Pool Opening Tips
I have always encouraged swimming pool owners to open their own pool as a potential cost-saving process that most pool owners can successfully do. As a comparison, I would much prefer a pool owner to hire a professional to winterize the pool and open it themselves if they can only afford one of these services. Closing a pool is fraught with the potential for damage to the pool should you do it incorrectly, or should your homeowner grade tools be insufficient for winterizing and blowing out your plumbing lines. Pool openings on the other hand are largely a labor based process - and not a particularly fun one at that.
Opening a swimming pool is largely just scooping rotten leaves and pumping dirty water off of your cover. The actual connection of the pool equipment, while more technically challenging, actually takes very little effort by comparison to the cover. There are three types of pool covers which are common. It used to be that every pool had tarp and water bag covers (or sand bags that you would collect yearly from your local fire department). Safety covers have been slowly taking over the winter cover market for the past 25 years and shows no signs of slowing down yet. If you are reading this then you probably don't have a safety cover...because if you did you would have probably opened your pool and went swimming by now. If you do have a safety cover then you can be happy in knowing that your pool opening will be much less labor intensive than others who have lock in covers or tarp and water bag covers. The information on this page applies to every type of swimming pool covers but safety cover owners can skip the section on scooping and draining off the cover.
Pumping Off Your Pool Cover
If you have a lock in pool cover or a tarp and water bag winter cover then by spring you will have an impressive collection of standing water, leaves, sticks and bugs sitting on top of your cover. This is the meat-and-potatoes of opening your pool and setting yourself up properly for this task will be the difference between an easy afternoon of work - versus a weekend-long slog against scooping rotten leaves and trying to get your pump to prime because it keeps getting clogged with sludge. Trying to open your pool with the wrong equipment will simply be an exercise in frustration so be sure to rent or buy the right tools to get the job done.
A submersible pump that you connect to a garden hose is the standard method that home owners should use for draining water off the cover of their pool. This is not what a professional pool company uses, but then again, a professional pool company needs to open many pools per day so they do not have the luxury of time. If you have access to a larger submersible pump or gas powered trash pump feel free to use it to speed up the process. If not, this pump will get the job done for you.
This deep leaf net is absolutely required if you intend to scoop leaves out of the bottom of your pool cover. While being cheaply constructed, if you are careful with it you should get at least a few pool openings out of this product. If you are the type of person that would prefer to spend a little more and get a much higher quality product that will last much longer then you are looking for this professional grade leaf net.
When it comes to draining the cover you should estimate somewhere around 1" per hour of change in the water level as a result of your submersible pump doing its job. For most pool owners pumping off your cover with a small pump like this will take a long time since pool covers tend to accumulate quite a large volume of water over the off season. A great tip would be to set up your submersible pump to run the day before you plan to scoop the leaves and clean the cover. You do not want to pump the cover dry just yet, specifically, but it would be a smart idea to let the pump move as much water as it can before you start mixing up all the leaves and sediment as this will make clogging your pump a constant issue.
Once you are down to a minimal amount of water on your cover, perhaps three to six inches of water depth, you can start to look at scooping the leaves and debris out of the bottom. At this point, if you continue to run your submersible pump you are very likely to have constant issues with it either clogging, or becoming enveloped in the cover itself. To resolve this problem you need to get yourself a five gallon plastic bucket and drill about 100 holes in the sides of it that are 1/4" or less in diameter. Put your pump into this bucket and then put the bucket at one of the two ends of your pool. This will effectively strain most of the leaves and debris while allowing water to still access your pump. Let this pump run while you continue to scoop leaves.
Scooping Leaves Off Of Your Pool Cover
The leaf scooping process is not a fun one. All of the leaves in your pool have turned into leaf sludge that is heavy and does not drain out well from your leaf net. You will almost certainly get wet and dirty while scooping leaves out of your pool cover.
A great tip would be to have a large garbage pail sized container with holes in the bottom of it for drainage. As you scoop the leaves from your pool you can deposit them into this container and leave them for a while to let the water drain before transferring to leaf bags.
There are not a lot of good options for bagging and storing hundreds of pounds of wet and rotten leaves. One of the cleanest ways that I have experience using is to let the leaves drain for the better part of a day in the garbage pail before transferring to lawn and garden bags. These bags are not totally water resistant and if you let them sit for too long the bottom will get soft. If you plan your pool opening for the day before garbage day then you can scoop the leaves, drain them, transfer to lawn waste bags and drop them right at the curb.
Once you have removed about 90% of the physical debris from the cover you will start to notice that your scooping efforts are not going to finish the job. It is important to not allow the dirty water and debris that is still on top of your cover to fall into the pool when you try to remove the cover. Many pool owners will mistakenly try to lift the cover off of the pool while there is still too much water weight on it and this will usually result with dumping the contents of the cover into your nice, clean pool. There are a few different ways that you can avoid doing this.
How To Clean A Pool Cover
There is more than one way to open a pool and if you ask 10 pool guys you will probably get 10 different answers on how to do the same job. Pumping the water off the cover, and also cleaning the cover, are things that each company does differently. The end result should be the same regardless of which method you choose to try...you need to clean your pool cover and take it off your pool without getting any debris in your pool water.
Cleaning the cover on the pool - Unless you store your pool cover under your bed for the summer season I see no reason why a pool tarp needs to be scrubbed clean. I certainly like to remove the slime and debris, but I have never been a fan of dragging it out to the driveway of the home and soaping, brushing or pressure washing the cover. It is my opinion that this vastly increases the potential for rips and damage to the cover, and many homes lack a physical space large enough to clean the cover effectively. When I clean a pool cover I clean the top side that is exposed to standing water with a pool brush on the telescopic pole. I also will broom and scrub both sides of the edge of the cover around the perimeter of the pool where the water bags were as it can get pretty gross. I like to use a phosphate free soap so any that gets into the pool will not promote algae growth.
I start by pulling (not pushing) with the brush head and dragging all of the dirty water and debris down to the end of the pool where the submersible is running. Once you have dragged all of the water to the pump, and it has removed what it can, then I start a clean water hose running in the opposite end on the pool. Use soap sparingly on the cover and let the dragging action of your brush clean the pool as you transfer the clean, soapy water from one end of the cover to towards the pump on the far end of the cover. Repeat this process (only use soap the first time) and keep dragging clean water down to the pump end of the pool. By the time you have done this two or three times, over 99% of the dirt and debris on the cover has been diluted and pumped off, plus all the dragging of the brush cleaned the cover surface completely. Remove the pump and starting from the opposite end to where the pump was you can fan-fold the cover as you pull it out of your pool. Lift the last section out manually to avoid dropping in any of the last debris that was left on the cover. Roll the cover up like a sleeping bag, being sure to press all of the air out of it as you roll it, and then stand it on end for a day or two to drain before tying with a bungee cord and storing for the summer. With this method you do not need to drag your cover to the front yard, you do not need to clean both sides of the cover, and folding / rolling the cover is super simple. There is also very little chance of getting any debris into your pool since you will be diluting the water on the cover so many times with clean water.
Cleaning the cover off the pool - Taking a cover off of a pool in order to clean it has never really made sense to me despite how common it is within the industry. It is very hard to move a pool cover effectively if it is not rolled up, and the process of dragging the cover from the pool to the driveway (or large grassy area) can easily introduce holes, snags and tears to the cover. Pool tarp covers are made whisper thin these days and I just no longer see driveway cleaning as a viable option. If you ever encounter a 30 year old tarp cover on a pool you would understand what I mean. A tarp cover used to be thick, and heavy, easily ten times as much as common day covers which are essentially the thickness of a robust garbage bag. Still, if you are the type of person who needs to clean both sides of the cover or you will not be able to sleep at night, then dragging the cover off of the pool may be one of your best options.
As with cleaning the cover on the pool, if you want to clean your cover in your driveway or yard you will first need to pump off all of the water. You will want to run clean water onto one end of the pool while pumping dirty water off of the other end of the pool. This will help you to consolidate and remove any debris and silt that may be left after you finished scooping the leaves. Once you have removed all of the dirty water and physical debris from the cover then you can drag the cover off of the pool to an adjacent area for cleaning. Pressure washing is fairly hard on pool tarps, so if you go this route you definitely want to keep the nozzle set to a wide arc for minimal pressure. Soft bristle brooms combined with phosphate free soap is pretty much your best option. Once you have cleaned one side of the cover you can flip it over and clean the other side before fan-folding and rolling up for storage for the summer.
Fan folding covers is an accordion style fold as opposed to folding the cover in half, and then half again, like a blanket or towel. The advantage of the fan fold is that placing the cover on the pool at the end of the season is as simple as locating the cover on the end of the pool while two people each take one corner and simply walk the length of the pool. When done correctly this makes putting the cover on the pool a 10 second task.
Pool Opening Instructions
The length of time that it will take you to open your pool will depend on how hard you work, your physical condition and the tools that you have available to you. A pool company opening crew would normally be two or possibly three people and they would open between five to ten pools per day. You, as a pool owner, will not be anywhere near to this fast. It is reasonable that a pool owner could open a pool during the course of a weekend. In order to do this you need to get the cover off of the pool, refill the pool with water since the water level will be low, install the lights, return eyeballs, ladders, handrails, skimmer baskets and assemble all of the equipment for use again this season. While each of these items will not take that long, they will certainly add up by the end of the job. This list will help you to fast track the pool opening process as much as possible.
Pool pumps - I like to store all of the parts and pieces that I remove from a system for the winter directly in the pump strainer basket. This helps to ensure that important pieces do not go missing during the off season since they never leave the pump location. Pool pumps do not need to be removed and stored inside for the winter even though many people choose to do so. In order to assemble your pump for use after a winter season you will need to replace the winterizing plugs which are located on the bottom front, and bottom side of the pump. There are two of these plugs on most pump models and the ones that do not have toggle heads that you can turn with your fingers will require a 9/16 wrench. Remember that these are plastic threads into a plastic flange so a light touch is all that is needed. Many of these plugs have gaskets but some will require a few wraps of thread sealant tape to seal properly. In addition to the winterizing plugs you will need to verify that the pump lid O-ring has not become displaced or lost, and you should apply a healthy coat of a silicone based, or teflon based lubricant. Never use a petroleum based lubricant such as vaseline on O-rings. Since you drained the pump and blew out the pipes you may need to prime your pump more than normal in order to get it to start for the first time of the year.
Pool filters - You should never winterize or decommission your pool filter while it is still dirty, so when it comes to opening your pool for the year you will not need to worry about cleaning the filter...just putting it back together. Whether you have a D.E filter, sand filter or cartridge filter, all that you need to do is put the filter pieces back together the way you found them at the end of the season when you took them apart. For most filters this will include installing a sight glass and pressure gage however cartridge filters can be more complicated since the internal filter assembly needs to go back together and you need to install the band clamp. If you are at all in doubt about how your filter goes back together then all you need to do is find the owners manual for your filter online and this information will be spelled out with step by step instructions along with pictures. Be sure that you do not confuse the inlet and outlet on your filter. They will be labeled on the filter itself, usually embossed in the plastic. Most importantly with pool filters is to be sure to install the filter tank drain cap which was removed at the end of the previous season. It is located near the bottom of the filter tank and could be easy enough to miss if you do not think to look for it.
Pool heaters - Pool heaters are the most difficult piece of equipment on your pool pad to put back together. Not that they are specifically hard, just simply more complicated than a pump or filter. Depending on the type of heater that you have there may be a few connections that were taken apart that you will need to put back together. The first, and most easily forgotten, is the pressure switch inside of the heater cabinet. While not all pool heaters have one of these that needs to be taken apart during the winter, many heaters do. If you have one you will need two small wrenches to tighten it back on which will be either 1/2" of 7/16", or one of each, depending on which heater model you have. The draincocks in the sides of your pool heater will need to be installed just like with the pump. Newer heaters almost all have easy thread plastic draincocks however many older heaters will use brass wing nuts or draincocks that can corrode and be a pain to install and remove. It is common to reinstall brass draincocks directly after winterizing the heater as this will prevent corrosion from growing on the threads which will make reinstallation in the spring very difficult. When it comes to starting your heater for the first time of the year you need to be aware that this is very dangerous. Many pool owners lack respect for how large, powerful and dangerous pool heaters can be. If you are not qualified with lighting your heater yourself then you should call a professional to assist you. Fortunately most heaters these days have electronic ignition, such as hot surface igniters, so you do not need to manually light a pilot light. In order to be as safe as possible, and to keep your heater running perfectly for as long as possible, you should have a spring cleaning service performed for your heater once you have your pump up and running. During this service your heater will be cleaned of mouse nests, debris, spiders and leaves and you can request the gas technician to star the heater up for you. Gas technicians get very busy in the spring with pool heater openings and start ups so it would be helpful for you to book your appointment early. If you do elect to start your own heater, and it does not go smoothly, the only troubleshooting you should try is cleaning (or backwashing) your filter. If the heater still fails to fire you should call a gas technician as opposed to operating on your heater yourself.
Salt water cells - Salt water chlorinator cells are usually removed for the winter season. Reinstallation of these cells usually takes only a few seconds and can really be done by anyone. Simply make sure that you have both O-rings in place on each end of the cell before you install it. As with all O-rings be sure to lubricate them with a non-petroleum based lubricant. The most common cause for leaks after installing your pool equipment will be missing or displaced O-rings so be sure to watch out for these. Some salt cells are directional so be sure to check for any kind of arrow on your cell that would indicate the direction of flow. Once installed simply plug the cell wires into your salt control panel. Most pools will require salt to be added in the spring to accommodate for water that was removed during the winterizing process. Be sure to actually test the sodium content of your water before adding more salt so you know how much to add. It should also be noted that you should have the salt system turned off for 48 hours after putting more salt into your pool to allow time for the salt to fully diffuse in the water. Most salt systems will not operate until the water has reached a minimum temperature of somewhere near to 65 degrees. If your salt system does not appear to be working first thing in the spring then this may very well be the problem. As with all salt pools you can use liquid chlorine to maintain the water until your salt system is up and running for the season again.
Pool lights - There are a few different makes and models of pool lights which you might have. The two most common styles are the twist lock style as with the popular Aqua Lamp style, and the many brands of lights which employ a C-clip on the bottom of the light which is secured by a single screw at the top dead center of the light. When you install your light you should make an effort to coil the excess cord that you have as neatly as possible as this will help you to facilitate putting the light into the niche more easily. The twist lock style lights are only a quarter-turn, and the plastic tabs are well known to snap off. The plastic gets weak from chemical damage and age and pressure from the cord coiled inside the niche combine to break these tabs. If you are careful installing your lights every year you can probably avoid this failure completely. Lights that require a single screw to be installed at the top dead center of the light almost all have the same failure potential...stripping the screw head. The screw is almost always a number two Phillips bit, but the screw will be made from brass (or bronze). This screw is made from brass as it needs to be a noble metal to avoid becoming the anode in a galvanic couple with the other metal components on the light niche and flange, and additionally the screw connection needs to carry the equipotential bonding path from the wall mounted niche through to the light fixture itself. The proximity of dissimilar metals would result in the screw degrading which could potentially result in the bonding path to the light becoming interrupted. From a pool opening perspective what you need to know is that you can not replace a failed light screw with a screw of any other material, and if you are not careful with your brass screw then you can easily strip the threads. Brass is very soft and the cold water in your pool in the spring can cause you to rush your work. Take your time and be absolutely certain that you do not strip these threads. If you do, do not try to replace the screw with a random one that you have around...be sure to pick up one of these.
Pool ladders & handrails - Pool ladders and handrails can be tricky to install if you are not familiar with how these go together. The only technical thing you need to know is that the anchors are called wedge anchors for a reason. When you put the legs back in, or try to, they will likely wedge in place. It is not a strength game so much as a technique game to get the wedge to sit up and out of your way as you drop the rail into the anchor. Almost all ladder anchors use a 9/16" sized bolt head so be sure to use a wrench or socket of the appropriate size. If you try to install handrails with pliers or channel locks then you will most likely just strip the head of the anchor nut, as well as leave a significant portion of your hands scraped all over the pool deck.
Water Chemistry Checklist For Opening Your Pool
When you open your pool for the season you will most likely not have enough water in the pool to start your system yet. One of the ways that you can short cut this wait time is to start running a garden hose underneath of your pool cover in advance of removing the pool cover. If you put a garden hose running into the pool at the same time that you set your pump to start pumping off the cover then you can get your pool much closer to the operating level that you will need once you get the cover off.
For many pool owners opening your own pool you will end up having your pool sit for a day or two while it fills before you will be able to get the filtration system up and running. There are two ways that you can deal with this delay since you do not want the pool water to turn green, or more green, before you can get the water filtering and chemically treated.
Manual water movement - If your water level is not high enough to start your filtration equipment you can consider adding some liquid chlorine to your pool and manually agitating the water with a brush on the end of your telescopic pole. You do not want to put in too much chlorine as the brush is not terribly effective at dispersing the chlorine, but some chlorine is better than no chlorine until you can get your system running.
Equipment quick start - If you are in a situation where you really need to get your system running right away then you can usually quick start your system with a water level below the mouth of the skimmer by using your vacuum head, hose and telescopic pole. Hook up your vacuum on your pole just like you would to vacuum your pool. Connect the hose into the skimmer suction port after flooding all of the air out of the hose, and then put a garden hose running at about 1/2 volume into the skimmer as well. This will allow you to pull water from the bottom of your pool since the water level is still below the mouth of the skimmer. It is not a perfect system, and it will be quite tough on your pump to draw water all the way from the bottom of your pool, through the length of the hose and through the length of the suction line. Normally these lines are already partially filled with water and if you are starting your system for the first time of the year then you will most likely need to prime the pump many times before it will pick up prime and start to pull water. When you run your system like this you need to be aware that the pump may draw water from the skimmer body in addition to the vacuum head on the bottom of the pool. This is why you need to run a hose into the skimmer as well as this should prevent your pump from drawing air in through this connection. If you are running your system like this you need to check on it often to make sure that you are not accidentally running your pump dry or continually causing it to prime over and over.
Water chemistry in your pool is at an all-time bad level first thing in the spring. Even if you are lucky enough to still have clear water you can count on all of your levels needing to be checked and corrected. When you open your pool for the year you should check each of the following levels:
Stabilizer - Water conditioner, cyanuric acid and stabilizer are all the same thing in your swimming pool. If your levels are too low then any chlorine that you have will be burned off by the UV from the sun. If your levels are too high then you will enter chlorine lock where your free chlorine will not be able to kill bacteria and organic debris. Check your stabilizer levels and adjust to be within 30 to 50 parts per million.
Total alkalinity - When everything in your water needs to be corrected then you should follow the alphabet to determine the order of correction. Alkalinity first, then chlorine and then your pH. It is very likely that you will need to adjust your alkalinity level after the winter season to be within the range of 75 to 125 parts per million.
Calcium hardness - Calcium is needed in your pool to prevent your water from finding its own minerals and leaching them from metals and masonry within your pool system. Common calcium hardness levels are between 200 to 300 parts per million in regular chlorine pools and in salt water pools you should aim to keep it on the low end of this range to minimize the potential for a scaling state in your pool.
Chlorine levels - In addition to establishing a free chlorine level above 1 part per million minimum (1-3 ideal) you should also check your total chlorine levels. You should never have a difference between free chlorine and total chlorine in excess of one part per million. More than one part per million difference indicates the presence of combined chlorine, or chloramines, and you should perform a breakpoint chlorination (superchlorination) of your water to reduce the difference between free and total chlorine to less than 1 PPM. In recent years there are growing arguments that breakpoint chlorination is not the best process for reducing chloramines in pools and if you would like more information about potential alternative treatments you can read this article from Aqua Magazine in 2011: Eliminating Chloramines.
pH levels - The relationship between acids and bases in swimming pool water is the basis for a great deal of pool owner frustration. Despite the relative complexity of this relationship it is important that pool owners strive to keep your pH between 7.2 to 7.8 at all times, and if possible, aim for an ideal 7.3 or 7.4 number.
Phosphate levels - Many pool owners will go their whole lives without having to worry about phosphates...others will not be so lucky. Phosphates in source water or in runoff from things like golf courses or fertilizer applications can be a real problem in swimming pools. When you maintain your chlorine levels in the correct range the algae never really gets a chance to start growing. If you ever let your chlorine fall to zero, like what happens over the winter season, this can give the phosphates in your pool the opportunity to start force feeding algae. Test your water for phosphates and if you have levels over 500 parts per billion you should consider using this phosphate remover.
Salt levels - If you have an electronic chlorine generator then you will most likely need to top off your salt levels in the spring to account for water that was pumped out of your pool during the winterizing process. Before you go adding salt to your pool you should be sure to test your salt level and only use pure sodium chloride or pool salt in your pool. Never add the salt into the skimmer, and be sure to have your salt cell turned off for 48 hours after adding salt into your pool to prevent current spikes that might damage your salt system.
How To Avoid Green Water In Your Pool In The Spring
I did not work in pool service for very long in my career as most of my experience was with construction and aquatic installations for commercial and residential applications. When I did work in service I was active with an organization that opens and closes over 1000 pools every year. Before I worked in this highly refined environment I would have assumed that three pool openings or three pool closings per day for a crew of two people was normal. When I was young and just starting in the industry that is what myself and my uncle would do in an average day - three openings or closings. While two people could easily fill a day with three openings or closings it is not until you work in a high volume service company that you will learn how it is even physically possible to open eight or ten pools (or close 12 to 14 or more) with a crew of two people. I am not saying it is fun, and you need smart workers who know how to hustle for weeks on end, but it is possible and is in fact how most of the pool service industry operates. From these experiences I was able to see thousands of pools closed and then opened, with all kinds of variables involved.
The most important take away from this can be summarized as saying to close your pool when it is absolutely spotless and chemically balanced, and use an isolation style cover that does not allow rain and snow to access the pool water. A tarp and water bag cover is (supposed to be) an isolation cover. As soon as you have rips, tears and holes in it then you are no longer isolating your pool water from precipitation and you will likely be opening to a green pool in the spring.
Safety covers - Safety covers are slowly but surely taking over the pool winter covers market in North America, and rightfully so as they are fantastic. The only problem is that the most popular models are (of course) the cheapest ones which allow all of the rain and snow melt, as well as 5% of the sunlight through. This results in some AMAZINGLY green pools in the spring...impossibly green glowing dayglo neon green swamp water, if you can imagine what I am describing. Safety cover owners are warned to close late and open early, which sounds like good advice, but you can not close late enough nor open early enough to avoid the problem. When you are told to close late and open early this is another way of saying that safety covers do not really work great, so...you know...just don't use it a lot. The solution is all too simple:
Non-solid safety cover owners should buy a pool tarp and install it under your safety cover to create an isolation barrier between the pool water and outside contaminants. The safety cover will keep 99% of the physical debris out so you will not need to scoop rotten leaves off your tarp after taking off the safety cover - simply pump it off and hose down the silt that has accumulated. You do not need water bags to hold the tarp down since it will be held down by the safety cover.
If you have an isolation cover of some kind and you keep it in good condition, as well as balancing and cleaning your pool before you close it for the year, there is no reason that you should need to open your pool to green water in the spring. Even if you do find that the water has turned green it should be relatively minor and easy to clear up. While this information may seem obvious to some, I would say, on the larger scale, that 25% of all pools are closed when they are already green and dirty. That seems crazy to me, but that is what people tend to do.
How To Clean Green Water From Your Pool In The Spring
Let's assume that you do not have an isolation cover, or if you do it has become damaged or potentially fallen into the pool over the winter season...either way the end result is the same - green water. What most pool owners will do when they see green water is start dumping in random chemicals that they have to no idea about how they work or what they should actually be doing. Water chemistry is complicated, as are swimming pools, and if you start attempting to manipulate the chemistry in your water without first knowing what the current values are, then you are making a rookie mistake. It is absolutely, scientifically impossible, to tell the values of your water chemistry by eye. Before you start adding anything to the water you need to test it to find your baseline starting point.
If a pool is green then it has algae...so you should put in algicide right? That kind of thinking sounds very reasonable but is not how you should approach water chemistry in your pool. For example, did you know that you are already using one algicide (chlorine) so are you sure that you really need two algicides? Did you know that chlorine is an algicide? Well, it is, and some would argue that additional algicide treatments are more likely to cause a different problem than to solve the one that you currently have. This website that you are reading is read by people from all over North America so there are a lot of seasonal differences and differences in climate and concerns for water quality. Some areas may require additional considerations and chemical treatments based on local conditions. For example the area that I live has tap water that a calcium hardness level of 600 parts per million or more. Most of you reading this have never seen water this hard. There is no point explaining how to resolve this problem, because it is a regional issue and not something that applies to swimming pool openings in general. Fortunately the mainstream treatment for green pool water is mostly the same for all pools and it is rare that specialized treatments are actually needed. They might help, and they might speed things up, but for 95% of green pool water problems the following steps are all you need to do:
Run your filter 24/7 - Turning off your pump to save on electricity costs is extremely common since most pool systems can achieve the minimum turnover rate many times over per day. When your pool is green you need to throw this energy saving stuff right out the window. If you can figure out how to run your pump 25 hours per day you should do that. Water clarity is, at minimum, 50% due to filtration so turn your pump on and leave it on until the water is clear. Watch your filter pressures as this will indicate if your filter medium has become dirty. If your pressure rises 7 PSI over your clean operating pressure then you need to clean the filter and then run the pump non-stop again.
Remove the leaves and debris - You need to scoop and vacuum all of the leaves and debris from your pool. I know you can't see the bottom, and neither can I, but one of us has to get that stuff out of there! Use a deep leaf net on your telescoping pole and blindly scoop the bottom until you can get nothing else scooped. This will take approximately forever to accomplish. Now let the pool sit for a while, or overnight, and then vacuum all of the debris that has settled to the bottom. Once you have as much debris vacuumed out as possible you should brush the entirety of your pool, walls and floor, to help the filtration system to grab these suspended particles. Brush twice daily and run the filter 24/7 until the pool is clear.
Test your water - This advice is so simple that pool owners just overlook it completely. There is so much information to be gained from testing your water. In fact all of the answers to all of your problems are likely within those numbers, it's just that you can't connect the dots on your own. As a pool and spa expert who has over a million readers per year reading, watching and listening to my pool advice, you can imagine that I get a lot of questions sent to me about problems with water chemistry. My response is ALWAYS the same. What are your water testing values? You can not simply say "they are good" because I don't believe you (and you are probably wrong). When you look at a test strip, do not just look at the color...look at the little numbers next to the color and get familiar with "parts per million" as a unit of measurement. If I ask you what your alkalinity levels are I want you to give me a number, like 100 parts per million, NOT "Um, it's good". Testing your water, and learning what all of these numbers mean, is the single most important aspect of pool ownership...and yet there are still people by the thousands shocking their pool or adjusting chemicals without having any idea what the current levels are. Get a good test kit to complement your quick-and-easy test strips and test your water at minimum every 12 hours after you open the pool. When you make a chemical correction to the water it will take on average between 12 and 24 hours before your water tests will reflect the changes you have made.
Keep your chlorine level up - If you have green water this means that you ran out of chlorine over the winter...which is of course totally normal. One of the very first things that you need to do to your pool, any pool with green water, is to establish a residual chlorine level above 1 part per million. During this period in the spring when the pool is green and not in use I would recommend to raise your free chlorine level to three to five parts per million at minimum until the water clears up. If you add chlorine, even a lot of it, and then test the next day to discover you have no chlorine in the water again, then simply add more chlorine. The amount you need depends on the amount of bacteria and debris that is in the water, as well as the amount of phosphates that might be working against the effectiveness of the chlorine. You also need to make sure your stabilizer levels are good to prevent the sun from burning off the chlorine, as well as making sure you are not in chlorine lock from too much stabilizer. Your pH levels will also affect how well, or if, your chlorine can do its job so be sure to check and correct to as close to 7.4 as you can get.
If you follow these simple steps, including scooping, vacuuming, brushing plus testing and correcting your water chemistry, as well as running your pump and filter 24/7 then you will be well on your way to clear water. You would be further ahead to repeat all of these steps, or potentially do nothing at all, as opposed to add something to your water that you didn't need, or worse yet, should not have added.
Storing Your Winter Cover
Mice love to live in pool covers during the summer when they are rolled up and stuffed into the back of your shed. These little critters will ruin your entire cover by chewing their way through to the center, putting a new hole in your cover for every fold or roll in it. When you take your cover out at the end of the swimming season you will find dozens of holes just big enough to make your cover useless. A safety cover can be sent away for panel replacement, or you can also use these quick and easy safety cover patches however the better option is to simply not end up with holes in your cover. Instead of sitting the cover on the ground in the corner you should hang the cover from the bag drawstrings if possible, or protect it with dryer sheets and moth balls if you have to.
In some areas the mice (or rats) are just too plentiful to risk leaving your pool cover sitting out. While a tarp cover is not all that expensive, a lock in cover or any of the safety covers sure are - and you do not want to have to buy a new one simply because your old one got chewed to pieces. If you live in a rural area with a lot of rodents, or if you just want to be sure that your cover will be in good condition at the end of the season, then consider picking up one of these heavy duty bins with a locking lid to keep your cover safe.
Every pool has some winterizing equipment such as return plugs, a gizmo for the skimmer and an assortment of other small bits and pieces. The number one reason why people have to buy these items is because they actually lost the last ones they have. Plugs, bottles, foam rope and a gizmo are apparently very easy to misplace. Usually what I tell my clients is to store those items directly in the bag with your pool cover so that they never need to hunt for them in the spring. The pool equipment is kept separate however, I prefer to leave all items from the equipment in the skimmer basket for the pump, left right in the pump for the winter. Everything from the pool side of the winterizing I store in the skimmer strainer baskets or in the bag with the winter cover.
Once you have opened your pool and started up your filtration system for the year you want to be sure to go back and check for leaks shortly in the future. I would say that you should check for leaks right away when you start up the system, but also come back after 24 hours and inspect the pool equipment area again closely for signs of drips or leaks. A small drip from your pool equipment can add up to huge repair bills if it goes unnoticed. If you would like to learn more about common places that your pool equipment will develop leaks and how to fix them before they become a more expensive problem then you can read this article: how to fix pool plumbing leaks.
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