How to prepare for the opening of your inground swimming pool

How to prepare for the opening of your inground swimming pool

Opening Day

by Lindsey Getz, House Magazine

It’s just about time for a new pool season—start preparing now

It’s that time of year again. The snow has melted, flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. There’s no doubt the spring weather has you thinking about getting your pool up and running for a new season. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as just removing the cover. There are some important steps to opening your pool for a brand new season.

All of the pool experts we spoke with emphasize the same thing: open sooner rather than later. Even if you’re not ready to swim, it would behoove you to start the process early in case there are problems. “We recommend opening by the end of April,” says Gene Kilcourse, client relations manager with Armond Aquatech Pools. “Those who have spas can enjoy them even if they are not swimming yet, and it’s always more pleasant to look at the pool water than the winter cover.”

In regard to a buffer between opening and the time a pool is swimmable, Kilcourse says this can vary greatly. “Even those who have owned a pool for several years and have had quick openings in the past may not be aware of how long it can possibly take,” he says. “The longer you wait to open your pool—especially if you have a mesh winter cover—the more likely it is you will initially have poor water quality. Some customers will say they open later to try and save on energy costs, but any savings can be negated if you end up spending $1,000 on chemicals to clear up the pool.”

Gearing Up

“In gearing up for the season, the first thing that should be considered is ‘How was the pool when I closed it?'” says Mike McCool, general manager for Swim-Mor Pools. “If there was work that was needed, contact a service professional early. The opening season in our region is short. Take the time a few weeks in advance to have everything for the pool set up so that there are no surprises.”

Early spring is a good time to add chemicals that will make opening easier. Debbie Bartleson, owner of AquaOne Services, LLC, says in early April, she always recommends her clients use PHOSfree, a chemical that removes phosphate from the pool. “Just lift a corner and add the product, which will help cut down on algae growth,” Bartleson says. “We can have those 80-degree days out of the blue in April and that can lead to algae growth that will make opening the pool a little more challenging.”

Now is also a good time to take a scan of your yard and look for any hanging branches that may fall into the pool or have already landed on the cover and could risk puncturing it, Bartleson says. “Also, if your cover looks like it’s going to fall into the pool, take the time now to re-secure everything,” she adds. “If you don’t plan to open until the end of April or in May, you want to make sure your pool is still properly covered.”

Removing the Cover

Once you do take the cover off, you’ll definitely want to look for any signs of damage that may have occurred during the winter. “Look for coping that’s loose or tiles that may have popped off over the off-season,” says Tom Schreiber, vice president of KS Greenday, Inc. “You’ll also want to see if there are any cracks in the decking area. If you lost a piece of tile, don’t just toss it. It may have been discontinued, so we’ll want to try and reuse it.”

Also take a look at the filter and pump. “If you see anything leaking, that’s a red flag to find out what’s causing the leak and get it fixed,” adds Theodora Sergiou, vice president of Nicholas Pools. “Gaskets can go from wear and tear and you may need to replace your pump or filter. These are things you don’t want to find out about at the last minute, so it’s important to open your pool at least two weeks prior to when you plan to actually use it.”

As you do an inspection of your pool, make sure to look at everything. That even includes areas surrounding the pool. This can be especially critical if you’ll be bringing in a maintenance person to work on a problem. “One thing often overlooked is weed and shrub overgrowth in the filter equipment area, which can make life very difficult for a service person trying to work on equipment,” says Bob Dean, president of Buckingham Pools, Inc. “Cut back all plantings to allow access so a body can get through and use a good weed killer over the entire area. Do it again periodically through the season. This is especially helpful if you have weekly valet service in allowing them to perform maintenance tasks and repairs.”

When the cover comes off, there are also a number of things you may find in terms of water color. No matter what time of year you begin the opening, Sergiou says it’s critical to bring a water sample to a pool professional for evaluation. “It’s very important to have the chemicals balanced and at the proper level,” she says.

Bringing In a Professional?

While many pool owners feel confident tackling the pool opening on their own, sometimes having a professional handle it can be one less burden. McCool says pool owners should ask themselves if they really have the time and energy to open the pool on their own. “Do you really want to waste most of a spring Sunday opening your pool?” he asks.

Many pool owners are moving in the direction of bringing in a professional to handle both the opening and closing of their pool—and sometimes also sign up for a maintenance program throughout the season. Bartleson says to pay attention to credentials when looking for a good pool company to help you with the process. “Make sure the company has trained technicians and is a CPO (certified pool operator) that is reliable and well-trained,” she advises. “And make sure they’re insured.”

Finding the right pool company to help you with your needs throughout the season will ensure that things go smoothly from opening to close.