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OPENING YOUR SWIMMING POOL, whether for the first time ever, or for the first time of the season is a great time to set your water chemicals straight and establish a baseline. Much of your strategy will depend on a few key factors.


It’s impossible to give blanket strategy on pool chemical additions to open your swimming pool because so many factors are involved. Your initial pool chemical strategy depends on how big your pool is, what climate your pool is located in, how many bathers you’re going to have typically, and what condition your city water is in to start with.


You need to get a baseline for the water in the pool before you start adding chemicals, and the first part of opening your pool is the addition of water. City water varies throughout the country on things like pH and hardness. It’s just a simple fact that water in one part of the country might be more or less acidic than in another part, or more or less hard. Once the pool is filled, use test strips to get some readings, the most important of which are pH, which is the acidity of the water, and hardness, which is a measure of what the mineral level of the water is.


Generally speaking, besides the volumes and types of chemicals used, most pool openings will follow some common denominators, however. You’ll start your opening by measuring the pH and bringing into line. The pH range desired for pools is 7.4 to 7.6, which is a fairly narrow band. If your pH is higher or lower than this, you’ll need to adjust with chemicals – sodium bicarbonate if it is too acidic or sodium bisulfate if it is too alkaline. If your pH is in line, your sanitizer will have to work far less hard than if it was higher or lower. Alkalinity is another measure you’ll want to keep an eye out for – the alkalinity of the pool controls the pH much like a thermostat controls the temperature in the room.

Water hardness is another consideration and can be controlled with a series of chemicals. The amount of calcium and other minerals is an important factor in the health of your pool – if the water is too hard, it will affect the pumps, motors, and seals negatively, shortening their service lives due to corrosion.

Sanitizer is the next thing to consider, and chlorine is one the best of them. Far and away the most common pool sanitizer, chlorine is inexpensive, easily obtained, easily applied, and extremely effective. Chlorine comes in liquid chlorine, which is cheap and effective but doesn’t last as long, and dichlor, which are solid tablets that last longer but are a little pricier. You’ll want to initially shock the pool, which means putting in a higher dose of chlorine to begin with – and keeping swimmers out of the water until the chlorine levels have gone down to a safe level. Shocking the water as you open your pool gives you the good chlorine base you need to kill bacteria and stabilize the water.

Once you’ve taken these steps, make sure and test weekly for the first month or two so you can observe fluctuations in the water and adjust your level of chemicals accordingly. Hot weather and a high volume of bathers will make adjustments to your sanitizer necessary – usually you’ll need to add more. Remember, pools like small, frequent adjustments rather than big doses of chemicals infrequently – keep an eye on your pool levels and watch the crystal clear water sparkle in the sunlight!

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