Most pools can be opened, closed, and maintained by homeowners themselves. Detailed opening and closing procedures can vary slightly depending on your exact swimming pool system. If this is your first year as a pool owner, you should consult your manufacturer and/or pool contractor about the best way to proceed. For more experienced residential pool owners, there are many mistakes you may have made in the past that have made the process harder but were hardly fatal.
If you’ve opened or closed your pool in previous years but are looking for ways to make things go more smoothly this time around, take a look at these common mistakes before you go out and repeat your old, flawed process. This list is far from comprehensive, but it will touch upon the most common mistakes.
Opening Your Pool
- When you remove your pool’s cover, you should do your best to minimize the rainwater that falls off the cover and into the pool. Some rainwater inevitably gets in, but excessive water during this crucial step can be just as responsible for poor initial water quality as anything that happened over the winter.
- Be sure to let the cover dry thoroughly before it’s stored to prevent mildew.
- Treat metal parts, especially moving parts like bolts, rails, ladders, and diving boards to prevent rust and corrosion.
- You’ll probably need to remove the air from your pump and filter assembly. Compressed air needs to be released before starting your filter for the year.
- Don’t shock your pool immediately. Your water should be given half a day to circulate before any chlorine treatments. If you discover your pool water has turned green over the winter, you probably have an algae problem. Use an algaecide first and wait for it to work. Not only does chlorine not kill algae, but it can render the algaecide ineffective.
Closing Your Pool
- Too many homeowners rush through their pool closing because they assume their water and pool will become filthy over the winter. If your water is in good shape and you properly use a high-quality, tightly-fit pool cover, you have every reason to think your water should be clear the following spring.
- Don’t just dump in a bunch of winterizing chemicals. True, these chemicals are important and, when used properly, will make a big difference when you uncover your pool in the spring. But you also need to balance the pH between 7.2 and 7.6, the alkalinity between 80-120ppm, and the calcium hardness between 180-220ppm.
- Clean your pool thoroughly. All those winter chemicals and water quality can be for naught if you leave even a handful of leaves or a several tablespoons worth of dirt on the bottom of your pool.
- Drain all the water from your pump and filter system. This is actually one of the least common mistakes, but it’s one of the few, possibly fatal mistakes, so don’t forget it and don’t think that “most of the water” is good enough.
Weekly Pool Cleaning
- Don’t get tunnel-vision on your chlorine levels. At a pH level of 8.5, chlorine is only 10% active. Different elements of water quality interact with each other.
- Backwashing too often. This one is all-too-common. Wait till the pressure gauge begins to rise. Otherwise, you’re not letting your filtration system do its job.
- Try to avoid adding chemicals in the middle of the afternoon. They can quickly burn off before they have much chance to do any good.
- Not cleaning your pool walls. Too many pool owners focus solely on floors, water quality, and filter systems. Neglected walls can lead to algae growth or, worse, calcification. Calcified walls almost always require hiring a pool professional to remedy.
- Don’t ignore any unusual signs or activity, no matter how small. Odd noises can signal trouble ahead, even if your pump and filter seem to be working fine right now.