Pool opening season is right around the corner and there is no better way to ensure a smooth, easy pool season than by opening your pool properly.
Opening Your Pool
The first thing to consider when opening your pool is when to open your pool. The earlier you open your pool the better chance you have of opening with clear water. Algae will start to grow around 5°C (40°F). The warmer the water is, the greater the potential algae growth so it is important to get the pool running and treated with chlorine as soon as possible. This is especially true if your pool has a safety cover as they let some sunlight in, accelerating the algae growth further. By opening your pool early you avoid the cost of fixing a serious algae problem. To clear a typical algae bloom can cost $300 or more in chemicals and requires you to run your pool pump 24hrs a day until the water is fully cleared. If you are unable to open it early, or are waiting for someone to open it for you, you can pull back a corner of the cover and add some chlorine to the water to inhibit algae growth until you are able to get it open.
The two things that are most neglected when opening pools are the filter and the salt cell (if you have a salt pool). The sand in your filter should be chemically cleaned at least once a season; either in the fall right before you close it, or in the spring right after you open it. Backwashing will remove any debris the filter traps but oils and lotions will remain on the sand and can eat up your pools chlorine residual. This will increase your chlorine usage, costing you money, and will also increase the chance of your pool turning cloudy or green due to a lack of sanitizer. The sand should also be completely changed every 5-7 years. Silica sand (the type of sand used in sand filters) starts off having sharp peaks and valleys. It’s these peaks and valleys that trap the debris in the filter. As water passes over the sand it starts to round off those peaks. This leads to the sand becoming less and less effective over the years and can cause the water in the pool to become cloudy much easier.
If you own a salt water pool you should also be cleaning your salt cell every spring. Over the course of the pool season calcium and other minerals can deposit on the cell, causing scale to form. This scale can drastically reduce the efficiency of your salt cell, a layer of scale as thick as one sheet of paper can reduce its efficiency by up to 50%! This either leads to less chlorine in the pool, causing cloudy/green water, or you having to boost the output of the cell, reducing the life of the cell. To clean the salt cell simply soak it for a few hours (or overnight) in a special cleaning solution that you can pick up at any local pool supply store.
Other Things to Consider
- It’s important to get the water balanced properly as soon as you can. Improper water balance can cause damage to your pumps, filters, heaters, salt cell, vinyl liner, concrete, and plumbing. Improper water balance can also lead to cloudy looking water and will reduce chlorine’s effectiveness, leading to water turning green more easily.
- To get the best possible circulation make sure that your pool’s return jets are pointed downward on a 45°angle and (if you have more than one) that they are pointed in the same direction. This creates a “vortex”, ensuring the maximum amount of water possible is being moved while minimizing “dead spots” (areas of no circulation where algae can grow much easier).
- For the first few days after your pool is opened the pump should be running 24 hours a day. This will ensure all of the water is properly treated and filtered, and will help to clear any cloudiness or algae blooms (along with maintaining a chlorine residual). After a few days, if the pool is clear, you can start running the pump for less time. Note: It is much better to run the pump during the day and shut it off at night. During the day the water is warmer and the Sun’s UV rays are hitting the water, both of which will quickly deplete your chlorine residual. By running the pump during the day you will keep a steady dose of chlorine entering the water, greatly reducing the likelihood of running into issues with water clarity or algae growth.
- Only backwash your pool when your pressure gauge reads 8-10lbs higher than the pressure you started with after your last backwash. Dirty filters will actually filter better than clean filters. Consider replacing your pressure gauge every year as they are generally very poor quality and do not last much more than a year. They are inexpensive to replace and make it much easier to gauge when to backwash your pool.