Every year around this time customers all over the Midwest prepare to have their swimming pools opened for the season. And, inevitably, every year we receive calls from customers asking questions on how to successfully prepare their pool for the coming summer. From proper water level to auto-cover and chemical questions, people sometime need a ‘refresher’ on the in’s and out’s of opening and maintaining a beautiful swimming pool from year to year. Here are a few pointers to get you started on the right foot:
1. Remove all standing water and debris from your pool cover. As obvious as this might sound, we can’t count the number of times a customer has asked us to open their pool….and the cover is FILLED with standing water and leaves from the fall and winter months. Before a pool cover can be removed (or retracted, in the case of auto-covers) it is imperative that all water and debris is first removed. Our winter covers come with a permeable mesh that allows rainwater and melted snow and ice to drain through. Leaves and branched need to be cleared before removing the cover. Auto-covers do not have a permeable membrane. These covers need to be pumped clear of all water before the cover will operate. Leaves and branches must also be removed before the cover is operated. If not, this debris will collect in the cover box and can damage the cover system.
2. Bring the water level in the pool half way up the skimmer. This is not a critical step but something to keep in mind, especially if you have an auto-cover. The cover is designed to be supported by the pool water underneth it. By having the water at the appropriate level, the cover can operate smoothly and easily as the pool is being started up for the season.
3. Even under perfect conditions there will be some sort of dirt or debris in the bottom of your pool. If you have a winter cover, the snow and ice that collected over the winter has now melted into the pool, bringing with it a fair amount of dirt. If you have an auto-cover with your pool, a few leaves may have blown into the pool through a small gap between the cover and pool wall. In either case be prepared to spend a little time removing or vacuuming this debris once the water is circulating.
4. Initial chemical balancing for the season is not a particularly difficult process, especially with a fiberglass pool. When your pool is first started up for the season you will most likely need to ‘shock’ the water in order to kill off any algae that has collected over the winter. Once the first round of shock wears off, test your pool chemicals to see where everything is starting at for the year. If you have specific questions about chemicals feel free to contact us or take a sample of water to a local pool store for analysis.
5. If you have a salt water chlorine generator on your pool make sure to heat the water to 77 degrees before testing the salt level of the water. The ideal level is 3500ppm (parts per million). The sensor in your pool equipment is calibrated to read the salt level most accurately while at this water temperature. A lower temperature will produce a false low reading and a higher water temperature will produce an inaccurately high reading. For every 5 degree change from the 77 degree point, the salt level will read 200ppm different from actual levels.
For those fiberglass pool owners in the Illinois and greater Chicago land area, you can download a copy of the Signature Pools 2011 opening letter directly on our website at http://www.signaturepoolschicago.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Letter-for-openings-2011-Computer-Version.pdf