9 Easy Steps to Open an Above Ground Pool

After a long, cold winter, opening your pool can seem like a daunting task. Pool covers can attract some serious debris and dirt, and it can seem like the pool will never be clean.

But don’t fret. If you follow this list of simple instructions, you’ll have your pool open, clean, and ready for fun in no time.

Now let's dive in and learn how to open an above ground pool for the summer. 

how to open an above ground pool

1. Clean and Drain Your Winter Cover

Cleaning and draining the winter cover is the part of the opening process that everyone likes least. Usually, you’ll encounter a buildup of water, and winter leaves and debris on the top.

To make sure that all of that dirt doesn’t get dumped into your pool, it is important that you clean and drain the pool cover properly before beginning.

To get started, you’ll need a sump pump, or pool cover pump, that you can use to remove excess water from the top. To get rid of the soggy debris, you’ll need a brush, skimmer net, or other gentle tool to scoop off and remove.

Be sure to not use any sharp implements that might damage or create holes in your pool cover – you’ll want it in good shape for next year.

Make sure to take your time with this part of the process, allowing the pump to do its work, and really taking the time to clear as much debris and dirt as possible.

Though it can be a slow and frustrating process, remember that any dirt you miss in your pool cover is going right into the water you’ll be cleaning next.

2. Remove Your Pool Cover From the Pool

Once you’ve cleaned your pool cover as much as possible, carefully remove it from the pool. To be sure you don’t dump what remains into the water, you might want to get some help with this step.

No matter how careful you are, it is likely that some of the winter scum is going to end up in the pool, but try not to worry – you’ll get to that later.

Once the cover is off the pool, be sure to spend some time to carefully clean, dry, and store it.

You’ll be happy to have a clean, easy to manage cover when it comes time to close your pool in the fall, and good maintenance means it will last through more winters.

Some people opt to store their covers in plastic containers, or weight them down through the summer.

Whatever your choice, be careful to store it away from sharp equipment, and remember that mice love to use pool covers to make nests.

3. Remove Winter Plugs and Install Summer Fittings

Before setting up any of your equipment, you’ll need to remove all of your winter plugs, and winterizing equipment from the pool.

Go around and find any openings for your filter, heater, or skimmer, and remove the winter attachments that have been sealing them throughout the winter.

Once this process has been completed, go through and re-install all of your summer fittings, including your skimmer baskets, eye-ball fittings, and fittings to re-install your equipment.

Be sure to carefully store these parts for the following winter.

4. Fill Your Pool to the Desired Level

You’ll need to refill your pool to the desired level at this step. If you’ve had a lot of rain, or if your pool simply was not completely drained for the winter, you can skip this step.

Simply be sure the pool is at your desired water level.

5. Set up Your Summer Equipment

While your pool fills, you’ll need to begin setting up your summer equipment. First, set up your pump and filter, replacing drain plugs, gauges, and other additions to reinstate your summer set-up.

Take a quick look for any damage or issue from the winter. Once your pump and filter are in place, you can begin setting up your system.

Make sure your hoses connect your pump, filter, chlorinator, and any extra equipment you may have added, ensuring good connections and that everything fits correctly.

Once the setup is complete, attach a hose to your return inlet.

Make sure your equipment is on the correct setting, and that all valves are correctly open and ready to work.

Finally, you’ll need to add key pieces like your thermometer and ladder to complete your set-up.

6. Test and Start up your Pump and Filter

Once everything is in place, you can run a test to be sure the system is working. It is important for above-ground pumps that the system be primed before starting.

Starting a pump dry can cause it to short out, and shortens the life of the pump if it doesn’t.

Be sure to add a basket of water to your pump before turning it on.

Make sure everything is on, and run through the whole system to be sure there are no leaks, that pressure looks good, and that water is coming through your inlet as expected.

7. Clean Out Your Pool

​Even with your winter cover in place, your pool and water will likely need a good cleaning.

Be sure to brush the pool walls to remove any debris, scrub the floors, and vacuum the pool until no dirt or buildup remains.

If your water is slightly cloudy but free of debris, it may be cleared up in the next step.

​8. Shock and Balance Your Pool

​To be sure the water is safe and clean for the start of summer, you’ll need to be sure it is balanced and shocked.

To get started, take a sample of water to your local pool retailer, or get yourself a home-test kit.

The results will tell you what chemicals you need in addition to your start-up shock.

Once you’ve balanced your pool, you’ll need to shock it with chlorine to remove any harmful bacteria. 

Use 2 pounds of shock for every 10,000 gallons of pool water to be cleaned to be sure your water is sparkling and safe (or closely follow the directions on your brand of shock).

It is best to use this chemical in the evening or at night, so the sun does not burn it off and minimize its effects. 

Click here if you want to see an easy method on how to shock an above ground pool

​9. Give it a Day

​It is very important that you let your pool run, circulate, and dissipate chemicals for a full 24 hours after completing the opening process.

This allows the shock chemicals to do their job, and for the levels of chlorine to lower in the water.

Importantly, it also allows you time to be sure all of your pool equipment is functioning well before the season begins.

Check Out this Video on How to Open an Above Ground Pool​

Wikihow created a nice visual representation of how to open a pool that you may also find helpful. 

Even if you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of opening your above-ground pool, remember that following these steps will get you through, and ensure your pool is sparkling and ready for when the warm weather arrives.

Check out our article on how to close your above ground pool for winter so you are ready when the time comes for that as well. 

We hope this article has been helpful and informative, please leave a comment below to let us know. 




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