Spring opening is one of the most exciting times of the year for any pool owner. After months of cold, snow, and ice, the weather is starting to warm up and your pool is nearly ready to be the centerpiece of some backyard fun in the sun! Even though the sun is shining and the water is warm, the pool isn’t quite ready for swimmers just yet. There are some necessary steps every pool owner must take in order to have a clean and safe pool ready to handle a long summer season. Leslie’s is here to help you through the process of opening your pool, so make sure you read through these Top 10 Pool Opening Tips and have all the chemicals you will need when opening your pool for summer. Leslie’s Top 10 Pool Opening Tips is designed to be a quick and easy reference guide for opening pools in all climates. For a comprehensive guide on how to open your pool, specific to climate, please feel free to visit our Pool Opening Page.
- 1. Use a Sump Pump to Remove Water Before Taking Off Pool Cover
If you have a winter cover or a solid safety cover, chances are that a fair amount of water and debris has built up on the cover during the long winter offseason. Pool covers can be difficult to remove when there is water on them, so it would be a good idea to use a sump pump to drain the water off the cover before moving it.
If you own an above-ground pool, a simple siphon would also work to remove the water from your pool cover. When taking the cover off of the pool, it is best to use two people because, even with most of the water drained off, pool covers can still be heavy. Take care not to spill too much debris from the cover into the pool. If a small amount of water or debris does spill in, this won’t be problem because the pool will be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed.
- 2. Properly Caring For Your Pool Cover Will Help Keep It Clean and Strong
After removing the cover from your pool, it is important to clean, fold, and store the cover properly to avoid any damage during the summer. Once the cover has been taken off the pool, lay it out flat and brush off the remaining water and debris. Let the cover dry and then, before folding it, sprinkle on Leslie’s Alkalinity Up or talcum powder to prevent mold or mildew from growing on the cover.
Take special care when folding the cover to prevent cracks and rips. Fold the cover loosely, and then store it in a cool, dry place like a basement, garage, or storage shed. This should help keep your cover in good condition year after year.
- 3. Make Sure To Reconnect All Pool Equipment
You will want to reconnect all the equipment that you disconnected before the winter season. This usually includes the filter, the pump, the heater, the automatic pool cleaner, and all other pool equipment that was unplugged at winter closing. This is also the time to connect any ladders, hand rails, and pool accessories that were taken down for winter.
When reconnecting your equipment, it is a good idea to lubricate all O-rings on your equipment and all bolts and screws on accessories like ladders, diving boards, and rails with silicone lubricant. This will keep the equipment working properly all year, and will make it easier for you to disassemble them when you close your pool.
- 4. Remove All Winterizing Plugs and Replace Them With the Correct Drain Plugs
If you live in an area where the temperature stays below freezing for much of the winter, then you most likely replaced most of the drain plugs in your equipment with special winterizing plugs. These winterizing plugs provide a very tight seal and prevent any damage due to leaks or ice during winter. After reconnecting your equipment, you will want to replace the winter plugs with the normal, correct plugs to allow the equipment to run properly.
- 5. Adding Metal Free Removes and Prevents Metal Stains Built Up During Winter
Over a long winter offseason, metals like copper and iron can build up in your pool and cause stains. These metals can be difficult to remove once they have stained the walls, so it is best to attack them early. Just one quart of Metal Free added during spring opening can help neutralize the metals that are in your pool, and prevent them from staining the walls and pool floor. Metal Free will also quickly get rid of “stained water” that comes from having a high metal content.
- 6. Using Test Strips or a Test Kit, Measure Your Water Chemistry
The easiest and quickest way to test your water is to use either Test Strips or a Test Kit. It is important to test your water chemistry before adding any chemicals, because this will tell you what you need to add and how much to use. When checking your water, you will want to test for Total Alkalinity, pH, chlorine, calcium hardness, and stabilizer (Cyanuric acid) levels.
Pool chemicals can get out of balance during a long winter, and will need to be brought back down to safe levels before swimming. The safe and proper chemical levels for standard, chlorine pool water are as follows:
- Total Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm
- pH Level – 7.4 to 7.6
- Free Available Chlorine – 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
- Calcium Hardness – 200 to 400 ppm
- Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) – 30 to 50 ppm
- 7. When Balancing Water, Start With Total Alkalinity
Once you have tested your water chemistry, it is time to start adding chemicals to balance your water. It is important to begin with balancing your Total Alkalinity because this will help to bring your other chemicals closer to their normal range, making it significantly easier to achieve a safe and clean pool.
To lower the Total Alkalinity, you can use either Leslie’s Dry Acid. This product will quickly decrease Total Alkalinity levels in your pool. Just 1 ½ pounds of Leslie’s Dry Acid will lower the Total Alkalinity by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons of water. To raise Total Alkalinity by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons, use 1 ½ pounds of Leslie’s Alkalinity Up.
Once the Total Alkalinity has been brought to within 80 and 120 ppm, you can begin to adjust the other chemicals. To increase pH, adding Leslie’s Soda Ash will help raise it to an acceptable range. To decrease pH, you can again use Leslie’s Dry Acid.
If the Calcium Hardness is too low, just 1 ¼ pounds of Leslie’s Hardness Plus will raise the Calcium Hardness by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons of water. It is much more difficult to lower the Calcium Hardness than to raise it, so be sure not to let the calcium levels get beyond 400 ppm.
- 8. Brush and Vacuum Your Pool Thoroughly
Even if you use a solid cover on your pool during the winter, there will still be a fair amount of dirt and debris in your pool. It is a good idea to give your pool a thorough brushing and vacuuming before shocking the pool. This will prevent any algae or bacteria from clinging to the pool walls, and help your filtration and sanitation systems start to eliminate any algae spores.
When brushing your pool, it is a good idea to start in the shallow end of the pool and move towards the deep end. If you can, vacuum your pool directly to waste. Once you have brushed and vacuumed your pool, allow your circulation and filtration systems to run overnight before shocking the pool.
- 9. Shock The Pool to Remove Bacteria and Contaminants
Shocking your pool is the last and final step for getting rid of all the dirt, debris, bacteria, algae spores, and other organic contaminants that may have entered your pool during the winter offseason. To shock your pool, use 2 pounds of shock for every 10,000 gallons of water, which should raise your chlorine to 10.0 ppm. Depending on your pool, you can use Leslie’s Power Powder Plus or Leslie’s Chlor Brite. After shocking the pool, run the circulation system for at least 2 hours before adding an algaecide.
- 10. Prevent Algae All Season Long
For a clean and algae-free swimming season, it is recommended to start treatment before the first swimmers even jump into the pool. After shocking your pool, it is a good idea to add either Leslie’s Algae Control or Pool Perfect + PHOSfree to your water. Both of these products, when used both at the beginning of summer and regularly during the season, will prevent the growth of most types of algae, and help keep your pool clean, clear, and fresh all year long.