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Opening an Above Ground Swimming Pool

Updated on April 25, 2009

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Remove the winter cover and lay it out to dry. Clean the cover thoroughly and then pack away until you need it next winter.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!


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    • blackbv profile image

      blackbv 4 years ago from Canada

      I have never heard of that before about the bugs. Where is the leak? If it's in the base of the pool, it may be due to the ground underneath your pool not being cleared well enough. Small, sharp stones, etc. can cause tears in the pool liner if the ground hasn't been properly prepared.

    • profile image

      william garnett 4 years ago

      I have been having trouble getting the alge cleared up in my pool and also have a small leak too, the pool is only one year old. A lady told me the leak might have been caused by bugs under the pool which have made small holes in the liner!! Is this true with anyone else that has a ontop ground pool.

      thanks william garnett

    • profile image

      Aboveground Pools 6 years ago

      Extremely thorough explanation. Well done.

    • HomerMCho profile image

      HomerMCho 6 years ago

      Wonderful tips! Good hub, blackbv.

    • blackbv profile image

      blackbv 7 years ago from Canada

      Have you taken the water into a local pool place to have it tested? You may be using the wrong chemicals. Also, if it hasn't been opened or run in at least 2 years, it is likely that the filter will need replacing and the unit will need cleaning out. Finally, it is likely that you will have to scrub the pool liner to get all the dirt / algae / etc. off it. This can take some time and your pool will look dirty during this process.

    • profile image

      pkcarter 7 years ago

      just bought a home with an above ground pool that hasnt been opened for two years ive have shocked it heavy and back washed it about every 2 hours it still looks like lake water (HELP) I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ABOVE GRD POOLS

    • sporn profile image

      sporn 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the info - we're building a pool at the moment. Going to go with a salt water pool as it seems a lot more eco friendly than chlorine (and easier on the eyes).

    • profile image

      Casey Ollson 7 years ago

      Also it's a good idea to buy a brush to brush any debris that are stuck to the bottom of the pool that the cleaner didn't get up the first time around.

    • profile image

      Pool Chemicals 7 years ago

      Thanks for the info. We are getting ready to open our pool now, and this information will definately be put to use!

    • profile image

      Karen Reader 7 years ago

      Thanks for all the info on above ground swimming pools, especially the part about pH levels. A lot of people don't realize how important this aspect of pool care is.

    • profile image

      Kenny  7 years ago

      You can also reference - they have instructions for every pool on how to install, etc.

    • profile image

      Above Ground Pool Expert 8 years ago

      The information from this article has really helped me at work. Resolved an issue with a customers, thanks, hard to find good pool-related information on the web.



    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      These tips are great. Thanks for answering my request! :o)