It is that time of year again! The snow has melted, the temps are rising and we are ready for Summer and all the outdoor activities it invites. If you are a swimming pool owner, I’ll bet you can’t wait to make that first cannon ball into your sparkling pool. We have some work to do before we get to this step though.
Right now, our pool may look like a junk covered mess oa vessel. But not to worry! Here are the essentials of opening your swimming pool. It also may be a good opportunity to inlist help from a friend or family member.
Before you start, you are going to make sure you have all the tools and chemicals you're going to need to tackle the opening. Things like a good cover pump, a garden hose, a soft broom, cover cleaner (you can also use car wash soap), lube for your gaskets, plumber’s tape, and your “normal maintenance equipment”. What I mean by this is the stuff you use to clean your pool all season long. Your telescopic pole, a pool brush and a leaf skimmer and/or leaf rake.
Before we talk about chemicals, I want to remind you to always have the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). These include safety goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and precise following of directions on each product. We don’t want you to start the swimming season injured!
As far as chemicals, what you will need will depend on where your water’s chemistry is. So, you will need a test kit or test strips, or you can bring in a sample to your local pool store. This is advisable to do anyway, in my opinion, because you will be there anyway buying chemicals. Pool store’s tests tend to test for fields that most home test kits do not have, such as metals and phosphates. Aside from test strips, the other certain thing you will need is pool shock. Yes, even if you have a salt pool. We need to break down all of the contaminants in the water and still leave a chlorine “bank” for either your tablets or salt cell to maintain.
You may be able to get a “Start up Kit”. Like I said, it depends on where your test results are. You may need to adjust pH up or down. You will want to put in a stain and scale prevention product. You may choose an algaecide product. Only the test will tell.
Your Pool Cover
This obviously needs to come off before you can do much else. Hopefully you have been using an automatic cover pump all season long, but if not, it is ok to do now. You’ll want to take your soft brush to scooch off all those gunky leaves and debris that has accumulated. Turn on your cover pump to remove any water build up.
Remove the pool cover and lay it flat. Check it out for any rips or tears. If it needs to be replaced , just toss it. If not, you’ll want to do a thorough cleaning of the cover. This is where the cover cleaner and soft broom come in. Gently scrub your pool cover–gently. Make sure you give it a good rinse. Dry it off with a leaf blower. Don’t have one? A towel will work too. Make sure to safely store your cover in a container that is heavy duty enough to accommodate the cover and it must have a lid. This keeps it free from sun damage and varment infestation.
Time to Get To Cleaning the Pool Water
Take your telescopic pole and skimmer/rake and remove any large debris off of the surface of the pool. This saves it from getting sucked into the filter. Now switch the cleaning head attachment to your pool brush. Brush the sides and floor of your pool to rid any algae spores that may be hanging out.
Undo the Winter Plugging
Remove any winterizing plugs you may have installed. Don’t be alarmed if you see bubbles. This is just the water flowing back into the pipes that we blew out during winter time. Remove the ice compensator and plugs from the skimmer as well. My friends at www.swimuniversity.com tell me instead of an ice compensator plug, a soda bottle could have been used. Maybe try that next year?
Grab your garden hose and raise the pool water level until it reaches halfway to the skimmer. This is also a good time to check your weir gates, skimmer basket and skimmer lid to see if they are in need of replacement. You may want to use a hose filter to grab any metals and other contaminants from your source water. If you don’t do this, don’t fret. The other chemicals we add during start up can attack these, although you may need to add a metal chelating agent, such as Natural Chemistry’s “Metal Gone”.
Replace the Fun and Necessary Stuff
Now it is ok to reinstall your diving board, steps, slide and pool ladder. If you took it out at winter time, put it back where it belongs!
Make sure you use your thread seal (plumber’s tape) on any drain plugs in your pump and filter that you may have removed for the season. Lubricate all your o-rings with a silicone based lubricant. This is also a good time to check to see if they need to be replaced. Check for swelling, stretching, cracks or “pinches”. These don’t cost much to replace, but are so important in pool operation. The same thing goes for filter pressure gauges and air bleeder and sight glasses
Go ahead and open your return side valves. Have a multiport valve? Just turn the handle to waste. Turn your breaker on first and then turn on your pump. Multiport valve users, flip to “filter”. Take a look at your filter pressure gauge. If the pressure is high, you may have a clogged line.
Now let that pump run for 24 hours to really get everything flowing.
Balance the Water
We talked a little about this above. Now is the time to put it into action. Add any needed chemicals by following the dosing instructions. Remember, only add chemicals while the pump is running. Certain chemicals, such as pool acid, require the pump to run for 3 hours before any additional doses or chemicals. Keep in mind, it may take you a couple of days to get your swimming pool balanced. Please, please be safe in handling your chemicals. Use your PPE, read the labels, never mix chemicals and always ad the chemicals to water–never water to the chemicals.
If you have large debris, hold off on attaching your automatic pool cleaner. You will want to manually vacuum the larger pieces out of the bottom of the pool. Even if you don’t have an automatic pool cleaner, you will still want to grab the large debris before it gets to your filter.
Cannon Ball Time!
If you have followed these steps and also made sure all of your equipment is in proper working order, do one more water test. This is just to ensure the pool water is safe for the swimmers. If all looks good, dive in! See you poolside!