Opening your pool can feel like a long, arduous process. For that reason, many pool owners look to cut corners to simplify the pool opening process. These corner cutting measures can often lead to unexpected problems down the line, however; from water quality issues to equipment damage. These issues not only cost you time and money, they also shorten the already short Ottawa swimming season.
Today we will explore the most common pool opening mistakes that we see so you can avoid them!
1) Opening The Pool Too Late
Many pool owners in Ottawa wait to open their pool until late May or early June as this is generally the earliest time of year where you can start swimming comfortably without a pool heater. Opening this late in the year is usually a mistake, however.
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 added in the fall when closing the pool 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 opening late.
Since the water will still be pretty cold, you also don’t need to run the pump for nearly as long as you would in the middle of summer. In fact, 6-8 hours per day is usually more than enough for those first few weeks, as long as the days don’t get too warm. You also won’t have to add nearly as many chemicals to keep the water clear as chlorine isn’t used up nearly as fast in cold water as it is in warm water.
2) Improperly Removing The Winter Cover
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.
Before removing your winter cover, use a small submersible pump to drain the water off of the cover while also removing as much of the debris as possible from the top of the cover 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.
3) Improperly Storing The Winter Cover
Once your winter cover is off of the pool stretch it out on your lawn and remove any remaining debris with your garden hose and pool brush. Once the debris has been removed, use a pool cover cleaner to remove any algae or other organic debris still on the cover, rinse it off with your garden hose, then fold it up and store it in a large plastic container.
Cleaning the cover with a specialized pool cover cleaner before storing it for the season ensures that the cover won’t get stuck together and grow mildew. This makes putting the cover back on the pool in the fall much easier and can help to extend the life of the cover. Storing the cover in a plastic container also keeps it away from rodents who love to chew holes in winter covers to make nests.
Note: When you use a pool cover cleaner it is actually preferable to store your cover wet rather than letting it fully dry.
4) Leaving Leaves In The Pool
No matter how careful you are when removing your winter cover, chances are at least a few leaves will make their way into the water. These leaves can be a big issue if left in the pool as they can eat up a lot of free chlorine; leaving less available to sanitize the water. To prevent the water turning green you should therefore remove any leaves, dirt or other debris from the water as soon as possible.
5) Not Brushing The Pool
Even if you can’t see it, there will be some algae on the walls and floor of your pool when you open it. This algae is covered in a layer of protective slime that helps protect it from sanitizers like chlorine and makes it easier to grow and cause green water. Brushing the surface of your pool is the best way to remove this algae before it becomes a problem; breaking up the algae into smaller pieces to make it easier for the chlorine to kill it.
6) Not Checking For Leaks
Opening time is also the best time of year to check your pool for leaks. Once the pool is up and running check the pump, filter, heater and plumbing for potential leaks. If you notice any water where there shouldn’t be water simply follow 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.
7) Using The Same Filter Pressure Gauge
Pool filters come equipped with pressure gauges that designed to let you know when the filter is filled with debris and needs to be cleaned. Unfortunately, these pressure gauges are fairly low quality and rarely survive the winter. If the pressure gauge doesn’t accurately tell you when to clean your filter, you risk causing damage to your pump and filter.
Fortunately, these pressure gauges are also inexpensive ($8-$10 each). For that reason we recommend replacing your pressure gauge every spring.
8) Not Balancing Your Water
Unbalanced water can cause a host of water quality issues and can even lower the lifespan of your pump, filter, liner and heater. To minimize the affect that unbalanced water has on your pool we recommend bringing in a water sample to your local retailer 1 week after the pool has been opened and is circulating.
While it can be tempting to cut corners when opening your pool, in the long term these shortcuts will often end up costing you more time, effort and expense than simply doing it right the first time. Avoid these common pool opening mistakes to set yourself up for a smooth, carefree swimming season!