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Top 10 Pool Opening Tips

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 for pool season! Even though the sun is shining and the water is warm, the pool isn’t quite ready for swimmers, yet. There are some necessary steps every pool owner must take to have a clean and safe pool, ready to handle a long summer season. Leslie's is here to help with 10 tips on how to open your pool.

Before starting the pool opening process, we recommend having all the chemicals you will need on hand. Save this list as a quick and easy reference guide for opening pools in all climates.

1. Remove Excess Water with a Sump Pump Before Taking Off the Pool Cover

Remove excess water from the cover before opening the pool

If you have a winter cover or solid safety cover, chances are a fair amount of water and debris has built up on the cover during the long winter off-season. Pool covers can be difficult to remove with water on them, so we recommend using a submersible cover pump to drain the water off the cover before moving it.

It is best to use two people when taking the cover off the pool, because even with most of the water drained off, pool covers can still be quite heavy. Take care not to spill too much debris from the cover into the pool, or else it'll take longer to open the pool. If a small amount of water or debris spills in, don't worry too much. The pool will soon be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed.

2. Care For Your Pool Cover to Keep it Clean and Strong

After removing the cover from your pool, it is important to clean, fold, and properly store the cover to avoid any damage during the summer. Once the cover is off the pool, lay it out flat, and brush off the remaining water and debris. Let the cover dry thoroughly. Before folding it, sprinkle on a little bit of Leslie’s Alkalinity Up or talcum powder to prevent mold and mildew from growing on the cover.

Take special care when folding the cover to prevent damage and rips. Loosely fold the cover and then store it in a cool, dry place, such as a basement, garage, or storage shed. This should help keep your cover in good condition year after year.

3. Don't Forget to Remove Winterizing Plugs and Replace Drain Plugs

If you live in an area where the winter temperature drops below zero, then you may have replaced the pool inlet/outlet fittings with winterizing plugs. These rubber plugs provide a tight seal, and prevent plumbing damage due to leaks or ice during winter. You may have also installed a skimmer plug or gizzmo to protect your skimmer from expanding ice. After addressing your equipment, remove all winter plugs and put the pool inlets and outlets back in place. Remember to also reinstall the drain plugs in your pool equipment.

One quick note — if you used antifreeze to winterize the suction plumbing you'll want to discharge this to waste or backwash the filter to remove it. You can also remove the antifreeze with a wet-dry vacuum.

If the water level is below the skimmer, now's the time to refill the pool.

Remember to add drain plugs back into your pool pump during pool opening

4. Maintain All Pool Equipment

At pool opening time, you'll need to un-winterize and/or reconnect all the equipment you disconnected before the winter season. This usually includes the pool filter, pump, heater, automatic pool cleaner, in-line chlorinators, and any other pool equipment. This is also the time to reattach any ladders, hand rails, and other pool accessories taken down for winter.

When addressing your equipment, it's a good idea to lubricate all o-rings, gaskets, and hardware with a silicone lubricant. This will keep the equipment watertight and working properly all summer long. It will also make it easier for you to disassemble (as needed) when you close your pool.

BONUS TIP: Did you know Leslie's offers free in-store labor on pool equipment repairs? Just bring your pool cleaner or anything else needing a repair or tune-up to your local Leslie's. We won't charge a dime for the labor on the repair — all you pay for are the parts. We can help you get your pool up and running in no time.

5. Remove and Prevent Metal Stains with noMetal

Once the pump is up and running, you're ready to start adding chemicals to the water. Over a long winter off-season, metals like copper and iron can build up in the pool and cause stains. These metals can be difficult to remove once they've reached concentrations where they're staining the walls, so it's best to attack them early. One initial dose of Leslie's noMetal during spring opening can help neutralize the metals in your pool and prevent further staining on the walls and pool floor. Leslie's noMetal also helps eliminate “stained water” discoloration, which comes from high metal content.

Alternatively, if you are using one of Leslie's Opening Kits, you can use the included bottle of Leslie's Stain & Scale Prevent Start-Up to avoid stains and scale while opening the pool.

6. Measure Water Chemistry at Home with Test Strips or a Test Kit

Leslie's Water Test Kits help understand water chemistry during pool opening

The fastest and easiest way to test your water at home is to use test strips or a test kit. It's important to test your water chemistry before adding any chemicals, because this will help you know exactly what's needed and how much chemical to add. To start with, focus on Total Alkalinity and pH. Things like Free Available Chlorine, Calcium Hardness, and Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) levels are also important, but you can adjust those later, toward the end of your pool opening routine. The recommended water balance ranges are as follows:

  • Total Alkalinity (TA): 80–120 ppm
  • pH: 7.4–7.6
  • Free Available Chlorine (FAC): 2.0–4.0 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness (CH): 200–400 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid (CYA): 30–100 ppm

7. When Balancing Water, Start With Total Alkalinity

Once you've tested your water, it's time to start adding balancing chemicals to adjust water chemistry. When adding any chemicals to the pool, always carefully read and follow product label instructions. Also keep your pump running at high speed until the chemical is fully integrated into the water, often 1–4 hours or longer after adding the chemical to the water. Never mix chemicals or add them to the water at the same time!

Start by balancing Total Alkalinity first, as it has a direct impact on pH levels. To lower the Total Alkalinity (TA), you can use Leslie’s Dry Acid. A dose of 1½ pounds of Leslie’s Dry Acid in 10,000 gallons of water will lower the TA level by 10 ppm. If you need to increase TA levels, use Leslie’s Alkalinity Up or Leslie's Soda Ash, depending on pH levels. To raise TA by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons, use 1½ pounds of Alkalinity Up.

Once Total Alkalinity has returned to a range of 80–120 ppm, you can begin to adjust the other chemistry levels in the pool. Test again to check the new pH level, since it likely changed after your TA adjustment. 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.

DIY TIP: Looking for more water balancing tips? Check out our complete guide on How To Balance Pool Water.

8. Brush and Vacuum Your Pool Thoroughly

A pool brush helps keep your pool cleaner year round

Even if you use a solid cover on your pool during the winter, there may still be a fair amount of dirt and debris in your pool at opening time. 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, as well as help your filtration system remove the extra debris. With the extra contaminants out of the way, your chlorine can work most efficiently.

When brushing your pool, it's 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 to reduce strain on your filter. Once you've brushed and vacuumed the pool, let your filtration system run overnight, before shocking the pool the next day.

9. Shock the Pool to Remove Bacteria and Contaminants

Shocking your pool is the final step for getting rid of all the bacteria, algae spores, germs, and other microorganisms. Lots of organic contaminants may have entered your pool during the winter off-season! To shock your pool, follow the shock or superchlorination directions on your shock product label. We strongly recommend using Leslie’s Chlor Brite when opening the pool. If using an Opening Kit, you'll add shock at a rate of 1 bag (1 pound) per 10,000 gallons of water.

10. Treat the Water with Algaecide, Clarifier, and Phosphate Remover

After shocking the pool, run the circulation system overnight, then add algaecide the following day. For a clean and algae-free swimming season, we recommend starting treatment before the first swimmers even think about jumping into the pool.

Another common issue at pool opening time is cloudy water. To help your filter clear up the water faster, add a dose of clarifier, such as Leslie's Ultra Brite Advanced.

To keep your pool algae-free after start-up, it's important to keep phosphate levels under control. Leslie's Perfect Weekly is a powerful 3-in-1 formula that removes phosphates, adds enzymes to the water, and helps reduce evaporation from the pool. Using it as part of your weekly maintenance routine can help you save money on water and chemicals, while keeping your pool clean, clear, and fresh all summer long.

Bonus Tip: Leslie's is Here to Help!

To finish opening your pool and getting it ready for swim season, just take a water sample to your nearest Leslie’s for a FREE AccuBlue® water test. Got algae or cloudy pool water? No problem. If your pool needs extra attention, you'll find all the details and step-by-step instructions in a customized water treatment plan. Once we give your pool the final OK with our professional water test, you're ready for a summer of fun in the sun!

Leslie's is your go-to resource for all the pool opening supplies you need this spring. If you have any questions or need help opening your pool, stop by your local Leslie’s to speak with one of our friendly pool experts. You can also find lots of helpful tips and expert advice in our Resource Center, including complete instructions on how to open a pool.

Essential Pool Opening Chemicals

Leslie's Premium Opening Kit Bundle

Shop Opening Kits

Leslie's Pool Shock

Shop Pool Shock

Leslie's 3 inch Jumbo Tabs

Shop Chlorine

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