Spring Pool and Spa Opening Tips


Posted on 26th January 2010 by DPH Inc. in General

*Important Note:  These tips are offered to help you with routine pool and spa opening procedures, but there is no substitute for on-site advice from a professional.  If you experience any problems not addressed here, please email [email protected] to get advice from one of our certified Master Pool and Spa Specialists, or contact a pool or spa professional in your area with experience servicing your particular model for assistance and repairs.


When is the Right Time to Prep to Open?

The best time to prepare your swimming pool or spa for opening is in the spring or early summer (depending, of course, on the climate where you live).  When outdoor overnight low temperatures start trending above 50 °F and you’re sure they won’t be revisiting below-freezing levels, it is safe to begin prepping for the upcoming pool season.

The reason for waiting until low temperatures won’t return to below freezing is because cracks and leaks can develop from the expansion and contraction of pipes, valves, seals and other parts as temperatures fluctuate between below and above freezing, especially in those pipes and parts that hold water, so for safety and other reasons, you will want to do a complete pre-opening inspection after those changes have stopped for the season.

You will, however, want to start your pre-opening inspection and procedures at least a few weeks before you actually want to use your pool or spa, in case you come across problems like parts or accessories that need to be fixed or replaced before they can be used safely and correctly.  There’s nothing worse than really wanting to jump in the pool, and finding out on the hottest day of the season so far that you have repairs to do beforehand that will take weeks to complete!  So do yourself a favor by thinking ahead a bit so your pool or spa will be ready to go when you are!


Phase 1:  The Cover.  Clear, check, remove, clean and store.

Once the time is right, begin by clearing any dirt and debris off the top of your pool or spa cover using a leaf net, leaf rake, leaf eater, leaf blower, vacuum, hose or pump.  If you don’t remove the debris before you remove the cover, you may end up dumping the mess into the water and create more problems you will have to deal with later.  Check all areas where pipes, wiring and controls are to be sure everything is free of dirt, debris, leaves, insects and any critters that may have sought shelter during the off-season, especially if you have an above-ground spa.  Make sure all areas are clean and free of obvious leaks, and all pipes are unobstructed.

Then check your cover for holes or other damage, and if your cover is solid and everything is intact, pump or vacuum off any standing water.  If your cover is not solid, or you discover holes or damage, be careful when pumping off standing water so you don’t end up spending time pumping water out of the pool or spa!  Once all standing water has been removed, remove your cover, clean it well, let it dry thoroughly to avoid mold and mildew, and store it for the season.


Phase 2:  The Water, Part 1.  Remove anti-freezing aids, check/clean water filter and clear debris.

Remove any anti-freezing aids, plumbing plugs, gizmos or other anti-freezing items installed.  Replace return-plumbing outlet fittings.  Then, thoroughly clean the water in your pool or spa to remove any large leaves or other debris using a leaf net, leaf rake, leaf eater or skimmer.  Smaller debris like dirt, sand or algae should be vacuumed or pumped out.  Thoroughly visually inspect your pool or spa surfaces for stains, cracks or other damage.  Raise the underwater lights from the bottom of the pool and install them in their niches if they were removed at the end of the previous season.  Then add water to restore the water level to its normal operating level.


Phase 3:  The Filtration and Circulation Systems.  Clean filter, prime pump, purge air, release pressure, start motor.

Check your water filter — you should have cleaned it thoroughly before closing for the season, but if you didn’t, go ahead and clean it or replace it now to get a fresh start and maximum filtration in the new season.  Next, turn on the electric power and restore circuit breakers, switches and timers to their normal in-season operational settings.  Make sure any grounding wires or straps are reconnected to the pump and any other components that need grounding.  Prime the pump of your filter motor, purge the air from the plumbing and filtration systems, release the increased air pressure created by purging before opening your filter, pump or chemical feeder, and then start up your filtration and circulation systems.  Add new DE if you have a DE filter.  Check for proper filter flow.  Let the circulation and filtration systems run for 10-12 hours so water just added can fully blend with the pre-existing water, so chemical testing will be accurate.


Phase 4:  Exterior Fixtures/ Features.  Check, repair, clean and reinstall.

While the circulation and filtration systems are running, you can carefully inspect all exterior fixtures like ladders, hand rails, diving board, etc., to be sure they are free of stress cracks, excessive wear or other damage.  Lubricate all bolts on exterior fixtures to keep them from rusting during the season, and clean the fixtures and apply car wax to stainless steel rails to prevent surface corrosion.  Then reinstall the fixtures, making sure to reconnect any grounding straps or wires that were connected to them the previous year.  Reinstall skimmer baskets and return-jet eyeball fittings.  Diving boards should be fully coated with a non-slip surface—if the surface has worn smooth in spots, repair kits are available to fix this problem.  Tile and grout can be cleaned with baking soda and a damp sponge.  Use of household cleaners, especially abrasives, to clean tile is not recommended because those chemicals can contaminate the water in your pool or spa.


Phase 5:  The Water, Part 2.  After 10-12 hours, check chemistry, adjust chemical levels, and retest.

After the circulation and filtration systems have run for 10-12 hours, visually inspect the entire filtration and circulation systems for leaks and drips.  Then thoroughly test all chemical levels before adding anything, because in some cases, excessively high levels of some chemicals can stain or damage pool surfaces.  If you use granular (instead of liquid) chlorine shock, do not pour granules directly into the pool, because you can bleach or stain the pool liner.  Instead, pre-mix the granules with water in a bucket and pour into the skimmer.  If you haven’t already done so, it’s also a good idea to have a sample tested by your local pool professional to check for pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness, and to get recommendations on how to avoid surface stains and damage given your water’s chemistry.

After testing, add the chemicals needed in the correct order to rebalance the water chemistry.  Run the circulation system for at least 24 hours straight until the water is completely clear, and retest.  Adjust and retest again, and repeat — you will need to recheck levels frequently during the next few days until the chemistry stabilizes.  Depending on how dirty the water is from the off-season, you may also need to clean the filters a few times.


Phase 6:  Enjoy!