How To Open An Inground Pool (In 14 Easy Steps)


Pool season is here, which can only mean one thing:

It’s time to open up your pool for the summer!

In this detailed, step-by-step guide, you’ll learn exactly HOW to open an inground pool …

In 14 steps.

You could hire someone to do it for you, but why waste the money when you can do your pool opening yourself?

Trust me: it’s not as hard as you think.

Tools & gear you’ll need

To get going, you’ll need the following tools:

  • 1Pool cover pump
  • 2Pool brush
  • 3Pool net
  • 4Pool cover cleaner
  • 5Pool shock
  • 6Algaecide
  • 7Chemical testing kit

Once you get all your gear together, it’s time to get started!

14 steps for opening your inground pool

1. Remove leaves & water from your pool cover (or safety cover)

Wayne 57729-WYNP WAPC250 Pool Cover Pump, Blue
  • Pool Cover Maintenance - The WAYNE 1/4 HP Reinforced Thermoplastic Pool Cover Pump is a great addition to your pool maintenance. WAYNE model WAPC250 has iSwitch technology, which activates the pump once the water level is at, or above 2 1/8”. Auto Off deactivates the pump when water is at or below 3/4"
  • Automatic Pumping - Water level must be at least 2-1/8” for the pump to turn on, prime, and operate. Water levels less than 2-1/8” won’t activate the iSwitch to start the pump, so manual activation will be needed

Over the winter, leaves, rainwater and debris tend to collect and weigh your pool cover down, making it impossible to remove on your own.

Hopefully, you’ve been using an automatic pool cover pump all winter and this isn’t an issue for you. But in case you haven’t, it’s time to get it out now. 

You can use any type of pool cover pump you like, but go ahead and plug it in and let it get your cover as dry as possible.

This will make it easier for you to remove it and will also keep the debris and dirty water from getting dumped in your pool.

Otherwise, you can use a simple leaf net to scoop up the debris.

Once it’s as dry as you can get it, use your pool brush to sweep off any leaves and debris left on top.

Another way to do this is with a leaf blower. (P.S. It’s also a lot more fun.)

2. Remove your winter cover

Gently remove the pool cover from the top of the pool by folding it over in sections until it’s completely folded at the end of the pool.

It’s much easier to do this with a friend than to try doing it alone—you can each stand on opposite sides of the pool and fold the sections evenly.

Be careful when removing the cover not to let any debris slip off and fall into the pool. This will shorten your cleaning tasks afterwards!

3. Clean & stow away your pool cover

Lay your cover out flat on a soft surface away from your pool, like your lawn.

You can then simply spray your cover off with a garden hose and brush away loose debris, but there are also some great inexpensive cleaners on the market that make it easier and get it cleaner.

If you use a cleaner, you will simply connect the bottle to your water hose, spray it on and let it work.

Once it’s dry, you can safely store it away in a sealed container.

4. Fill up your pool

Even if you didn’t drain your pool before winter, it will have lost a little water due to evaporation.

ReadHow to drain an above ground pool

Evaporation is minimized with a cover, but it still happens, so the next thing you’ll want to do is fill your pool to the appropriate water levels. 

5. Remove winter plugs & re-install skimmer baskets

Make sure you’ve removed all your winter drain plugs from around the pool if you installed them.

Next, re-install all the skimmer baskets and return jet fittings. 

6. Re-attach deck equipment

Gather up all your pool equipment such as diving boards, ladders and rails and re-attach them in their appropriate spots.

Also make sure to lube all the bolts before attaching to prevent rust.

7. Set up your filter & pump

Hook up your filter, pool pump and any other equipment you might use, such as heaters or booster pumps.

8. Power-on your filter & pump

Reinstall your drain plugs and use a pool gasket lubricant on any O-rings to protect them. 

Power up and make sure your system seems to be working right. Check for leaks or loosely attached fittings.

Make sure all wires are grounded properly and the pump is pulling water. 

9. Backwash your filter

If you have a sand or DE filter, it’s a good idea to go ahead and backwash your filter.

Also add extra DE to your DE filters to get them off to a fresh start.

10. Clean the pool

Clean out any debris that might be floating around with a pool net.

Once you’ve removed as much debris as possible, get out your brush and scrub the pool surface. 

11. Shock the pool

DryTec 1-1901-24 Calcium Hypochlorite Pool Shock, 1-Pound, 24-Pack
  • One bag of this product per 10,000 gallons of water
  • Adjust and maintain pH at 7.2-7.6

Shock the pool with a chlorine shock product.

You’ll want to add enough shock to raise the chlorine level to 3.0 ppm or higher, usually an entire bag of granulated or a whole bottle of liquid.

But this depends on the size of the product and if it contains more than one treatment.

12. Test your pool chemistry

Using your test kit, test your water chemistry, including alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness and chlorine levels.

Adjust these levels with the appropriate methods. Alternatively, you could also purchase a start-up chemical kit which would include all the chemicals you need.

Another option here is to head to your local pool supply store and have your water samples tested there.

13. Add algaecide

Kem-Tek KTK-50-0006 Pool and Spa 60-Percent Concentrated Algaecide, 1 Quart
  • Safe with all pool and filter types
  • Helps clarify pool water

Purchase a good quality algaecide and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Pool Algae

14. Finish up

Lastly, let your pool’s pumps run for 24 hours and use a pool vacuum to vacuum up any loose debris that may have sunk to the bottom of the pool during the cleaning process. Test your pool chemicals again and balance if needed

Don’t let anyone swim until your chlorine level is below 2.0 ppm.

If the pool is crystal clear, you’re ready to dive in!

Troubleshooting common issues

If you’re still experiencing some problems with your pool after opening it, you’ll want to address them as soon as possible to save you time and money in the long run.

Is your pool losing water?

This is a fairly common problem pool owners have and there could be several reasons:

  • Line leaks. When the pool is consistently draining to the bottom of the skimmer, this is most likely your problem. If it’s draining to the bottom of the return jets, it could be a return line leak. Both of these situations require a professional to fix.
  • Light leaks. If the pool water seems to be draining down to the lights, the light fittings or conduit pipes will probably need to be repaired.
  • Lining leaks. If these don’t seem to be the culprits, you probably have a leak somewhere in your liner. Commonly these occur around the ladders or step gaskets. 
  • Floor leaks. If the pool water is draining very rapidly, you could have a pool floor leak which can be quite serious. Don’t hesitate to call a professional in these cases as it could be detrimental to your pool.

You can check out our smart guide to pool leak repairs to learn more.

Is your filter working properly?

  • DE or sand filter cracks. If you are finding DE or sand in the pool or near the filters, there could be a damaged part in one of the filters. Take them apart and check for cracks.
  • Dirty filters. If your sand or DE filters don’t seem to have proper pressure (check the pressure gauge for this) and are not adequately filtering the water, they probably need to be cleaned. Backwash them and add DE or sand as needed. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, the filters may need to be acid washed or serviced by a professional.

Is your filter or pump leaking?

If you notice the filter tank dripping, try tightening the fittings.

If this doesn’t work, examine it carefully. You may be able to clearly see holes in your filter.

If this is the case, the situation can probably be resolved by replacing the filter.

Bottom line

Don’t be intimidated by the process of opening up your pool for the summer.

It might take a little time if you’re not used to doing it yourself, but it’s certainly worth it in the long run if it saves you hundreds of dollars in pool professional fees.

Just be sure to stay on top of any problems and properly winterize it at the end of the year.

Using these methods will ensure that your family gets to enjoy the pool for many years to come!

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