I was out in the field doing pool openings for over 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of different things. One time I reached into a pump basket and pulled out a live snake. I was so shocked I threw it about 15 ft in the air. Well, my brother-in-law was laying on the pool deck with his shirt off, unplugging a wall return.
As you probably guessed the snake landed right on his back. I thought it was real funny; he wasn’t laughing at all. I’ve opened up heater doors and a family of mice ran out at me. I guess that was their winter home. Despite these horror stories, anyone can open their own inground pool and usually without any surprises!
Remove the Cover: If you have a solid pool cover, you will have to make sure the cover is free of water. And while you're draining the water off the pool cover, drop a hose in the pool underneath the cover to start filling it up. Two people make removing the cover easier. One on each side of the shallow end pulling against each other and fan folding the cover. You can then bring the cover to another area where you can spread it out to clean it, let it dry a bit and then refold the cover.
Reinstall Equipment: When the cover is off, you want to reinstall any removed equipment such as ladders, hand rail, diving board. Back at the filter system, replace any gauges, drain plugs, basket, backwash hose - whatever was removed for winter. Depending on how it was closed you may only have to put back in the drain plugs on the pump and filter. If you remove your pump and filter to another location for winter, bring it out and reconnect the filter system.
Start-Up the Pump: Making sure you have removed all plugs in the pool skimmer, returns and cleaner line, open up the valves on both sides of the pump, suction and return. When the water level is half way up the skimmer, you can prime the pump basket with water, open the filter air bleeder and turn on the pump. If you have trouble getting it to catch prime, close the main drain and start it off the skimmer.
Clean the Pool: Once the water is filtering, it's time to clean the pool. Start by cleaning off the deck with a blower, or with buckets full of water. Skim, Vacuum, Brush - in that order. If you have a multiport valve, and the pool is rather dirty, you can switch the valve to waste, and vacuum the dirt or algae to waste. Keep a hose running in the pool, so the water won't drop too quickly while vacuuming out the waste line.
Spring Pool Chemicals: We now want to put in our opening chemicals. Rather than using powerful pool shock that can bleach the liner, it is better to actually use a pool start up kit that is made exclusively for the purpose of opening the pool with no chance of bleaching out the liner. And if you are using a calcium hypochlorite pool shock, first fill a bucket with water and then mix in the shock. Doing it the other way around you will get fumes and possibly a small flare-up or explosion. That is another reason to use an pool start-up kit, it's safer.
Balance the Chemistry: After the pool has run for a few days it's time to test for you balancing chemicals. This is a very important step because if all your levels are in a good range it is much easier to keep the pool water clear, and you will need to use far less chlorine. Test for cyanuric acid (stabilizer), calcium hardness, total alkalinity and pH. Adjust as needed to bring the levels to the correct range, adding each chemical separately.
Miscellaneous: Check your start-up filter pressure - I like to write it right on the filter tank, with a marker. You may need to backwash the filter within a day or two. If you have a pool timer, set the on and off timer dogs, although you may want to let the pool run about 48 hours straight after you open to clear the water. Look for any leaks on the equipment pad, and watch the water level closely over the first few days.
A normal pool opening just takes a few hours and it can save you an average of $300. If $300 is not that much to you, like it is to me, then have it done professionally. What's the worst that can happen? You may meet a few animals or rodents, or maybe you fall into a pool full of cold water. Anyway it is $300 in your pocket.
So go out and give it a try - and if you have any questions, give us a call - we love to help!
SPP Pool Expert