The process of preparing backyard swimming pools and spas for the summer can be daunting for homeowners. If you are not using a certified pool professional, here are a few tips from the recreational water experts at NSF International to help avoid potential problems and ensure a smooth opening for a season of safe and healthy swimming.

  • Check your supply of water treatment chemicals to make sure you have everything you need. If any chemicals have expired, replace them before opening the pool. When replacing chemicals, it is important to look for certified pool chemicals Before trying to remove the cover, pump off any standing water and remove as much dirt and debris as possible from the cover as well as from the deck area immediately surrounding the pool. Remove the cover carefully, cleaning it thoroughly and allowing it to dry completely before storing it for the summer.
  • Inspect the pool walls and/or liner for any punctures or tears. Scrub and clean the walls as necessary. Inspect the deck area surrounding the pool for any trip hazards and make any needed repairs.
  • Remove plugs and reinstall any pumps, filters, fittings and other items that were removed at the end of the previous season.
  • Inspect the drain covers and make sure they are properly installed, not broken and within their expiration date. If you have kids, be sure to replace older drain covers with newer versions that meet current anti-entrapment standards.
  • Check all skimmer lids to ensure they are not cracked or brittle.
  • Inspect the cover on the equalizer line, which is a suction entrapment danger, and replace with a newer version.
  • Add water to bring the water level up to normal, then turn the power on and start up the system. Check for leaks and make sure the system is operating properly. Restart the circulation equipment and clean the pool.
  • Analyze the water quality and add treatment chemicals as needed to adjust the chlorine, pH and alkalinity to desired levels. Refer to the chemical manufacturer's usage instructions or contact a pool supply professional if you are unsure how to safely use these chemicals. Monitor water chemistry levels frequently the first few days the pool is open, adjusting chemical treatment as needed until levels stabilize. Check your local pool code and the Model Aquatic Health Code for what is required as well as best practices for water chemistry. Store chemicals in a secure location where pets and children cannot access them.
  • Run the pump continuously at the beginning of the season until the pool water is clear and chemical levels are stabilized. The filter may need to be backwashed frequently during the first few days of operation, depending on how dirty the water became over the winter.
  • Reinstall and tightly secure any ladders, railings or other pool equipment such as diving boards and slides. To help prevent unauthorized entry to the pool area, install a self-latching mechanism on the entry gate. Consider installing a pool alarm to notify you if anyone enters your pool without your knowledge, especially if you have small children who could accidentally fall into the pool. Alarms and covers can be certified to performance standards for safety.
  • Check skimmer baskets and remove debris, ensuring the water level is at approximately mid-height of the skimmer weir opening for best surface skimming performance.

Download the pool chemicals infographic.