Maybe you are reading this article about how to open and maintain your pool while the birds are chirping and the crocuses are starting to bloom. Or maybe the Midwest’s weather is still making the air deadly to the touch, and you’re just looking forward to finally getting out on the patio, grilling up a few brats, turning on the Twins game, and enjoying the pool with your family. Or friends. Or dogs. Or just by yourself. It is your pool, after all.

Your pool will not be ready for any kind of summer leisure if you don’t open it up correctly and maintain it regularly. Its water will be dirty and teeming with microscope organisms, and its liner and mechanical components will be at greater risk of damage. We vehemently believe that you only deserve the best pool experience, so please follow these simple steps for pool opening & maintenance.

How to Open a Pool

  1. Check supply of pool chemicals. Before you begin, make certain you already have all the (unexpired) pool chemicals you will inevitably require. In addition to pool test strips, you will need:

*Sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) raises both the alkalinity and pH of pool water

  1. Clean up area surrounding pool. You can’t avoid completing this step if you automatically do a spring yard clean up every year. Trim and prune surrounding trees and shrubs, sweep the pool deck, mow, and just make the area look overall presentable.
  2. Remove pool cover. Lay your cover flat on the ground, remove its metal hardware, clean off any debris, and fold it up for storage. Unlike with an American flag, there is no formal way to fold a pool cover. Most people find the Z fold useful.
  3. Inspect pool for damage. Now that your entire pool is laid bare, give it a proper visual examination. Cracks, scrapes, scuffs and holes in the pool liner are easier to repair while the pool is still empty. (That’s a pro tip.) Examine the pool’s pump, filter and return lines; if you detect any signs of damage, now is the time to address them. This is also a good opportunity to empty the skimmer basket and remove any scaling that accumulated on your pool’s tiles last summer.
  4. Reinstall everything. Reassemble your pool’s filtration system, reinstall the lights and directional fittings, and replace the ladder and rails. (Ideally, you would have removed all of those components last fall.) Make sure any emergency safety equipment (such as a life hook or life ring) goes back where it belongs as well. Finally, remove your pool’s winterizing plugs.
  5. Refill pool. You should not have emptied your pool last fall, as a liner can dry out and crack when it is left unsubmerged. That said, it is normal for pools to lose water during the winter due to dry weather, fissures in the liner and gaps in the cover. Restore the correct water level using your garden hose, and then turn on your pool filter.
  6. Wait 24 hours. This is the easiest step to opening a pool. It is necessary because you want your pool’s old and new water to blend together before you begin testing the water’s chemical properties.
  7. Test water. Using one of the test strips you so thoughtfully procured ahead of time, evaluate your pool water’s alkalinity, calcium hardness, chlorine and pH levels. Measurements that fall within the following ranges are ideal:
  • Alkalinity: 80–120 ppm
  • pH: 7.4–7.6
  • Calcium hardness: 180–220 ppm
  • Chlorine: 1–5 ppm
  1. Balance water. This step requires a full day. Add chemicals that restore alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness and chlorine to their ideal ranges. (Keep in mind that all of those respective chemicals require at least one hour to circulate throughout the water.) Next add stain treatment: one quart per 10,000 gallons of water, allowing at least three hours for circulation.
  2. Add algaecide. This step should be completed the day after you have balanced the water. In addition to algae, algaecide kills bacteria and other living contaminants that can make pool water cloudy or biohazardous. Refer to the instructions on the bottle, but algaecide is typically applied 16 ounces per 10,000 gallons and circulates within 30 minutes.

How to Maintain a Pool

  1. Continue balancing water. You should continue testing your pool water every two weeks, making any needed adjustments as you go. As always, make sure to give chemicals time to circulate and diffuse before retesting water. Summer pool maintenance typically requires adding shock treatment and algaecide once weekly, and stain treatment every other week.
  2. Continue cleaning. Once it is opened, a pool requires ongoing cleaning. Regularly empty out the skinner, scrub off algae, and vacuum away any sediment that gathered on the liner. You should skim your water daily, as that will appreciably lengthen your pool filter cartridge’s lifespan. Depending on your cartridge’s size, it will require cleaning every one to six months.
  3. Maintain water level. The sun evaporates one trillion tons of water every 24 hours. That’s why your pool’s water level can easily drop by 1/5″ every day in the summertime. Low water in your pool can cause the skimmer to damage the filter system by drawing air into it!
  4. Keep area surrounding pool tidy. Naturally, you would like your home’s best feature to look presentable. You also want to remove any tripping hazards that could send someone into an unwanted plunge. Take special care to remove food scraps and dog treats from the pool area. You shouldn’t give raccoons any reasons to visit your poolside. 

While anyone can open and maintain a swimming pool, many would rather assign those important duties to a professional pool service. If you would like one-time or recurring pool cleaning or maintenance in the greater Sioux Falls, SD area, then we welcome you to contact Paradise Patio, Pool & Spa today!