How To Open an Above Ground Pool

Written by Michael Dean
April 27, 2023

opening an above ground swimming pool for the season

As the cooler weather comes to an end, your thoughts are probably filled with hot days spent lounging in your above ground swimming pool. But before that can happen, you need to open your above ground pool.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about opening your above ground pool, including supplies needed, a step-by-step guide, and tips on when you should open your pool.


Main Takeaways 

  • Before opening an above ground pool, you must clean the surrounding area and remove excess water from the pool cover.
  • Remove all winter plugs, skimmer plates, and the ice compensator if used.
  • Reconnect all equipment and check that the pool pump and filter are working.
  • You should open your above ground pool during the start of spring and when the temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Supplies Needed to Open an Above Ground Pool

When you’re opening your above ground pool, you want to make sure that the entire process goes as smoothly as possible, and one way of doing that is by having the right supplies before you begin.

The supplies you need can be broken up into categories: 1) cleaning supplies and 2) chemicals.

The cleaning supplies you will need:

Chemicals you will need:

Depending on the pool cover you are using, you may also need tools like a Phillips head or a nut driver. 

Step-by-Step: How to Open an Above Ground Pool

Opening your above ground pool does not need to be a complicated process. By prepping beforehand and following these easy steps, you’ll have your cover off your above ground pool, and your water appropriately treated like a pro!

Step One: Clean the Winter Pool Cover

Before you can remove the pool cover, clean the leaves, dirt, and other objects from the top of the cover. This will prevent unwanted debris from falling into the pool water when you remove the cover. If there is water on top of the cover, this should also be removed. An easy way to do this is by using a broom to sweep it off or a submersible pump (pool cover pump).

If you want to really make sure you limit the amount of dirt and debris ending up in the pool, you should also clean the surrounding area of the pool. Rake up any leaves, trim overgrown foliage, and cut the grass.

Step Two: Remove the Cover

Once you have removed all the debris and water from the pool cover, take the pool cover off. Follow the instructions provided for your pool cover; you may need to ask a friend for help if the pool is particularly large. You should also inspect your pool cover for any tears or holes at this stage.

If you have any air pillows with the pool cover, remove them from the pool and deflate them.

Once you have removed the cover, wash it properly before packing it away for the warm season. To clean the pool cover, spread it out on flat, dry ground. Then scrub the pool cover using a hose, some winter pool cover soap, or even car wash soap. For any stubborn stains and dirt, use a broom to scrub.

Leave the cover to dry completely before folding and storing it to prevent mold growth. Finally, store your pool cover in a sealed container to protect it from any wanted pests getting into the cover.

Step Three: Remove All Winter Plugs and Ice Compensators

Now is the time to remove all the winter pool plugs. These will usually be placed in all the openings and return jets of the pool. Don’t forget to check that you have removed the winter plugs from the skimmer basket too. If your skimmer basket had an ice compensator, remove that as well. Finally, check that you have removed the skimmer plate so the water can flow again once the filter is turned back on.

Use this time to inspect the pool for any tears or leaks in the lining. You can quickly patch up any leaks or holes using products specially designed for above ground pool liners.

Step Four: Add More Water

If the pool water level is below your skimmer, you must add water using your garden hose. Fill the pool until the waterline reaches the midpoint of the opening on the skimmer. I also recommend using a hose filter to remove water impurities.

Step Five: Reconnect All Equipment and Start Everything Up

If you have any ladders or steps, you can now connect them to the walls of your above ground pool. Remember to wipe them off before you put them back into your pool.

Reconnect the pool skimmer to the pump through the filter hose and the pool pump to the filter. Connect any other equipment, like a pool heater or a chlorinator, to the filter and the return.

Check that your pool filter pump is working correctly. When you start the filter, you should see bubbles rising to the surface of the pool. If you cannot see any bubbles, double-check that all valves are open and that all the winter plugs have been removed. If you have a multiport valve, ensure it’s turned on to “filter.”

If it still isn’t working, you may need to prime the pump. To prime your pump, open the pump lid and add some water using a garden hose or bucket of pool water. Then simply close the lid and restart the pump. The added water should help the pump pull water through the system.

Step Six: Clean the Pool

Roll up your sleeves and brush your pool. When brushing, make sure you clean the walls, floor, corners, and even steps! Once you’ve brushed your pool, you can now vacuum up the loosened debris. Finally, use your skimmer net to scoop up any leaves and bugs that may have fallen into the water while you were busy with the previous five steps. Check out my complete pool cleaning tutorial for all details on every step.

Step Seven: Test and Balance the Water

Now for the final step! Use a pool test kit to check the water chemistry and balance anything out of wack.

Taylor High Range Swimming Pool Test Kit

This expansive test kit includes nine tests for most pool chemical measurements you need.

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The ideal chemical levels are as follows:

  • pH: 7.4 to 7.6
  • Total alkalinity: 100 to 150 ppm
  • Free chlorine: 1 to 3 ppm
  • Cyanuric acid: 30 to 50 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 175 to 225 ppm

If you need to balance your chemicals, do these chemicals in this order first:

  1. Alkalinity
  2. pH
  3. Cyanuric acid

Once you have adjusted the above chemicals, shock your pool. If your pool is particularly dirty, you may even need to double-shock your pool. Let the shock do its magic overnight with the filter running for at least 8 hours.

After shocking the pool, you should then adjust the following chemicals if needed:

  1. Calcium hardness
  2. Algaecide

If your pool is cloudy, use a clarifier or flocculant to clump up the little particles to make clearing it up easier.

After you have added all chemicals, leave the filter to run for 24 hours before retesting the pool one last time.

If you are new to balancing your pool water and want to ensure you’re doing it correctly, take a water sample to your nearest pool store, where they will advise you on what you need.

Your above ground pool is now correctly opened and ready to be used!

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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When Should You Open Your Above Ground Pool?

Knowing when to open your pool is important, as the timing matters. If you open the pool too early and the water is still too cold to swim in, you will encounter additional maintenance costs (you also have opening costs). It’s best to leave the pool cover on until the weather is warm enough that you and your family will actually use the pool.

If you leave your cover on for too long during the warmer weather, heat gets trapped under the cover, and problems like mold or algae growth may start popping up. The ideal time to open your above ground pool is during the start of spring, specifically when the temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime.

Questions about opening your above ground pool? Let me know! If it’s a saltwater pool, also make sure to read my article on opening a saltwater pool. If you’re in search of a new one, make sure to read my research on above ground pool brands as well.

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