Let’s assume that your pool has been “down” for
the winter. Was it idling during those off months, cold yet
maintained in some limited fashion? Maybe it was left to grow green
or worse. … Or was it drained dry, then allowed to gather
rain puddles, frogs and tadpoles?
We must start somewhere, and filling the pool is definitely a good
start! The project certainly requires that the pool operator
— you — be prepared with goodies such as a serious pool
water test kit, a thermometer, some tools and the like. Don’t
get in your bathing suit yet, however.
If the water is cold, and we surely must assume it is, you’ll
want the heater on and any pool cover in place right at the start.
Yes, that circulation pump must be running to get down to heating,
that’s for sure. Filling, pumping and heating are not
“steps” in the opening process, though. If you
don’t have a full or nearly full pool and a functioning
circulation system, feel free to skip all five of these steps
listed below until you do!
1. Get your water in shape — manually!
Chlorinate, chlorinate, chlorinate! Throw some, dump some or pour
some. Just get a bunch in there now, remembering that 1 pound of
unstabilized chlorine (or one 12 percent bleach gallon) will give
you about one part per million in 120,000 gallons of water. So get
Now, with any luck and decent water clarity, you can use that fancy
test kit to measure the chlorine residual, calcium hardness, total
alkalinity, total dissolved solids and the pH. That last item (pH)
probably is the most important, as long there’s some chlorine
in there, using muriatic acid or soda ash to get the water’s
pH in those happy mid-sevens.
Complete water “balance” includes those five variables
— a book chapter in itself — but assuming you remember
the calcium saturation index (CSI) calculations from pool school,
you can get things “close” without precise testing or
2. Calibrate your controller. Yes, you have an
automated chemical controller. It is, at the very least, managing
the two most important of those variables — pH and free
chlorine residual. More carefully testing the pH now, you must make
sure the controller’s pH calibration is correct.
With some digi-poking of the controller’s calibration
gadgetry (or using a tiny screwdriver in the older units), it is
hoped the correct readouts will result, so your chosen set-levels
can be achieved with the chemical pumps that the unit is
3. Clean and check your chemical feed pumps.
Automation with your controller to get your water to the chosen
values is neither automation nor control without these critical
little pumps. You will fill those chemical tanks below the pumps,
most often with a diluted acid and a liquid chlorine product, and
you’ll test their function. Tell your controller where you
want your pool water, then sit back and watch those pumps
4. Examine your filter and make sure it’s
• Sand? Make sure you have enough sand in
there and that it looks reasonably clean. Start off with a
full-boogie backwash, with your pool’s fill water running.
Then let ’er run in normal filter mode, usually all night for
the first day. (Some health departments want you to run them day
and night anyway.) Keep your eyes on the pressure gauges, recalling
the rising differential indicating the need for the next
• DE? Disassemble then clean, clean, clean those
elements. Please recall your supplier’s procedures because
diatomaceous earth systems have myriad configurations. Start up
your pool, and admire the crystal clear water in just a day or
5. Check all the lifeguard materials and the condition of
any guard chair or stand. Keeping your swimmers safe is a
bigger deal than chemistry; your aquatics staff includes those
critically important guards, without whom we’d be looking at
an empty pool. (Hey, some of them can use a test kit, too!)
General pool facility safety and cleanliness often are the guard
staff’s job, and you know they must get bored sitting under
that big umbrella watching your silly (but precious) swimmers
splash around in utter joy and safety.
OK, OK, these are five very important steps you’ll take to
get that beautiful pool back into serious functioning again. But
there are more steps, more jobs and more concerns, all of which
you’ll discover as you use your incredibly special, very
unique pool or waterpark. Put your suit on now, and go swimming!