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Opening an Inground Swimming Pool

Updated on October 8, 2014

You can open your inground swimming pool yourself!

Opening an inground swimming pool can seem intimidating. That's why so many pool owners pay someone else to do it! I know. I used to pay over $500 each year for someone to open my pool for me.

And then one year I asked myself, "Why? Why pay somebody else that much money to open my pool?"

So I watched what the pros do, and realized it wasn't that hard! The next year I tried it myself, and I've been opening my own pool ever since.

I'll show you how to open your pool the easy way, and how to save money while doing it!

Why does it seem so hard? - Because everybody's trying to sell you something!

The problem with all the advice you see about opening a pool is that it's usually given by someone who has something to sell you. Take this how to video, for example. Look how many chemicals they say you need just in the first minute!

You don't need all those chemicals. Nor do you need a "super value!!!" opening kit that promises to save you money by selling you unnecessary stuff. All you need is a couple hours of time and a few basic items.

Step 0 - Get a head start!

The pool opening secret weapon

You'll have less work if you can keep your water cleaner. As soon as the water temperature starts rising, algae start growing. I keep them at bay by dumping a few gallons of chlorine into my pool right about the time that I put down weedblock on my lawn in the spring (which is about the time the Forsythia starts to bloom). I have a 36,000 gallon pool and dump one and a half gallons of bleach into each corner of the deep end, and another one and a half gallons of bleach into the shallow end.

Step 1 - Take off the cover

Before you take off your pool cover, look it over to see if it suffered any damage over the winter. Remove any leaves or debris, and then remove it. It's a good idea to let it dry thoroughly before putting it away.

Step 2 - Pump out the muck

You'll need two hoses for this

Chances are that over the winter lots of muck has entered your pool and settled down to the bottom - even if you have a good pool cover. Chances also are that over the winter your pool level has risen, so your pool needs to be drained to get it to the correct level. (If you live in a dry area and your water level is low, then you can skip this step and instead add water to the correct level)

I like to use this as an opportunity to get rid of as much muck as I can.

This step is really easy if you have a portable pool pump, but if you can't tell, I'm cheap. So I just use my regular pump.

Set the pump in place, hook it up to the plumbing, and plug it in. Then remove the plugs from the water returns in the pool, and from the intake under the skimmer basket. Prime the pump by either pouring buckets of water into it from the pool, or by running a garden hose into it.

Once the pump is primed, hook up one hose to your pool vacuum like you normally would. Hook up the other hose to pipe on the pump that would normally go to your filter. Run that hose to a storm drain or other area where the water will drain away (make sure you are in compliance with your local code).

Now turn the pump on and use the vacuum to suck up and eliminate as much muck as you can from the bottom of the pool while draining the pool to the correct level.

Step 3 - Set up your filter

Once your water line is at the correct level, disconnect the hose from the filter side of your pump (leave the vacuum hose in place). Assemble your filter and connect it to the pump and to your return lines. Make sure you don't forget to add filter medium! I have a DE filter, so once it's assembled I turn it on, and then add DE through the skimmer basket while the pump is running.

Step 4 - Check Alakalinity, Ph, and Stabilizer levels

Do this before adding chlorine!

Before adding any chlorine, make sure that you check your alkalinity, Ph, and stabilizer levels using a good 4-way test kit. Test strips are easier, but the results are far less accurate, so I prefer the liquid test kits where you place drops into a measured tube. If any adjustments are needed, add cyanuric acid or sodium carbonate as necessary.

If you have made adjustments during this step, it is important to let your water circulate for at least a couple hours before adding chlorine!

I like to use this time to continue vacuuming the bottom and sides of the pool to continue cleaning up any remaining muck.

Step 5 - Shock your pool

Skip the algaecide

When shocking at opening, I like to plus the dosage up a little bit for good measure. Where I live it's too cold to swim anyway, so the pool will have lots of time for the chlorine levels to come back down.

A good shock at this point should be all you need to kill any remaining algae! I have never had to resort to algaecide to get rid of algae. Proper chlorine levels and a little bit of vacuuming and brushing get it out every time.

Step 6 - Let it run!

And be patient...

At this point, you need to let your filter and the chlorine shock do their work. Your pool was sleeping all winter. Give it several days to wake up!

Lots of people throw in clarifiers, algaecides, and tons of other chemicals to speed up the process. All this does is waste money, and potentially through off the chemical balance of your water.

Keep bumping your filter, and vacuum as necessary. You should find that in several days, your water is as sparkling clean as ever!

I hope you found this information to be useful! I welcome any comments or questions you may have, and encourage you to share your own pool opening tips below.

Thanks for visiting!

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