Opening an Above Ground Swimming Pool
Now that summer is quickly approaching, it's time to start thinking about getting your pool ready for swimming. Of course, depending on where you live, this process can be started at different times. As I live in Canada, I have always started when all the snow and ice had completely melted and it had warmed up a bit. Usually, this means late April or early May.
- Before removing your winter cover, scoop off as much debris as you can and pump off the water. In the fall, we cover our pool with a leaf net to try and catch and remove as many leaves as possible before closing the pool for the winter. This has saved us a lot of time in the spring, as we have a lot less cleaning to do.
- Remove the winter cover and lay it out to dry. Clean the cover thoroughly and then pack away until you need it next winter.
- Clean out as much of the debris as you can before you start to add water. This should make clearing the debris easier as it's not getting broken down and mixed into the pool water.
- Fill the pool back up to the normal level and remove any winter plugs, etc. from your filter and pump. Once your pool is filled so that the input and output are covered, you can think about turning on your pump to begin filtering.
- Check your filter, pump and hoses thoroughly before turning them on. If you didn't clean them in the fall, you should do it now. Also, remember to prime the motor before turning your pump on and allow any trapped air to escape.
- Once you have your pump and filter running smoothly, you can now vacuum your pool to remove any dirt and algae. Do this before you check the water chemistry or add any chemicals. Leaves, etc., will affect the chemistry of the water and adding pool chemicals will cause them to break down, making it harder to clean the pool.
- Before you add any chlorine or other chemicals, let your filter run for at least a day to allow the newly added water to mix thoroughly with the water left over from the winter.
- Once the water has been allowed to mix, check the chemistry of it. If you don't have a water test kit of your own, you should take a pool water sample to your local swimming pool supplier. They will be able to provide an assessment of the water and also, suggest the chemicals you need.
- You should be testing the pH, alkalinity, hardness and acidity of your pool water. pH should be between 7.2 - 7.8, or your pool chemicals will not work. If you are above or below this level, you can get a pH decreaser or increaser to correct it. If you get your pH to the right level, your alkalinity and acidity should also be corrected.
- Once your pH is correct, you can start to add your starter kit chemicals. Usually, a starter kit includes shock (super powerful chlorine), algaecide and clarifier. If your water is clear, you add the shock and let your pool run, but if the water is green, you need to remove the algae before you go on to the next step. Adding a heavy dose of shock should kill all the algae. Once this is done, scrub the sides and bottom to remove any residual algae. Add a clarifier to the water, which will cause the algae to clump together and make it easier to vacuum. Once your water is clear, you can then add the start up chemicals as indicated on the container.
- Within 24 hours, your pool water will be perfectly safe for swimming in, although it will be pretty chilly. Either put on your solar blanket or turn on your heater. Once the water temperature has reached a comfortable level, you are good to go, so install any handrails, ladders, slides, diving boards, etc, and enjoy your pool!