Gone Outdoors

How to Open a Pool After Winter

by braniac

It's time to open your pool for the season, but you're not sure where to start? Well, start right here!

Since there are so many different types of pools, this article will deal with the most common one around the country, an above ground pool with a filtering system. There are a lot of things to check because not everyone closed their pool properly. So we'll just try to take things one at a time. Okay?!

First, if you had a winter cover on the pool and it survived in tact you'll need to remove it, but wait a minute! The ideal situation has inflatable toys or pillows still full of air underneath the cover. We know however that this isn't a perfect world, so yours may have deflated. If that is the case, then your winter cover has probably taken on snow, which is now black water that is full of leaves. In fact, the weight of all of that stagnant water has actually displaced your pool water and sent it up and out of the pool over the course of time. You need to carefully begin dipping out the leaves from the topside of your cover with your leaf net, either on its pole or by itself if you can reach them with it. Take care not to tear the cover. It survived all winter so we don't need to put a rip in it now! Once you've got all of the leaves removed, you need to remove as much of that black water as you possibly can. Don't think that you can untie the cover and manuver a foot of water because at almost 8 lbs. per gallon it will quickly get the better of the situation and could end up mixing with your pool water. The water that you spent so much time and money on at the end of last season. Some folks use a wet-vac or a shop-vac to suck the water off the cover. However you do it please be careful.

Now that the cover is off, there are a few things you'll need to access. First, what is the condition of the water? Is it clear, dull, dirty? If clear, then add new fill water until it reaches half way up your skimmer that is built into the side of the pool.

Next, depending on what type of filtering system you have you'll need to change the sand, put in fresh D.E powder or pop in a new cartridge. The suggestion of using new media affords you the opportunity to avert a crisis before it happens. Here is what I mean. Let's say that you have a sand filter. The type of sand you should be using is silica sand #20 not play sand or any other type. The size of the grains are between .35mm and .55mm which prevents them from being sucked back into the pool during filtering. Old sand can harbor algae. It might be a few inches down, but unless removed and the filter cannister hosed out, you'll be putting old algae into your new water. The same holds true for all other filter media. By the way, sand should be good for about 3 or 4 years in your filter provided that you took the time to use a filter cleaner several times during the previous season. If not, just dump it and start fresh!

Put your filter to filtering mode, hook up all hoses and connections and begin to filter. If there is debris present, it may be located in a centralized location. Your first move is to carefully try to dip the debris out of the pool with your leaf net and pole. If all but a small amount remains, consider carefully placing the vac-head of your vac-system on top of the pile and then turn your control to waste. Once you turn the system on the debris will be sucked up and exit the pool through the waste port of your filter. Remember that the clock is ticking and every second sends your pool water out onto the lawn at a high rate of speed. Refill the pool to the correct water level again and begin filtering.

Time to take a water sample. If you are using chlorine as the sanitizer you should invest in a test kit that tests for chlorine, pH and Total Alkalinity. $12 to $15 is a cheap price to pay for the accuracy that this kit will give you and the headaches it will save you. First adjust your alkalinity. It should be between 80 parts per million (ppm) and 120 ppm. It might takes pounds of it to get it right. Don't cheap out! Your water needs that alkalinity to be adjusted correctly for everything else to function properly. Once you have that right, test again. Your pH has been increased by the addition of the alkalinity powder. So, you'll need to add either pH increaser (pH+) or pH decreaser (pH-) depending on just where the pH is. Add only half of the required amount and then test again in about ten minutes. Keep creeping towards your goal of an ideal pH which is between 7.2 and 7.6 on the pH scale. It's better to do it in steps than to overshoot your mark and have to add the opposite chemical to compensate for it. Remember, you're dealing with a small vial of water in the test kit. A few droplets below a measuring line makes a big difference in what your results will show, so please be as accurate as possible. Once your pH is correct, add chlorine shock to your skimmer followed by one or two 3" chlorine pucks in the skimmer basket. If you use another type of sanitizing system then follow the instructions on their products or consult with an authorized dealer of that product.

Well, your pool is clean and your filtering system is helping to keep it that way. Remember that chlorine gets sucked out of your pool by the sun. If you use chlorine you need to monitor the chlorine level closely to insure that you have enough to kill algae, but not too much to sting eyes and bleach bathing suits and pool liners. In the really hot weather you will probably have to add pool shock more than once a week. Also, a small recommended dose of algaecide will help to curtail its growth as well.

I hope that some of this information has been helpful to you. There are a million different situations and it's not possible to cover them all, but I think that these broad brush strokes will get you headed in the right direction. Oh, and remember that the pool is supposed to be for relaxation and fun. So, follow a weekly routine which includes vacuuming, water testing and rebalancing the chemicals and you should have a great summer. Thanks for looking to eHow, we're glad you stopped by!

Items you will need
  • A Leaf Net
  • A Pole
  • A Pool-Vac System
  • Start-Up Chemicals
  • Fresh Filter Media
  • Water Test Kit

Tips

  • Remember to run your filter at least 8 hrs. a day.
  • Have a life saving device handy like an official U.S. Coast Guard Ring.
  • Always follow all instructions that the manufacturers recommend.
  • Always have adult supervision when kids are involved.
  • Have 1/2 hour bathroom breaks for kids to keep the pool cleaner.
  • Use a ladder pad under the bottom of your ladder to save the liner.
  • Where you throw chlorine pucks into the pool they will stain the liner.
  • Add new fill water to replace splash out, waste and evaporation.
  • Rebalance your chemicals after you add water.
  • Keep all model names & serial #'s for all equipment where it's easy to get to.
  • Suntan lotion might be good for you, but not your pool.
  • One dog is equal to 100 people as far as your sanitizer is concerned.

Warnings

  • Don't let anyone dive into your above ground pool.
  • Keep your test chemicals out of direct sunlight and replace them every year.
  • Buy quality name brand products. The first reason is that they have proven themselves to be reliable and have withstood the test of time. Second reason is that if you ever need a replacement part, it should be relatively easy to find multiple dealers on and off line to purchase it from. With an XYZ brand, you may have to resort to purchasing an entire new whatever because no one carries that obsolete XYZ stuff anymore and haven't for years! Remember, you usually get what you pay for!