How to Open a Swimming Pool: A DIY Guide

  • 01 of 10

    How to Open a Pool: Spruce Up the Surrounding Area

    guycleaningpool.jpg
    Man cleaning pool. Getty Images

    Of course, the simplest solution to opening a swimming pool for the season is to hire a pool service. But if you’re up for it, you can do it yourself, potentially saving yourself hundreds of dollars, which you can turn around and spend on more DIY pool equipment.

    Enlist some help from your home’s cohabitants and tackle the dirty deed.

    Perhaps one of the most overlooked steps in getting your swimming pool ready for the season is addressing the area surrounding your pool. Things to consider:

    • Clean up...MORE plant debris from the pool deck, patio, nearby planting beds – virtually anything that has the potential for producing debris in your pool.
    • Prune trees and hedges that have grown in recent months and might hang over your pool. Some plants shed their flowers in the summertime, which can end up in your pool. Try planting mess-free shrubs or succulents that will help keep the pool area nice and neat.

    Next: Clean the Mess Off the Cover

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  • 02 of 10

    Clean That Mess Off the Pool Cover

    pool cover pump
    Wayne pool cover pump. Amazon.com

    Yuck! You've got some sort of smelly science experiment involving leaves and "stuff" that's accumulated in the seven months or so since you winterized your swimming pool. If the accumulated gunk on your pool cover is in liquid form, use a cover pump or rent a submersible pump (usually for a 24-hour period) to remove the murky water living on top of the cover.

    Consider yourself lucky if you have dried debris on your cover. This can be removed by sweeping it, followed by a quick...MORE spray of the hose or pressure washer (really quickly or not at all in drought-stricken regions). The real cleaning will happen after you remove the cover.

    Next: Remove the Cover

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  • 03 of 10

    Remove the Pool Cover

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    A pool cover with a reel for easy removal. David Cordner/Getty Images

    Try to time the pool cover removal so that an extra helper is available. At the shallow end, each person should grab a corner to begin the removal. There are a couple of ways to remove a cover, depending on the type. These methods include:

    • For solid winter covers, fan-fold the cover into 3-to-5-foot folds.
    • For mesh covers, remove springs or fasteners from anchors with a removal tool or Allen wrench. Loosely fan-fold the cover accordion style.

    Cleaning and Storage

    After removing the cover, take it to...MORE a driveway or other hardscaped area, preferably on a slant or slope for easier drainage. Thoroughly sweep and hose off the cover, and use cleaner or treatment if it’s recommended by the manufacturer of the cover. Allow to dry completely before storing. Tightly roll or fan-fold the cover and wrap with rope or use strapping to keep it tight. Store the pool cover indoors or in a garage - away from insects, rodents and moisture.

    Next: Inspection, Removal and Replacement

    10 Reasons to Use a Pool or Spa Cover

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  • 04 of 10

    DIY Alert: Inspection, Removal and Replacement

    Pool Tile Mosaic How To
    Replacing pool tile at the waterline. Photo by Chloe Taylor

    Getting down to business:

    • Remove Plugs, Etc: Remove expansion or freeze plugs from the surface skimmers and wall returns, and restore directional fittings. Empty water from the water tubes (if your pool has them).
    • Check the Filter and Pump: Make sure to inspect the filter and pump for possible damaged or worn parts and buy a replacement.
    • Lighting Fixtures:To prevent lights from cracking in areas where it freezes, underwater light fixtures are often removed from their housings, with the wires...MORE still connected. Coil the wire into the niche and reattach the light fixture.
    • Check for Cracks: Fiberglass or concrete pools should be examined for cracks in the pool and on tile. Also look for chips in the plaster and indentations on the deck and coping. Since this pool-opening job is DIY, you can apply your expertise to any minor repairs that need to be made. It's also a good time to remove calcium scale and stains from the tile with a household tile cleaner or baking soda and a tile brush. For tougher stains, try using a pumice stone.

    Next: Reinstall Equipment

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  • 05 of 10

    Reinstall Equipment

    pool rail
    Swimming pool with new rail. Em/Getty Images

    That would be hand-, grab- or safety rails, slides, ladders, diving boards or the newer and safer jump boards. It will be easier to clean up these pieces with use a chrome cleaner or polish prior to installation. Reattach tightly and spray bolts with a metal lubricant.

    Next: Pump It Up

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  • 06 of 10

    Pump It Up

    hayward pool pump
    Hayward Super Pump pool pump. Amazon.com

    If you purchased a new pump, heater or filter to replace a damaged one, now's a good time to install it. You can also replace drainage plugs, valves and pressure gauges that were removed.

    Check manufacturers' instructions that came with the new parts or equipment, or look for the information on the company website.

    Next: Add Water and Clean Its Bottom

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  • 07 of 10

    Add Water and Clean Pool Surface

    cleaning floor of pool
    Man cleans tile floor of a pool. hsanyildizli/Getty Images

    Grab a garden hose and fill the pool to the midpoint on the waterline tile or middle of the skimmer weirs. Once it's at the desired level, you can now clean leaves, twigs and debris from the pool's bottom by using a long-handled (telescoping) wall and floor brush. This is also time to dust off your algae brush and pool vacuum and put them to good use, scrubbing walls and surfaces to remove any trace of dreaded algae, in all its forms and colors.

    Next: Power to the Pool

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  • 08 of 10

    Power to the Pool

    man fixes pool
    Man inspects swimming pool. lissart/Getty Images

    Are the valves in the open position? Did you fill the pump with water in hopes of it priming correctly? Was air purged from plumbing and equipment? If so, you may now turn on the power.

    With the circulation system operating, inspect the pool for leaks, cracks and split hoses. If you discover any damage, shut off the power and contact your local pool service.

    Are you an experienced swimming pool do-it-yourselfer? Go for it, but really know what you're doing.

    Next: Swimming Pool Chemistry Lab

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  • 09 of 10

    Swimming Pool Chemistry Lab

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    Checking pH levels with a pool test kit. Getty Images

    Run the filter 12-24 hours to mix up the old and new water before testing or adding chemicals. After that, you'll want to use a pool testing kit. Be sure to check the expiration date on your testing strips or reagents and replace if expired. The four parameters to test:

    • The water's pH level.
    • Its alkalinity.
    • Its calcium hardiness.
    • Its chlorine content.


    Next up: time to shock the pool, or superchlorinate with chlorine or a shock treatment (also called an oxidizer or burner) to destroy those...MORE pesky algae and microorganisms.

    At this point—depending on the results of your pool test kit, your preferences, the advice of a pool service professional, etc.—you might want to add other treatments to your water. These might include a stabilizer, conditioner, or algicide.

    For more detailed instructions, photos for each step, check out this pool test kit tutorial.

    Allow the filter to run another 24 hours and test again before letting anyone enter the pool.

    Next: Splash Into Summer

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  • 10 of 10

    Splash Into Summer

    teen girl jumps into pool
    A teen girl jumps into a swimming pool. Adie Bush/Getty Images

    Have you followed all these steps? If the water in your swimming pool is crystal clear and you let your filter run for a day, as recommended in Step 9 - you know what to do.

    Jump in!

    And don't forget to set up a maintenance schedule during swim season.