Spring. Time for The Big Reveal: Every spring a pool owner stands at the edge of the pool deck looking down at the curtain of mystery that is their pool cover and wonders if all the time and effort that went into closing their pool for the winter mattered at all. “I wonder what color the algae will be this year? Maybe I’ll actually be able to see the bottom this time? I hope there’s STILL water in the pool.”
These are just some of the thoughts that a pool owner has when it’s time to take off the pool cover and get to work on opening their pool. Whether this is your first season as a pool owner or your 20th, it can be easy to misplace, forget, or simply not be aware of all the essentials any pool owner needs to open their pool like a pro. That’s why we’ve put together our Pool Opening Supply Checklist. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Pool Opening Kit (Plus Extra Pool Shock for Green Pools)
One of the best things about a Pool Opening Kit is that it turns a whole boxful of supplies into one item on the list. Start-up kits all universally will contain Algaecide, Clarifier, Shock and Stain Remover and an absorbent sponge to attract oils. I highly recommend the Ultimate Start Up Kit because it also includes Natural Chemistry’s Pool Magic with PhosFree and Metal Free. These natural products act as clarifiers, stain removers, and help prevent algae all-in-one. Order a 6 or 12 extra bags of Pool Shock if your pool is green, you'll need it.
2. Fresh Reagents For Your Test Kit
It’s something we preach a lot about here at SPP: Don’t skimp on your test kit. Strips may be convenient, and they do have their place for an at-a-glance quick test but it’s best to have a quality Taylor Test Kit as a go-to, especially when it’s time to open your pool. Many do not realize that the shelf life of the chemical reagents that make up a test kit is actually short in comparison to your other pool chemicals. You should replace your Taylor Test Kit Reagents every season. Cold weather and time gradually change their chemical structure which will result in poor results which will result in a cloudy pool which results in spending way more money on pool chemicals… you see where I’m going with this?
3. Water Balancing Chemicals
It’s inevitable that once you have your super accurate test results from your brand new test kit reagents that you are going to need to make some adjustments to either your pH, Alkalinity, or calcium hardness levels. It’s best to either test your water a couple of days before you know you are going to open the pool or just to have have some increaser/decreaser stored away. One you’ve got your levels to where they should be don’t forget the stabilizer/conditioner level. A level of 30-50 ppm of cyanuric acid can cut chlorine costs in half.
4. Pool Pole, Vacuum Head & Hose, Leaf Rake and Brush
So, #4 is really 5 pool maintenance accessories. Odds are you probably already own these items, but they need replacement every so often. I’ve had a vacuum head break on me in the middle of opening my pool that left me with a roll of duct tape and some very Un-Macgyver like ingenuity that slowed the whole process down considerably. Update your pool tools if need be and always make sure you have them available. Especially if you are still using the junk the pool builder gave you, maybe it's time to upgrade to better pool cleaning tools?
5. Garden Hose / Leaf Blower
It may be #5 on our list but it’s the first thing we recommend you use when it comes time to opening any pool. Step 1 of your pool opening process should be raising the water level from a garden hose, as some pools may need to fill for many hours. Inground pools can also use the hose to spray off the deck, and if you have a leaf blower, definitely run it around the pool before, and after removing the cover.
6. Teflon Lube for O-rings
This is an easy one to oversight. A lubed filter basket gasket helps create an airtight seal which makes life for your pool pump much easier. Be sure to clean the o-ring with a rag first, to remove old grunge and dirt. Do the same with o-rings on unions, push-pull valves, and pool filter tank o-rings. We recommend Jack’s Formula 327 Lube, by Hayward.
7. Teflon Tape for Threaded Plugs
Teflon tape is used on threaded plugs, drain plugs and pressure gauge, a little detail that goes a long ways. Not using Teflon tape or other thread sealant on threaded connections, can lead to air and water leaks. To use correctly, first remove the old Teflon tape (patience!), and then wrap 3-4 times around the male threaded plug, in a clockwise direction. For drain caps, used on some filters, apply Teflon tape to the threaded spigot where the drain cap attaches.
8. Safety Cover Tools, Storage Bag and a Good Storage Space
If you need a new safety cover anchor key, installation rod, or a heavy duty cover storage bag, get those on order beforehand. Pick out a nice summer home for your pool cover, preferably an indoor space for summer storage. I speak from experience when I say that mice love chewing holes through safety covers like swiss cheese. Store your safety cover where it won’t become a home to a rodent or dinner for insects. Moth Balls and Mint Sachets can provide some protection, but don't leave it outside if possible. Store in the basement, or balanced on the rafters in a garage.
9. Hand Tools
Strap on that tool belt or grab your toolbox because you know you are going to need at least a wrench and a screw driver to tighten up the ladder, drain plugs, filter clamp, etc. Better to have these items in your Batman Utility belt so you don’t have to go searching for them in the middle of the process. The most common tools needed are 1/2" and 9/16" wrenches, 1/4" and 5/16" nutdrivers, straight and channel pliers, and flat and Philips screwdrivers. Nothing out of the ordinary.
10. Filter Media
If you own a DE filter double check that you have some fresh DE powder to last through a few backwashings. For cartridge filters, they generally last only 3-5 years, after spring clean-up, pop-in a new set of cartridges and you'll enjoy cleaner and clearer water this summer. Sand filters always benefit from a good cleansing, using a sand filter cleaner to dissolve the oils and contaminants that are trapped deep in the sand bed.
11. Automatic Cleaner Filters or Bags
If you own a pool cleaner you just know he’s going to be working overtime when you first open your pool. For robotic cleaners, check to see if its filter, canister or bag needs replacement. Polaris style cleaners also may need a new debris bag this year. Some models offer spring clean-up filters or bags, with larger mesh openings, to handle heavy leaves and algae, while saving your finer mesh filters or bags for normal dirt loads.
12. Wet-Dry Vac for Pool Heaters
It’s the Swiss Army Knife of maintenance equipment: the trusty ole’ Wet-Dry Vac. While it isn’t critical to have one, you will certainly be glad you have to clear leaves, debris, and spider webs from a pool heater. They come in handy to clean below burner trays and above heat exchangers on gas heaters, and also to clean the inside of pool heat pumps.
13. Mineral Cartridge or Salt Cells
If you have a salt water pool be sure to check that the salt cell still has some life left, and your pool salt level is where it needs to be - after topping off the pool water level. For Frog or Nature 2 mineral systems, a new 6-month cartridge is in order, and is sometimes forgotten on an initial pool supply purchase. No problem, many people wait to install it anyway, until after pool water clears up.
14. Skimmer Parts, Filter Parts, Pump Parts, Cleaner Parts...
Give your equipment a 21-Point Inspection to make sure all of your filtration system components are functional. It might not be something that you will notice right away until after your system has been running for a couple of days or it could be an issue noticed during pool closing. Best to nip it in the bud early and closely inspect your pump, filter, skimmers, valves, cleaner and heater. Pool equipment parts that aren't replaced can lead to greater damage or the complete failure of the equipment.
15. Store Plugs, Gizmos, Floaters and Cover Supplies Safely
Nothing makes for an easier pool opening than a thorough pool closing and vice versa. I wasted several hours last season looking for an eyeball fitting that I knew, “Was around here somewhere! I JUST SAW IT last week.” I cringe just thinking about it. Don’t make the mistakes I made. Designate one box or bag to rule over them all summer. If you know you are going to use it again in the fall when it comes time to close your pool, keep them all together and stored somewhere not hidden from your future self. Your future self will thank you.
It’s going to be a great summer! If we missed an item you can’t be without when it comes time to open your pool, drop us a line on facebook or leave a comment below!