The summer is synonymous with pool time! That’s the time all of us whip out our swimsuits and get ready to jump into the blue waters, but before that can be done, you will need to get the pool ready and that is where I can be of help!
Opening an inground pool and getting it ready for the summer isn’t a very daunting task but it must be done in the correct way so that your swimming time isn’t riddled with a dirty pool, insufficient chemicals, or probably the worst of the lot, too large a quantity of chemicals.
Here are some great tips and tricks, along with a step-by-step guide to opening your inground pool efficiently, without any trouble! You might, however, want to take the help of a friend so that you can share the heavy lifting!
Things You’ll Need
The springtime is ideal for you to start prepping your pool for the winter so before you get started, it might be a good idea to collect all the tools and products that you will be requiring in the process.
These range from garden hoses and chemicals like chlorine and water clarifiers, to protective gear that is especially important when you are dealing with these chemicals. The overall process is not risky but you will be putting yourself in the way of harm if you skip using the right gear while handling the equipment and chemicals.
Here is a list of products and chemicals that you will need to stock up on before you start the process of opening the inground pool:
- Pool cover pump
- Soft broom or skimmer net
- Winter cover cleaner or a strong soap
- Skimmer on a telescoping pole
- Garden hose
- Pool brush
- Safety goggles
- Chemical-resistant gloves
- Start-up chemical kit
- Silicone pool gasket lubricant
- Thread seal tape
- Pool shock
- Test strips
- pH increaser
- pH decreaser
- Alkalinity increaser
- Calcium hardness increaser
- Metal sequestrant
- Water clarifier
You will not need to buy all of the eight chemicals that can be found towards the end of the list. The pool chemicals you require will depend on the results of your pool’s water test. These chemicals, along with the pool shock, will help in balancing your water chemistry. So, first test your water and then buy the chemicals required.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with all the things that you will need, I’d like to steer you towards the actual process. Protective gear is not required at all stages but must be used when you’re handling chemicals.
Step One — Clean Your Pool Cover While It’s On
Fall and winter can leave its marks on your pool cover in the form of water, debris or dead leaves. The first step in the process of opening your pool would be to get rid of all the dirt that is accumulated on top of it.
The water can be removed with the help of your pool cover’s pump or an ordinary shop vacuum. Remember that some of the pumps can be pretty slow so don’t try to get too much out of it. A soft broom can be used for sweeping away all the other dirt and dead leaves, leaving your pool cover relatively cleaner.
Step Two — Take off the Winter Pool Cover
For this part, I recommend that you enlist the help of a friend because you don’t want any of the dirt from the cover getting into the pool. The pool cover will need to be picked up and taken to a flat surface but make sure you’re not dragging it as that can cause additional damage.
Your friend or family member will have to stand at the other side if the pool so that both of you can lift and fold the pool cover back and forth on itself. After it has been removed, move it to a solid place to drain the remaining dirt and water.
This is also the right time to check your cover properly to see if there are any major signs of wear and tear. If you notice any major damage, you will have to dispose of this one and buy another pool cover for next time.
Step Three — Clean up and Stow It Away
Once you’ve had the opportunity to lay your pool cover on a flat area away from the pool, you will need to apply a pool cover cleaner, a car wash soap, or a similar cleaning product to the cover. This will help remove all the dirt, grease and grime that would have collected over the fall and winter months and deodorize the cover. Use a soft broom to scrub the pool cover gently so that it is cleaned well without any damage. This means that you should avoid using any abrasive tools or harsh chemical cleaners.
This step is very important as it ensures that you cover is protected well during the months that it will be in storage.
Rinse the cover and dry it well with a towel or leaf blower. It is now ready to be folded and put inside a storage bag or heavy-duty container with a lid, which will keep insects and dirt away during the months that it is packed up.
Step Four — Time to Skim!
This isn’t the main step where you clean up your pool, but just it’s a rough whirl to clean up large debris that could clog your filtration system when you turn it back on. Pick up your skimmer and move it through the pool to grab anything that may have fallen in from your cover.
Step Five — Remove Plugs and Other Temporary Fixtures
When you close up your pool for the winter, it is important to blow out all the pipers and block them with winterizing plugs so that no water gets into them and freezes. Now is the time for you to walk around and remove all these plugs so that water can flow back in.
Don’t be scared if you see bubbles in the pool at this time – it is nothing out of the ordinary.
Step Six — Put Back the Pool Attachments
Your pool may have a number of attachments like step rails, ladders, slides, or diving boards that were removed when you closed it up. It is now time to get those back out and start putting them in their places for the pool season. Before you do that, use a chrome cleaner or polish prior to clean them up. Make sure they are installed properly and that no nuts and bolts are loose or creaky!
Step Seven — Add Water to Your Pool
Pool covers are meant for keeping things out of your pool but they don’t guarantee that the things that were inside will stay in. What I mean by this is that the water that was already in the pool may have gone by a couple of inches so it is now time for you to bring the level up to normal!
This is important because if you add more water after you have balanced the water chemistry of your pool, you will need to repeat the entire process. So bring up the water to the normal level so that you can add the chemicals and filter it later.
Step Eight — Set up the Filter and Pump
Remember the thread seal tape that I mentioned earlier, it is time to bring that to use. You will have to reinstall the drain plugs in your filter and pump using the thread seal tape and then lubricate any O-rings with the silicone lubricant mentioned before. This is done to protect the parts for damage while running.
The same has to be done with the pump housing O-ring after it is checked for damage. If you find any problem with the part, replace it immediately or air will get sucked into your pump.
Make sure that you open the return side valves so that the water that is pulled into the pump has a place to go. Do not be hassled if you have a multiport valve that is confusing you, just turn the handle to waste and replace the air bleeder, sight glass and pressure gauge.
Before you turn on the pump, ensure that the circuit breaker is flipped and the pump is ready to work. The pump will be primed as the water flows through. You can now make the multiport valve switch to filter.
Inspect your filter and wash if necessary. If you notice some bigger damage, replace the filter.
Step Nine — Reduce Metal Levels
Metal causes staining and buildup in your pool and can be harmful for its health. While it may not be the first thing that comes to your mind, there are chances that the levels of metals in your pool water have increased over the months that it stayed stagnant. Another likely situation is that you forgot to use a hose filter while topping off your pool with tap water.
All these will lead to a buildup of metal in the pool water, so you need to add a metal sequestrant to avoid this situation.
Step Ten — Balance the Water
It is easy to simply use test strips to check the chemical state of your pool but I recommend – just for the time when you’re opening the pool – that you visit a local pool supply store with a sample of the water to get a more accurate reading.
Depending on this, you will be able to gauge what needs to be added, as you want to avoid using chemicals that you don’t need. The first step is to check and adjust the alkalinity, followed by pH, and finally the calcium hardness. This covers almost all the chemicals mentioned in the list earlier.
Step Eleven — Clean the Pool
Brushing your pool at this time can help you in dealing with any algae problems and make the pool shock more effective. Once you are done brushing the pool surfaces, vacuum your pool manually so that there is no sediment left on the floor of the pool.
Step Twelve — Bring in the Pool Shock
This is a very important step as it helps you kill all the algae spores and bacteria in your pool so that you can get it ready for use. For this, you will need to achieve breakpoint chlorination. This can be calculated on the basis of free chlorine levels from the water test you conducted.
It is essential that you put on all safety gear like goggles and gloves before you add chlorine to the pool. It is also recommended that you double shock the pool when you open it for the season – this means two pounds of chlorine shock per 10,000 gallons of water.
The shock should be poured directly into the water as you walk around outside the pool. However, avoid damage by not pouring it into the filter basket. You can add some water in a bucket and dissolve the shock in the water and then pour the solution into the pool.
Step Thirteen — Filter Multiple Times
Now that you’re done with all the groundwork, it is time for you to let the filtration process do its magic. This means that you can sit back with the system running for at least 24 hours. This will allow the shock to settle in and for all the other dirt to be removed. Your pool should be ready to swim in by the next day!
Tips to Keep the Process Safe
- Use a garden hose around the pool deck to ensure that all chemicals are washed away.
- Double check the water chemistry.
- Store the winter cover in a safe and secure place.
- Put the chemicals away in a place that kids or pets can’t access them.
Opening a pool after months of inactivity can seem like a tedious task but keep in mind that it’s only a one-time effort and you will be able to enjoy its benefits all through the summer! Make sure that you take all the safety precautions and follow all the steps for a seamless experience. However, if you do come across a problem, a call to a local expert or a quick Internet search will be enough to get you the answer!