Opening Your Pool
Let’s face it, digging out the pool equipment when spring is in the air is something that we all look forward to. While your procedure may vary, depending on your equipment, it is good to review the points below and use them as a checklist as you get ready to start another swim season.
Before start up, and the spring tree pollen/leaf drop, it may be a good idea to install a leaf net to minimize debris build up on your winter cover. Make sure to remove the leaf net and any debris prior to opening for the spring.
Carefully remove any debris and pump any water that may be on the winter cover, if one has been used. Finally, remove the cover and dry and store it until next winter.
Use a leaf rake or your skimmer net to remove any leaves or other large debris that may be in the pool water. Should you have any other debris, such as silt or sludge remaining on the bottom of the pool, you will want to vacuum or remove it with a self-contained pool cleaner. Now is a good time to clean your pool filter also, if you did not do it when closing last season.
Don’t neglect to inspect the skimmer, return lines, hoses, fittings, pump(s), filter system or any other components for hairline cracks, breaks or other signs of wear or damage while you are at it. Now is the time to repair or replace damaged items, if noticed, so that you are ready to swim.
If you are using a sand filter, inspect the sand and top it off with the appropriate medium to the correct level, if needed. Cartridge and DE filters should be attached and fitted with appropriate refills or supplies, as necessary. Remember that we mentioned cleaning these above after vacuuming the pool, so you can see that this is important! A clean filter is critical to a clean pool, so starting out right ensures the easiest way to a maintain your pool for the entire season.
Make sure to attach all hoses, fittings, components, and your solar heating system, if one is employed. If you do not have ball valves installed at the skimmer or return lines, now would be a great time to add them to your pool. These can be a valuable addition for emergency water supply shut-off at intake and outlet sources if work is needed anywhere in between. If you have a sand filter, go ahead and carefully add water to the filter before to attaching the muti-port gasket. You may install steps or ladders now or after pool is filled, whichever is easiest for you.
The pool should be filled to the middle of the skimmer throat prior to turning on the filter system. Go ahead and check for any leaks at the fittings and hoses before turning on your equipment, and once again when your equipment is turned on and pressure is on the system. This will ensure that you have no leaks either when the pool is running or shut off.
If you have a water source which may have metals in the water, such as a well, for example, adding a sequestering agent may be required and should be administered prior to the addition of chlorine products. Follow the instructions on the product, and filter out the metals by running your system for approximately 24 hours, if possible. Test the water again to make sure that the metal content is in the acceptable range. You may find that you have to run the system a bit longer, or add more sequestering agent, to get the levels to an acceptable level.
Test your pool water chemistry with a quality drop based test kit (we like the Taylor K2006-C). Typically, chlorine levels will be at zero. Your initial TA, pH, and CYA levels need to be tested and must be determined before adding chemicals to balance these in your pool. For owners of Salt Water Chlorine Generators (SWCG), the salt level should also be determined with Salt Test Strips or a meter, prior to the addition of chemicals, as well as to establish the correct amount of replacement salt needed to properly operate the equipment. Most SWCG’s operate with a salt content between 2,800-3,200 ppm, but make sure to see where the manufacturer of your unit suggests and set accordingly.
To really make things simple, use the Pool Calculator (www.thepoolcalculator.com) to determine the correct amounts of chlorine, CYA, muriatic acid or other chemicals needed and add each as instructed. Many times pools will require “shocking” the pool with high doses of chlorine and running the pump continually to kill any algae which may be present. To find the appropriate amount of chlorine you will need to “shock” your pool, use the Pool Calculator program. This area alone is probably the biggest reason to have a good quality test kit, as you cannot accurately test for the high levels of chlorine needed to shock and kill algae without it. Reaching the proper shock (kill) level is critical, as is maintaining that level until the algae is defeated.
The use of a skimmer “sock” can also be beneficial during spring start up, as it will assist with clarifying the water while removing bugs, tree pollen and other small debris that you may have missed when skimming the pool. Keep a close eye on this to avoid clogging the skimmer, if you use one and have a large amount of surface debris. Ideally, a thorough skimming prior to turning on the system, even if using a skimmer sock, is recommended.
After a cold winter, this should be something that you and the whole family look forward to! Spending a few minutes a day testing and adjusting chemistry levels will get your water sparkling blue in no time, and you’ll be ready for another season of swimming fun for the whole family! Can’t you already hear the sizzle of the grill and the fizz of the cold drinks?