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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 in order to have a clean and safe pool that is 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 Pool Cover

Remove excess water from the cover before opening the pool

If you have a winter cover or a 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 when water is on them, so we recommend using a sump pump to drain the water off the cover before moving it.

It is best to use two people when taking the cover off of 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 does spill in, don't worry. 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 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 cracks and rips. Loosely fold the cover 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.

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

3. Reconnect and Maintain All Pool Equipment

At pool opening time, you will want to reconnect all the equipment that you disconnected before the winter season. This usually includes the pool filter, pump, heater, automatic pool cleaner, in-line chlorinators, and all other pool equipment. This is also the time to reattach any ladders, hand rails, and other pool accessories that were taken down for winter.

When connecting your equipment, it's a good idea to lubricate all o-rings, seals, and hardware with a 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. 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 inlets/outlets with winterizing plugs. These rubber plugs provide a very tight seal and prevent any 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 re-connecting your equipment, you will want to remove all of the winter plugs and put the pool inlets and outlets back in place. Remember to also reinstall the drain plugs in your pool equipment. If the water level is below the skimmer, you can now refill the pool.

5. Remove and Prevent Metal Stains with METALfree

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 METALfree during spring opening can help neutralize the metals in your pool and prevent further staining on the walls and pool floor. METALfree also helps eliminate “stained water” that comes from having high metal content.

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 easiest and quickest 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, test for total alkalinity, pH, chlorine, calcium hardness, and stabilizer (cyanuric acid) levels.

Pool chemistry can get way out of balance over the winter, and will need to return to safe levels before swimming. Whether opening the pool or maintaining water chemistry, safe and proper chemical levels for standard chlorine pool water are as follows:

  • Total Alkalinity (TA): 80 to 120 ppm
  • pH: 7.4 to 7.6
  • Free Available Chlorine (FAC): 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness (CH): 200 to 400 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid (CYA): 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 during pool opening. Total alkalinity should be balanced first, because it will help bring the other aspects of water chemistry closer to their normal range. This makes it significantly easier to achieve a safe and clean pool.

To lower the total alkalinity, you can use Leslie’s Dry Acid. This product quickly decreases total alkalinity levels in your pool. A dose of 1½ pounds of Leslie’s Dry Acid in 10,000 gallons of water will lower the total alkalinity by 10 ppm. If you need to increase total alkalinity levels, use Leslie’s Alkalinity Up. To raise total alkalinity by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons, use 1½ pounds of Alkalinity Up.

Once the total alkalinity has returned within the range of 80 to 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, 1¼ pounds of Leslie’s Hardness Plus will raise the levels by 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons of water. It's much more difficult to lower the calcium hardness level than it is to raise it, so be sure to keep calcium levels below 400 ppm, and don't add too much hardness increaser at once.

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, and help your filtration system begin to eliminate any algae spores. With the extra contaminants out of the way, your chlorine can work more 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 the strain on your filter. Once you've brushed and vacuumed the pool, allow your filtration system to 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, and other organic contaminants that may have entered your pool during the winter off-season. To shock your pool, use 2 pounds of shock for every 10,000 gallons of water, which should raise your chlorine levels to 10.0 ppm. Depending on your pool, you can use either 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, we recommend 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 will prevent the growth of most types of algae, and help keep your pool clean, clear, and fresh all year long. Once you've added the algae controller, the last step is to take a water sample into your nearest Leslie’s location for a FREE AccuBlue® Water Test. Once they give your pool the OK with a professional water test, you are 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 store to speak with a knowledgeable pool expert.