How to Open and Close an Above Ground Pool – A Step-by-Step Guide

By Cesar Riel

Closing (winterizing) and opening are important aspects of above ground pool maintenance. When the winter season sets in, you need to winterize or close your pool to avoid ice damage. Before the beginning of the swimming season in spring/early summer, you will need to open your pool to enjoy the swimming season. These tasks may look complicated and difficult, but you can open and close your pool yourself with the help of proper guidance and knowledge. By doing a DIY opening and closing your pool, you will be saving yourself a lot of money. In this guide, we will be discussing how to close and open your pool.

How to Close Your Above Ground Pool

When the winter season sets in, you need to close your pool to keep it safe from ice damage, keep the water neat and clean, and save your time and money when you decide to open your pool in the next season. We have given a summary of all the steps needed to winterize/close your pool. You can read in detail about winterizing/closing a simple above ground pool, an above ground pool with a sand filter, and an above ground pool with saltwater in our detailed guide about pool winterizing. Click here (Link Article: How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool) to learn more about the closing process.

Please read all the steps mentioned below and ensure that you have all the things ready to complete the closing process.

Step 1: Testing the Water

The most important thing to do before closing the pool is to check the water chemistry. Adjusting the water’s chemical nature will not let the pool rust when it is not in use. You can use test strips to check the chemical nature of the water. You must perform the following tests on the pool water.

  • pH: 7.3-7.8
  • Alkalinity: 85-125 parts per million (PPM)
  • Calcium Hardness: 180-240 PPM
  • Chlorine: 1-4 PPM
  • Salinity: 2500-4000 PPM only for saltwater pools

Step 2: Cleaning the Pool

The next step is to clean the pool before closing it. Remove debris, tree leaves, and other floating materials on the surface of the pool. If the pool’s bottom has particles on it, you can vacuum the pool to eliminate them.

Step 3: Checking for Leaks

Perform a thorough analysis of the pool equipment and the pool liner to ensure no leaks in your pool. It is a very technical and complicated process, and you may end up spending a complete day while tracking and repairing any leaks.

Step 4: Adding Winter Chemical Kit

Once you have confirmed that there are no leaks in the pool, add the winterizing kit. A chemical winterizing kit will ensure that the water’s chemical nature is not altered throughout winters and prevents algae growth.

Step 5: Removing the Inline Fitting and Lowering the Water Level

Remove the inline fitting and bring the water level down 4-6 inches below the skimmer. You can use a water pump or garden hose to drain the water from the pool. Don’t drain the pool completely, as it can cause the walls to collapse. If you are draining the pool completely, you will have to disassemble the pool’s entire structure, store it safely and then reassemble it in the next season. Draining your pool completely is only recommended when you are relocating the pool or there is some uncorrectable problem with the pool water.

Step 6: Removing the Drain Plugs and Filter Hoses

Remove the drain plugs and the filter hoses and store them in a dry place. If you have a chlorinator with the pool, remove it as well.

Step 7: Take Off the Removable Equipment

Now take off all the removable equipment such as ladders, hoses, overtop skimmers, pool toys, or anything that is not a core component of the pool. Store them according to the instructions given on their packaging.

Step 8: Adding an Air Pillow

The next step is to add an air pillow over the lowered pool surface. You may need to add more than one pillow according to the size of your pool. Tie the air pillows together and also tie them to a solid object nearby. Fill the pillows to ¾ of their capacity.

Step 9: Add a pool Cover

pool cover

The last step is to add a pool cover over your pool. Check periodically to ensure that nothing is out of order. The cover will save your pool from the extremity of weather during the winter season. Make sure; you check the pool cover for leaks or damaged areas before you use it on the above-ground pool. The leaks can be highly harmful to the pool’s longevity.

How to Open an Above Ground Pool

Spring is around the corner, and you want your pool to be up and ready for a refreshing swim. What’s stopping you? A closed pool! Don’t worry; the steps explained below will help you open your pool without any hassles.

Make sure you read all the steps before you start opening the pool. Keep all the supplies ready before initiating the opening.

Things Needed for Opening the Pool

  • Pool cover pump or sump pump/submersible pump
  • Soft broom or pool skimmer net
  • Pool cover cleaner (optional)
  • Startup chemical kit (De-winterizing/pool opening chemicals)
  • Water testing strips
  • An extra pair of hands
  • Chemicals you may need after testing the water
  • Chlorine
  • pH drops (increase/decrease)
  • Alkalinity drops (increase/decrease)
  • Calcium hardness increaser
  • Water clarifier
  • Algaecide

Step 1: Cleaning, Removing and Storing the Pool Cover

The first step is to take care of the pool cover you installed when you closed the pool. After the winter season is over, there will be debris, leaves, and other things on the cover’s top. Use a soft broom to collect the debris from the cover’s top. Make sure you don’t let the debris enter the pool. Be soft while cleaning the cover, a rough touch can damage or puncture the cover, and you will have to repair it or get a new one in the next winters. Now you have to get rid of the water on the pool cover. The best way to do this is to use a pool cover pump. If you don’t have a pool cover pump with you, use a sump pump or a submersible pump. If you don’t own a pump, you can rent it out from a nearby rental outlet.

Once the cover has been removed, you will need an extra pair of hands to help you take off the pool cover. If you have installed water tubes after covering the pool, take them out before cleaning the cover. Be careful while taking off the pool cover as you don’t want to damage it. Take your cover to a place where you can lay it flat and inspect it for any leaks or damages. If there are no leaks or holes, wash the cover with a pool cover cleaner. You can also use any mild liquid washing detergent which will not damage the fabric of the cover. Once the cover is all tidy, dry it, and store it away safely. You must not fold the cover when it is wet.

Step 2: Removing Winter Plugs and Compensators

If you have installed winter plugs while closing your pool, remove all of them now. Talk a walk around the pool, inspect all the plugs you have installed, and carefully remove them. If installed an ice compensator on the skimmer basket, remove it as well. It is now time to install all the plugs you removed at the beginning of the winter last year. If you took pictures of the arrangement and the plugs, installing them would be a breeze for you.

Step 3: Adding Water to the Pool

Open an above ground pool

When you close an above ground pool, you reduce the water level below the skimmer. Now you need to add water to fill up the pool. Evaporation also causes the water level in the pool to go down. Use your garden hose with a mesh filter to add water. It will keep sediments away from your pool.

Step 4: Reinstall the Deck Equipment

It is now time to reinstall the deck equipment you took off while closing your pool. Install back the ladders, pool toys, tubes, or any other thing you used with your pool. Remember to check them for any rust or corrosion.

Step 5: Connect the Water Filter, Chlorinator, and Water Heater

Reconnect all the appliances you took off during closing your pool. If you don’t know how to connect them back, refer to the installation guide for each product. If you added antifreeze while closing the pool, it is now time to take it out. Switch the water pump to the waste setting and run it for some time. The running water will push the antifreeze out of the system. You turn the equipment back after a long time, so be careful with them and be gentle while making the connections. Inspect the elements for any visible wear and tear. Start by connecting the skimmer to the pool pump, connecting the pump with the filter, connecting the filter with the heater/chlorinator, or any other device you have installed in your setup.

Step 6: Turn them on and Observe

Turn up the system and watch them run. Inspect for any leaks or irregularities in the equipment. If you notice that the pump is running dry, you may need to prime it. It can be done by turning off the filter system, opening the pump lid, and adding some water from the garden hose. It will give the pump the push it needs to start and function properly. Once the pump is working fine, turn your attention to the water filter. Depending upon your water filter type, you may need to backwash it or replace the cartridge. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual to clean it.

Step 7: Clean the Pool

The next step is to clean your pool. It is now time to get inside the pool and scrub the sides and walls of the pool. There is no point in adding startup chemicals without cleaning the pool. Use a brush with soft bristles; you don’t want to damage the liner with a hard brush. This step will test your physical endurance, so it is better to have a friend accompany you while cleaning the pool. Once you are done scrubbing the pool, vacuum the pool to catch all the dirt and debris removed from the walls and bottom.

Step 8: Testing and Balancing the Water

Once the water is physically cleared, it is time to adjust the chemical nature of the balance. Test your water for pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, chlorine content, and salinity (for saltwater pools). You need to bring the levels under the optimum range. It is the range we mentioned above in the pool closing section. Depending upon the results of the test, add the needed chemicals.

How to Test: You can test the water using test strips or take a sample to a nearby testing laboratory.

Step 9: Shock your Pool Water

Before you get in the pool, you need to make sure that your pool is properly sanitized and there are no germs in it. You will need to add pool shock in the pool. If you are opting for powder shock, 3 pounds for every 15,000 gallons of water is good. For liquid shock, 5 gallons are recommended for 20,000 gallons of water. We suggest that you add the shock after the sun has set so the UV rays will not interfere in the sanitizing process. Make sure to follow all the guidelines given by the shock manufacturer.

Step 10: Let the Filter Run

Now there is only one hurdle between you and the pool. You need to run the filter for at least 24 hours to collect the entire gunk in the pool. It will ensure that the water is neat and clean for you and your family to enjoy a swim. Retest your water after running the filter for 24 hours. Check the results. If everything is within the safe limit, your pool is now ready.

Final Words

By doing a DIY pool opening, you have not only saved yourself some bucks; you have also learned how your pool works and how to take care of it. This experience will come in handy in the long run, and you will be able to close, open, and maintain your pool yourself next time.

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