It’s been an especially long winter in some parts of the country, but most of us have finally seen the first days of spring – and for pool owners, that means summer is just around the corner. But before you can lean back by the edge of the water and soak in the sun, you’ll need to prep your pool first. Here’s how to open a pool.
How to Open a Pool
Most pools need to be winterized before it gets too cold and are opened back up once things start to warm up. But several months of disuse and drastic temperature changes call for a little tender loving care before you can dive right in.
Before we begin, we should remind you that safety should always come first. Pool chemicals lead to over 4,500 ER visits per year and shouldn’t be handled without safety gear. That means masks and gloves, people. These chemicals are designed to kill germs and are diluted over several thousand gallons of water. But when inhaled or in contact with direct skin, they can be deleterious to your health. Always put your health first.
If you’re worried about chemical contact or haven’t maintained your pool in a while, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little professional help. Pool pros will get your pool back into perfect shape in no time, without any danger to your health.
With that out of the way, let’s go over the steps necessary on how to open a pool as summer draws closer.
Step One: Essential Prep
The first thing you should do is make sure you’ve got your essentials prepped. This means grabbing your net, something to sweep with, a pool brush, some pool test strips, gloves and mask, the garden hose, safety goggles, and a pool cover cleaner.
Next, give the area around the pool a thorough check as well. Clear out debris around the poolside and remove low-hanging branches near or above the pool.
Step Two: Check Your Chemical Stock
If you haven’t touched your pool in weeks, let alone months, you’ll likely have to give it a detergent shock to clear out any contaminants, as well as utilize a few different chemicals to achieve the right water balance. Some common pool chemicals you’ll probably still have in stock include:
- Alkalinity increaser
- Metal sequestrant
- Pool soda ash or baking soda
- Muriatic acid
- Water clarifier
Check the labels on these chemicals to make sure they’re still potent and haven’t expired since the last time you’ve had to shock your pool.
Step Three: Clean the Cover, Remove It
Pool covers accumulate water, debris, and dirt over the months. You can use a broom and a wet vacuum (or special pool cover pump) to remove excess water and debris and wash your cover (after removing it) with a water hose and a pool cover cleaner, or car wash detergent. It is highly recommended to use a pool cover cleaner, to preserve the integrity of the material for as long as possible.
Step Four: Give the Pool a Once-Over
Skim the surface of the pool, vacuum the bottom (if it’s exceptionally dirty), and make sure to remove the winterization plugs that are usually installed just before the pool is covered. These include drain plugs from wall returns as well as surface skimmers.
Check the poolside filter, look for chips or cracks in the plaster around the deck or inside the pool, and remove excess scale with a steel brush or pumice stone. If you see minor cracks here and there, consider using a specialized pool putty to fix them. More severe cracks will require professional help and may potentially require you to drain your pool.
Step Five: Reinstall Your Pool Equipment
This means reinstalling your ladders and diving boards, giving all your screws and bolts a once-over to ensure they’re lubricated and free from severe corrosion, and checking the hinges on your board or slide.
Step Six: Refill Your Pool
Your pool likely lost some water over the last few weeks, even with the cover on. Pool covers don’t typically prevent evaporation. They’re just there to keep the dirt out.
When filling your pool up with water, consider using a filter on your garden hose. Municipal water can contain higher levels of certain metals, which may stain your pool walls and mess up your water balance. You can use a metal sequestrant to remove existing metal in the pool.
Step Seven: Check the Filter and Pump
Run the filter for about half a day before you start testing your water. Be sure to keep an eye on your filter pressure and clean it out if needed.
Vacuum your pool between pump sessions to remove most of the debris and dirt that settles at the bottom. Once your water begins to clear up, you can test it yourself, or bring a sample to a pool professional.
Step Eight: Check Your Water Balance
You can adjust these levels by adding pool chemicals as needed – if your water’s pH is too basic, add muriatic acid. If it’s too acidic, balance it out with soda ash.
Alkalinity is determined by the number of alkaline particles in the water, while calcium hardness needs to be balanced to avoid making the water too hard (causing scaling) or too soft (damaging the lining of the pool).
Chlorine levels need to be maintained to ensure that your pool remains algae-free. Since it’s the first time you’ve opened your pool up in weeks, you will want to shock it with a large amount of chlorine.
Step Nine: Enjoy Your Pool!
It might still be just a tad bit too cold to get right to swimming in some places, but if the weather suits you just fine as it is, you’re finally ready to enjoy your reopened swimming pool.
Still, it’s not a bad idea to call a pool professional to do a more thorough check of your pump and filter. There are a couple of simple telltale signs that a pump might need some special attention – like pressure fluctuations and inconsistencies, leaking, sputtering noises, and pump failure – and an experienced pool technician might be able to catch these issues before they get out of hand.