Guide to getting ready for lazy summer afternoons.
Opening your backyard swimming pool for the summer season takes more than filling it up and jumping in. If a swimming pool is opened properly, you can be assured of proper operation and chemical safety.
1. Don’t Empty Your Pool
Never empty your swimming pool, even if you live in a really cold climate, unless you have no other choice, such as if you need to do structural work or your pool hasn’t been covered and there are too many leaves at the bottom to remove. (Also: Get a cover. Really.) That’s because draining the pool can bring big problems. For example, an empty pool in a high water table can lift out of the ground without the weight of the water holding it down.
Most pool owners aren’t even aware of the risk. “People think they’re going to empty and clean their pool but they either do it in a very wet season when there’s a high groundwater table, or their swimming pool actually sits in a high water table, “When you empty a pool in a high water table, it’s very possible that the pool will pop out of the ground like a boat.” That could mean a complete pool replacement.
2. Clean It Up
Start the process of bringing your pool up to shape with a “chemical open.” Put the filtration system together, clean out all the baskets, and remove any plugs that you put in when the pool closed last year. For now, leave the cover on the pool while you’re working on it.
3. Top It Off
If the water level has fallen over the winter, top it off. Make sure to clean the filter before you turn it on. Clean a cartridge filter by removing the cartridge and wash with a hose. If you have a D.E. filter, you might need to take it apart, clean it, and reassemble it. If you have a sand filter, set the filter to backwash, which will clean the sand. Then turn it to the normal setting.
4. Have a Pro Test Your Water
Having the water professionally tested. Take a water sample to a swimming pool store, and they’ll test the water for you, usually for free (and maybe some up-sell). It’s a good idea because they’ll do a complete test. They’ll test the mineral content of the water, along with the total alkalinity and the pH and the chlorine levels and tell you which needs to be adjusted and by how much.
You should also pickup your own DIY pool water testing stripss. Just dip the strips in the pool water and then hold them up to the color chart on the bottle. This is an easy way to measure the chlorine and PH on a regular basis.
5. Wait for the Water to Clear
Don’t dive in yet. The filter has to be cleaned every day until the water is clear. Expect the entire process to take about a week. You may have to add chlorine to keep it at the right level. Only when the water is clear and you can see the pool floor should you remove the cover. Remove the cover too soon and you’ll end up with more leaves and pollen and debris to clean out.
After you’ve removed the cover, time to vacuum all the leaves and debris from the bottom.
For the rest of the summer season, keep the filter clean, vacuum the pool each week, and test the chemical levels every day. Having a pro test the water once a month.