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How to Open Your Above Ground Pool Like a Pro

People opening above ground pool

If this is your first season opening your above ground pool by yourself, then you’ve come to the right place.

It’s time to think twice about hiring a service because we’ve got a comprehensive, easy to follow guide that will have you ready for summer pool parties in no time. You have the pool already, you may as way learn your way around it.

If you’ve got an above ground pool we have 12 or 13 steps for you, depending on whether you consider a cannonball contest as part of the process. If you have an in-ground pool you’ll want to check out our other guide here.

If you’re ready to open your above-ground pool, we’ve got your back.

1. Give your pool cover a spring cleaning

Use any soft broom to clean off any debris that may have found its way onto your pool cover. You want to do a good job at this since anything you miss is going to end up in your pool, haunting you later. Next you want to use a submersible pump to eliminate any still water sitting on the cover. Be patient and let the pump do the work.

2. Pull the Cover Off the Pool

Now would be a good time to recruit a friend or family member. You’ll both start on one end of the pool to lift the cover and pull it back. Instead of pulling all the way to the end, fold it back onto itself to make it more manageable.

Pro Tip: You’re going to want to lay the cover out to dry, so start on the opposite side of where you want to end up.

Once the cover is completely off, carry it over to an open space like the driveway or patch of grass and lay it out to dry. Make sure not to drag it against the pavement as that can cause damage to your pool cover and potentially your wallet.

3. Prepare your Pool Cover for Storage

Wait… before you take the time to clean your cover and fold it up neatly for the summer, make sure it’s still in good shape from the winter. If it’s seen better days, you might want to skip ahead and order a new pool cover so it’s ready for you when you need it.

To keep your cover (and wallet) in good shape for years to come, give your pool cover a light rinse with carwash soap and the garden hose and let it dry completely. Simply lift and lay the dry cover over and back on itself for a clean, neat fold.

Rolling up winter cover

You’ll also want to invest in an airtight container to make sure your pool cover stays free of critters and bugs. A damp pool cover on the floor in the shed makes a great home for neighbourhood rodents. You’ve been warned.

Pro Tip: If you still have it, you can also use the bag your pool cover came with for safe storage.

4. Fill the Pool with Water

You’ll probably need to add some fresh water to your above ground pool to bring it up to your desired height. Make sure the water level reaches at least the halfway mark on your skimmer’s opening. While you’re waiting for the water to fill, you can knock out the next few steps.

5. Skim the Surface

Before going any further, you’ll want to skim your pool to remove anything that could get clogged in your filter when you turn it on shortly. This is an important step that should not be overlooked. Plus, you’re going to want to do this part anyway for that crystal clear water look. We know your water is still green and dirty, but you’re getting there, we promise.

Skimming dirt off above ground pool

6. Goodbye Winter Pool Plugs and Hello Skimmer Baskets

As your above ground pool is filling and your cover is safely stored (or still drying), it’s time to remove the winterizing pool plugs that were put in place at the end of the season. To do this, take a walk around your pool and remove all plugs from the openings, including return jets and skimmer bucket. Make sure to also remove the ice compensator if you used one in your skimmer bucket.

Reinstall your skimmer baskets and any other equipment you removed for the winter.

Make sure water can easily flow through the skimmer bucket for when you’re ready to turn on your filter system.

Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to keep small parts safe and in one place with labeled containers. If everything has a place, it will be easy to swap out winter plugs for summer plugs.

7. Re-Install Your Pump, Filter, and Equipment

Since you so carefully stored your summer equipment last season (right?), you’re ready to put back the drain plugs and pressure gauges to your filter system and install any other equipment that was removed for the winter.

You’re ready to connect your system hoses to your equipment.

First, attach the skimmer to the pool pump.

Next, connect the pump to the filter.

Finally, connect the filter to the heater and chlorinator.

If you’re extra and have more filter equipment, make that connection. If you’ve connected everything there is to connect, attach the hose directly to the return inlet.

If you have a multiport valve, turn it to the filter setting. If not, keep on going, you pool expert!

Pro Tip: When air gets sucked into the pump, a cracked O-ring is a likely culprit. To avoid this down the line, it’s a good idea to lubricate your O-rings at the start the season. If anything is cracked or wearing, you’ll want to replace that to avoid bigger problems later.

8. Start Up Your Pump and Filter

It’s about time to turn on your system.

Before you start your filter, remove the pump lid, and prime your pump to make sure it’s not running dry by adding water directly into the pump with your hose or a bucket. Replace the lid and turn on the system.

Pro Tip: Make sure everything starts up and scan for any leaks. In the case that your pressure gauge spikes, shut off the pump and check for anything blocking water flow.

9. Make Your Pool Your Own

Put the finishing touches in like ladders, basketball nets, and whatever else makes it feel like your family pool. In our professional opinion, it’s not a new pool season without some fresh noodles.

Adding accessories to above ground pool

10. Clean Up Duty

Well, that was a fun distraction, but now you need to brush and vacuum your pool in order to dislodge any buildup. This is important for the upcoming water treatment to work.

11. Add Opening Day Chemicals

It helps to order a pool opening kit and test strips or professional grade test kits. Once you know your baseline you can start balancing your pool. Don’t be alarmed if your pool has higher levels of metals like iron and copper. It’s common for that to build up over the winter. To protect against discoloration and build up from these minerals, the Pool Protect All in your pool opening kit will do the trick.

You’ll want to give the chemicals 24 hours to do their work before the final step in opening your above ground pool.

Pool Opening Kit

12. Shock The Pool

A day after you balance your pool, it’s time to give it a double shock to get your above ground pool cannonball ready.

To do this you’ll need two pounds of chlorine shock for every 10,000 gallons of water. If don’t have enough shock, do not mix multiple brands. Pool chemicals are safe as long as the directions are followed, but don’t go experimenting on us, deal?

To add the shock, you have two options depending on your above ground pool deck set up. If your deck goes around the entire pool you can pour the shock in directly, slowly circling the perimeter to distribute it evenly. If you have limited deck space and need to pour from one place, you’ll want to dilute the shock in a 5-gallon bucket of water before pouring the solution in.

Adding Shock to Pool

Pro Tip: Shock your pool at night or in the early morning so it doesn’t burn off too quickly in the sun.

13. Add 24 hours of Anticipation

Your hard work is done. Let your filter run for at least 24 hours and retest the water. If it’s to your satisfaction let the family know summer is ready, with the biggest cannonball splash you can make.

Enjoy your hard work!

Canonball into pool

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