The first step before opening your above ground pool is to examine the peripheral visible structure for winter damage and repair or replace as necessary ageing parts while the parts are still available.
Remove the cover without dumping the leaves etc. back into the pool. Whisk away debris, lay the cover out, wash it down, and fold it back up after it dries.
Depending on how well your closing was and what kind of winter it was, your water will either be clear or murky green. TIP. The earlier you open your pool, the better. Even if you don’t use it right away, open your pool while the water is still cold. Algae needs sunlight and warmth to bloom.
Skim any debris that fell in during the cover removal and any leaves and worms that can be easily reached.
Reinstall ladder, accessories, plugs that were removed at year-end. TIP. Replace accessories that are worn. Waiting “one more year” could be costly if the parts are no longer available for your model pool.
Add excess freshwater (over the normal fill line) to compensate for water lost when you vacuum the bottom of your pool. Otherwise, the pump will lose prime when it runs out of water.
Examine your pump and filter and pool heater, for wear or damage. Lubricate where applicable. TIP. Ensure that the filter plugs have been reinstalled or retightened. If pool antifreeze (non-toxic) was used to close, set the filter to WASTE. TIP. Make sure that your input and output valves are OPEN before running the filtration system. If the pressure gauge spikes or the pump sounds like it is labouring and no water is circulating, TURN OFF immediately and check to ensure the valves are set correctly.
It is crucial that the filter is clean and in excellent working condition. The No. 1 cause of cloudy water is an inefficient or undersized filter. TIP. This is a good time to replace sand. Regardless, replace sand after 6 years.
Run your filter and vacuum the bottom of the pool regardless if you can see the bottom or not. TIP. Be patient and either send to WASTE or backwash the filter frequently. Empty the skimmer basket frequently. Do not bypass the basket even if you are on the WASTE setting.
With the water level at the normal skimmer level, set the filter to FILTER and run as normal. Use your pool brush to brush the sides and bottom. TIP. Don’t be afraid to stir up the debris. That’s the whole idea. This is what the pros do to save time. They let the filter clear the water.
By far, the cheapest and most efficient opening chemicals are 1) liquid Chlorine, and 2) CLEAN and CLEAR by C*Pool and Spa (a natural mineral mix). They work well together. The chlorine will sanitize and shock the water and the CLEAN & CLEAR will kill algae and clarify and balance the water to its natural levels. TIP. Do not turn your pool into a chemical swamp. Let the filter and natural minerals do their work. It may take a little longer, but it will be healthier.
Keep the filter running 24/7 until the water is diamond clear. Backwash (sand filters) or clean or replace (cartridge filters) every day until the water is clear. TIP. Invest in a backup cartridge filter. It will save time and come in handy during the busy season.
After the water is clean and clear, set the filter to your normal setting. TIP. Pool filtration systems take surprisingly little energy to run. If you are able, run constantly for cleaner water.
Test strips (have only a 1-year life) can be used to ensure the correct range for pH, alkalinity and hardness, but remember that these are suggested ranges. If your water is perfectly clear and problem-free, DO NOT CHASE the perfect water balance. You are most likely there already.