How to Open Inground 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.

Fitted Vinyl and Polywoven Winter Covers

Prior to removing the cover’s bead from the winter cover track, make sure all Cover Wedgies or T-Bead retainers are removed. Beginning at one end of the pool and moving down the length of the pool, unlock the cover by simply lifting up the wall material and pull away from the pool’s edge. As the cover is removed, lay the wall material inward, on top of the floating cover. Carefully pull the cover towards the end of the pool to lift on top of the deck. Fold the cover on the deck so that it can be removed for cleaning.

Next, stretch out the 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. If your fitted cover is solid blue vinyl, we recommend that your cover be stored “wet”. After cleaning, fold the cover small enough to fit comfortably inside of your storage barrel. Move your barrel with cover to your storage location and then fill the barrel with water to completely immerse the cover. Next, add 250ml of algaecide or Aqua Cover Cleaner to keep the cover from not only smelling of mildew, but to maintain its shape and minimize shrinkage.

It is recommended to store your plywood winter step cover upright to prevent water absorption. If your winter step cover is plastic, it can be cleaned with our Aqua-Guard Vinyl Liner Cleaner and also stored upright as not to collect water.

1) If space is unavailable to clean and fold a vinyl lock-in cover, the cover can be cleaned and flushed on top of the pool. Make sure all water is removed before attempting to remove the cover.
2) 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.

Safety Covers

To remove the Safety Cover, you begin by removing the cover’s springs from the deck anchors. Thread all brass anchors into the deck using the supplied red handled allan key tool. Make sure they are flush into the deck. Next, standing on each side of the pool, pull the cover towards an end of the pool and carefully lifting the cover, fold the cover on top of itself into a manageable size and store into its storage bag.

1) It is recommended to keep the springs attached to the safety cover’s straps.
2) To protect brass anchors in your pool deck from dirt and organic build-up, ask about our Deck Creations – protective plastic caps that keep the brass anchors clean and free of debris that can accumulate over the summer months.

Polywoven Winter Covers using Water Bags

Begin draining all of the water bags around the perimeter of the pool. Carefully lift the bags off of the covers edge and set aside on the pool deck. Beginning at one end of the pool and moving down the length of the pool, pull the cover towards the opposite end of the pool to lift on top of the deck. Fold the cover on the deck so that it can be removed for cleaning.

Next, stretch out the cover and water bags and clean them 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 and bags using a garden hose with spray nozzle. A pressure washer is also helpful. Allow to dry and fold into a manageable size in order to store for the season. We recommend storing your cover and bags in a plastic garbage can or tote with a lid. This will help prevent the cover from being damaged by insects or rodents. 

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 surface 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 inside the pool’s skimmer, walk-in steps and ladder treads.

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 plugs from each pool return fitting and thread the directional return fittings into each opening. Inside the skimmer of your inground pool, the black rubber plug is removed from the suction hole. The other opening (closest to the pool) has a green “Gizzmo” or black “Skimmer Guard” that is threaded into it and must be removed. Reach into the opening and pull out the length of foam rope that was installed during closing. Make sure all of the plugs and closing accessories are stored with the winter cover for safe keeping. The skimmer to an onground pool may not have a black rubber plug or foam rope installed at the time of closing. Instead, the “Gizzmo” or “Skimmer Guard” may have been used to plug the suction hole. Replace the basket into the skimmer.

To replace the ladder and/or handrail, wedge anchors must be installed into the deck anchors. Tighten each wedge anchor in order to secure the ladder from moving. It is very important to make sure the two rubber bumpers are securely installed onto the bottom of the ladder before the ladder is positioned into place as these bumpers protect the liner from any costly damage.

Replace Pool Lights as per your Owner's Manual

1) Store all winterizing accessories with the winter cover for safe storage.
2) Always make sure the GFCI is tested and working properly for all lights throughout the entire swimming season.

4. Connecting the Equipment

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

A) Pump & 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 two drain plugs 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.

Reattach any unions and valves that may have been disconnected for the closing and ensure all “o” rings are properly positioned inside the connections. Attach the backwash hose to the “waste” port of the dial valve. 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 filtration equipment is equipped with an “Off-line” Chlorinator, the black tubes are connected to each saddle fitting that is drilled into the piping making sure the water flows in the proper direction. The black tube connected to the “out” opening of the chlorinator must be attached to the saddle fitting located after the heater. If no heater is equipped, then connect the tube to the saddle fitting located after the filter.

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

D) Hayward Aqua Rite Salt Chlorine Generator Please refer to your Owner's Manual

5. Start Circulation and Vacuum the Pool

A) Circulation

If your filtration equipment is above water level, you can now fill your pool 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. (If your filtration equipment is positioned below water level, like an Onground Pool, ensure all drain plugs, unions and lids are securely fastened before filling the pool to the top of the skimmer mouth opening).

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.

Place water in the pool pump to cover the basket and re-install the pump lid and “o”-ring. The handle on the dial valve should be placed to the “filter position. Ensure that the valve at the front of the pump (if equipped) is in the open position. Turn the pump on. The circulation may take a few moments as the pump draws the water from the pool. This is normal. As the circulation begins, air bubbles will shoot out of the return fitting but will gradually subside. You should notice the pressure on the pressure gauge rising and begin to feel good water pressure coming out of each return fitting.

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. After vacuuming, always backwash the 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.

NoteStabilizer 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