Pool Opening


How to Properly Open Your Pool


Whether it’s your first time opening your pool or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s easy to forget or simply not be aware of all the essential steps needed to properly prep your pool for the season. Adapted from our own pool experts, the following basic instructions can help you save time, money, and open your pool the right way. Happy swimming!

  1. Remove water and debris from the winter cover carefully to keep any debris from entering the pool water. For water removal, use a cover pump or a siphon. For leaves and other large debris, use a skimmer net.

For first time pool fill-up, follow these additional steps:

Use each product as label indicates.

  1. Remove winter cover and other winterizing accessories (i.e. plugs, Styrofoam, gizzmo). Clean winter cover with Swimway Tile & Vinyl Cleaner or another product. Allow the winter cover to dry thoroughly before storing off the ground. DO NOT leave winter cover on the grass; it will kill your lawn. Store inside to prevent nesting of birds, insects, and rodents.

  2. Clean the scum line at the water level with Swimway Tile & Vinyl Cleaner or another product prior to filling pool.

  3. Hook up all hoses and filter or pump systems. (Note: It is recommended to change the filter sand every year in tanks holding 200 lbs or less. Sand should fill tank to approximately 2/3 of the way up.)

For inground pools, be sure to open gate valves for skimmer(s) and main drain. Refer to owner’s manual for specific instructions on filter and pump hookups.

  1. Fill pool to proper level. The water should be about 1/2 to 2/3 up the skimmer housing.

  2. Prime your pump by filling the pump strainer housing with water from a hose. Leave strainer cover off and start the pump. As soon as the water begins to overflow, immediately reinstall strainer cover. If bubbles are present, you may need to reprime. (Be prepared to lubricate the

  1. O-ring with Pool Lube around the cover gasket to keep it from drying out and cracking. DO NOT USE VASELINE, as petroleum products erode gaskets.)

To avoid getting your feet wet when cleaning the strainer basket on an above ground pump motor, install a gate valve before starting up. If bubbles persist, you may need to replace the strainer housing gasket.

  1. Using a skimmer net or a leaf vacuum to remove leaves or any large debris from pool.

  2. Vacuum any small debris from pool bottom using a manual vacuum or automatic pool cleaner. If you have a waste cycle on your sand filter, manually vacuum to waste.

  3. If you suspect metal is present from the source water, have your water analyzed. It is best to treat metals in the water using Swimways Iron Remover or Natural Chemistry’s Metal Free.

  4. Test pH and Total Alkalinity. (Note: Always test and adjust alkalinity prior to adjusting pH). The proper ranges are as follows:

  • Free chlorine: 1.5 ppm to 3.0 ppm

  • Free chlorine (with mineral system): .5 ppm to 1.0 ppm; 7.2 pH to 7.6 pH

  • Alkalinity: 80 ppm to 120 ppm

  • Calcium Hardness: 100 ppm to 300 ppm

  • Cyanuric Acid: 30 ppm to 100 ppm

  • Phosphates: 100 ppm or less

To raise pH, use Swimway pH Plus. To lower pH or alkalinity, use Swimway pH minus. To raise Total Alkalinity, use Swimway Alkalinity Plus.* Use all products according to manufacturer's instructions. For better results, visit your local Watson’s to get you your water analyzed at no charge!

*If pH and alkalinity are at opposite limits (one high & the other low), raise whichever is lower first.

Shock pool with liquid chlorine or other pool sanitizer to kill bacteria, viruses, and algae using the following guidelines:

Pool Size Suggested Liquid Chlorine Amount for Pool Opening
15’   ½ gallon
18’ or 12‘ x 24’ ¾ gallon
21’ or 15‘ x 30’ 1 gallon
24’ or 18’ x 33’ 1 - ½ gallons
27’ or 18’ x 40’ 2 gallons
30’ or 21’ x 42’ 2 gallons
33’ 2 - ½ gallons

For the best results, use Swimway Blast prior to using liquid chlorine to get rid of any chlorine combination. Use product as label indicates.

Note: If pool water is extremely discolored due to algae, double the suggested amount of liquid chlorine to be used. Do this with caution.

  1. For extra protection, add a 30% or 60% algaecide to kill or prevent algae. Lower percentages can be used in greater quantities for prevention only.

  2. Test pool water for cyanuric acid levels. Add stabilizer/conditioner, if needed, by pouring slowly through the skimmer. Change Aqua Smarte Mineral Pack in chlorine dispenser.

In a day or so, retest chlorine and other levels. Because any chlorine will have dissipated from the initial shock, begin Watson’s No Algae Guarantee Program.

Pool Opening Checklist


32 essential pool supplies and accessories to have on hand this swim season.


  • Filter Sand / Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) / Elements
  • New Filter Hoses / Clamps / Teflon Tape
  • Pool Lube
  • Gate Valve (shut-off valve)
  • Skimmer / Return Gaskets
  • Skimmer Parts (vac plate, skim plate, etc.)
  • Cover Pump (Siphon Pump) for Cover
  • Leaf Rake / Leaf Skimmer
  • Leaf Vacuum
  • Vinyl Liner Patch Kit
  • Liner Brush
  • Backwash Hose
  • Telescopic Pole
  • Vacuum Hose
  • Vacuum Head
  • AquaChek Test Strips
  • Liquid Chlorine
  • Swimway Chlorine
  • AquaSmarte Chlorine Chambers
  • AquaSmarte Mineral Pack
  • Swimway Chlorine Conditioner
  • Swimway Blast or Oxyburn
  • Swimway pH Plus
  • Swimway pH Minus
  • Swimway Alkalinity Plus
  • Swimway Water Clarifier
  • Swimway Iron Remover / Natural Chemistry’s Metal Free
  • Natural Chemistry’s Spring / Fall Phosfree
  • Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect Plus PhosFree
  • Natural Chemistry Clean & Perfect
  • Swimway Tile & Vinyl Cleaner
  • Something for yourself & the kids. (You deserve it!)