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How to Open Your Pool

Expert tips for opening your pool

By Terry Arko

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Every season, swimming pool owners are confronted with removing cloudy and algae-infested water. This article offers a simple program to clear up those nasty ‘swamp pools.’

A cloudy green swamp is the last thing you want to see when you remove a pool cover. The following steps can help deal quickly with a swamp pool and return it to pristine blue—clear, clean, and ready to enjoy. This program is for chlorine pools only.

Step 1: Verify all equipment is in good working order. This includes checking all baskets for debris, especially the pump lint pot basket and filter. Ensure the filter is working properly and there is good circulation throughout the system.

Step 2: Super chlorinate the pool by adding six times the normal amount of chlorine you would normally use to kill existing algae and oxidize organic waste. For example, if you usually add 4 l (1 gal) of liquid chlorine to maintain the pool, super chlorinate it using 24 l (6.3 gal). Also, add a natural clarifier at a rate of 60 ml to 118 ml per 18,930 l (2 oz. to 4 oz. per 5000 gal) to help remove dead floating algae. Brush the entire pool with the filter system on, being careful to watch the filter pressure. When the pressure exceeds 10 psi above normal, backwash the filter until normal readings are restored. The next day, be sure to vacuum dead algae off the pool floor and brush the entire pool again, checking the pump and all baskets for debris. Backwash the filter media again if pressure exceeds 10 psi above normal.

Step 3: Add an algae prevention and remover product according to label directions. Set the filter to run six to eight hours a day. Brush the pool.

Step 4: Use an approved kit that tests water for free orthophosphates. When phosphate levels test out at 500 parts per billion (ppb) or above, use a phosphate remover product according to directions. Note there are different concentrations of phosphate removers on the market that can treat anywhere from 1000 ppb to 10,000 ppb in 37,850 l (10,000 gal) of water. For phosphate levels below 500 ppb, use a weekly maintenance product. The ideal range for phosphates in pool water is 125 ppb or less. Since phosphates come from a variety of sources, it is difficult to near impossible to ever reach or keep a zero reading for long, as they are continually being introduced into the water. Phosphates are present in fertilizers, lawn and garden care products, soaps shampoos, and body waste. They are also a key ingredient in many pool chemicals for metal stains, and can be present in source fill water. In addition to adding clarifier and enzyme to the water, quickly dissolving pods that are pre-dosed for weekly phosphate removal are available.

Ensure the filter is clean and there is good circulation throughout the pool. Leave the filter running for 24 hours to remove all insoluble phosphate and organic waste.

Terry Arko has more than 30 years’ experience in the swimming pool and spa industry, working in service, repair, retail sales, chemical manufacturing, customer service, sales, and product development. He is also a certified pool operator (CPO) and CPO Instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). Arko is currently product specialist for SeaKlear Pool and Spa Products a subsidiary of Halosource Inc., a clean water technology company based in Bothell, Wash. He can be reached via e-mail at

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