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As the temperature outside continues to rise, you should start thinking about opening your pool for the season. The earlier in the season you open your pool, the easier pool opening will be. It’s best practice to open your pool when outside temperatures hit 60 degrees—especially if you didn’t add a mid-winter dose of shock and algaecide. If you wait any longer, you may spend a lot more money and time trying to get your pool ready for the season. 

Step-by-step instructions:

1. Remove pool cover 

Using a pool leaf rake, scoop out wet leaves and other debris that weigh the pool cover down. You can drain water from the pool cover by either siphoning the water with your garden hose or using a pool cover pump. After water and debris have been removed, take the cover off of your pool. Lay the pool cover completely flat and inspect the pool cover for damage. If the pool cover is in good condition, clean the cover with warm water, soap and a soft broom or brush. Scrub your cover gently to avoid damage. Rinse, and allow the cover to dry completely before storing it in a cool, dry place to prevent mold. 

2. Reconnect equipment 

Check your pump, skimmer and filter to ensure they are working properly. If you winterized your pool, be sure to reconnect equipment properly and remove any winterizing plugs. Reconnect pump, filter, chlorinator and other equipment appropriately to ensure the system is back up and running. If you have any deck equipment that you removed, like a pool ladder, reinstall it at this time, making sure to lubricate the bolts of your equipment to prevent rusting during the summer. Turn on your filtration system. 

3. Clean the pool

Using a pool leaf rake and/or skimmer net, remove all debris from the water. After skimming debris from the surface of the water, brush the walls of your pool. Be sure to push dirt and debris towards the drain. Vacuum the pool thoroughly with an underwater pool vacuum to remove any remaining debris. 

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4. Prepare the water 

Add water to the pool with a garden hose until the water rises to the middle of the skimmer opening. Start equipment according to the manufacturer’s directions, and allow your pool water to circulate for 24 hours. Then, test your water using test strips, and balance the water based on test results. Always start balancing alkalinity first, then pH. Ideal levels for each parameter are as follows:

  • Total alkalinity: 80 to 150 ppm: If total alkalinity is low, add an alkalinity increaser like Clorox Pool&Spa Alkalinity Increaser.
  • pH: 7.2 to 7.6: If pH is low, add a product like Clorox Pool&Spa pH Up to increase pH. If pH is high, add a product like Clorox Pool&Spa pH Down to decrease pH.
  • Total hardness: 175-270 ppm: If total hardness is low, add a product like Clorox Pool&Spa Calcium Hardness Increaser.

Tip: For personalized balancing instructions made for your pool, use the free Clorox Pool app. After downloading, set up your pool by adding the pool volume and surface type for the best results. Then, test your water and input the results directly in the app. The app will analyze your results and provide personalized instructions on balancing the water. 

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5. Sanitize water 

Once alkalinity, pH and hardness are balanced, sanitize the water using a quality chlorine product, like Clorox Pool&Spa XtraBlue 3" Long-Lasting Chlorinating Tablets, according to label directions. Shock your pool with a shock product that can also kill algae, like Clorox Pool&Spa™ Shock XtraBlue, per label directions to help kill lingering contaminants, bacteria and algae. Allow the pump to run for four to six hours.

Tip: If you have an above ground pool, use a shock that is formulated to dissolve fast, so it doesn’t bleach or discolor your pool. 

6. Prevent and kill algae 

Maintain algae-free water by applying a dose of preventative algaecide, like Clorox Pool&Spa Green Algae Eliminator², to the pool according to the label directions. If you opened up to a swampy pool, kill it fast with a powerful algae killer like Clorox Pool&Spa XtraBlue Algaecide after shocking and letting the filter run for one hour. Apply your algaecide and allow the filter system to operate for 24 hours after application. Brush surfaces after 24 hours, if necessary, and repeat the process again after 72 hours.

Common questions about pool opening: 

When is the best time for me to open my pool? 

Most people open their pools sometime between March and May, but the exact time you should open your pool depends on your location and how the pool was closed and maintained during the off-season. 

If you closed your pool early in the fall before temperatures dropped low enough, you may need to open by early spring. Waiting too long will encourage (or worsen) algae blooms. If you closed your pool later in the year or if you applied shock and algaecide to the pool during the off-season, you can get away with opening your pool when daytime temperatures are regularly 60 degrees. 

You always want to open your pool as soon as possible to prevent water quality problems. 

Help! I am opening my pool later than usual, and it’s a swampy, green mess! How do I clear my pool fast? 

Remember, if you do open to a swampy mess, you just need some time, patience and a few essential products to get your pool ready for the official start of summer. 

First, shock your pool with a high-quality chlorine shock that will help kill algae and boost chlorine levels, like Clorox Pool&Spa Shock XtraBlue. Brush surfaces well, focusing on the areas of the pool where algae has grown. Run your filter for one hour. Then, apply a dose of a powerful, fast-acting algaecide, like Clorox Pool&Spa XtraBlue Algaecide, according to label directions, to kill remaining algae. Allow the water to circulate for 24 hours. When the algae is dead, vacuum or backwash the pool filter to remove the dead algae. 

Prevent opening up to a swampy pool by keeping your eye on your pool during the winter. 

You should do a mid-winter shock and algaecide treatment at least once if you are located in a colder climate. If you live in an area with a mild winter, you should shock and add an algae treatment at least twice during the off-season. This way, once you open, you only need to do a few things to get your pool perfect. 

There are some weird stains in my pool that weren’t there when I closed. What should I do?

Stains can be either from organic material (like leaves) or from metals in the pool. Organic stains are typically green or brown, and will lift if water is properly sanitized, shocked and brushed. These are common if any debris, like leaves, got into the pool during the off-season. 

Metal stains can vary in color—from blue, green, black and red—typically caused by metals like iron or copper in the pool. 

Balance and shock the water, brushing the stained area well. If it’s an organic stain, the stain should lift with regular shocking and brushing. If it’s a fresh metal stain, you’ll need to apply metal stain remover like Clorox® Pool&Spa™ Scale, Metal & Stain Control.

My pool is still really cloudy. What things should I do to help clear the water? 

If your water is perfectly balanced, there may be some filtration issues or an influx of contaminants that is causing your pool water to be cloudy. 

First, inspect your filter. You may need to backwash, chemically clean or replace your filter media. Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction for backwashing any filter. 

Next, check the skimmer basket, and empty any debris that may be clogging water flow. 

Finally, applying a clarifier or flocculant to improve filtration can help clear your water. Be sure to follow your product label’s instructions closely because clarifier and flocculant work differently to clean the water. Shocking the water can also help clear it, by killing any lingering contaminants that cloud water. 

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