How to Open a Swimming Pool After Winter
As the weather gets warmer outside, you may start to think about opening your pool and going for a swim. After wear and tear from the winter’s harsh temperatures and precipitation, the water might not be as pristine and inviting as you’d like it to be.
Before you open your pool after a cold season, you’ll need to remove the pool cover, inspect your water and come up with a plan to clean it. Whether you have an inground or aboveground pool, follow these steps to get it ready for the upcoming warm season.
1. Prepare Your Chemicals and Supplies
It helps to have all your supplies on hand before beginning to clean and treat the water. To open a pool, you need the following:
- A friend or family member to help
- A soft broom
- A pool cover pump (for winter covers or safety covers without a built-in drain)
- Car wash soap or a winter cover cleaner
- A garden hose with a filter
- A towel or leaf blower
- A storage bag or heavy-duty container with a lid
- A pool skimmer net
- Thread seal tape
- Pool gasket lubricant
- A pool vacuum and hose
- A water test kit
- A water clarifier
- A metal sequestrant
- An alkalinity increaser
- A pH increaser or decreaser
- A calcium hardness increaser
- A pool brush
- Pool shock
- Safety goggles
- Chemical-resistant gloves
You might need a few chemicals besides the pool shock to balance your water chemistry based on your water test results. A startup chemical kit has everything you need, but you can also purchase each chemical individually.
2. Clean off Your Winter Pool Cover
Before removing your winter pool cover, from the deck, sweep the leaves and other large debris off it with a soft broom. This covering is designed to keep the water clear of debris, dirt and sunlight that could promote algae growth during the colder months. Remove any rainwater or melted snow that has accumulated on top with a pool cover pump if necessary. Avoid wear and tear on the pump by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Try to remove as much debris from the cover as possible so you don’t let anything fall into your pool as you take it off. Next year, you might want to install a leaf net over your winter cover to catch leaves and help save time on cleaning your pool in the future.
3. Remove Your Winter Pool Cover and Store It for Next Year
After you’ve cleaned all the debris and water off your winter cover, you can take it off the pool. A friend or family member can help you remove the cover from the pool surface. It helps to lay it flat, such as on your driveway, to properly clean it without getting any detergent in the pool water. Instead of dragging the cover across your grass or deck, make sure you hold it above the ground to transport it without scratching it.
With your partner standing on the opposite side of the pool, fold the cover back onto itself. As you remove it, you may want to inspect it for tears and other signs of damage. Instead of storing a worn-out cover away for the winter, you can replace it with a new one to use next year. If the cover is still in good condition, you and your partner can spread it out on your driveway to clean as above.
Instead of using abrasive brushes or harsh chemicals, apply car wash soap or a pool cover cleaner and gently scrub it with a soft broom. Use a garden hose to rinse the detergent off the surface, and dry the cover with a leaf blower or towel before folding it up again. Store your winter pool cover in a storage bag or a durable container with a lid instead of on a shed or garage floor where pests could crawl inside.
4. Skim Your Pool
Use a skimmer net to remove any leaves or debris that fell into the water while you took off the winter cover. Any debris in your pool water could clog your filter when it’s running. You’ll want to remove larger debris before brushing or vacuuming the dirt and sediment in the water so the water is easier to clean. Besides using a skimmer, you can also use an automatic leaf vacuum that attaches to your garden hose and collects the leaves from your pool.
5. Remove Your Plugs and Ice Compensators
Before you closed your pool in the winter, you likely blew out the pipes and installed winterized plugs to keep water from flowing into the pipes and freezing. Now that the weather is warmer outside, you’ll have to remove all the plugs around your pool, including those in the return jets, after you skim it. Expect to see bubbles pop up to the surface as the water flows into the pipes. Besides taking out the plugs, you’ll want to pull out the ice compensator in your skimmer bucket.
Take out the skimmer plate, or skimmer cover, if you used it in the winter. Like winterized plugs, skimmer plates prevent water from leaking into the skimmer system and freezing when the temperature drops. Once you remove it and turn the filtration system back on, water can flow freely throughout the pool. After you’ve removed the winter safety components, you can put all the skimmer baskets and return jets back into the return line.
6. Add Water to Your Aboveground Pool
Before adding water to your aboveground pool, it’s helpful to check the liner and any other equipment for leaks and cracks, especially if the water level is unusually low. You’ll need to repair or replace any cracked or worn-out components before you continue, especially if you don’t have a pool liner pad to help protect the liner from tears and punctures.
After you’ve made sure all the parts are in excellent condition, you can use a garden hose with a filter to fill the water to the standard level, which is about halfway up the skimmer. Since filling up your pool can take several hours, you may want to get your other equipment ready while you’re waiting.
7. Reinstall Any Pool Accessories and Deck Equipment
You may have had accessories and equipment around your pool — such as a slide, a ladder, step rails, a fountain or a diving board — that you had to remove over the winter. While you’re waiting for the water to fill completely, you can put these components back on your deck. Before installing them in your pool, you may also want to lubricate any bolts or fasteners and grease the hinges on your diving board.
Check all the accessories and equipment for signs of rust or damage. You may want to replace any broken or worn-out components before putting them back on your pool to keep you and your loved ones safe this season.
8. Bring Water in Your Inground Pool Back to a Normal Level
Some of your inground pool’s water might have evaporated in the winter, even with the cover on top. After installing the accessories and equipment, you can fill the pool completely so you don’t need to balance your water chemistry twice. Use a garden hose with a filter to fill the water to about halfway up the skimmer. Putting a filter on your hose helps keep metals and other contaminants out of your pool that could interfere with the water’s pH.
9. Set up Your Filter and Pump
You’ll want to make sure your filter and pump are working correctly before cleaning the pool and balancing the water. Put the drain plugs back into your pump, filter, and pool heater and chlorinator with thread seal tape. Use pool gasket lubricant to lubricate any O-rings to protect them. You should also apply this product to your pump housing O-ring. Replace your O-ring if you notice any cracks or wear that could cause it to suck air into your pump.
After lubricating all the necessary components, open your return side valves to provide a pathway for water to get pulled into your pump. Then, connect the following pieces:
- The skimmer to the pool pump
- The pump to the filter
- The filter to the chlorinator and heater or the return inlet if you don’t have any other equipment
Turn the handle on your multiport valve to the “waste” setting, and check the pressure gauge, air bleeder and sight glass for debris or signs of damage. Flip the circuit breaker and turn on your pump. You’ve primed the pump once you notice water coming through it. Wash or replace your filter as necessary if you notice any clogs or other issues while running the water. After you’ve checked the pump and filter, you can switch the multiport valve to the “filter” setting.
Antifreeze might come out of the lines when the multiport valve is on the “waste” setting if you used this product when you closed your pool. Pool antifreeze is non-toxic, and your filter will clean it out along with any other substances in the water. Shut off your pump immediately if the pressure gauge shows a sudden increase in pressure. Something could be blocking the flow of water through the system. In that case, you’d have to check and prime the pump again.
10. Skim Your Pool One Final Time
After you’ve turned on your filter and pump, debris stuck inside of them might have leaked into your water. You’ll have to remove all this waste so your water can be clean before you add any startup chemicals. You’ll also have to vacuum the water and brush the walls and hard-to-reach areas if you have an aboveground pool.
You may want to ask a friend for help cleaning to save time. Once you’ve cleaned the water and walls, use a skimmer to remove any debris, floating leaves or bugs from the water’s surface that may have accumulated while you were getting all your equipment ready.
11. Balance Your Water With Chemicals
After you have the filter and other equipment, you should add your startup chemicals to your clean pool water. The water test should detect all chemical levels, including the stabilizer, pH, calcium hardness, chlorine and alkalinity. You can conduct a water test with test strips, but it’s also helpful to bring a sample of pool water to a pool supply store. They have the necessary tools and equipment to provide an accurate baseline for which chemicals you’ll need.
When you find out what chemicals are necessary for balancing water, adjust the alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness — in that order — before you shock the pool with chlorine. Instead of putting in all the chemicals from your startup kit, you should only use the ones you need to achieve a healthy water balance.
12. Brush and Vacuum Your Inground Pool
Brushing and vacuuming your pool can reduce algae buildup throughout the summer and make the shock chemicals more effective. Remove the sediment and debris that has piled up on the floor, walls and steps with a brush and vacuum. You’ll want to scrub all the hard-to-reach areas and tight corners to make sure you’ve completely removed the dirt from a pool. After brushing all the surfaces, use a pool vacuum with a long hose to eliminate the debris floating in the water.
13. Shock Your Pool
Before using your pool, you’ll need to apply chlorine shock chemicals to kill bacteria and algae spores so your water is clean enough for you and your loved ones to use. You should have clean, clear water after shocking the pool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how many pounds of chlorine shock you’ll need for your pool size. Keep in mind that it’s best to double shock the water when you first open your pool for the season.
You’ll want to shock your pool at night or when the sun is setting because sunlight can burn off the shock too quickly. Wear safety goggles and chemical-resistant gloves when adding the chlorine to protect your eyes and skin. Instead of putting the product in your filter basket and potentially damaging it, you can slowly apply the chlorine directly to the water as you walk around the pool.
It may also help to put some water into a bucket to dissolve the shock, which you can pour directly into the pool. When using this method, remember you should never mix two different types of shock chemicals in the same bucket, even if you rinsed out the bucket beforehand. Combining incompatible chemicals could lead to the release of harmful gases, fires and explosions. After applying the chlorine, leave the filter running for at least a day before using the pool.
Enjoy Your Pool With Help From SPQ Brands
Once your pool is open for the season, you can have your friends and family over for barbecues and get-togethers. SPQ Brands manufactures high-quality products for your swimming pool that are designed to enhance your pool experience and keep your loved ones safe. Browse our inventory to discover what we offer, or visit one of our dealer’s sites to find fun accessories or replace worn-out components. For more information about our products, contact us online or call 609-212-0221.