How to Open a Pool

Project Overview

Total Time: 4 hours
Skill Level: Beginner

Winter is over, the sun is shining, and temperatures are rising. A dip in the pool sounds pretty good right about now.

But don’t dive in yet! If your pool has been closed for the winter, it will need a little prep work to be ready for another season of fun. Don’t worry, though. Opening a pool is fairly straightforward. Follow these steps and you’ll be perfecting your cannonball in no time!

Often one of the most overlooked steps in getting your swimming pool ready for the season is examining the area surrounding the pool. Start by tidying up plant debris from the pool deck, patio, and nearby planting beds—anything that produces debris that might find its way into your pool. Prune trees and hedges that have grown over the cooler months and hang over your pool now or may in the near future.

Many flowering plants drop their petals in the summer, which can wind up in your pool. To minimize mess and maintenance, do your research and plant mess-free shrubs, trees, or vines around your pool area.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Tree/shrub trimming tools
  • Cover pump or submersible pump (as needed)
  • Broom or pressure washer (as needed)
  • Cover removal took or Allen wrench )as needed)
  • Tile brush
  • Pool brush
  • Pool vacuum
  • Pool water testing kit


  • Tile cleaner or baking soda
  • Metal lubricant


Clean the Pool Cover​
Yuck! You’ve got some sort of smelly science experiment involving leaves and other “stuff” that has collected in the time since you winterized your pool. If the accumulated sludge on your pool cover is liquid, use a cover pump or simply rent a submersible pump to remove the gunk living on top of the cover.
If you have dried debris on your cover, consider yourself lucky. This can be easily removed by sweeping it, followed by a quick spray of the water hose or pressure washer (skip this step if in drought conditions). The real cleaning will happen after you remove the cover.​​
Remove the Pool Cover
Always try to time pool cover removal so that help is available, as it is much safer if multiple people are present. Beginning at the shallow end, each person should grab a corner to begin the removal. Depending on the style of cover, there are a couple of ways to remove it:
  • ​​For solid winter covers – fan-fold the cover into 3-to-5-foot folds.
  • For mesh cover – remove springs or fasteners from anchors with a removal tool or Allen wrench. Loosely fan-fold the cover accordion style.
Clean and Store Cover

After removing the cover, take it to a place in the yard preferably on a slant or slope for easier drainage. Thoroughly sweep and hose off the cover. Consult the cover manufacturer for additional cleaning recommendations. Always allow the cover to dry completely before placing it in storage. Roll or tightly or fan-fold the cover and bind it tightly with rope or strapping to ensure that it stays tight. Store the pool cover indoors or in a garage—away from insects, rodents, and moisture.

Inspect, Remove, Replace (as Needed)
Run through the essential checklist items, including inspections and correcting any issues:
  • Remove plugs, etc: Remove expansion or freeze plugs from the surface skimmers and wall returns and reinstall directional fittings. Empty water from the water tubes (if equipped).

  • Check the filter and pump: Inspect the filter and pump for damaged or worn parts. Make any necessary repairs or replacements.

  • Reinstall light: To prevent lights from cracking in areas where it freezes, underwater light fixtures are often removed from their housings, with the wires still connected. Coil the wire into the niche and reattach the light fixture.

  • Check for cracks: Examine a fiberglass or concrete pool for cracks in the pool and on any tile. Also, check for chips in the plaster or indentations on the deck and coping. It’s also a great time to remove calcium scale and stains from the tile with a household tile cleaner or baking soda and a tile brush. For tougher stains, a pumice stone may be the solution.
Reinstall Equipment

Reset all safety rails; slides; ladders; and diving boards or the newer and safer jump boards. Plus, be sure to spray metal bolts and other fasteners with a metal lubricant, and make sure everything is good and tight.

Pump It Up
If you’ve picked up a new pump, heater, or filter to replace a damaged one, now’s the perfect time to install it. You can also replace drainage plugs, valves, and pressure gauges that were removed.
Always read manufacturers’ instructions that come with any new parts or equipment, or look for the information on the company website.
Add Water and Clean the Pool
Grab a garden hose and fill the pool to the midpoint on the waterline tile or middle of the skimmer weirs. Once the water level reaches the desired depth, clean leaves, twigs, and debris from the pool’s bottom by using a long-handled (telescoping) wall and floor brush. It’s also time to dust off your algae brush and pool vacuum and put them to good use, scrubbing walls and surfaces to clean up any trace of algae.
Power Up the Pool
Are the valves in the open position? Did you fill the pump with water in hopes of it priming correctly? Was air purged from plumbing and equipment? If so, you are ready to power up the pool!
With the circulation system operating, check for leaks, cracks, and split hoses. If you discover any damage, shut off the power immediately and contact your local pool service.
Test and Treat the Water
Run the filter for 12 to 24 hours to mix up the old and new water before testing or adding chemicals. After that, you’ll want to use a pool testing kit. Always check the expiration date on your testing strips or reagents and replace any that have expired. Begin by testing four key parameters:
  • pH level

  • Alkalinity

  • Calcium hardiness

  • Chlorine content
Now it’s time to shock the pool, or super chlorinate it with chlorine or a shock treatment (also called an oxidizer or burner) to destroy the dreaded algae and microorganisms.
At this point—depending on the results of your pool test kit, your preferences, the advice of a pool service professional, etc.—you may want to add other treatments to your water. These can include stabilizer, conditioner, or algicide.
Run the filter for another 24 hours and test again before letting anyone enter the pool.
Splash Into Summer
If the water in your swimming pool is crystal clear and you let your filter run for a day, the next step is what we’ve all been waiting for: Jump in!
And don’t forget to set up a maintenance schedule during swim season.