Memorial Day is around the corner! Most of us will have an extra day off of work, and you may be planning a get together with friends and family to enjoy the warm weather – and pool season is officially upon us! When pool season comes around there is a sense of excitement in the air. But if you are the one who has to open and maintain the pool it can be a sense of dread. There are no good or safe shortcuts to opening a pool. But there a few tips and tricks that can help the process:
1. First Things First
The best way to get started on any large project is to make a list. Before you even start messing with the process of opening your pool, make a comprehensive list that includes all the supplies you’ll need. This is also a great opportunity to involve other family members. Give yourself enough time to complete every task and assign the most important job to yourself.
2. Clean Your Cover
Don’t just rip the cover off your pool. Most covers will have at the very least a small puddle of water on it. Borrow or rent a sump pump to remove this excess water. This will prevent that nasty water from contaminating your pool. This will make it a lot easier to remove the cover and treat the water. Take you time when removing your cover – and it’s always a good idea to have another person helping.
3. Get A Tune-up
This is where things get a little technical. Remove all the winter plugs and replace them with the proper drain plugs. Look around these plugs for signs of failure or wear. Reconnect all the equipment that you disconnected during the winter. Check your pump for signs of leakage and loose parts. If your pool has a heater, turn it on to make sure it’s functioning properly. This is also a great time to attach ladders, diving boards or any other accessory that you stored. Spend time meticulously inspecting O-rings and bolts. Apply silicone lubricant where needed.
4. Test The Water
The most efficient way to test your pool’s water is a test kit. Some people just assume they should pour chemicals into their pool immediately. This is beyond foolish and even if you used the same method as the year before that doesn’t mean it will work. The proper chemical levels will look like this:
• pH Level- 7.4 to 7.6
• Alkalinity- 80 to 120 ppm
• Free Available Chlorine- 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
• Calcium Hardness – 200 to 400 ppm
• Cyanuric Acid- 30 to 50 ppm
5. Balance The Alkaline First
After your water is tested, figure out what chemicals you’ll need. If your alkalinity is off it should be the first thing you address. If your alkalinity is out of wack it can cause the other chemical levels to fall out of line. Utilize soda ash if your alkalinity and pH are low. If just your alkalinity is low, then use just baking soda. Baking soda will raise the alkalinity quickly and will have little to no effect on the pH. Baking soda can only be added at a rate of 2.2 pounds for every 11,000 gallons of water, every four days.
Once your pool’s chemical levels are in line you can finally start removing the debris. The best pool covers will still allow some debris to slip into your pool. Vacuuming your pool before you shock it will help prevent any algae or bacteria from hanging on to the sides. Once you are finished vacuuming your pool, let your filtering system run overnight to help remove anything that might have been missed.
7. Shock Time
The final step in opening our pool is to “shock” the pool. “Shocking” your pool means that you are going to raise the chlorine levels to an extremely high point. The purpose of this is to kill all bacteria and algae. The level of chlorine should be about ten times the normal level. Reaching this mark is referred to as “break point chlorination”. Continually test your pool throughout this process to make sure you reach this level and continue testing until the level recedes to acceptable swimming levels.
The best way to get enjoyment out your swimming pool is to make sure that you have a thorough opening. Even with an excellent opening, it’s important to keep your pool clean, free of debris, and tested weekly. By taking small steps every day to care for your pool, it will be infinitely easier to close and open.