10 Steps to Opening Your In-Ground Swimming Pool
Before we begin, please ensure that you have the following items pool side:
- Pool Cover Pump, Alan Key, & Pool Cover Removal Tool
- Soft Broom & Pool Brush
- Pool Cover Cleaner
- Pool Shock & Chemical Start-Up Chemical Kit
- Pool Gasket Lubricant
- Thread Seal Tape
- Skimmer Net on a Telescopic Pole
- Garden Hose
- Test Strips or Dye Test Kit
- Recommended Start-Up Chemicals – Depending on the results of your water test you may need additional chemicals
- PH Increaser
- PH Decreaser
- Alkalinity Increaser
- Calcium Hardness Increaser
- Metal Sequestrant
- Water Clarifier
Step 1 - Remove Pool Cover:
Tarp Style: If you use a tarp style pool cover you are going to want to start by using a soft broom to remove any leaves or large debris from the cover before using the cover pump to get rid of any excess water. Some cover pumps will suck up debris and just about anything else that gets in their way while others may pump slower. Be sure to know the capabilities of your cover pump to prevent it from being over worked. You can now remove the water bags from around the pool that anchor down the cover before pulling the cover up to the pool deck. Lastly, you can spray down the top of the cover with a garden hose and drain the water bags, so that they can be stored.
Tip: Allow cover and water bags to dry completely before storing.
Safety Cover: Start by using your soft brush to remove as much debris from the top of the cover as possible. Next, use the safety cover removal tool to unhook the springs from the anchors around the pool deck. Once all the springs have been unhooked, using your Alan Key screw down the deck anchors so that they are flush with ground. You can then pull the cover off of the pool and spread it out flat. This is a good time to inspect your cover to see how it fared over the winter. If it’s damaged, now’s the time to replace your pool cover so you have a new one waiting for you when you close your pool after the season. Not to mention, if it’s beyond help, you can skip the pool cover cleaning and storing. Win-win! For small rips and tares the cover can be repaired by using a safety cover patch. If your cover is still in good condition apply pool cover cleaner to the top of the spread out cover and use your soft broom to scrub it gently. Avoid using any abrasive or sharp tools or harsh chemical cleaners, which could destroy your pool cover. Rinse away all of the cover cleaner. Dry the cover with a towel or leaf blower before folding it up again. Store the cover inside a storage bag or heavy-duty container with a lid.
Important: Do not store your pool cover on the ground or the floor of your shed or garage. That’s just an invitation for bugs, rodents, and other pests to make their home in it over the summer. Then, when it comes time to close your pool, you’ll be buying a new cover.
Step 2 - Skim the Pool: Use your skimmer to grab anything that fell from your cover during removal and any large debris that could clog your filtration system when you turn it back on. You’ll be doing more cleaning later, but getting all the big stuff out now will make all the other cleaning you do easier.
Step 3 - Remove Plugs: When you closed your inground swimming pool for the winter, you blew out the pipes and installed winterizing plugs to prevent water from getting back into them and freezing. (You did do that, right?) You’ll need to walk around the pool and remove all those plugs.
You should see some bubbles as the pool water flows back into the pipes. This is normal.
Step 4 - Reinstall Pool Accessories:
Reinstall all the items you removed at the end of pool season (ladders, diving boards, steps rails, slides)
Tip: This is a good time to lubricate bolts and grease your diving boards hinges.
Step 5 - Add Water:
You’ve probably lost a few inches of water over the season, even with a winter cover on your pool. While the cover does offer some protection from evaporation, its main purpose it to keep things out of your pool—not really to keep the water in it.
Bring your water level up to normal now to avoid needing to balance your water chemistry twice in this process. Water first, chemicals and filtering after. Be sure to use a hose filter to prevent metals and other contaminants from getting into your pool.
Step 6 - Set up and Run Your Filter and Pump: Reinstall the drain plugs in your pump and filter using thread seal tape. Lubricate any O-rings with pool gasket lubricant to protect them.
Use the same lubricant on your pump housing O-ring. If you see any cracks in that O-ring, replace it immediately to avoid sucking air into your pump. Your pool heater and chlorinator, if you have them, also have drain plugs.
Next, open your return side valves to be sure the water being pulled into your pump has somewhere to go. If you have a multiport valve, turn the handle to waste, and replace the air bleeder, sight glass, and pressure gauge.
Flip your circuit breaker on and then turn on your pump. Once water is flowing through, your pump is primed. Take a look at your filter. Wash or replace it, if necessary. Switch your multiport valve to filter.
If you used antifreeze when you closed your pool, this process will expel from the lines. Most of it will come out while the valve is turned to waste, but a little of it may still make it into your pool water. Don’t be concerned. The antifreeze made for pools is non-toxic, and the rest of it will be filtered out in subsequent filtering cycles.
Tip: If your pressure gauge shows a sudden spike, shut off your pump immediately. Check to make sure nothing is impeding water flow through your system. If necessary, you can prime the pool pump again.
Step 7 - Turn That Heavy Metal Down:
It might seem counterintuitive, but while your pool water sat stagnant through the winter, metal levels may have increased.
You also probably just topped off your pool with tap water. We hope you used a hose filter to help keep those minerals out of your pool. But to avoid the staining and buildup caused by any metal in your pool water, add a metal sequestrant. This helps prevent staining by removing iron, calcium, manganese, copper and other metals from your pool water. Also helps protect plumbing and pool walls from rust, stain, and scale. Used for all pool openings and closings.
Step 8 - Balance the Water:
Though you may use your usual test strips, may want to run a water sample over to your pool supply store when you open your swimming pool for the season. This will give you an accurate baseline to work from for the rest of the season.
Once you know what needs adjusting, start balancing your water. Remember, basic pool chemistry tells you to adjust alkalinity first, then pH, and finally calcium hardness. Avoid adding any chemicals you don’t need.
Step 9 - Brush and Vacuum the Pool:
You don’t have to brush your pool at this point, but it can help to head off algae problems while helping your pool shock be more effective. If you’ve got the time, brush your pool surfaces. Next, vacuum your pool manually to pick up any sediment left on your pool floor.
Step 10 - Shock the Pool:
To kill algae spores, bacteria, and get your water sparkling clean, you’ll need pool shock. Effectively shocking your system requires you to achieve something called breakpoint chlorination, which you can calculate based on free chlorine levels from your water test.
We recommend double shocking at pool opening. To double shock, you’ll use two pounds of chlorine shock (for chlorine systems) per 10,000 gallons of water.
Before you add chlorine to your pool, you’ll want to don your safety goggles and chemical-resistant gloves. Avoid pouring shock into your filter basket as it may cause damage.
You can pour shock straight into your pool water, slowly, as you walk around the perimeter of your pool. You can also put some water into a 5-gallon bucket, to dissolve the shock in the water. Pour the solution straight into your pool.
Warning: Putting different types of shock into the same bucket, even if you’ve rinsed it between uses may be explosively dangerous—literally. If you use the bucket method, never use the same bucket for other chemicals.
All your hard work is done! Just leave your filtration system running for at least 24 hours to mix up the shock and filter remaining debris, dead algae spores, and any other gunk. By the next day, your pool should be crystal clear and ready for swimmers. If it looks a little cloudy, that may be from the shock. You can either wait a little longer for it to dissipate, or add a dose of pool water clarifier to clear it more quickly.
Your Pool is Open! When you’re standing next to your pool wishing the debris and water on the pool cover would magically disappear, remember that with just a little work, by this time tomorrow, you could be swimming in crystal-clear water. Open your swimming pool the right way and you’ll set the stage for easy maintenance throughout the rest of the season. Happy Swimming :)