As soon as it feels like spring, most people start itching to get their swimming pools ready for the summer. With trees blossoming and temperatures getting mild, summer is around the corner and you want your swimming pool to be ready for swimming, parties, and spending quality time with your family. All of which is perfectly understandable! After all, pool season is the reason why you installed a swimming pool on your property in the first place, so you shouldn’t waste a single day.
In areas where winters are mild, and frost is rare, you can get away with minor pool protection. Opening your pool for the year will take less time and be more straightforward. If you live in an area with harsh winters, though, you probably closed your pool for winter to protect it from ice and snow. This means you must reverse all you did in the fall to prepare your pool for swimming season.
Either way, you can’t go wrong if you follow the simple steps below before you open your pool for the year.
1. Inspect Your Pool
The first thing to do is inspect the pool and the surrounding area. If trees are overgrown, trim them to give yourself and your guests ample space around the pool. You want to move around without brushing against trees and bushes. Tree trimming will also minimize the number of leaves and debris landing on your pool, making cleaning it much more manageable.
Check the deck for any damage. If you feel the deck requires inspection and repair, take care of it.
Take a look around the swimming pool for anything visibly broken. If you spot anything broken or amiss, call Waterside Poolscapes professionals to fix it. For example, puddles of water around the swimming pool may suggest a leaking pipe from the pool equipment. A professional will tackle the problem in the best possible way.
2. Remove, Clean, and Store the Pool Cover
Once you have inspected your swimming pool and the surrounding area, it is time to remove and store away the pool cover. Remember that you may need help removing, cleaning, and folding it as it is hard for one person to do so independently.
First, though, you should remove any debris and grime so that the pool cover is ready to use in the fall when you close your swimming pool again. Clean it with a soft brush to reduce the risk of making abrasions and tears in the material. When you store it, choose a place where bugs, insects, and rodents cannot access it. Such unwelcome visitors could turn the cover into their home, requiring buying a new cover in the fall.
3. Reconnect Equipment
If you have winterized your pool, you may have disconnected several components to protect them from freezing. It is time to reconnect the equipment to prepare the pool for the season.
If you have disconnected any parts of the plumbing system or the filter and pump components, you must reconnect them all so your pool can function correctly.
4. Remove Winterizing Plugs
Winterizing plugs is an important part of pool maintenance during the colder months. They are used to seal off drain holes, return lines, and skimmer pipes to prevent any water or debris from entering your pool during the winter when it is not in use. By sealing off these areas, you can ensure that your pool remains clean and free of damage due to cold temperatures. Additionally, installing winterizing plugs will save energy and money on heating costs as lower temperatures cannot enter the pool.
If you live in a cold place, you may have installed winterizing plugs to protect your pool pipes from damage by stopping water from circulating in the pipes and freezing inside them. Now that warm weather is back, you must remove the plugs and let water travel freely through the pipes.
5. Replace the Pool Filter
The next step is replacing your pool filter to function optimally during summer. The pool filter works 6 to 12 hours a day during the pool season. Depending on the type of filter you have installed, you will need to check the pool filter or replace it.
6. Prime the Pool Pump and Filter
No water flowed through the pump and the filter while your pool was closed. Instead, the air was circulating in the system. Now that you want to open the pool again, you must take the air out—which is what priming does.
When you prime the pool pump and filter, you bring water into the system and push away any air pockets. The pump is equipped with a basket. Since your swimming pool is not yet working, you must use a hose to fill the basket with water. Water will slowly rise to the suction line and push out any air stuck inside the pump and filter.
This is also an excellent time to inspect for any water leaks and cracks in the equipment. If you notice anything unusual, contact Waterside Poolscapes, who will handle the issue and replace or fix any worn component.
7. Add Water
The time has come to add water to your swimming pool and bring the water level to its optimal level. Swimming pool professionals typically advise that you fill the pool to the middle of the waterline tile or the middle of the skimmer opening.
Depending on how much evaporation there was during winter, filling up the swimming pool could take some time.
8. Turn on the System
Now that you have inspected, cleaned, and primed the system and filled your swimming pool with the right amount of water, you are ready to turn on the system.
The most important thing is to run the pump and filter, so they start cleaning and circulating the water. We suggest you run the pump for at least 12 hours when opening your pool because the water has stagnated for months. The pump will do a thorough job of cleaning up the pool water.
Take a moment to notice how the whole system is operating. Are you hearing weird gargling noises? Does something sound or look out of place? If you feel something is not working correctly, now is the time to fix it when the damage is minimal.
Leaving a minor leak or repair could cause further damage and require expensive repairs—not to mention that you would be deprived of swimming pool access in the heart of the summer.
9. Reinstall Ladders and Accessories
You may have removed accessories such as ladders, slides, diving boards, and hard rails when winterizing your pool in the fall.
You can now reinstall all the pool accessories, so your swimming pool is safe and ready for pool season. Ensure you attach all equipment safely and scrutinize it to ensure no cracks or other failings in the accessories and components.
10. Clean the Pool
Your pool has not been working for the past few months, so the water will likely have plenty of debris floating around. You want to give the pool a good scrubbing with a brush, thus loosening any dirt stuck to the tiles. Next, clean the bottom of the pool with a vacuum to remove any sediment lingering at the bottom.
11. Test and Balance the Water
Your pool now looks pristine, but you must also ensure that all pool chemicals are balanced so that algae and bacteria are kept at bay.
Specifically, you must test the water for alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardiness. The goal is to balance the water perfectly so that the water is safe for swimming while preventing bacteria and algae from building up and colonizing the water.
Use test strips to test the water. Run a test a few hours after the pump has been working to give it time to circulate the water thoroughly throughout the pool. If the test shows that the pool chemicals are out of sync, you should start by balancing the alkalinity before moving to pH and calcium hardness.
Poorly balanced alkalinity also impacts the water’s pH levels, so you must bring it to optimal levels before tackling the pH.
Total alkalinity should be between 80 and 120 ppm.
When alkalinity is too low, metals corrode, and the water is unpleasant to swim in because the water is too acidic.
Too much alkalinity diminishes chlorine efficiency and allows the scale to build up on swimming pool surfaces. If you use cyanuric acid to stabilize chlorine, remember that too much cyanuric acid increases the alkalinity in the pool.
The optimal pH level in the swimming pool hovers between 7.4 and 7.6. When the pH rises above 7.6, the water is alkaline. Chlorine efficiency is reduced, and scale forms on the pool surfaces. Water turns cloudy and unpleasant to swim in and look at.
When the pH falls below 7.4, the water turns acidic. Swimming in acidic water results in stinging eyes and may cause rashes on the skin. Acidic water also corrodes swimming pool equipment, particularly metal parts.
Some chemicals balance the pH levels, depending on whether they are too high or too low.
Calcium hardness is used to estimate how soft or hard the water is. It should be between 200 and 400 ppm in swimming pool water.
The calcium hardness levels are too low if you see signs of metal corrosion and damage to grouting and surfaces.
High calcium hardness displays itself with scale buildup on surfaces. This can endanger the proper functioning of the pool: for example, the scale can block pipes and other equipment.
12. Shock the Pool
You shock your pool to kill off bacteria, algae, and unwelcome intruders. Since swimming pools are exposed to the elements, it is very easy for bacteria or algae to build up in the water during winter.
When you shock the pool, you introduce a significant amount of chlorine—usually three times the normal—to kill residual germ or bacterial activity.
You can shock your pool yourself by wearing protective gear and slowly walking around the pool, pouring chlorine into the water. The point of walking around it is to introduce shock to every nook and cranny of the pool.
If the pool has visible signs of algae, you must brush the pool surface hard to remove algae built-up. The shock will kill the remnants, and the pool filter will discard all algae debris away from the pool.
When you finish, run the pump and the filter so that the water circulates and the shock reaches even the smallest and furthest away area of the pool. We suggest you run the pump for 24 hours after shocking the pool.
You should check the water for chlorine levels after the shock has run its course to ensure they are at optimal levels—usually 1 to 4 ppm. Remember that it may take a few days for chlorine levels to drop to the optimal levels, so we suggest you not swim until all chemicals are correctly balanced and tested.
13. Add Other Chemicals
Besides alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardiness, you must also monitor bacteria, germs, and algae.
Algaecides are chemical compounds that are used to kill or control the growth of algae. They work by damaging cell walls and inhibiting algal growth, thus preventing algae from blooming.
Algaecides can be applied directly to the water or added to pool filtration systems for longer-term effects. This prevents built-up and water colonization by swimming pool algae and helps control algae presence by stopping them from entering and multiplying in the swimming pool water.
Clarifiers are chemical solutions that help filter and remove dirt, debris, and contaminants from pool water. These substances link up with particles in the water and make it easier for them to sink to the bottom of the pool, thus making it easier for automatic filtering systems to remove them. This helps to keep the water clean and free from bacteria.
Adding a clarifier often makes a significant difference in water clarity, improving water quality and visibility. Specifically, clarifiers help improve pool clarity by removing the tiny particles that can otherwise cloud a pool’s water.
Let the filter run for a few hours after applying the clarifier, and make sure you clean the filter thoroughly to remove any particle debris.
Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts, accelerating chemical reactions. In swimming pools, enzymes help break down oils, sweat, and other organic waste that can carry bacteria and contaminants.
The enzymes break these organic wastes into smaller particles that can be more easily filtered out by the pool’s filtration system. Additionally, when added to a swimming pool with chlorine, enzymes help reduce chlorine demand, maintain a balanced pH level, and keep the water clean.
Enzymes do not sanitize a pool, but they make eliminating unwanted compounds and contaminants easier.
When you open the pool for the season, you can run a course of enzymes to ensure that any unwanted residue and contaminant built-up has been neutralized.
Enjoy the Pool This Summer!
Although there’s a lot involved with opening your pool for another summer of swimming, you do get to enjoy time soaking in the water once everything is up and running. However, if you start opening your pool for the summer and realize it’s time to upgrade or construct an entirely new one for your backyard, don’t hesitate to contact Waterside Poolscapes.
As the custom pool builders for the greater Houston area, we are ready and willing to make your dreams of a beautiful custom pool a reality. We promise to provide an enjoyable experience with swift, clear communication and a team dedicated to bringing you the beautiful backyard oasis you deserve. Visit us online to schedule a consultation call—we can’t wait to bring your pool to life.