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How to Open Your Above Ground Pool: A Step-by-Step Guide

Opening an above ground pool can have an immense impact on your family’s quality of life and enjoyment of your outdoor spaces.

However, it can sometimes feel like a science project to get your pool up and running for the season. With so many chemical treatments, mechanical parts, and pieces of equipment, it can be hard to remember what goes where and how everything works together.

Fear not! In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you everything you need to do to open your above ground pool and get it ready for swim season.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

A. What Chemicals Do You Need to Open Above Ground Pool

1. Chlorine

Chlorine is perhaps the most critical chemical you will use to open your above ground pool – and manage it throughout the season. It acts as a powerful disinfectant that will kill any harmful bacteria or germs that may have accumulated.

However, the amount of chlorine needed for an above ground pool varies from one circumstance to another. Some important factors include:

  • The Daily Temperature: If you live in an area with hotter temperatures, your pool is more susceptible to changing water levels due to evaporation. This will require you to add more chlorine to your above ground pool on a regular basis.
  • Total Water Volume: The optimal ratio for water and chlorine is about 1 part per million (ppm). Larger pools will require more chlorine since there is more water to disinfect.
  • Frequency of Use: The more people use your pool; the more likely bacteria and dirt will enter the water. As such, you may need to increase the amount of chlorine in your pool if it is used often.
  • Environmental Conditions: If your pool is in an area that is prone to rainfall or dust storms, then you will need to make adjustments more often. These elements can introduce bacteria into the water and break down the chlorine faster.
Most above ground pool owners use chlorine tablets as they have a higher PH level than liquid chlorine. The best way to add chlorine tablets to your pool is by using a floating dispenser. This allows you to evenly distribute the chlorine throughout your pool without having to move it around manually.

2. Shocks/Oxidizers

Most people have heard the term "shocking the pool" but may not be entirely sure what it means. Shocking your pool essentially means adding potent chemicals for a strong cleanse. This process is also known as oxidizing and is typically done to get rid of algae or bacteria that have built up over time.

When shocking your pool, you will need to add the prescribed amount of shock directly into the water. It is best to do this at night, so the chlorine has time to work its magic overnight. You should also avoid swimming for at least 24 hours after shocking your pool.

3. Water Balancers

Water balancers are chemicals that help maintain your pool's pH levels. The ideal pH level for swimming pools is between 7 and 7.6. If your pH levels are too high or too low, it can cause skin irritation, red eyes, and other problems. So, it is important to test the water when opening your above ground pool and add the appropriate chemicals to keep the pH levels in check.

There are several different types of water balancers that you can use to maintain the pH levels in your above ground pool. The most common include:

  • pH increasers
  • pH decreasers
  • Alkalinity increasers
  • Alkalinity decreasers
  • Calcium hardness increasers
You can purchase water balancers at most pool supply stores. Be sure to follow the directions on the packaging carefully to avoid any problems.

4. Algaecides

Pool algaecides are chemicals used to kill algae and help prevent it from growing back. While chlorine will help keep algae at bay, it is not always enough on its own. In fact, adding algaecide is almost always necessary when opening your above ground pool.

When adding an algaecide to your pool, be sure to carefully follow the directions on the packaging. Some algaecides require you to pre-mix them with water before adding them to your pool. Others can be added directly.

5. Cyanuric Acid

Cyanuric acid is a chemical used to help stabilize the chlorine in your pool. This is especially important if you live in an area with high temperatures, as the heat can cause chlorine to dissipate quickly.

You may not need to use this supportive chemical when opening your above ground pool. Yet, cyanuric acid can help prolong the life of your chlorine and keep your pool clean for longer - so it's something to consider.

B. Salt Pools vs Perma Salt Pools vs Chlorine Pools

You have several options when it comes to sanitizing your above ground pool. The three most popular methods are using salt, chlorine, or perma salt. So, which one is best for you and your family? Let's take a closer look at each:

1. Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools use a process known as electrolysis to generate sodium chlorine. In this process, salt is added to the water and then passes through a generator that splits the molecules apart. This creates (sodium) chlorine that is then able to kill bacteria and other contaminants in the water.

Pros of Saltwater Pools 

  • Less chlorine and heavy chemical odors.
  • Gentler on the skin, eyes, and swimsuit material.
  • The water has a softer feel than chlorine water.
  • Low maintenance – does not require as many upkeep chemicals.

Cons of Saltwater Pools 

  • Saltwater poolshave a higher initial investment cost.
  • Repairs often require professional service.
  • The chlorine generator may increase your electricity bill.
  • Saltwater’s corrosive nature may damage pool fixtures over time.

2. Perma Salt Pools 

Perma salt pools have an alternative approach to clean water chemistry. A perma salt systems disperse natural minerals, such as copper, into the water to help purify the pool. These minerals are a natural disinfectant, killing bacteria and other contaminants on contact.

Pros of Perma Salt Pools 

  • Sunlight does not lead to significant changes - therefore, stabilizers are not necessary.
  • It does not fade swimsuits and is gentle on the skin.
  • The lack of harsh chemicals helps prevent pool corrosion.
  • Requires less chemical maintenance overall.

Cons of Perma Salt Pools 

  • Pool staining could occur if the system is misused.
  • It cannot be used in plastic above ground pools.
  • If too much copper is released into the water, it can turn blonde hair green.

3. Chlorine Pools

Chlorine pools are the most common type of pool. As the name suggests, they use chlorine to sanitize the water. Chlorine is added to the water in either liquid, tablet, or granular form. Once in the water, it works to kill germs and bacteria.

Pros of Chlorine Pools 

  • Chlorine won't corrode the lining or accessories of your pool.
  • They have a lower initial investment cost.
  • They use less energy than saltwater pools.
  • Protects the pool water long after the initial treatment.

Cons of Chlorine Pools

The chlorine smell can be overwhelming for some.
  • Chlorine can dry your skin, irritate your eyes, and bleach your swimsuit.
  • You have to be more vigilant in monitoring the pH levels.

C. The First 12 Steps to Open Your Above Ground Pool

1. Remove Your Pool Cover

This step is easier said than done. A pool cover can be cumbersome, so you will likely need another set of hands to help you remove it.

Both you and your helper should start on one corner of the cover and pull it back. Instead of pulling the cover directly off, try to fold it in half as you go. This will make it much easier to carry and store. When moving your pool cover, be careful not to drag it across the pavement, as this can damage the material.

2. Clean up and Store Your Pool Cover

After you have removed your pool cover, inspect it for any holes or tears. If you find any damage, you will need to either patch the cover or replace it entirely. Once your pool cover is in good condition, you can move on to cleaning it.

The best way of cleaning pool cover is to give it a good rinse with a garden hose. Then, scrub the stubborn dirt and debris with a pool cover cleaner and a soft brush. Once you have cleaned your pool cover, rinse it off with clean water and allow it to dry completely before storing it.

3. Remove Winterizing Pool Plugs

With your pool cover safely tucked away, it’s time to remove the winterizing pool plugs. These plugs protect your pool’s pipes from freezing during winter, but they need to be removed before you can use your pool again.

Carefully check around your pool and remove the plugs from all the openings, including the skimmer bucket and return jets. Once the plugs are removed, store them in a safe place so you can easily find them next winter.

4. Check for Leaks/Quick Pool Inspection

Now that the plugs are out, it's time to do a quick inspection of your above ground pool. Check all around the pool's base for any cracks or areas that may cause leaks.

Pay special attention to the area around the pool skimmer and return jets, as these are susceptible places for damage. If you find any areas of concern, you will need to repair them before continuing to the next step.

5. Reinstall Pool Equipment

After you have checked your above ground pool, it's time to reinstall the pool equipment that you had stored away. This may include your pool ladder, diving board, and any other accessories that you use.

It may prove beneficial to have an extra set of hands for this step, as some of the equipment can be heavy. Once all your gear is in place, double-check all the connections to ensure they are secure.

6. Level Up the Pool Water

Chances are, your pool water level has dropped during winter. Whether it's from evaporation or pool leaks, you will need to add water to your pool before you can start using it again. To do this, simply attach a garden hose to an outdoor faucet and turn on the water. Let the hose run until the pool is filled halfway up the pool skimmer box opening.

7. Set up the Pool Filtration System and Pumps

Now that your pool water is at the correct level, it's time to set up your pool's hardware. This includes your filter, pump, and any other equipment that is necessary for the pool filtration system to work. Next, attach your system's hoses to your equipment and make sure all the connections are tight.

8. Turn on Pool Filtration System

Once you've set up your pool's filtration system, it's time to fire it up. While your system is running, check for any leaks or areas where water may be escaping. If everything looks good, you can move on to the next step.

However, if your system appears to be running dry, you may need to prime the pump. This can usually be done by removing the pump lid and simply adding water to the strainer basket. After the pump has been primed, your pool filtration system should start working correctly.

9. Quick Scrub and Vacuum Your Pool

After your pool filtration system is up and running, it's time for a quick clean. Start by scrubbing the entire pool with a brush to loosen any dirt or debris that may be clinging to the sides or bottom.

Next, use a pool vacuum to clean the pool floor. Be sure to vacuum in both a back-and-forth and circular motion to ensure that you don't miss any spots. Once you're finished, skim the surface of the water to remove any large debris.

10. Test and Balance pH Levels

Now that your pool is cleaned up, it's time to test the water quality. Check the pH levels of water and making sure they are balanced. As mentioned earlier, the ideal pH level for an above ground pool is between 7 and 7.6.

To test your pH levels, you will need to purchase a pool test kit. These can be found at most pool supply stores or online. Once you have your test kit, follow the instructions to properly test your pool water. If your pH levels are too high or low, you will need to adjust them accordingly. This can be done by adding water balancers to your pool.

11. Add Other Start-Up Chemicals

After you have tested and balanced your above ground pool's pH levels, it's time to add the other start-up chemicals. These chemicals will help keep your pool water clean and clear all season long.

The most common start-up chemicals include chlorine, algaecide, and shock. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging, as improper use of these chemicals can be dangerous.

12. Retest the Water Quality

After you have added all the start-up chemicals, it's time to retest the water quality. This includes testing the pH levels, chlorine levels, and alkalinity. Once again, you will need to use a pool test kit to properly test your pool water.

If everything looks good, your pool is now ready to enjoy. Be sure to test the water quality regularly throughout the season to ensure it stays clean and clear.

D. 6 Steps to Open Above Ground Pool with Perma Salt System 

1. Level up the Pool Water

The first step is ensuring that the water in your pool is at the correct level. As mentioned earlier, the water level should be filled halfway up the skimmer box.

2. Turn on the Pool System

Once the water has reached the correct level, you simply plug in the pump and filter system. This will get the water circulating and start to filter out any impurities. It's also important to note that a pool filtration system needs to be on before adding any chemicals to the water. Otherwise, they will not be properly distributed.

3. Test Water pH Levels

This step is optional for perma salt pools. The chemicals in a perma salt system are all premeasured, so you shouldn't have to worry about adding or adjusting any chemicals.

4. Add a Perma Salt Preparate

As mentioned earlier, a perma salt system uses copper to kill algae, germs, and bacteria. For the copper to work properly, you need to add a perma salt preparate. This is a special solution that helps the copper bind to the impurities in the water.

5. Start Perma Salt System

To start the perma salt system, you'll turn the dial on the perma salt controller all the way up. This will help to get the copper in the water very quickly. Once the perma salt system is operating, you will need to add one bag Perma Salt Activate. This is an oxidizing agent that will help to start the chemical reaction in the perma salt system.

6. Add Pool Salt

The first time you open your perma salt pool, you will need to add salt. You will not have to add it again unless you drain the pool. The amount of salt you need will depend on the size of your above ground pool.

7. Start a Bi-Weekly Maintenance Routine

Now that your perma salt system is up and running, you'll need to maintain it on a bi-weekly basis. Properly maintaining your perma salt system ensures that your pool water stays clean and clear all season long.

E. How to Add Chemicals to an Above Ground Pool (First Time)

The first time you open your above ground pool, you will need to add a few chemicals to the water. These chemicals include:

1. Stain and Scale Treatment

As the name suggests, this treatment helps to prevent staining and scaling on the walls and floor of your pool. This is a common problem in above ground pools. To add stain and scale treatment, simply pour it around the pool's perimeter. Then, be sure to use a pool vacuum tool to stir up the solution and distribute it evenly.

2. Add Water Balance

Water balance chemicals are used to adjust the pH levels in your pool water. To test the pH levels, you will need to purchase a pool test kit. This kit will come with everything you need to properly test your pool water. Once you know the pH levels, you can add the appropriate chemicals to raise or lower the pH levels as required.

3. Add Algaecide 

Algaecide helps to prevent algae growth in your pool. This is an important step, as algae can quickly take over a pool if left unchecked. To add algaecide, simply pour it around the pool's perimeter. Again, use a pool vacuum to stir up the solution and distribute it evenly throughout the pool.

4. Add Chlorine Tablets

Chlorine tablets are the most common way to chlorinate a pool. They are easy to use and effective at keeping your pool water clean. To add chlorine tablets, simply place them in a floating pool chlorinator. As the pump circulates the water, the chlorine tablets will dissolve and distribute chlorine.

F. How to Add Chemicals to an Above Ground Pool (Second Time+)

1. Balance the Water

The first step is to test the pH levels in your pool water; this includes:
  • Adjusting calcium hardness
  • Adjusting alkalinity
  • Adjusting PH levels
  • Adjusting cyanuric acid
Check the water balance at least once a week to ensure that your pool’s chemical levels remain stable.

2. Add Stain, Scale, & Clarifier Treatment 

These treatments help to prevent staining, scaling, and cloudy water. During your second+ pool season, you may need to add this treatment more often than you did during your first season. This is because the pool water can become more susceptible to staining and scaling over time.

3. Filter the Pool 

It's important to filter the pool water on a regular basis to remove any dirt, debris, or contaminants that may have made their way into the pool. The frequency with which you need to filter the pool water will depend on how often the pool is used.

4. Shock the Pool

Shocking is always necessary when reopening your pool for the season. This treatment will help to remove any contaminants that may have built up over the winter.

5. Add algaecide 

When you reopen your pool for the season, adding an algaecide is a smart, proactive move. Algaecides help to prevent algae growth in your pool - which for pools that are located in warmer climates, can be a year-round problem.

6. Add Chlorine Tablets 

As with any other time you chlorinate your pool, you'll need to add chlorine tablets when you open your above ground pool. The chlorine tablets will dissolve over time and help to keep your pool water clean and clear all season long.

G. Best Products for Above Ground Pools 

When it comes to keeping your above ground pool clean and well-maintained, there are a few key products you’ll need:

1. Mighty Entry Step w/ Outside Ladder

A ladder and set of steps are a must-have for any above ground pool. The Mighty Entry Step/Ladder is made of durable, weather-resistant materials. It also has non-skid surfaces to ensure safe and easy entry into the pool. This is especially important if you have small children or pets who may need help getting in and out of the pool.

2. Perma Salt Value Package

Perma Salt is a great way to chlorinate your pool without using harsh chemicals. This Perma Salt Value Package comes with everything you need to get started, including:
  • A replacement chamber
  • 25lb preparate bucket
  • 8 x 1 Pint - Klairate
  • 8 x 3/4 lb box of re-activate
  • 8 x 3/4 lb box of initiate

3. Copper Test Strips

Copper test strips are an easy and effective way to test the copper levels in your pool water. These test strips will help you to maintain the ideal copper levels in your pool, which is important for preventing residue buildup.

4. Swimming Pool Leaf Skimmer

A leaf skimmer is a must-have for any above ground pool. This is because leaves and other debris can quickly accumulate in the pool and cause the water to become murky. A leaf skimmer will help you quickly remove leaves and debris from the water's surface.

5. Surfer Automatic Pool Vacuum

An automatic pool vacuum is a great way to keep your pool clean with minimal effort. This particular model is designed for above ground pools. It’s also very easy to set up - and since it's automatic, you can set it and forget it.

6. Threaded Winter Plugs

Threaded winter plugs are an essential part of closing your above ground pool for the season. These plugs help to prevent water and debris from entering the pool’s return jets when not in use. They also make it easy to open the pool come springtime.

7. Skimmer & Return Box

The skimmer and return box are essential for any type of pool. The skimmer helps to remove leaves, debris, and contaminants from the water. The return box then circulates the clean water back into the pool.

In Conclusion  

Opening your above ground pool for the season doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can have your pool up and running in no time. With the help of the right products, you can keep your pool clean and well-maintained all season long. If you need to stock up on supplies to open your above ground pool, be sure to check out our selection. Our team is always here to help you find the right products for your pool. Give us a call at (877) 775-347, send us a message, or visit our online store today!

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