One of the most exciting times you’ll experience as a pool owner is getting your pool ready for the spring / summer season. You’re going to be dreaming of those summer days that never end, hours spend swimming in your pool. But you might not know how to open your pool for the season, so here’s what you need to know.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate where you experience warm temperatures 365 days a year, you’ll have most likely closed your pool down for the winter and it will have been most unused over those cooler days.
Protecting your pool over the winter ensures that
- Your pool water stays healthy and pH balanced (more about that later)
- Your pool structure, decking and equipment stays safe and protected from the elements
- Your pool is safe and protected from accidents and dangers such as pets, wildlife, children etc when not in use
So now that the summertime is close, your pool should not require too much maintenance at this stage to get in tip-top shape for use. Let’s dive in!
Here’s How To Open Your Pool For The Summer Season
Clean It Up
To start the process of opening your pool for the season, gather together all of your cleaning equipment. You’re going to need your broom head and telescopic poles, brushes, chemicals, pH strips and tests, and vacuum.
You’re also going to need your gloves and the sanitiser you usually use – for most of us that’s chlorine, but may also include
- algaecide / preventative treatment
- pH increaser / decreaser
- water clarifier
- calcium increaser
First, check all of your pool decking area. Any debris, dirt, grime and even algae forming here could have been infiltrating your pool water during the winter period and contaminating your water. Sweep away debris, leaves and grime – paying particular attention to corners and any ‘dark’ areas, areas which can easily be overlooked such as those hidden by plants or in tucked away corners – which can often be breeding grounds for germs, grime and algae.
Disinfect your deck area, and make sure to fully wipe down not just the dark areas but also, if you have one, your pool fence. Yep, grime accumulates here too – and so can algae.
Take out the baskets from the pool skimmers (look for a liftable tile or area near the rectangle openings just on the surface of your pool water. If possible, you’re going to want to take apart your filter system. Clean it all thoroughly with disinfectant or specialist pool equipment. Clean a cartridge filter by removing the cartridge and wash with a hose. If you have a D.E. filter, you might need to take it apart, clean it, and reassemble it. If you have a sand filter, set the filter to backwash, which will clean the sand. Then turn it to the normal setting.
Put the filtration system together, clean out all the baskets, and remove any plugs that you put in when the pool closed last year. For now, leave the cover on the pool while you’re working on it.
Reinstall And Replace
Reinstalling and replacing is about looking over your equipment and seeing what is missing, damaged or broken! Over the winter you might have removed ladders, handrails – anything that might have stopped your pool cover from fitting properly. Now is the time to replace them – and while you are doing so, check over all of it for any damage or weaknesses that you might not have spotted or looked for when preparing to winterize your pool. Now is the time to replace broken steps, tiles, and anything else in your pool decking area and surrounds too – check for broken fencing, overly worn or slippery areas, etc. Now is the time to replace it all!
Top It Up
Check your pool water. Although your water should have been kept topped up over the winter, or protected from evaporation by the use of a pool cover, it can still drop if not properly maintained. Your pool level should be around halfway up the skimmer.
If the water level has fallen over the winter, time to top up it up! Make sure the filter is clean before you turn the water on.
Test Your Water
Now it’s time to test your chlorine levels and water balance (pH balance). Have a look at the surface of your pool for any visible issues, which could indicate that something is wrong with your chlorine level and / or your water is unbalanced. You might see visible signs of oil remaining from the summer months, grime, leaves or even a green tinge. Keep your eye particularly open for any signs of green plant life, the dreaded algae!
Your water can get neglected in the winter, even with the best intention – to get ready to swim all summer long, you have to get on top of your basic checks again and get back into the habit of checking your water daily now that the summer season is almost here.
Test your water using your pH strips, and you might also want to check your total alkalinity too. Use a pool test kit to check your chlorine levels.
Balance Your Chemicals
Your pH levels should rest between 7.2-7.4
If the pH is lower, your pool water is more acidic and it will result in burning eyes, fading clothes, etc. Alkaline water can be just as damaging, in particular to your pool filter system, which alkaline water can prevent from working properly.
Use soda ash to increase pH; muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate to decrease. Ensure you follow the correct instructions on your chosen chemical to change your pH levels or you can make the issue worse.
Total alkalinity from 80 to 120
Alkalinity is a pH buffer—pH levels will be consistent if the alkalinity level is correct. Use sodium bicarbonate to increase alkalinity, muriatic acid to decrease it.
Chlorine from 1 ppm to 3 ppm
Get ready to also add cyanuric acid to help balance out your chlorine – stock up on the tablets!
Wait for the Water to Clear
Don’t dive in yet. The filter has to be cleaned every day until the water is clear. Expect the entire process to take about a week. You may have to add chlorine to keep it at the right level. Only when the water is clear and you can see the pool floor should you remove the cover. Remove the cover too soon and you’ll end up with more leaves and pollen and debris to clean out.
How To Open Your Pool – Troubleshooting
The main problem you’ll come across after a closed-down winter season for your pool, is that your pool still appears green or cloudy, despite your best efforts cleaning all of your equipment and water. To clean your pool properly in this situation, you’re going to need to shock it.
Super chlorinating your pool water keeps pool water safe and clean by adding three to five times the normal amount of chlorine or other chemical sanitizers to the pool water to drastically raise the chlorine level, for a short time.
This will help to remove ineffective chlorine amounts, kills bacteria and anything else that doesn’t belong in the pool (grime, slime, bugs), and boosts the availability of effective chlorine.
Pool shocking sounds like an intensive process but really, it’s just adding extra chemicals in order to flush out the undesirable build-up of other ones and all of the other things you don’t want floating around in your pool water.
How To Open Your Pool – Shocking It After The Winter Season
Make sure you prepare to shock your pool after the sun has set (bright sunlight means the chlorine evaporates faster and so the process doesn’t work as well, which means you might need to do it twice).
Your packet or bag of pool shock treatment dissolves easily – you’ll need to add it to a bucket of water before pouring it into your pool. Make sure you add it to the bucket of water and not the other way around as chlorine can be hazardous when water is added to it. Mix the chlorine pool shock treatment with your water well before pouring it slowly and carefully into the pool.
For the best place to add it, look for where your water is returning into your pool. This will ensure that you get a great dispersion of the chlorine and that it spreads out to all areas of your pool and does not clump into one area.
Ensure that you pour slowly so that your shock treatment does not end up splashing your desk, pool surrounds, or anywhere else nearby where it could be a potential health hazard – as well as ensuring people, children, pets nearby are safe.
Not to mention the damage it can cause to your surrounding areas! Lean close to the water’s edge – obviously not too close, you don’t want to fall in holding chlorine shock treatment! – and pour slowly most of the mixture.
Once you get almost to the bottom, about a quarter left, refill the bucket with water, and stir again to dissolve any extra grains which did not dissolve the first time.
Pour this extra mixture in the same way as before.
The one thing you want to avoid is seeing any granules anywhere – this signifies that the mix has not fully been dissolved. If this happens grab your super-handy telescopic pole and a brush and sweep the grains until they vanish – keep sweeping and stirring your pool until all the grains have gone.
Obviously, at this point your pool is not safe to swim in! Keep testing your pool until you get a reading of the chlorine being at 3ppm or less. Only at this point is your pool safe to swim in.
If your water still appears cloudy despite the pool shock treatment, wait for several hours and then retest again – you can either try to shock the pool once more or you can add a clarifier.
One final step to go!
Run Your Filter System Before You Open Your Pool
After you’ve checked that your pool pump and filtration system is working properly (you’ll know by how clear / clean the water looks after treatment and cleaning, as well as inspecting all parts of your equipment etc) you need to run your system for 24 hours. This will help push any last remaining debris, bacteria and dirt out of the system, and ensure it’s not lingering around in your water.
By now, your pool should be looking perfect for the summer season. Your pool is officially ready to open!
How To Maintain Your Pool After Opening It
Once your pool is officially open for the summer season, you’re going to want to ensure your pool stays clean, safe and healthy all summer long. Here’s an easy checklist of how to do this.
- Check your pool water and decking area daily, ensure you get rid of debris, bugs, and grime.
- Test your pool water every other day for pH levels and your chlorine levels at least two or three times per week.
- Make sure at least once a week to do a thorough check of your equipment, filter and circulation system, and decking area to stay on top of the cleaning and prevent any major issues before they start.
- You can shock your pool during the summer once a week, if it’s being used regularly. This will help keep oil slicks and algae at bay.
- Ensure your pool cover is cleaned and put away for the summer. This will prevent any grime during the summer months accumulating and prevent problems occurring during the winter which will then impact your pool the following summer. Clean with a broom and scrub it with pool cover cleaner. Make sure it’s stored properly, as otherwise you’re going to be inviting bugs and germs to make their home in it, which will mean when you start preparing for the winter season, you’ll have to buy yourself a new cover!
- Ensure you are vacuuming your pool every week to prevent any grime, oil, bugs and other undesirables from dropping to the bottom.
Maintaining your pool will ensure you get to enjoy beautiful clean pool water all summer long. So, that’s now you know how to open a pool!