How to Open Aboveground Pools

There are Six Steps to Opening Your Pool:

  1. Removal of the Winter Cover
  2. Clean and Restore Pool Surfaces
  3. Replace Pool & Deck Accessories
  4. Reconnect Plumbing & Equipment
  5. Start Circulation and Vacuum Pool
  6. Test and Adjust Water Chemistry

***Please read all instructions thoroughly before opening your Pool as certain conditions or circumstances may affect the order of which you perform these procedures.

Please note that these instructions are to be used as a guideline.
Always refer to manufacturer’s instructions and owner’s manuals for further details

Please refer to the bottom of this page for your Opening Supply Checklist.

1. Removal of Winter Cover

Before the winter cover can be removed, accumulated water and debris must be removed.  The easiest method of removing water from the top of the cover is to use a submersible pump and a discharge hose – this hose could be a garden hose or backwash hose depending on the size or attachment on your submersible pump. Fasten your discharge hose to the discharge outlet on your submersible pump and place the pump on top of the cover into the water. If there is a large amount of leaves and debris on the cover, we suggest placing the pump into a small laundry basket. This will prevent leaves and debris from plugging the bottom intake of the pump. 

Using your vacuum pole and brush, work the water on the cover towards the pump. Keep in mind that if there are any holes in the cover, water can be pulled from below the cover upwards, thus draining the water level in the pool too low. Once all of the water has been removed from the cover, use a wall brush to push the leaves to the edge of the pool so they can be removed with a leaf scoop or bucket. Ensure that all water and debris are removed before attempting to remove the cover.  Loosen the cover’s winch and cable and proceed to slowly slide the cover across the water, carefully lifting over the top rails as not to snag it on the rails or seat caps. 

Next, stretch out the pool cover and clean it with a proper cleaning solution. Our Aqua Cover Cleaner will effectively break down organic material and deodorize your cover. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle. Rinse the cover using a garden hose with spray nozzle. A pressure washer is also helpful. Allow the cover to dry and fold into a manageable size in order to store for the season. We recommend storing your cover in a plastic garbage can or tote with a lid. This will help prevent the cover from being damaged by insects or rodents. 

Hint: It is not recommended to spread the cover on the lawn and leave to dry on a sunny day as the cover may heat up and burn the grass. If possible, spread the cover out on top of your paved driveway or clean on a cool cloudy day.

2. Clean & Restore Pool Surfaces

Using our Aqua-Guard Vinyl Liner Cleaner, it is recommended to clean the “bathtub ring” at the water lines, to remove any oil, dirt or grease contaminants that accumulated over the winter months. These organics, if left to sit, can combine with UV rays of the sun and sanitizers once the water level is raised, and destroy not only the pattern on your liner but the vinyl itself. Working with a 2’-3’ length of wall, spray the vinyl material with water. Next, spray the vinyl cleaner onto the surface and carefully scrub the vinyl with a sponge. Rinse the area with water from the pool and proceed to the next section to be cleaned. It is also suggested to clean the pool skimmer, resin top rails and seat caps as well as the steps and/or ladder.

3. Replace Pool & Deck Accessories

Stored inside your skimmer basket, should be the accessories that were removed last Fall for safe storage. Remove the winterizing plug from the pool return and thread the directional return fitting into the opening. Install the weir door inside the mouth of the skimmer and remove the skimmer faceplate plug if one was used. Replace your ladder or steps.  

Hint: Store all winterizing accessories with the winter cover for safe storage.

4. Connecting the Equipment

* Along with these basic instructions, always refer to your Equipment Owners Manuals for further details.

A) Pump and Filter

Remove the pump from storage and place beside the filter. Inside the pump basket are the drain plugs and other accessories that were removed from the filtration equipment in the Fall for safe storage. 

Begin by ensuring all Plumber’s Tape or rubber gaskets are secured to each drain plug and thread each plug into their appropriate drain hole. Hand-tighten each plug only. The pool pump requires one drain plug to be inserted. The filter has a drain cap and rubber gasket to be installed on the bottom side of the filter. The pressure gauge will require new Plumber’s Tape wrapped around its threads before it is carefully threaded into the opening on the dial valve.  Do not overtighten the pressure gauge as it could crack the plastic opening in the dial valve.  Tighten only enough to stop any drips! The sight glass and thin rubber washer or gasket are threaded into the larger opening beside the pressure gauge.

Re-attach skimmer, return and backwash hoses. Secure all clamps as necessary.


1)  The proper way to install Plumber’s Tape to a pressure gauge or fitting is to wrap approximately four layers of tape around the threads making sure it is wrapped in the same direction as the threads (usually clockwise rotation).

2)  Any fittings that appear loose should be removed and new Plumber’s Tape applied before re-tightening fitting.

3)  Lubricate all o-rings with Jack’s Lube to reduce wear by 80% and protect them from salt or chlorine.

Sand Filters

It is recommended to clean the filter sand once a year to remove minerals and organic matter. If this was not done at the time of closing, Filter Rinse can be added once the filtration system is up and running. Follow instructions on the label to perform a filter rinse. 

For Cartridge Filters and Diatomaceous Earth Filters it is recommended to soak filter elements in a proper cleaning solution, such as Cartridge Cleaner, to prolong their life and efficiency.  If this procedure was not done at the time of winterizing, it is a great idea to take the time to do this before starting up the system to avoid down time during the summer months. 

B) Chlorinator

If your equipment is equipped with an “In-line” Chlorinator, attach and secure the union located on the “return” port of the dial valve to the connection on the “in” side of the chlorinator. Make sure the “o”-ring is inserted into the groove of the union. A drain plug with an “o”-ring is tightened into the drain opening of the chlorinator.

If you have an “Off-line” chlorinator, the black tubes are connected to the saddle fittings drilled into the piping making sure the water flows in the proper direction. The black tube connected to the “out” side of the chlorinator must be attached to the saddle fitting located after the heater.

C) Hayward Gas Heaters - Please refer to your Owner’s Manual

D) Salt Chlorine Generators - Please refer to your Owner's Manual

E) Pool Light - Please refer to your Owner's Manual

5. Start Circulation and Vacuum the Pool

A) Circulation

Before filling the pool with water, ensure all hose connections are securely fastened and all drain plugs tight. Place water in the pool pump to cover the basket and re-install the pump lid. The handle on the dial valve should be placed to the “filter” position. 

Now the pool can be filled with water to the top of the skimmer mouth opening. This will allow the extra water to be used for backwashing during or after vacuuming the pool. Once the pool has reached this level, ensure the valve at the front of the pump (if equipped) is open. Plug the pump in and turn on the switch. As the circulation begins, air bubbles will shoot out the return fitting for a few minutes but will subside. You should notice the pressure on the pressure gauge rising and feel good water pressure coming out of the return fitting.

Hint: If your pool is equipped with a cartridge filter and your pool is relatively clean, it is not necessary to fill your water level to the top of the skimmer mouth opening. Proper water level is half or 2/3 covering the skimmer opening.

B) Vacuum the Pool

We recommend that your initial pool vacuum be performed using your manual vacuum equipment. This will allow the fine debris to be picked up by the vacuum head slowly as automatic cleaners move too quickly and may disturb the dirt in its path before it has a chance to be vacuumed up. Upon completion of vacuuming, always backwash your filter to remove the debris and contaminants in your filter sand. After backwashing, remember to “rinse” for 30 seconds and then place the filter back to the “filter” position. 

If your pool is equipped with a cartridge filter, ensure your cartridge is flushed well after your initial vacuum. 

Hint: If your pool has excessive debris, you may want to consider vacuuming your pool on the waste position of your filter allowing fine debris to be discharged out the waste line. Unfortunately, this will drop your water level quickly.

6. Test and Adjust Water Chemistry

Day 1:

After the pool water has circulated for a minimum of 8 hours:

Add Meta-sol from our Aqua-Guard Pool Opening Kit according to the instructions on the label. Meta-sol will tie-up and inactivate any stain causing minerals that may be present in the water. It is especially important to do this step prior to pH adjustments in case your pool water is acidic. Continue to circulate the pool water overnight.

Day 2:
1) In the morning, with the water continuing to circulate, broadcast 1kg of Oxy-Out across the surface of the water. This oxidizing product destroys organic wastes that have accumulated over the winter, without bleaching surfaces.

2) One hour later, adjust Total Alkalinity and pH if required. Depending on the amount of adjustment required to balance the water chemistry, this process may take anywhere from 2-8 hours. Try our Aqua-Guard Test Strips.

Note: Stabilizer is tested for all pools using chlorine (this includes salt water pools). However, Stabilizer levels are not to be adjusted until the water temperature reaches 60°F as Stabilizer test results can vary and read falsely when the water temperature is too low. We suggest a visit to your local pool store to have your Stabilizer levels retested once your pool water has reached a temperature of over 60° F.

3) A half hour after the last Alkalinity and pH adjustment, Shock the pool with Soft Shock, a gentle chlorine shock treatment that will eliminate organic wastes and debris that have accumulated in the water during the winter. Add 1 pouch of Soft Shock per 50,000L of pool water by broadcasting it across the pool surface. 

Alternately, if your pool water is green or cloudy upon opening, a stronger chlorine shock may be required at this time.

Day 3:
In the morning (or a minimum of 12 hours after shocking the pool), add the Concentrated Aqua-Guard Algaecide as per bottle directions to kill potential algae spores as well as prevent the growth of new ones during the start-up process.  If your pool required a stronger chlorine shock and the chlorine level is still high, it is recommended to wait 24 hours before adding the algaecide.

Once the opening kit has been added and your pool water is clear, you are now ready to begin your maintenance program.

Alliance Start-up Instructions

Learn more about the Alliance Pool Care System.

Before you get started...
Check your supply at home to confirm your needs for the following items:

Submersible Pump and Discharge hose (garden hose or backwash hose)
Aqua Cover Cleaner
Storage Tub or Bag for Winter Cover
Aqua-Guard Vinyl Liner Cleaner
Plumber’s Tape
Jack’s Lube
Filter Rinse 
Pool Opening Kit
Salt Cell Cleaner and Cleaning Stand if applicable
Aqua-Guard Test Strips