As the weather warms up, the tarp-covered swimming pool is ready to splash back to life. It’s time to clean up the pool and get ready for swimming season. There are a few steps involved, but it should be pretty simple if your pool was adequately winterized.
Clear the deck
Before opening the cover, hose and sweep away all the debris and dirt that has accumulated around the pool before it gets a chance to blow into the new, clean water.
Clean the pool
It is best to clean strainer baskets, thoroughly vacuum the pool and brush the walls before shutting down the pool for the winter. If you didn’t clean everything last fall, briefly hang your head in shame, then do all this cleaning before refilling the pool and starting the circulation system again.
• For plaster pools, use a stiff stainless-steel algae brush.
• For fiberglass or vinyl, use softer brushes
• For tile, use a tile brush, sponge or pumice stone with chlorine-based liquid.
• Scale buildup can be dissolved with a 50-percent muriatic acid solution, but protect your eyes, hands and lungs. Muriatic acid is corrosive and toxic.
This is also a good time to clean the filter, according to manufacturer’s directions.
Check for problems
Before turning on the pump, check the O-ring or gasket sealing the lid. If it is cracked or damaged, it should be replaced for proper pump function.
Also look for deteriorating or missing grout in and around tile pools. You should re-grout while the tile is dry. Also add calcium chloride if calcium levels in your water are lower than 250 parts per million. Water with low calcium levels can dissolve grout.
Concrete pools may crack in the winter as soil shifts, particularly in cold winter climates. Cracks up to ¼-inch wide can be repaired when the water is drained below the level of the crack. Make the crack wider and more even with a chisel. Then trowel concrete patching compound into the crack, and hide the patched area with epoxy-based paint.
Tears in vinyl up to three inches long also can be patched before fully refilling the pool. Similarly, fiberglass gelcoat can be reapplied for small problems. In all cases, larger cracks and tears should be professionally handled.
Fill the pool
Use the garden hose to refill the pool to its normal level, and reconnect any pumps and equipment that was shut down for the winter. Open the skimmer line and set water circulating again. Then test and balance the alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness and total dissolved solids, and super-chlorinate. Run the filter 24 hours a day until the water is perfectly balanced.
When the pool is ready for swimming, it should have 1 to 2 parts per million of chlorine, 80 to 150 ppm alkalinity (depending on the pool material), calcium hardness of 200 to 400 ppm, total dissolved solids of less than 2,500 ppm and a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. Always take care when adding chlorine and other pool chemicals, which can be very corrosive.
Finally, when you are getting the pool ready for swimming again, also test your safety equipment. Make sure any alarms are armed and working properly. Replace the winter pool cover with a strong mesh safety cover that will keep curious children out of the pool. It’s also a good time to review your homeowners’ insurance policy coverages for the pool, as pools can increase liability.
A couple of hours of spring cleaning, particularly after properly winterizing, is worth the many summer days of carefree fun on the way.