With the sun starting to beat down a little more each day and summer just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about opening up your pool.
There’s always a lot of excitement and anticipation ahead of opening your pool for the swimming season – but there’s also usually a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of dread.
You see, even though you did a great job winterizing your pool last fall when you had to close it down you never really know exactly how well everything took until you peel that cover back and have a look at the water below for yourself.
The odds are pretty good there’s going to be at least a little bit of dirt and debris, some leaves that need to be fished out, and some murkiness that needs to be addressed. You’ll also need to get your filter system up and running again, the right amount of chemicals mixed to shock your pool back into crystal-clear and perfectly clean water, and a handful of other things that need to be tackled as well.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide covering (just about) everything you need to know about opening your pool each year.
It’s Time to Get Your Pool Ready for the Season
Before you start to go through the physical process of opening your pool it’s important that you collect and gather all the tools, chemicals, and products you are going to use ahead of time.
This should only take a short while but it’s going to save you a lot of time moving forward. You’ll know that you have everything you need to open your pool on hand, and you’ll know where everything is when you need it – another huge timesaver.
For starters, you’ll want to make sure that you have a garden hose hooked up and ready to go close by. It’s also not a bad idea to have some PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) if you’re going to be dealing with heavy-duty chemicals. Each and every year there are thousands of pool owners – responsible pool owners – that find themselves in the emergency room because of issues stemming from the chemicals they use their pool.
Make sure that you are using safety gear and you’ll be able to cut down on these odds significantly.
On top of those two key things you’ll also want to make sure that you have the following the ready to go before you open your pool:
- Pool cover pump system
- A soft broom and skimmer net you can use to fish of dirt and debris
- A container for your winter cover
- A chemical kit designed to shock your dormant pool back into tip-top condition
- Gasket lubricants
- Thread seal plumbers tape patch up any leaks
- pH test strips to check your chemical balance
… And that should just about do it.
After you’ve gathered all of those things you’ll be ready to rock and roll!
Start with the Right Chemicals
Opening your pool always starts with you getting your hands on the right chemicals, a legitimate “startup kit” that includes everything you need to bring your dormant and winterized pool back to swimming conditions.
This usually means that you will need a bit of chlorine, a pH enhancer and pH decreaser product, something that can even out your alkalinity levels, something that can tackle calcium hardness issues, and a product specifically designed to sequester metals that might be floating in your water.
On top of those core chemicals, you are also going to want to make sure that you have a water clarifier product that “plays nicely” with the other chemicals you’ll be pumping into your pool to get it started for the summer.
If you are dealing with algae growth issues (which isn’t at all uncommon) it’s not a bad idea to make sure that you have algaecide ready to go, too.
Step By Step Opening Guide
Below we highlight pretty much everything you need to tackle when opening your pool in a real step-by-step kind of way.
As long as you move through this checklist (in order) you’ll be able to have your pool open in record time, ready to go with gorgeous water that is clean, crystal-clear, and healthy enough for swimming all season long.
Clean Off Your Pool Cover
The first thing you’ll want to do is clean off your winter pool cover, getting rid of any dirt and debris that might have accumulated on top of it.
You want to make sure that this stuff never makes it into your pool water and you don’t want to run the risk of it accidentally falling in as you roll up and remove your winter cover for the swimming season.
It’s also not a bad idea to use a pool cover pump to get rid of any of the water that might be standing on top of this cover. It makes quick work of real pain in the neck kind of issue and is a smart investment to make in your pool maintenance tools.
It’s likely that your winter pool cover is pretty thick, pretty durable, and pretty heavy duty so it’s not a bad idea to have at least a second set of hands close by to help you out. Carefully lay the cover out so that it has plenty of space to dry in the sun, fold it up after it is completely dry, and store it for the season.
Skim the Water
The next thing you want to do is skim your pool to get rid of anything that might have fallen into the water over the winter or after you have pulled the winter cover off.
You don’t have to go crazy with the skimmer net just yet (they’ll be plenty of time to really deep clean your pool all season long) but you do want to get rid of anything large that could run the risk of clogging your filtration system – a system that hasn’t run in a couple of months.
Pull Out Plugs and Winterized Gear
The next piece of the puzzle here is to get rid of any of the water plugs or ice compensator systems (and any other winterized gear, for that matter) that you have installed throughout your pool to keep it safe from freezing.
This is usually important for obvious reasons, but you’d be surprised at the number of people that forgot about the winterization they did to their pool a couple of months ago in their eagerness to get their pool back up and running ahead of the summer season.
Reinstall Your Ladders
Now is the perfect time to start reinstalling your swimming pool ladder, your diving board, any of your step rails, slides, and other fun little accessories that attach poolside.
All of these things would have been removed during the winterization process and are essential for using your pool and getting the most out of it. There’s no better time than now to get them back into the water.
Add Your Water
It’s likely that you have lost at least a little bit of water over the winter a while your pool was dormant, though it’s probably just a few inches (but sometimes even more than that).
This is the time to bring your water level back up to where you wanted to be all year round. You want to make sure to knock this out before you start to add any of your chemicals, as adding more freshwater to the mix afterward would require you to rebalance and re-shock the system.
If you’re using a garden hose to fill your swimming pool be sure that you have a filter stuck on the end of it. This guarantees that metals and contaminants aren’t going to find their way into your swimming pool.
Run the Filters and Pumps
This is where you’ll want to reinstall your water pump and your water filter systems that were removed during the winterization process, firing them up for the first time this season after lubricating everything and sealing any threads that needed to be touched up.
Double Check for Heavy Metals
It sounds a little bit backward at first, but the number of heavy metals that found their way into your swimming pool water may have actually increased over the winter just because of melting snow and ice, runoff, and the extra water that it may have dumped into your pool.
Make sure that you double-check your heavy metal content and add any metal sequestrant necessary before moving forward.
Balance Out Your Pool with a Shock
A pH strip dipped into your pool water right now is going to tell you exactly what you need to do ahead of the summer season.
You’ll know exactly what chemicals (as well as how much of each) you need to add based on this pH reading. You’ll want to adjust the alkalinity of the water before you do anything else, moving next to the pH, and then finally taking care of calcium hardness throughout your swimming pool.
Shock systems designed to be used at the beginning of the pool opening season are very easy to come by and can shortcut the process pretty quickly. They are definitely worth investing in.
Scrub and Vacuum
Right now is the perfect time to start brushing and vacuuming your pool, especially since it’s going to take at least a couple of days for the chemical shock to subside and for your pool water to be ready to go.
It’s never easy to sit around and watch as your swimming pool looks just about to open – but not quite ready – during this period of time, but getting a bit of vacuuming and scrubbing and will guarantee that when you take the first swim the water is as good as it gets!