Basic Steps to Opening your Swimming Pool

Whether an above ground or an in-ground pool, the basic steps that follow for opening them are fairly similar.

Preliminary Steps:

  1. Conduct an initial inspection of your pool and its surroundings. Take note of anything obvious that needs to be repaired before you begin. When in doubt, check with your swimming pool professional;
  2. Inventory everything you need to complete the job, including items stored away for the winter, and the needed tools and chemicals. Make sure you have what you need on hand.

Once you’ve addressed these preliminaries, you’re almost ready. A couple of important cautions first, and a few tips:

CAUTION: NEVER DRAIN your pool. Doing so causes vinyl liner pools to shrink, which will void your warranty and could cause additional damage to your pool. In gunite, plaster, or even fiberglass pools, draining the water from the pool could result in what’s called “floating” or “popping,” causing serious damage to the entire pool structure. Give us a call if you have concerns here.

CAUTION: Always add chemicals to water. DO NOT add water to chemicals.

The manufacturers of pool shock and other chemical products suggest that you wear protective goggles and other safety equipment to prevent injury. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on the packaging closely while using these products.

Additional tips before starting the process:

  • If you have a vinyl liner in your swimming pool, DO NOT allow un-dissolved pool shock to settle to the floor. Doing so may bleach or stain your pool liner;
  • DO NOT use a non-chlorine shock with the initial start-up; maintaining a good chlorine residual is important.
  • Check the pH range before shocking. It needs to be within the normal range before shocking, otherwise the extra chlorine can oxidize copper parts in the pool, especially the filtration and heating system;
  • Bear in mind that it is better to add shock chemicals in small amounts at multiple locations across the pool rather than dumping in a large quantity and hoping it will disperse evenly.

The Opening Process:

  1. Carefully remove all the leaves, dirt and debris from the pool deck and winter cover before removing the cover. DO NOT let the winter mess simply drop into the pool;
  2. Remove all winter and ice expansion plugs (gizmos);
  3. Replace the respective directional returns (eyeballs), suction grates (usually used on lower suction fittings), circulator fittings, etc. If you are using standard, stationary eyeballs, point the flow of water DOWN toward the bottom of the pool to optimize the circulation;
  4. Begin bringing the water level up to normal operating level;
  5. Carefully remove the winter cover;
  6. Clean the winter cover, fold it up and store it away, so it’s easier to reinstall at the end of the season;
  7. Hook up the filtration system;
  8. Once the water level is sufficient, “prime” the pump with water, start it, check for obvious leaks and proper functionality. DO NOT start the pump dry;

The IVAC and After:

  1. Perform an intensive/initial vacuum (IVAC) of the pool. Clean and vacuum the pool of all dirt and debris. Get all of the excess stuff out of the pool before adding shock and start up algaecide, especially if the water is relatively clear and clean. The less stuff in the water, the more effective your initial shocking and chemical treatment will be. Repeat the IVAC, if needed, once the water clears in a few days to a week;
  2. Vacuum and brush the side walls of the pool to remove any buildup of bio-films there;
  3. Clean the liner or tile line with a good quality pool surface cleaner;
  4. Add initial doses of shock and algaecide;

NOTEDON’T SKIMP with the algaecide, DON’T USE algaecides containing copper. Improper use of copper based algaecides can lead to the staining of pool surfaces. Follow the label directions for an initial dose.

CAUTION: After adding the initial shock and algaecide, run the filter for 48 to 72 hours continually. DO NOT backwash the filter during this time. Let the filter and the chemicals do the work.

  1. After 24-36 hours, perform a full chemical test and begin balancing the pool chemistry. Adjust pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness as needed;
  2. Inspect and install ladders and deck equipment;
  3. Backwash the filter. Chemically clean the filter after two weeks if necessary;
  4. Check the pool water chemistry again, and adjust as necessary.

About those Chloramines

Whether you use chlorine, bromine, an ionizer, or salt-chlorine when opening your swimming pool, shocking must be thorough in order to break up residual chloramines (also known as combined chlorines) from the winterizing process. If chloramines are not dealt with now, a lingering chlorine demand (which is an inability to maintain a solid chlorine or bromine level) problem will develop. Curing chlorine demands can be costly, so do it the right way now.

Keep the Water Properly Balanced

Remember, stay on top of your pool’s pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness, and you, your family and guests will benefit throughout the Summer. Call us at 631.242.2667 if you’d like help with this, we’re ready to assist!


Please use all appropriate and proper safety precautions when attempting projects on this website. All projects are attempted at the reader’s own risk.


30 Dunton Ave., Deer Park, NY 11729

Phone: (631) 242-2667




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