Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

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Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby sbelgrave » Tue 01 Apr, 2008 08:05

While I know there is no perfect equation that meets the demands of all pools when opening one, I thought I'd at least throw out what I have and see what you guys think. I"m trying to make a GUIDE that allows me to 'checkoff' the major things in order (chemical-wise) to do when opening my pool every year. Here's what i have :

Step by Step Guide For Opening Pool

Step 1 : Fill up pool level to ¾ skimmer
By filling up pool really high (in this case 3/4 of skimmer), you may not have to fill your pool after step 2 since you will be getting rid of a lot of water after using the Floc below.

Step 2 : Floc
Use Floc on Pool. Wait 24 – 48 hours for particles to clump and settle. Then manually vacuum all of this away and make sure the filter is set to ‘WASTE’ so you don't recirculate the particles back into your pool. By doing this first you can be assured that you start off with water that is free of microscopic particles rather than having to do this later and removing water that has been conditioned using the chemicals below.

Step 3 : Ph and Alkalinity (Ideal pH is 7.2-7.6, TA is 80 – 120 ppm)

Take a reading using test strips and do the following depending on the reading :

IF (High TA High pH)
- Lower both with acid

IF (High TA Low pH)
- Raise pH then lower TA

IF (High pH Low TA)
- Raise TA then lower pH

IF (Low TA Low pH)
-Raise TA then pH

Step 4 : Add Stabilizer (aka Cyanuric Acid)
Backwash filter first. Then add stabilizer
Ideal levels will be at 40 – 80 ppm. If you use products such as Tri or Di Chlor that already have CYA in them, might be good to get level up to 40 ppm since you will be adding CYA all season long with those other materials, this way you have less risk of having your CYA too high (ie: 100pm). Having a decent CYA level acts as a protectant for your chlorine. If you were to drop chlorine in the pool without a good level of CYA, the Chlorine can often dissapear within hours due to the sun. CYA acts as sort of a sunscreen for your pool.

Step 5 : PhosFree
This step may or may not be necessary. Take a water sample from your pool and have your local store check the level of phosphates in the pool. If the reading is above 120ppb then you should add PhosFree to your pool to get the levels down. Doing this will eliminate the chance of having all the phosphates eating up your expensive chlorine when you go to do step 6 (chlorination). Add the phosfree, have your phosphate levels checked again at the store and repeat this until you have levels under 120ppb.

Step 6 : Super Shock Pool (to establish an FAC level)
When opening pool, do twice normal dose. Operate pump fo 24 hours and test for amount of Free Available Chlorines (FAC). If reading is less than 1 ppm after 24 hours, repeat this process until 1 ppm of FAC is established.

Step 7 : Calcium Hardness (Ideal 200 – 1000 ppm) .
Protect pool infastructure (walls, plastic parts etc.) from scaling and corrosion. Add Calcium Increaser until levels are within ideal range.


Ok, that's what I have so far. Am i missing anything major here in terms of an initial check off list ? Thanks for you time. -S

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Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby chem geek » Tue 01 Apr, 2008 10:49

This is a good guide. You can also take a look at this link for some additional information.

The advice on PhosFree or using any phosphate remover is just one way to prevent algae -- often an expensive way. Unless the phosphate level is extraordinarily high (above 3000 ppb), you can keep algae from growing by maintaining a Free Chlorine (FC) level proportional to the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level. If the FC is at a minimum of 7.5% of the CYA level, algae will be inhibited though for manually dosed pools it's safer to target an FC that is about 10% of the CYA level. Since FC drops during the day, one must be higher at the start of the day so one does not drop below the minimum.

Another approach to algae prevention is to use PolyQuat 60 algaecide. So there are three choices here: phosphate remover, PolyQuat 60 algaecide, or just maintaining appropriate chlorine levels. The latter being the least expensive, but requiring more diligence.

The use of Floc or a clarifier is usually not needed though it will speed up the clearing process. See this thread for an example of how chlorine (bleach or chlorinating liquid) alone can be used to open a pool full of algae that was "let go" over the winter.

The Calcium Hardness (CH) shouldn't be that much higher than 400 ppm unless you maintain a lower Total Alklainity (TA). The Calcite Saturation Index can be used to adjust water parameters to prevent plaster corrosion or scaling. One can use The Pool Calculator to figure out what to do for various water parameters.


Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby sbelgrave » Tue 01 Apr, 2008 11:20

Thank you for the responses chem geek. Couple questions.


You sound as if your concern with phosphates is more to do with algae. I must have it wrong in my head then. I thought that phosphates just ate up chlorine and weren't related to algae. I thought that algaecide killed algae and phosfree killed phosphates so maybe i've simplified that too much. Can you explain the relationship between the 3 and where each product (PhosFree, PolyQuat, etc) come in ?

Chlorine Demand

I can't say for sure yet (only had our pool for 1 year) but I believe we have a high chlorine demand for my 10K Gallon pool. I had come to the conclusion that phosphates were eating up the chlorine within hours after putting in powdered shock. I was considering going with liquid chlorine shock this year. I'd imagine it could do damage to my pool liner etc. if I just poor it straight into my pool. Is there a recommended way to apply liquid shock (or chlorine i suppose) that ensures you won't damage you're pool ?

Loved your link to the pic of the 7 Gallons of bleach pool . That was awesome! :)

Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby sbelgrave » Tue 01 Apr, 2008 11:23

Also, i should ask, after shocking your pool how long should you wait before going in the pool ?
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Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby chem geek » Tue 01 Apr, 2008 12:58

High phophate levels accelerate algae growth (if not limited by other factors such as low nitrates or low light or presence of algaecides or higher sanitizer levels) and that is what consumes chlorine. Algae can grow and not yet be visible which makes it appear that phosphates are consuming chlorine, but that is not really the case. There are many pools with 1000-3000 ppb phosphate levels where there is no unusual chlorine consumption because the chlorine levels are kept high enough to prevent runaway algae growth. So it's an indirect relationship.

Phosphates are algae food so if you take away that food then algae cannot grow. PolyQuat algaecide inhibits algae growth by being a positively charged molecule that attaches to the negatively charged cell surface of algae (most single cells are negatively charged at their surface including many bacteria) and this blocks or disrupts ion channels preventing nutrient flow in and waste flow out thus killing algae. Hypochlorous acid, whose amount is roughly determined by the FC/CYA ratio, kills algae (and bacteria) more directly through oxidation and chlorine substitution of cellular molecules.

When adding any concentrated chemical, but most especially chlorine and acid products, you should pour them very slowly over a return flow at the deep end with the pump running. Then, for extra safety in a vinyl pool, use a pool brush to sweep the side and bottom where you were pouring. So long as the chemicals get well mixed, you minimize risk of damage. You do not want to pour unscented bleach or chlorinating liquid in quickly since it is denser than water and will settle to the bottom so that's why you pour slowly into a return flow. If you ever use Cal-Hypo, you should pre-dissolve it in a bucket of water and pour that slowly since dumping Cal-Hypo will tend to have it settle to the bottom. Only Dichlor and possibly Lithium hypochlorite dissolve quickly enough to not settle though even then I wouldn't take a chance and would sweep with a brush to be sure.

You may very well have had a high chlorine demand due to nascent algae growth if your chlorine level wasn't at least 7.5% of the CYA level and that would make it appear to eat up chlorine quickly. Shocking with chlorine would have resolved that assuming you kept the FC at the appropriate level afterwards, but if your phosphate level was extraordinarily high above 3000 ppb, then it may not be worth keeping an even higher chlorine level and instead might be better to use a phosphate remover. It's also possible (though less likely) that your CYA level was too low so that the chlorine was getting consumed from the UV in sunlight, but adding a phosphate remover would not have fixed that.

The primary cause for algae in pools is a rising CYA level without a corresponding rise in FC to compensate. The rise in CYA comes about through the continued use of Trichlor tabs/pucks where for every 10 ppm FC that they add, they also increase CYA by 6 ppm. Also, some chlorine products designated for shocking are Dichlor powder where for every 10 ppm FC that they add, they also increase CYA by 9 ppm.

If you have CYA in your pool, then entering it even at shock levels is less exposure to chlorine than in most indoor pools. Even at an FC level that is 40% of the CYA level, this is equivalent to 0.6 ppm FC with no CYA and is lower than most indoor pools that have FC of > 1 ppm with no CYA. Just don't drink the water since then the higher FC comes into play, but for being in the water the oxidation and disinfection rate is still low compared to indoor pools. Officially, most guidelines say to not re-enter unless the FC is below 10 ppm, but it's really the FC/CYA ratio that determines the safety in terms of oxidation of swimsuits, skin, hair, etc.

If you want lots of detailed help, check out Trouble Free Pool and read the Stickies there for lots of detailed info.


Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby patrickspools » Sat 03 Oct, 2009 21:06

Ok since I've done quite a few thousand successful pool openings I think I am a qualified person to comment here. This is my disclaimer: I do these in mass bulk with zombie worker bees so all of our techniques are simple yet effective and probably not exactly correct according to the chem wizards but get the job done. We keep about 98% of our pools algae free through June 1 using these techniques in New York.

A good pool opening is not really about what chemicals you add at the opening. In fact I add as little as possible since it eats into my profits. A good pool opening is about a good pool closing and a small amount of preventative maintenance over the months that the pool is closed.

1. close the pool with no junk in it.
2. The more solid your cover the moe better the job it does, but the more work it is to put on and take off
3. close the pool with enough tablets in the floater to make sure it stays clear till it gets cold
4. Pump the water down 18 inches with mesh covers.
5. We add 1 winterizer and tabs in 2 floaters....thats it. Early Sept -1 floater open, 1 closed....later closings we close both floaters so the tabs last longer....we also add less tabs as it gets colder
6. Dec 10th pump the pool out again (18 inches) and take any and all debris off the cover. Bag covers- pump the top off and remove leaves
7. March 21st - April 21 add 1 gallon of liquid shock and 5 tabs total in 2 floaters (remove any leaves from top of cover)
8. April 22 - June 15 there is a really high chance your pool will open looking great

If you decided to skip steps 6 and 7 your pool water is likely peaking through the mesh cover, which is loaded with leaves, and getting worse by the second. This water is basically ruined for the season and the pool may possibly open black, depending on the amount of leaves rotting on your cover.

Black pool openings get a special treatment. For me these are always new customers. I drop a sump pump in the shallow end with a float switch and leave the garden hose running for 3 days. The pump, out powers the garden hose and eventually shuts off by the float switch. When the pool fills a few inches the pump gets turned back on by the float switch and starts to empty again. This process repeats God knows how many times in 3 days, then I come back for my pump and leave the hose filling the pool. Water costs $1.53 per 1000 gallons where I live so this costs my customers probably just under $100 in water but now the pool gets a fresh start. #1 its clear and #2 it doesn't have all those phosphates.

If this option is not available I use Phosfree which is a very impressive chemical.

Forget the black pools and lets get back to the regular Chrystal clear openings that you will enjoy if you follow my simple 8 step plan that I should be selling on ebay.

These are the chemicals that I add:
6 tabs, 25 lbs of sodium bicarb, and anywhere from 0-3 lbs of cal hypo. Gunite pools we add calcium as needed. De filters get DE Duh......nothing else is needed. Then within the next few days the pool gets a waste vac and the opening is complete.
Cover Frustration

Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby Cover Frustration » Thu 26 Aug, 2010 12:38

You guys are correct, for a good pool opening you need a good pool closing. Make sure debris is out and seal your pool with an EasyDome Pool Cover. This cover was lab tested and withstood 60 mph winds! It's legit. Its a Dome style cover so leaves and debris don't build up on the top. The water tube design* leaves attaching cables out of the mix which means a much easier install. This cover saved me so much headache. I'm just passing the word along!

Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby PoolGenie » Thu 26 May, 2011 11:23

Don't buy anything at the pool store other than CYA (cyanuric acid) and POLYquat 60. The other chemicals that they sell are often combinations of things, some you may need, some you may not need and will make your problem worse or create a problem. We've been using a Bleach, Baking soda and Borax method for several years and have always had good results. We have a good test kit (Taylor K2006) and take whatever the guys at the pool store say with a grain of salt. Their "knowledge" is used to sell you chemicals, NOT to get your pool open and keep it clean in a cost-effective and efficient manner. We buy liquid bleach, either household bleach or pool bleach, and baking soda or borax at the grocery store. These are the same chemicals that they'll sell you at the pool store, except they cost much less at the grocery.

This is the method we use for vinyl liner pools, regardless of size or type. If you have a concrete pool, you will need to consider calcium and minerals as well. In the spring, open your pool. Remove as much muck as you can from the top of the cover. Take off the cover, fill pool to normal level with fresh water. Remove any solid debris (leaves, frogs, etc) with a net. Turn on the pump, run it 24/7 until your pool is clear.

Check your CYA and pH. Your CYA needs to be between 20 and 50 at the beginning of the season. Adjust pH with borax or baking soda. Use an online calculator to figure out how much you need to add of each chemical. (try it's free and easy to use. Ignore the columns that don't pertain to your pool) Let the chemicals circulate overnight to ensure the CYA is mostly dissolved before adding chlorine. You can use either liquid or powdered chlorine to shock your pool in the 12-15 ppm range. ("shock" is not a product, it's a thing you do to your pool, maintaining a chlorine level high enough to kill most anything in your pool) Test your chlorine levels morning and night, adding chlorine to adjust the level to a 12-15 range. Add polyquat on the 2nd day of chlorine use to get rid of any excessive algae, use the recommended dosage on the bottle. Do this only once, unless you have a problem ridding yourself of algae. Brush down the sides of the pool, vacuum if needed, backflush each evening.

Keep it up until your pool clears. Let the pump run continuously the entire time. Your pool should go from brown muck to crystal clear in a week or so. We have frogs that use our pool as a pond in the spring, so it's a real mess when we open. It takes about a week to clear our pool. In the summer, we do 5-10 minutes of maintenance every evening, checking chlorine and pH levels at night, adding what is needed, and we don't have any problems. We occasionally add a shock level of chlorine if the weather has been uncooperative or if we have lots of swimmers, and we add a maintenance dose of polyquat. We use a pucks in a floater to keep our CYA and chlorine levels up, but that's just for extra security and convenience.

Happy swimming!
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Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby jenythomas001 » Wed 22 May, 2013 02:12

Nice and very informative post but i have some queries, if u can please guide.. Is it necessary to fill up the pool to A3/4 level initially ?What will be the other method to protect the pool infrastructure specially from corrosion.

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Re: Step by Step Instructions for Ensuring Easy Pool Opening

Postby RodneyE » Wed 20 Jul, 2016 03:31

thanks for sharing this information :)

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