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How should I open my pool for the summer?

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ID:	11420Nothing says summer fun like taking the cover off the pool and taking a cool dip. But before you start splashing around, you need to make sure your pool is safe, correctly prepared and ready to go.

A pool professional can make your pool summer-ready. Itís a good idea to hire a pro, because pool chemistry is a complex task you definitely donít want to get wrong. For the best results throughout the season, hire a pool pro to check things out weekly or biweekly. Youíll pay about $150 for a one-time pool opening visit, or around $100 per visit for recurring service.

If you do decide to go it alone, here are a few steps to follow.

First, remove water and debris from the pool cover. Use a pump or siphon to get rid of water, and a leaf rake or vacuum to remove leaves and large debris.

After that, remove the cover and allow it to dry. Brush the walls with a pool surface cleaner prior to filling the pool and inspect all the plugs and components of your filter system.

Then, fill the pool and start your filter system. Use a leaf rake or vacuum to clean out any remaining debris.

Finally, test your water to make sure itís balanced and sanitized in accordance with your poolís instructions. Now itís time to swim!

Once the pool is open, make sure the water stays circulating. Moving water is cleaner and safer than stagnant water. If possible, run your filtration system 24/7. This does take a lot of energy, so if you want to save on electricity bills, you can cut it back to 12 hours a day and still be OK.

Clean the pool and remove debris as often as possible. (Note: This is a great chore for your teens ó just donít tell them I suggested it!) To clean the pool thoroughly, youíll need a pool brush, vacuum, pool-cleaning solution (if desired) and a net-skimmer. Donít forget to scrub the poolís liner free of algae whenever you begin to see buildup.

Pool covers can help keep leaves and other debris out of the pool, which can cause blockages in the poolís filter. If the pump seems to lag, itís likely time to change the filter. Skimmers and returns also need to be kept free of debris and obstructions. Skimmers (as opposed to net-skimmers) pull pool water into the filtration system to be cleaned, and return release filtered water back into the pool once it has passed through the filtration system.

The chemicals in our pools are, of course, essential to our enjoyment and safety. Hereís a rundown of the basics:

Chlorine keeps germs and algae from spreading through water. Pools generally need chlorine levels at about 1.5 parts per million, but they can run between 1.0 ppm to 3.0 ppm. Lots of people, heavy debris or algae, long hours of sunlight, high pool pH and poor filtration or circulation can require more chlorine in the pool.

Alkalinity refers to the waterís ability to neutralize acids and bases and maintain a stable pH level. A poolís alkalinity should be between 80 and 120 ppm. PH refers to the acidity of the water and runs on a scale from zero to 14, with a pH level of seven being neutral. A high pH stops germ-killing chemicals from working, while a low pH can damage your pool and its components. The pH level needs to be close to neutral, preferably between 7.4 and 7.6.

To keep the pool clean, check chlorine and pH levels weekly and alkalinity monthly.

The last step: Jump in and enjoy!

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