As spring turns to summer and the weather gets warmer, swimming season is fast approaching. That means it’s time to get the pool and water ready for a summer full of splashing, diving, rafting… and maybe a cannonball or two.
Whether you’re new to pool ownership or looking to replace your existing “pool guy” to save some money, pool maintenance can definitely be a do-it-yourself task for the average homeowner.
To point you in the right direction, here’s what you need to know about opening your pool for the season.
When will I open my pool?
Most pool owners decide to open their pool in the first few weeks of May – before the unofficial start of the pool season on Memorial Day Weekend. In general, you should wait to open your pool until daytime temperatures consistently stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but don’t put it off too long. If you wait until the temperature warms up, you can open the lid to find a pool full of green water caused by algae growth.
Steps to open your pool
- Clean. Before you begin the process of opening your pool, start by cleaning up any leaves or debris that may have accumulated during the off-season. Spray down the deck area around your pool to wash away the dirt. Now is a good time to clean up all the outdoor furniture too. Then it’s time to deal with the pool cover.
Your pool cover is designed to protect your pool from the elements and from dirt, water and debris. After performing this task for months on end, your lid has likely created its own mini pool of standing water. To remove this water, use a pool protection pump. This small, submersible electric pump allows you to quickly and easily remove the water from the surface of the pool cover.
As you finish your spring cleaning, note any damage to your deck, ladder, fence or pool cover that may have occurred during the fall and winter months. Then do your repairs before the first day of bathing.
- Remove the cover. Now is the time to remove your pool’s winter cover. Each cover design is different, but most will be attached to the pool deck with a series of straps. Start by removing all straps. Then enlist the help of a partner to help you remove the cover. With one person on each side of the pool, take a corner and slowly begin to pull back the cover. Once the cover has been removed from the surface of the pool, give it a good cleaning.
Although you can buy a dedicated pool cover cleaner, car wash soap works just fine. Using the soap and a soft broom, scrub away all dirt and grime from the surface of the cover. After the lid is clean, rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry. When the lid is dry, fold it up and place it in a covered box or container. Ideally, your winter protection should be stored indoors – away from the elements and pests such as insects and rodents.
If your case starts to crack or break during the removal process, you can skip the cleaning. Just throw it away and buy a replacement for next season.
- Reconnect the filter system. With the cover removed, you can begin removing all winterization plugs from your pool’s filtration system. This includes the lines to your pump, wall returns and surface skimmers. Reconnect all lines and hoses. Check your filter and clean or replace if necessary. If any other parts appear to be worn, broken or leaking, replace them before proceeding with the pool opening process.
- Add more water. It’s not unusual for a pool to lose a few inches of water during the off season, so make sure it’s full before you start adding chemicals. This will help you avoid the need to balance your water chemistry twice.
If you fill your pool with a garden hose, use a hose filter to prevent water contamination. Adding water is also a good time to visually inspect the pool liner for signs of damage.
- Turn on the filter. Then turn on your pool filter to check for leaks around the pipes, hoses and other connections. Pay particular attention to areas such as plugs, gauges and your pump’s sight glass. Experts recommend letting the pool’s filter system run for at least 24 hours before you start testing the water and adding chemicals. This allows the water to fully circulate for a more accurate reading.
- Clean the pool water. Once your filter pump is running, use a manual pool vacuum to remove dirt, sediment and debris from the pool floor. If you have large debris in your pool, such as leaves, consider using a foam pad. This allows you to use the pool’s skimmer basket to collect the debris – which can help you avoid clogging your plumbing or filtration system. A skimmer net can be used to remove floating debris from the water surface.
- Test your pool water. With your pool water free of dirt and debris, it’s time to fine-tune your water chemistry. First, take a water sample using a clean cup or bottle. To get an accurate reading, you want to avoid testing surface water. This can be accomplished by holding the sample container upside down, inserting it about a foot below the surface of the water, and then inverting it to fill the container with water.
You can test the water at home using paper test strips or a liquid test kit. Just follow the instructions and make sure the kit hasn’t expired (they’re usually good for about three years). For more accurate results, you can also take your water sample to a local pool store for a professional analysis.
- Add chemicals. Based on the results of your water test, add chemicals to bring the water chemistry levels into the desired range. The pros at poolresearch.com recommend adding chemicals in the following order:
- Alkalinity: Since alkalinity affects the pH balance of your pool, you should first adjust these levels. You can raise the alkalinity level by adding baking soda or lower it with muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate. The goal is to achieve an alkalinity level between 80-120 ppm (parts per million).
- pH: Your water’s pH level refers to the degree of acid or base in the water. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with an ideal range of 7.2-7.6 ppm. Pool water pH can be raised with soda and lowered with muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate.
- Calcium: Calcium levels should be around 200-275 ppm for concrete or plaster pools and 175-225 ppm for fiberglass or vinyl pools. You can raise calcium levels with calcium chloride and lower them with a pool flocculant.
- Claws: Chlorine is used to sanitize your pool water. The recommended amount of chlorine in pool water is about 3 ppm. You can raise the level by adding chlorine and lower it with a chlorine neutralizer.
- Shock your pool. After balancing the water chemistry, add “pool shock” to kill any bacteria or algae that may have started to grow during the winter months. The goal of shocking your pool is to raise the free chlorine level to about 10 times the combined chlorine level. So follow the instructions on your pool shock to ensure you add the correct amount of chemicals. Leave the filter running and the next day your pool should be ready for the first swim of the season. If you have had problems with algae in the past, you may also want to consider using an algaecide as part of your ongoing pool maintenance.
Enjoy your pool safely
Owning your own pool can be a winning formula for family fun all summer long. But pool ownership also comes with a responsibility to put safety first – especially when small children are around.
To protect your friends and family from hazards such as slips, falls and drowning, familiarize yourself with these pool safety tips. You may also want to consider adding additional insurance cover – in the form of a personal umbrella policy.
An Erie Insurance umbrella policy offers you $1 million (and up to $10 million) in coverage for covered claims against you or your family—like if an injury or tragic accident were to happen in your pool. This extra coverage costs less than you might think. For most people, an extra $1 million in coverage costs less than $250 a year. To learn more about umbrella insurance from ERIE, or to receive a free quote, contact us today.
Get the protection you need
We know that there can be a lot to think about when it comes to insurance. That’s why with ERIE you get your own personal insurance agent to help you.
1Umbrella Liability Insurance is not available in New York, where ERIE continues to offer Personal Catastrophe Liability Insurance. The policy contains specific details of the terms, limitations and exclusions that apply. Talk to your agent for details.
ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to do business in all states. See the company’s licensing and business information.
The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are effective as of July 2022 and are subject to change at any time.
Insurance products are subject to conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions.
The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states. ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York. ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York. ERIE long-term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York.
Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.
Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer any questions you may have before you buy.