Spring has arrived! Around here that can mean only one thing, pool opening season! Opening your pool can be a bit of a chore. With that in mind, we thought we’d offer you these 8 pool opening tips to help make it as easy as possible.
Open As Early As Possible
Water without chlorine will start to grow algae once it reaches a temperature of around 60°F. By the time Spring hits, the chlorine that you put in your pool before closing it is long gone. To prevent your pool from turning green you should therefore open it as soon as the weather stays consistently warm. In Ottawa this is usually around late April.
While running your pool for an extra month might seem like a large waste of money, the reality is that the added cost of running your pool for those few weeks is usually less than treating a green pool caused by a late opening would be.
Since the water will still be pretty cold, you will not need to run the pump for nearly as long as you would in the middle of summer; 6-8 hours per day is more than enough at first. You also won’t have to add nearly as many chemicals to keep the water clear as chlorine isn’t used up nearly as quickly in colder water.
Clean Off Your Pool Cover Before Removing It
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to open their pool is attempting to pull the cover off without removing the water and debris sitting on top of it first. More often than not, some (or all) of that water and debris will end up in the pool. This can turn a crystal clear pool into a cloudy and green nightmare.
To remove your winter cover properly, start by getting yourself a small submersible pump. Use the pump to drain the water off of the cover while at the same time removing as much of the debris as possible with your skimmer net. Once all of the water has been removed, slowly remove the cover with at least two people, being careful not to dump any of the remaining debris into the pool water.
Properly Store Your Cover
Once your cover is off, it’s time to store it away for the season. To properly store your pool cover, first clean it by adding around 1/2 a bottle of pool cover cleaner, then brush off any remaining debris with your pool brush. As soon as you’ve gotten almost all of the debris off, rinse off the remainder along with the cover cleaner with your garden hose. Once the cover is looking clean, store it in a plastic bin (plastic trash cans work well) and add in the remainder of your pool cover cleaner.
Along with cleaning the cover, pool cover cleaner also helps to keep the cover soft and hydrated. Without the cover cleaner, pool covers can dry out and become brittle over the summer. These dried out covers then need to be replaced before the pool can be closed.
Fill & Clean The Pool
Once your cover has been removed, cleaned and stored, it’s time to start tackling the pool. If you’ve followed the previous pool opening tips you should now be looking at a relatively clean, clear pool.
Start by filling the pool to a regular operating level (until it fills about 1/2 to 2/3 of the skimmer hole). This will likely take a few hours. To save time, you can start filling the pool at the same time as you’re removing the cover.
As the pool is filling, remove any debris that you can with you pool skimmer and give the whole liner a good brush with your pool brush. Once the pool is full, start up your pump and let the water begin to circulate. If there is any debris on the bottom of the pool, connect your pool vacuum and remove it.
The longer that leaves and other organic debris are allowed to stay in the water, the more of a problem they will cause. That is why it is important to remove as much debris as you can right away. The quicker you can remove that debris, the less chemicals you will need to use to keep the water clear, and the less work you will have to do later on!
Check For Leaks
Once the pool is up and running, take a look at all of the pool equipment (pump, filter, heater etc.) and plumbing and check for leaks. Any leaks that you may find can be fixed by following these steps:
- First, look for any cracks in the plumbing. If you find a crack, replace the affected plumbing or equipment.
- If there are no visible cracks you can simply try tightening the leaking connection slightly.
- If the connection is already tight, or if tightening doesn’t fix the leak, try lubricating the affected o-ring or seal with a silicone lubricant. While Vaseline might work in the short term, it is not recommended as it will slowly break down the rubber in the o-ring / seal over time.
- If it is still leaking, replace the affected o-ring or seal.
- If replacing the o-ring or seal doesn’t work, contact your local pool repair specialists to diagnose and fix the leak.
Add Your Opening Chemicals
Once your pool is running you can also begin to add your opening chemicals. The most important of these chemicals is chlorine shock. “Shocking” your pool does two things:
- It kills any algae or other contaminants that may be in the water.
- It establishes a level of chlorine that will keep new algae from growing.
After shocking the water you should also add some algaecide and enzymes.
Along with chlorine, algaecide helps to manage algae growth in the pool. To protect itself from harm, algae will grow a slimy protective “shell” around itself. Algaecide breaks down this shell, allowing chlorine to more easily kill the algae.
Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins that speed up the process of breaking down non-living organic materials. These materials are usually very small and contribute to algae growth, cloudy water, and an oily buildup at the water line. Adding an enzyme product to the water will therefore not only help to control algae, it will also help clear the water and remove any oils and lotions that build up on the waterline.
Note: Since enzymes are an organic product, they are negatively affected by shock. To get the most out of your enzyme treatment, wait at least 2 days after shocking your pool before adding it.
Test The Water
Once you’ve added your opening chemicals, it’s time to test the water! Around 1 week after the pool has been opened and is circulating, bring a water sample in to your local retailer. As we’ve previously talked about, water balance is key not only to providing you with a comfortable swim experience, but also to extending the life of your pool and it’s equipment.
Consider Changing To A VS Pump
Variable speed (or “VS”) pumps are a kind of pool pump that allows you to vary how much water they move. While not cheap to buy, these pumps have skyrocketed in popularity recently as they are able to save pool owners up to 90% on their pool’s energy costs!
If your current pump is costing you too much, or if it is beginning to get loud (a clear sign that the pump is at the end of its lifespan) we highly recommend making the switch over to a variable speed pump. Not only are they cheaper to run, they are also quieter, better built and come with a $400 rebate through Hydro Ottawa!
While following these pool opening tips may seem like a lot of extra work or added expense, in the long term they will save you a ton of time, headache and money. If you still have any pool opening questions, or if you would prefer some professional help, please feel free to contact us anytime.