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Proper pool maintenance, which provides swimmers with healthy, clear water, requires a modest investment of time. Improper maintenance requires perhaps more time, if you count the long moments you will spend fretting over green water or worrying about swimmers who complain of stinging eyes and itchy skin.
Pool upkeep is not a mysterious or difficult proposition. Once a basic understanding of the process is achieved, you, the pool owner, take control of the situation to prevent problems before they happen or correct those that do occur. The following questions and answers will take you through the basic steps to understanding your pool.
What do I need to do to open my pool in the spring?
When the weather starts getting warm enough, begin by removing the pool cover. Hose off the cover thoroughly and lay it out to dry before storing it. Next, reconnect the pump and filter, checking that any winter plugs are removed from the pool's inlet and outlet and that the filter equipment is complete, with skimmer baskets, etc. Add water to the pool to bring the level up to the proper height, usually to the middle of the skimmer opening. Then take a slow and thoughtful walk around the pool, checking the pool and accessories (such as the ladder and deck) for damaged or loose parts and any other problems that may have cropped up. Now you're ready to shock the pool.
Shock the pool? What is that, and how and when is it done?
Shocking, or super-chlorination is simply the addition of extra chlorine -- three to five times the normal dose -- to kill off the small percentage of pool contaminants that survive routine chlorination. Shocking is also used to counteract a buildup of contaminants when the chlorine has been reduced, as over winter or following heavy use. Swimming must not be allowed until the chlorine level returns to normal (between 1.0 and 2.0 parts per million). Super-chlorination can be done at any time, but is best done after sundown, to avoid sunlight, which will more quickly dissipate the chlorine.