The DIY guide to opening your swimming pool for the summer

The DIY guide to opening your swimming pool for the summer

Opening Your Pool

from Pool FYI

Spring is here! And with it, the fun and excitement of swim season. Now just one thing stands between you and a watery good time: the chore of opening your pool. Of course, you can delegate the job to your pool professional, which ensures a quality job and saves you work. But if you’re a little handy and have the time, here’s a step-by-step guide on what needs to be done.

Get it ready.

First, get out what you’ll need. Pull last fall’s pool chemicals out of storage. They don’t last forever, so replace the ones whose label says they’ve expired (and during the season, use up your old ones before the new ones). Also round up any hardware you removed for the winter, and get replacements now for any missing pieces.

Okay, you’re back from the store. Clean the winter cover and the poolside decking. If the cover has standing water on it, use a submersible pump made to remove it. Then take off the cover, clean it off, and let it air-dry to prevent mildew before you fold and store it.

Get it together.

Assemble what needs assembling. Reinstall the pump, railings, diving board or whatever else you removed last fall. Take out the plugs from the filtration system and replace the return outlet fittings. (Life lesson: Save them all in one place.)

Get it full.

Most pools need the water level brought up to normal at the start of the season. This can be done with your garden hose. Or, for larger pools, you may be able to save money by paying a service to truck in the water.

Get it up and running.

Find the winterizing plugs and other parts removed for winterization (often stored in the skimmer basket or pump basket). After the filter system is put back together, fill the pump basket area with water and fasten down the pump lid. Clean the filter cartridge, or backwash the filter and add sand or DE (diatomaceous earth) as needed. Light the pilot on the pool heater according to the instructions.

Get it crud-free.

The grossest stuff first: If your pool has solids in the water, fish ’em out—literally. Don’t depend on your pool system, pool cleaner or vacuum to remove them, or you could find yourself with clogged underground pipes or a choked pump. Use a big leaf net instead.

If your water is somewhat dirty or cloudy at this point, no big problem. (If it’s black throughout or slimy green, that definitely is a problem—one that can be fixed, but requires its own set of steps for which you’ll want to consult a pool professional.)

Assuming your water does not resemble the La Brea Tar Pits, now is the time to start up the pump. Check for leaks and proper operation. There should be no major leaks (a few drops on Day One are no cause for panic), skimmers should work smoothly, the pump shouldn’t make any screeching noises, and you shouldn’t see bubbles entering the pool from the returns.

Get it in balance.

You want the pump running when you take the next step: shocking or “super-oxidizing” the water with chlorine (also true when you’re adding any other chemicals, for that matter). For those with liner pools, be kind to your liner—do not toss chlorine granules directly into the water. This can discolor the liner or even destroy it. Better to mix the granular shock chlorine in a bucket, then add that mixture into the skimmer while the system is running.

Use your water test kit to adjust the water chemistry to recommended levels. For the first 72 hours or so, keep checking it often and running your circulation system around the clock. If the pool was especially dirty, you may have to keep re-cleaning your filter, too.

Get wet.

When the chlorine level has dropped back to normal and your water is crystal clear, you’re all set to jump back in. Enjoy the swim season!