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Most people think of a pool purely in terms of entertainment, as a place to unwind or have some fun. But a pool requires a lot of regular maintenance to keep it functional and safe. A big part of owning a pool is opening it for the swimming season.
As with any other type of maintenance, opening a pool is a task that can be performed by either the pool owner or a professional. It's purely a matter of preference; those who feel they have the budget, knowledge, and time may prefer to do it themselves, while those who do not may feel it's better left to a pool technician. The choice is yours, but before you decide to open your pool yourself, there are some things you should know.
Removing the Pool Cover
The pool cover must be removed carefully to ensure that none of the debris or excess water on it gets into the pool. The cover must then be thoroughly cleaned and stored properly. How you clear the cover before removal depends on the type of cover. You might use a leaf blower to get rid of leaves, sticks, and other lightweight debris. If it has a lot of standing water, you may need to remove that with a pump.
To clean the cover, you must thoroughly wash and disinfect it. Then, lay it flat on the ground to dry before storing it for the summer. If you do not feel confident in your ability to properly remove and clean the cover – or it just seems like a hassle – a pool professional can take care of this for you. They'll remove and clean the cover before storing it.
Winterized Plugs and Skimmer Baskets
Pools have return and step jets that, during colder seasons, should be covered with winterizing plugs. Specialized tools are needed to correctly remove these plugs, which can be damaged if they are taken out incorrectly. Once removed, the proper fittings must be put into place before the pool can be used. This is something that can be done by the owner, but since it is a difficult process, it is typically best to hire a professional.
Skimmer baskets must also be removed and cleaned, though it is not quite as difficult. However, there are usually winter plugs beneath the skimmer basket as well that require a similar process as the jet plugs. Removing the plugs and then putting the proper fittings into place are absolutely necessary to make sure your pool is clean, safe, and ready to use.
Refilling Your Pool
Even if you did not drain your pool during winterization, you likely lost some water over the off-season due to evaporation. The water must be clean and at the proper levels before opening. If you don't have a lot of experience with pools, it is hard to know if the water should be drained before refilling or how much water needs to be added before the system is reconnected. Incorrect water levels in a pool often lead to plumbing problems and costly repairs, but mainly it causes issues with your cleaning supplies. Those with little pool experience should leave the process of refilling a pool to professionals or contact an experienced pool technician for information.
Turning the System Back On
Check and clean all filters before you turn the filter and pump systems back on. If the filters are not pulling water, they most likely need to be primed. To do this, you must shut down the filter system, remove the pump lid, and fill the housing with clean water. It is also important that you check for leaks in the filtration mechanism and pumps before you turn everything back on. These are tasks that can be completed by the pool owner, but professional pool technicians perform them as well as a part of the pool opening process.
This is one of the less complex aspects of opening your pool. If you've had your pool for long enough to know what it's chemical balance should be, this is a step easily handled without a professional. However, it is tricky to maintain the proper levels of chlorine, pH balance, and sanitizer when you first open a pool. A trained technician can handle the entire process if you do not feel confident in your abilities to do so. They will also test your chemical balance before declaring the pool safe for swimmers.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Pool?
If you hire a professional to open your pool, costs depend on your area, the size of your pool, and whether any damage occurred during the winter.
- Expect to pay up to $200 to open an above-ground pool
- An in-ground pool opening averages between $200 and $450 if there are no issues
- A test kit costs between $20 and $50
- Some companies sell a "spring start-up" type of kit, which averages around $50
- Expect to pay around $300 per year for pool chemicals
If plumbing or other structural issues are discovered during the pool opening process, your price may reach the thousands. It all depends on what's wrong. Opening your pool yourself requires nothing more than your time and some supplies.
Benefits of a Pro
Hiring a professional pool technician to open your pool is the best way to avoid mistakes and ensure that everything is done properly, especially if you've never opened a pool before. Even if you do feel you have the experience and knowledge to complete the task, a professional takes the burden off your shoulders. Not only will they be able to perform every step listed above without issue, they'll be able to do it much more quickly than you could.