Pre-Season Clean Up

Cleaning Up Around the Pool
Removing Water & Debris from the Pool Cover
Removing the Pool Cover
Properly Storing Your Pool Cover
Inspecting Your Pool

Preparing Your Pool & Equipment for Use

Removing Plugs
Reinstalling Deck Equipment
Reconnecting Electrical Equipment
Cleaning the Pool and Equipment

  • Filling Your Pool

Preparing & Testing the Water

Running the Filtration System
Initial Water Testing
Testing the Water

  • Calculating Pool Volume
  • pH Level
  • Total Alkalinity
  • Calcium Hardness
  • Total Dissolved Solids
  • Water Temperature
  • Metal

Shocking Your Pool

  • Choosing the Right Products
  • The Right Time to Shock
  • Stabilizing Pool Water
  • Controlling Algae

Final Preparation for Pool Opening
Re-running the Filtration System
Re-testing Water Samples

Ongoing Maintenance

Filter Pump Operation
General Housekeeping
Test the Water!



There’s nothing more important than keeping the water clean and sparkling when you own a pool. Opening a pool at the beginning of the season requires the right cleaning tools, high-quality pool chemicals and a little bit of know-how. When you take the time to do the job right, you can achieve crystal clear water for your pool, all season long. At Doheny’s, we know that once the weather begins to heat up, there’s nothing more important to pool owners than getting their pool back to a pristine and clear condition. Our large selection of high-quality pool chemicals, vacuums, and pool accessories are designed to help pool owners get both in-ground and above ground pools open and ready for use. Of course, in order to get the most out of our products, you need to know how to use them! This helpful guide to pool opening will help you get any pool ready for another summer of fun and includes some helpful year-round maintenance tips for keeping it up all season long. We even have a pool opening checklist for first-time pool owners!

Contact Doheny’s For Your Pool Opening Needs

When you need the highest quality pool products, depend on Doheny’s. Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast offers fast shipping on hundreds of top selling pool chemicals, cleaning tools and more. Visit us online at or call 800-574-7665 to speak with a member of our helpful support staff.





During the pool opening season, owners need to take some basic steps to ensure that the water and all surfaces are clean, sanitized and ready for swimmers before the warm weather really hits. Getting rid of debris, removing and storing the pool cover, and balancing the pool chemicals are all important steps in cleaning up your pool after an eventful winter. To learn more, this helpful guide offers useful tips and helpful information designed to make it easy to open your pool this year.

Bottom of a pool

Cleaning Up Around the Pool

The landscaping around a pool can take quite a beating during the cooler months of the year. It’s not uncommon to find broken branches, leaves and other debris piled up around your pool area once the snow melts and the temperatures begin to increase. Before you begin cleaning the pool itself, clean up the area around your pool. Remove any large branches, get rid of any garbage that has blown into your yard and trim up your landscaping. Starting out with a yard that is clean and well-maintained is a great way to start enjoying your pool season.

Removing Water & Debris from the Pool Cover

Once the area around the pool is clean, it’s time to clear off the winter pool cover. Remove all large pieces of debris by hand and use a pool cover pump to remove excess water from the pool cover. It’s important to remove as much water from the cover as possible as this will make it easier to remove and store it when not in use.

Removing the Pool Cover

When the pool cover has been drained and cleared off, remove it from the pool. Solid pool covers tend to be fairly heavy, so always grab a partner for assistance to prevent accidents. If you’ve done a good job at cleaning the cover and removing all the water, it will make the job easier to handle.

Properly Storing Your Pool Cover

Once the pool cover has been removed, allow it to completely dry while laid out flat on your lawn or patio. Inspect the pool cover for any signs of excessive wear and tear, as you don’t want to be surprised by damage once it’s time to close the pool. Replace your cover if it is damaged, as this will make it much easier to close your pool at the end of the season.
Before folding and storing the cover, apply a light coating of a mildew removal product to prevent mold from developing. Storing the cover in a protected, cool place where it will stay dry is the key to getting the most use out of your pool cover.

Inspecting Your Pool

The best time to inspect your pool for problems is when you are performing pool opening activities. Look for any signs of excessive wear and tear, including small cracks or chipping in the tile. Even the smallest spaces can be prone to developing problems with mold and mildew, so be sure to inspect all areas of the pool walls, stairs, floor and tile for signs of trouble. Addressing small issues now will help prevent much larger problems down the road.

Above Ground Solar Pool Covers
Inground Solar Pool Covers
All Surface Cleaner



If you live in a cold weather climate and prepared your pool for freezing weather at the end of last season, then you’ll need to get your pool and equipment ready for use by cleaning out and testing all of the pool equipment and preparing the pool itself for use. Consider adding a fresh coat of pool paint, replacing your filters and taking other steps to get your pool ready for the season.

Removing Plugs

Remove the winterizing plugs from the pool filter, heater, pump, pool cleaners & other items that were winterized last fall. Replace winter plugs with the original drain plug.pool pump

Reinstalling Deck Equipment

Once the plugs have been removed, begin reinstalling the deck equipment. Follow the provided instructions to install the pool slide, deck chairs, and extra railings, making sure to inspect items for damage when they come out of storage. If you’ve got a pool fence, set that up as well, as it’s never too early to start practicing smart pool safety.

Reconnecting Electrical Equipment

For both above ground and in-ground pools, follow the manufacturer's instructions for connecting the pool heater, pool pump and filtration system. Before filling the pool and running your pool equipment, make sure that the basket strainers are in good shape and free from cracks, and that all lines are open and free from debris. It’s also a good idea to check for any leaks at the electrical connections and to check your filters for wear and tear. For help finding the right repair parts for your pool equipment, check out Doheny’s Repair Parts and our large selection of replacement Filter Cartridges. If you need a new above ground heater, try the Hayward H200 pool heater.

Cleaning the Pool and Equipment

Next, thoroughly clean all pool surfaces and pieces of pool equipment. For the most effective cleaning, try using a manual pool brush for some tough pre-treating action on especially dirty or stained areas of the pool. Follow up with a deep cleaning using a high quality automatic pool cleaner. Getting the pool surfaces as clean as possible and removing all traces of mildew and debris before you start swimming ensures that your pool will be ready to go.

Filling Your Pool

It’s important to fill your pool correctly in order to achieve maximum enjoyment and durability. To get off on the right foot, choose a day that you know will be warm and sunny, preferably over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. For above ground pools, double-check that you have removed all of the winter plugs and the skimmer guard in previous steps. Begin adding fresh water to the pool, smoothing out any wrinkles that begin to form in the pool liner during the filling process. Continue filling until the water has reach about 2⁄3 up to the skimmer opening. Before proceeding, make sure that the skimmer isn’t cracked or developing any leaks.
For in-ground pool filling, ensure all plugs and skimmer guards have been removed and fill the pool with water 2⁄3 up the way. While you don't have to worry about a wrinkling pool liner with inground pools, it is important that you carefully check for leaks or cracks in the surface while filling to prevent problems later on in the season.



Wall Brush
Kreepy Krauly Pool Cleaner
Aquabot Pool Rover Jr. Robotic Cleaner
Zeron "One Coat" Epoxy Pool Paint


Running the Filtration System

Once the pool has been filled with fresh water, it’s time to run the filtration system and get the water circulating. Before you turn on your filtration system, bleed any remaining air from the line (if you have an air relief valve) and be sure to prime the pool pump before use.

Initial Water Testing

When you first begin running the filtration system, add the pool opening chemicals kit. These kits include important products that remove winter buildup of chemicals and other elements. Keeping your pool clean and free from bacteria and debris are important responsibilities for every pool owner and having the right pool chemicals makes it easy to do.

Testing the Water

After your pool’s circulation system has run for at least 12 hours, it’s time for testing pool water chemicals. The chemical balance of the water in your pool requires some careful testing and monitoring to stay within safe limits. Everything from environmental changes and just basic use can alter your pool water chemistry, so it’s important to test the water frequently throughout the season.

There are six things that affect your pool’s water balance that pool owners must monitor, including pH, Total Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids, Sanitizer, Cyanuric Acid, Temperature, and Metal levels. Keeping each of these levels in check is an essential part of preventing harmful erosion, scale deposits and staining of pool surfaces.

Before you can accurately test the pool water add chemicals, you need a pool volume measurement. To determine your pool’s volume in gallons, use the following equations:

1. Find your pool’s average depth:

2. Determine your pool’s capacity by shape:

Once you’ve completed these measurements, you’re ready to start testing your pool chemical levels.

Maintaining a safe pH level for pools is incredibly important for swimmers and for your pool equipment. pH that is too low often leads to skin rashes and irritation, and it can cause corrosive damage to your equipment as well. High pH is dangerous as well, as it actually reduces the effectiveness of germ-fighting chlorine. When testing the pH of your pool water, look for levels that are ideally between 7.2-7.6 ppm. If your pH falls below this level, give it a boost by adding a ph plus product. If levels are too high, then try adding a pH reducer.

Total Alkalinity (TA) refers to the total measurement of your pool water’s ability to maintain a balanced pH in spite of changes in the water. Your pool’s TA acts as a type of protective element in helping to control any big pH changes in the water. Before testing the water’s pH and adjusting the chemicals, make sure you test the TA level. Ideally, your pool should have a TA range of 60-120 ppm. Allowing the TA to drop below 60 ppm can lead to lowered pH levels which can lead to corrosion and scaling to fixtures and pool equipment. A TA that is too high can lead to overly cloudy water and scale formation. For TA that is too low, add a pH reducing product. If it’s too high, try adding a product like Alkalinity Plus.

There is some natural hardness to all water which varies by the actual water source. The Calcium Hardness (CH) of your pool measures how much calcium is dissolved in the water. Doheny’s recommends testing your pH levels on regular basis to avoid damaging the pool liner or the circulation and filtration system. The optimum CH for pool water is between 200-500 ppm, with acceptable levels occurring up to 1,000 ppm.

If your CH levels are too high (i.e. in excess of 1,000 ppm), you may start to notice cloudy water or scale forming on the surface of the pool. A CH level that is to low may result in corrosion to your pool equipment, along with etching or pitting in plaster pool designs.

Using pool test strips, test your CH level during the pool opening process and once a month during the busiest swimming months. If the levels are higher than 500 ppm, drain 1⁄3 to 1/2 of the water in your pool, replacing it with clean, fresh water. If your CH levels are lower than 200ppm, add a calcium booster to the water.

The total dissolved solids (TDS) in your pool refers to the total dissolved material that is present, including materials that can’t be filtered out through your circulation system. Over time, the TDS levels in a pool will increase naturally due to the normal process of evaporation and because pool chemicals are added. The TDS level in your pool doesn’t necessarily affect the overall water balance, but it can alter the water’s cleanliness and appearance. Stay on top of your TDS levels by checking them with your water testing kit at the beginning of pool opening season and throughout the season.


Due to dissipation, the temperature of the water can affect sanitizer levels in chlorine-based pools, as well as Cyanuric acid levels. Temperatures that are too high can also lead to problems with scaling. Test your water frequently throughout the season and especially at pool opening, as preventing the temperature from getting over 90 degrees Fahrenheit is the easiest way to prevent heat-related scale buildup and chemical dissipation.

Having high metal levels in your pool can result in staining of pool surfaces and higher than normal consumption of pool sanitizer. Over time, pool water with a high concentration of metals will most certainly result in water that is unbalanced and unhealthy. If your source water is high in unwanted metals, it can lead to corrosion of metallic plumbing and even your pool’s exposed heater core. Some algaecides can also be responsible for adding excess metals to the water. Testing the metal levels is incredibly important in keeping your pool clean and safe. If your pool strips indicate the presence of metals, try using a product like Metal Out to prevent staining from occurring.

Shocking Your Pool

Shocking your pool during pool opening is one of the most important things pool owners can do to protect family and friends from dangerous bacteria and organic elements that can contaminate pool water. Pool shock is a highly concentrated chlorine product which “shocks” pool water and kills off anything that is contaminating it. A pool shock treatment is designed to add 5-10 ppm Free Available Chlorine (FAC) to the water. This allows for better algae control and cleaner, safer water. After a successful pool shock treatment, your FAC levels should be 1-4 ppm, indicating that it’s safe to be in the water. Before shocking your pool, make sure you adjust the pool water’s pH to 7.2 to 7.6 for the best results.

The best pool shock products to use are hypochlorite-based and won’t affect the level of stabilizer, or cyanuric acid, present in the water. Pool shock that contains cyanuric acid can actually alter the effectiveness of the chlorine in the water, making it tougher to control bacteria and algae and get rid of commonly found contaminants. The most effective products are designed to kill off harmful bacteria while also controlling algae. Make sure that your pool shock product is designed to both shock and sanitize for the best results.

The best time to shock a pool is during opening and closing activities, and once a week during the swim season. This will ensure that your pool is free from algae and bacteria and that it is clean enough for the whole family to enjoy. Try to shock your pool around the same time and on the same day of the week. Shocking a pool at sundown works best, as pool chlorine is most effective when it’s not competing against the sun’s harshest rays. This also gives the chlorine more time overnight to restore cloudy pool water to it’s best sparkling blue.
There are some cases where you’ll want to add extra shock treatments to your pool cleaning routine, including the following:

  • When stormy weather has blown rain or debris in the pool
  • After a pool party or extended periods of use
  • When there are long periods of extremely hot weather
  • Once swimmers begin to complain about burning, irritated eyes
  • When you begin to notice odors or signs of algae growth
  • Once pool water begins to look cloudy, hazy or just plain dull

Over time, light from the sun reduces chlorine levels. Using a pool stabilizer and conditioning product can help restore chlorine levels to the right amount. The active ingredient in pool stabilizer is cyanuric acid, which helps to maintain proper chlorine levels. Regular use of pool stabilizer is an affordable way to get the most life out of your chlorine sanitizing product. For the best results, use a pool stabilizing product only if you routinely use a non-stabilized chlorinator. Stabilized chlorinators already have a stabilizer built in, which dissolves along with the chlorine in the water.

Preventing overstabilization of pool water is an important consideration for pool owners. Water that has been over stabilized will make chlorine less effective at getting rid of annoying algae and dangerous bacteria. For optimum results, stabilizer levels should be maintained at levels between 20-50 ppm. If levels exceed 100 ppm, your chlorine will become less effective. Add pool stabilizer before the chlorinating products slowly through the pool skimmer. Operate the pool pump when adding the stabilizer for maximum dispersion, and be sure to wait at least 48 hours prior to cleaning the filter or backwashing so the product can dissolve completely.

Indoor pools should not be treated with pool stabilizer or stabilized pool chlorine products as the lack of direct sunlight and other factors can quickly lead to overstabilization.

Controlling and preventing the spread of algae in your pool is a common task for all pool owners. Tiny bits of algae and other contaminants can dramatically affect the look and feel of your water. If left unchecked, algae can quickly turn sparkling, blue water into a cloudy and unappealing mess. These contaminants can even create an unhealthy environment for swimmers if left untreated, and can turn your pool water into a slimy, green- tinted mess.

Algae are tiny, microscopic types of plants that can rapidly develop and bloom in pool water. Once the plants have reached the full bloom stage, algae either float along the surface of the pool or actually grows on the surface itself. Most pool algae have a greenish color, but you can often find it in varying shades of bluish green, yellow and black, as well.

When pool chlorine levels are too low or simply isn’t as effective as it should be, algae can easily begin to grow. Algae growth is also common in pools that contain higher than recommended amounts of stabilizing products. To prevent algae, always make sure that your chlorine levels are adequate and use a pool shock treatment once a week, along with a good algaecide. For existing algae problems, clean your pool to remove existing algae, and treat with a specialized pool algae remover product like our Algaecide. A good product can typically get your water back to clear within 24 hours of application.

AquaChek Water Testing Strips
Doheny's Pool Master Start-up Kits
Super Shock Plus
Water Clarifier Plus



Re-running the Filtration System

Once you’ve cleaned the pool and added the appropriate pool opening chemicals, run either your in-ground pool filter system or above ground pool pump again for at least 12 hours. This will help evenly distribute the chemicals through the water for the cleanest possible water. If your system isn’t working as well as it used to and could use an upgrade, consider doing so before the warm weather hits. You don’t want to be left with a broken pool pump in the middle of the scorching temperatures.

Re-testing Water Sample

Once the filter is done running, test the levels of the chemicals in the water again. If the levels are still off, go through the process of testing the water, adding chemicals, running the filter and testing again.


A final vacuuming of your pool before you dive in will pick up any debris that may have fallen in during the pool opening process and will ensure that water will be perfect for that first swim. Use a pool water clarifier product to get rid of any last remaining bits of debris that may remain.

Hayward Super Pump for In-ground Pools
Hayward Power Flo LX Pool Pump



Filter Pump Operation

To ensure you get the most out of your pool filtration system and chlorine, the pump should be operated for at least 8 hours a day, and preferably 12 hours a day, during peak swim season. Doing so will help prevent the building up algae and bacteria and will help to keep your water fresh and clean all season long.

General Housekeeping

Keep the areas around your pool clean and free from debris by keeping up with some basic pool area housekeeping. Remove debris that has fallen into the pool and trim any low-hanging branches that could end up in the water. Keeping your deck and patio areas clean will help to keep your pool clean and safe for use.

Test the Water!

Routine water testing is essential to keeping pool water safe and visually appealing all summer long. Pool opening season is a great time to stock up on water testing strips, so you never have to worry about running out when you need them.


By following our helpful pool opening steps, you will be prepared to enjoy your outdoor pool all season long. Using the right products and being vigilant about your pool cleaning and water testing throughout the warmer weather months will help you get the most use and enjoyment out of your pool this year. Visit Doheny’s today for all of your pool opening needs and to learn more about caring for your pool.

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