As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to get your pool ready for the summer. Don’t be intimidated by the idea that pool maintenance is too much work for the average homeowner. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the time in your pool with friends and family!

When Should I Open My Pool?

A most common practice is to open your pool during the first few weeks of May. As a benchmark, wait for the daytime temperatures to reach at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t wait too long, though, because if you do, you may find most unwelcomed guest in your pool: algae that will turn your pool water a gross, green color.

Steps for Opening Your Swimming Pool

Clean up. Any leaves or debris that has built up during the off-season should be removed. Be sure to spray down the deck area surrounding your pool to wash away any dirt. While you’re at it, clean up any outdoor furniture as well. Once this is completed, move on to the pool cover.

The pool cover is designed specially to protect your swimming pool from dirt, water, and debris. It’s likely that your pool cover has its own mini pool of standing water. In order to remove this water, use a pool cover pump. This electric pump allows you to quickly and easily remove the water from the surface of the pool cover.

When you finish your spring cleaning, be sure to take note of any damage to your deck, ladder, fence, or pool cover that may have occurred during the fall and winter. Be sure to make those repairs before opening your pool.

Remove the cover. Most pool covers will be secured to the pool deck using a series of straps. Remove all of the straps. Get a partner to assist you in removing the cover. With one person on each end of the pool, slowly being to pull back the cover. Once the pool cover is removed, clean it thoroughly.

You could use a pool cover cleaner to effectively clean your pool cover, but the truth is, a car wash soap will do the trick. Using the soap and a soft broom, scrub away all of the dirt and grime from the surface of the cover. Once the cover is clean, rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry. To be safe, your winter cover should be stored indoors, away from insects and rodents.

If you notice that your cover begins to crack or tear during the removal process, discard of it and buy a new one for the next season.

Reconnect the filter system. With the cover removed, you can now begin to remove all of the winterizing plugs from your pool’s filtration system i.e. the lines to your pump, wall returns and surface skimmers. Make sure that you reconnect all the lines and hoses. Check your filter and clean or replace it. If any other parts appear to show signs of wear and tear, be sure to replace them.

Add more water. It’s actually a common occurrence for a pool to lose a few inches of water during the off-season. Make sure your swimming pool is full before you start adding chemicals. This will help you avoid the need to balance your water chemistry twice.

If you’re using a garden hose to fill your pool, use a hose filter to prevent water contamination. As you add water, visually inspect the swimming pool liner for any signs of damage.

Turn on the filter. The next step is to power up your pool filter to check for any leaks around the tubes, hoses, and other connections. Be sure to pay attention to areas like plugs, gauges, and your pump’s sight glass. Experts recommend letting your pool’s filter system run for at least 24 hours before you begin testing the water and adding chemicals. This will allow the water to fully circulate for a more accurate reading.

Clean the pool water. Once your filter pump is active, use a manual pool vacuum to remove dirt, sediment, and debris from the pool floor. If you have large debris in your pool such as leaves, consider using a skimmer plate attachment. This device allows you to use the pool’s skimmer basket to collect the debris. This also allows you to avoid clogging your plumbing or filtration system. A skimmer net can be used to remove floating debris from the surface of the water.

Test your pool water. Now that your pool water is clean, it’s time to focus on your water’s chemistry. First, take a water sample using a clean cup or bottle. In order to get an accurate reading, avoid testing surface water. This can be accomplished by holding the sample container upside down, inserting it about a foot below the water surface, and then flipping it over to fill the water container.

Add chemicals. Based on the results of your water test, add certain chemicals to bring the water chemistry levels to the desired range.

  • Alkalinity: Since alkalinity influences the pH balance of your pool, you’ll want to adjust these levels first. You can raise the alkalinity level by adding baking soda or lower it using muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate. The goal is to achieve an alkalinity level between 80-120 ppm (parts per million).
  • pH: Your water’s pH level refers to the degree of acid or base in the water. It’s measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with an ideal range of 7.2-7.6 ppm. The pH of pool water can be raised with soda ash and lowered with muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate.
  • Calcium: Calcium levels should be around 200-275 ppm for concrete or plaster pools and 175-225 ppm for fiberglass or vinyl pools. You can raise calcium levels with calcium chloride and lower them with a pool flocculant.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is used to sanitize your pool water. The recommended amount of chlorine in pool water is about 3 ppm. You can raise the level by adding chlorine and lowering it using a chlorine neutralizer.
  1. Shock your pool. After balancing the water chemistry, add “pool shock” to kill any bacteria or algae that may have started growing over the winter months. The goal of shocking your pool is to raise the free chlorine level to about 10 times the combined chlorine level. So follow the instructions on your pool shock to ensure you’re adding the right amount of chemicals. Leave the filter running and by the next day, your pool should be ready for the first swim of the season. If you’ve had problems with algae in the past, you may also want to consider using an algaecide as part of your ongoing pool maintenance.