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  • Remove, clean, fold and store pool cover properly.
  • Testing water balance; adjusting calcium, Alkalinity and pH levels as needed.
  • Replacing stored items; ladders, auto cleaner, baskets, and pool maintenance equipment (vac hose,  vac head,  brush & pole…)
  • Inspect electrical to pumps, lights, heaters, etc. Load testing.
  • Lube plugs, fittings, valves and o-rings.
  • Flood lines, prime, and start-up and adjust filtration equipment as necessary.
  • Brush tiles and scrub skimmers with a cleaner such as cleanser.
  • Skim pool surface.  Vacuum pool and backwash filter or clean cartridge often.
  • Super chlorinate to breakpoint levels with liquid chlorine.
  • Brush pool walls and steps. Re-check chemical levels in 12-24 hrs, adjust as needed.
  • Also, Backwash filter if pressure gauge rises 8-10 lbs above start-up pressure, or flow diminishes considerably.

$AVE   $$$…Pool openings in the Northeast US can typically range $150-$350. You can often save money by doing some of the work yourself, such as removing the cover, or vacuuming the pool. You are probly going to have to vacuum the pool many times!


 1: Removing the pool cover:

    Solid Covers: Use a small cover pump to remove rain and snow melt. As the water is being pumped, "tighten up" the cover by pulling on its edges, so the water gathers into one easily pumped area. A "bag type" leaf net and your pool brush on the pole can be used to remove leaves and debris. After water and debris is removed, drain water bags (or remove whatever is being used to hold down sides of cover). Water bags can be folded or rolled after being hosed clean. Remove cover quickly by fan-folding it into 3-5 ft folds on one end of the pool. Take cover to open area where it can be unfolded and hosed clean. A sloping yard or driveway makes this easier. When cover is cleaned, allow drying or using blower to shorten drying time. Fan fold (accordion-style) cover to facilitate its installation in the fall. Roll tightly and wrap with rope or twine to prevent it from unrolling during storage. Place in a cool dry, rodent free location for its summer storage.

    Mesh Covers: Use broom, brush, leaf net, hose and/or blower to remove leaves and debris from top and edges of cover. Remove springs from anchors with removal tool. Use 3/4" pipe to lever springs from anchors, if removal tool cannot be located. Use 1/4" hex key (Allen wrench) to put anchors into the down position, flush with the deck. It's good practice to clean with hose and lubricate with light oil. Fan fold cover (accordion-style) to facilitate its reinstallation in the fall. Use hose, broom or blower to clean off cover as it's folded. Fold it seam to seam, then roll like a sleeping bag and stuff it into storage bag. Place on chair to dry for a few hours before moving it INDOORS for summer storage. If storing outdoors, hang up off the ground, and / or use mothballs to repel rodents from nesting in the cover.

2. Remove expansion plugs (Freeze Plugs) from skimmers and wall returns

     Put plugs in ziploc bag and place near cover for use. Discard any that are dry-rotted and/or cracked. Replace any wall fittings.

3. Reassemble filter, pump, heater, etc.

    Replace drain plugs into pump, filter, heater, chlorinator, etc. If aboveground pool, reattach hoses removed at closing. Replace pump and skimmer baskets, pressure gauges, pool ladders, diving boards etc. Use thread sealant such as Teflon tape on all threaded plugs, connections. Do not over-tighten! If your filter is a D.E. powder tight filter, make sure clamp band is tight and properly positioned. (It was probably removed in the fall to have the filter grids pulled out and cleaned with a hose, so make sure it was re-installed correctly) Place filter valve to filter position and open-air bleeder (beneath pressure gauge, usually). Open all incoming valves (before pump) and all return side valves (after filter). Lubricate valves and o-rings as needed. Fill pump basket with water from pool or hose. Replace pump lid tightly. Look for leaks out of pump. Double check that all valves and pressure relief orifices are open. Place filter valve in proper position. Slide valves (push-pull valves) should be in the down position on most DE filters and in the up position for Pac-Fab sand filters. Multiport valves should be on the filter position. {Or...the method we use is to start the pump with the valve in the Drain to Waste position, and when water begins to run out the waste line, shut off the pump. Place valve into the Recirculate position and run pump until water flows into the pool. Shut off pump; switch the valve to the Filter position to complete the process.}

4. Turn on power to pump & start system

    Watch pressure on gauge closely with your hand on power switch! Turn off if pressure rises above normal range, usually above 30 psi. Recheck that all return side valves are open. If no pressure builds at all, and pump is not pumping, shut off power after 1 minute. Repeat priming process above. If pump still won't prime up, try closing main drain valve, if present, and starting off the skimmer alone. If pump still won't catch prime after 5 or so attempts, check incoming pipes for air leaks. Repair as needed. (Call a professional if you don’t know!) Add 1 lb of DE powder per 5 sq. ft of filter area into the skimmer (if you have a DE filter, of course). Do this quickly, within 2 minutes of starting filter. If you have a cartridge filter you should replace the cartridge element every 6-12 months. Sand filters should have their sand changed every 5 years.

Once system is started, adjust valves and return fittings for proper flow. Check for leaks around pump and filter; repair as needed. Note start up pressure on filter gauge. When psi is 10 lbs above this number, backwash the filter or clean cartridge. Empty pump basket also at this time, or earlier if you notice a drop in filter pressure. If you have a heater, follow pilot lighting and test firing instructions, usually printed on back of front heater door. Operate to test and adjust all other equipment.

5. Equipment and Safety inspection

Spring opening time is ideal for annual preventative maintenance steps such as cleaning, lubricating, inspecting and replacing components in all of your system equipment. Consult your owner's manual and give everything a good inspection. Look for and correct hazardous electrical conditions, such as broken conduit or connectors, lack of proper grounding or bonding, wires exposed to weather, etc. Inspect pool for tripping and slipping hazards. Check again for pressure leaks, which may result pipes or equipment blowing apart. Note water level and watch the pool for leakage during the following few days. If you find a problem and don’t think you can tackle it yourself, call a pool professional.

6. Clean pool

Skim pool, vacuum pool, brush pool. Leaf rake (bag) types skim nets are best. Also useful for scooping large amounts of leaves/debris from pool floor. If pool is especially silty or has lots of algae, Vacuum Pool to Waste. This means to bypass the filter, and vacuum dirt from floors/walls out the backwash line. This prevents constant clogging/cleaning of filter. To do this, you may need to fill pool to the very top, so you can waste 1-3". Place the multiport filter valve on drain to waste position (usually 2pm, if viewed as a clock face) If you have a push-pull filter valve, or a cartridge type filter there is no easy way to vacuum to waste, except for cutting the pipe coming out of the pump and then reconnecting afterwards. Brush the pool thoroughly. Also, you may have to clean your cartridge element many times!

7. Check and Balance Chemistry

Use a good quality pool water test kit. Replace test kit reagents every spring (annually). Follow pool water test instructions carefully to obtain accurate results.

1)Alkalinity first. If below the range of 80-120 ppm, add Total Alkalinity Increaser (Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Alkalinity levels 10 ppm.

2) Calcium level should be 180-220 ppm. Add Calcium Hardness Increaser (Calcium Chloride) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Calcium levels 5 ppm.

3)Test pH level after water has circulated 8 hrs. pH level should be 7.4-7.6 - Add pH Increaser (soda ash or sodium carbonate) if the water is acidic / corrosive (below 7.4). Add pH Decreaser (muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate) if water is basic / scaling (above 7.6). A good test kit will allow you to perform an acid demand or base demand test to determine exact amounts of acid or base needed (demanded).

 After balancing chemicals have been circulated for 8 hrs, shock or superchlorinate the pool. Add granular Shock Treatment (Calcium Hypochorite) to pool at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gallons, or use Clorox Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) at a rate of 5 gals per 10,000-gallons/pool water(but, personally I’d stay away the bleach!).

 4)Cyanuric Acid levels should be tested if chlorine is used (outdoor pools only). Add CYA (Conditioner or Stabilizer) to raise if Cyanuric Acid levels are below 30-50 ppm. A clarifier may be used to help filter efficacy.

Always read instructions on packaging for proper handling, treatments and application of the pool chemicals. Distribute them broadly and never mix chemicals. Brushing pool after adding chemicals is helpful to distribution. Re-test water daily and readjust if needed. Backwash filter after 24 hrs. If algae is still present, re-shock pool, or add "kill" dosage of quality algaecide. Your pool is ready for use when chlorine level drops below 3.0 ppm, and water is clear. It may be a good idea to have an annual check-up to your pool by a pool professional, which is why many people use pool companies to open the pool.


If you don't really winterize your pool, like most of us here in Florida…and reduced the amount of filter time and attention you gave the pool, then you can probably skip items 1-3 above. But follow 4-7 to keep things sanitary and working safe and properly. Again, consider hiring a pool service professional, at least once annually to double check your work and spot problems or maintenance items you may have missed. This may save you from a BIG HEADCHE while waiting for parts on your filtration system should something go up with your system; NO FILTRATION can mean green pool.


Seasonal Pool Check Ups


There are many items worth checking through out the season.  Simple checks are as common as making sure the pump lid o-ring is properly lubricated.  Products like Jack's lube, and Magic Lube can give the proper lubrication to o-rings to help maintain longer life of the o-rings.

Pump Baskets...

Another thing that should be checked is your pump and skimmer basket for cracks, and splits.  A cracked basket can allow debris to clog your impeller.  This can cause loss of flow, that can lead to poor filtration, and other water clarity problems.

D.E. Filters...

For D.E. filter owners it is a good practice for you to clean the filter grids thoroughly mid season.  Opening the filter and removing the entire grid assembly and hosing off all the D.E. from the grids is a wise move.   During regular backwashing you get about 80% of the D.E. out, so if 20% is left that can add up to a lot of extra D.E. in your filter.  With too much D.E. in the filter the grids can bridge together, and cause high filter pressure, and poor filtration.

Ladders, Slides and Diving Boards...

If It is VERY important to check your ladder, handrail, slide and diving board bolts and hardware.  When the bolts are not tightened properly it can be dangerous, and cause injuries.If you have a slide or diving board always check it for cracks, and rusty bolts.  Also check your ladder, and handrail bolts.  It is important that they are tight, and don't let the ladder, or handrail rock this happens it is wise to replace the hardware to prevent injury.

Equipment Area...

You may want to check your equipment area for leaves, grass and mulch.  It may look nice, but heavily landscaped equipment areas cause problems.  If equipment is covered with various types of debris it can cause the pumps to over heat and wear out or burn up.


Check to make sure all wire connections and conduit is intact.  If it is split or cracked... Electrical tape is not the proper repair... have it replaced.  Unsafe electrical conditions can cause injury, or death.  Most electrical work should be done by a licensed professional.

Skimmer Baskets...

Another area you will want to check is the skimmer and pump baskets.  Check for cracks and splits.  This can cause unwanted debris in the pump basket.  Also check the skimmer housing for cracks.  Most small cracks can be repaired before they crack completely and need to be replaced.  This is a VERY costly repair.

Safety Covers...

For those of you that have safety covers, such as Loop-Loc safety covers, you should check your anchors to make sure they thread out, or pop up properly.  Also check to see if they are still secure in the concrete or wood deck.   If the anchors are not anchored properly have them re-secured as soon as possible. It could possibly save you from a liablity issue caused by injury or even death!

In-Floor Cleaning Systems...

On in-floor cleaning systems at the distribution system there is an in-line filter.  It is located at the union going to the unit.   This filter should be checked and cleaned regularly.  If it is clogged it can cause the in-floor system to not work properly.


Pool owners with heaters should test the heater from time to time if it is not being used.  Not only to make sure it is working, but to prevent rodent infestation.  These pesky critters can do a lot of damage to heaters.   Some desert regions even go as far as doing rodent proofing around the pool area. If you sense a problem with your heater consult with a pool professional.

Auto Fills...

It is wise to check your auto fills from time to time.  Make sure the float operates properly, and shuts off at the appropriate level.   When these floats malfunction they will over flow your pool, and raise your water bill.  Better  to be safe than sorry.



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          Article Written By: Al Brooks
          "Certified Pool Operator" by

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