How 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.

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.

Contemplating on opening an above the ground pool by yourself for the first time? If you decide on that, then start gearing up with your pool supplies and follow the simple steps on how to open an above the ground pool.

In no time, you’ll realize that your pool has been opened just like a pro would.

Opening your pool for the first time may seem a taxing job. But it could be a lot easier than you think if you familiarize yourself with the process.

Just be patient and enjoy doing the task. You have to keep the following pool supplies and equipment handy to facilitate a systematic way how to open an above the ground pool. Here is the list:

Start-up chemicals:

  • Pool algaecide

  • pH plus and pH minus

  •  Pool shock

  • Chlorine

  • Chlorine Stabilizer

If you’re ready, then let’s get started!

#Step 1: Clear off water and debris from the pool cover surface.

How to open an above the ground pool? Using a pool cover pump, remove any accumulated water on top of the pool. Likewise, use a soft broom or a skimmer net to get rid of leaves, twigs, and other debris that may be on the pool cover.

#Step 2: Take off your pool cover

Be extra careful in removing the pool cover to avoid introducing to the pool any water or debris left on the cover surface.

Immediately wash and clean with a cover cleaner (like this) and let it dry to extend the pool cover’s service life. To prevent any damage from critters and the like during the season, store your pool cover in an airtight container.

NoteYou will probably need a hand (a friend or anyone could do!) in taking off your pool cover.


#Step 3: Pull winter plugs and accessories out

Find and pull out the winter plugs from your skimmer and wall returns. Make sure that you remove the ice compensator if your skimmer bucket has one. Put back baskets in the skimmer and eyeball jets in the return lines where the plugs were pulled out.

Note: Direct your eyeball jets towards the bottom of the pool for proper water circulation.

#Step 4: Top up your pool water

Pool water normally drops during the winter pool closing so you may have to fill your pool back to its normal level.

#Step 5: Reinstall pool ladder

Ensure that the ladder is clean and in good condition before securing it properly to the pool.

#Step 6: Prep your filter system

Ensure that the drain plugs, gauges, and other accessories are placed back in your filter system before connecting it to the pool.

You can start by connecting your drain hose from the skimmer bottom to your pump. Then connect the hose from the top of your pump to the filter port marked “pump”.

Finally, connect your return hose from the filter return port to your chlorinator or heater (if you have any) or to the pool return inlet.

Note: You can treat O-rings, threaded plugs, caps, and the pump lid with a Teflon- based lubricant to improve the seal and prevent them from drying out.

#Step 7: Power your filter system up

Before turning your filter system on, you may need to prime the pump to clear the system from all the air in it to keep it from running dry.

Ensure that your multi-valve port is in the “Filter” position. Turn your filter system on. Check the system, skimmer, and other hose connections for leaks and fix as needed.

Note: Check out your pressure gauge, if the reading is 10 psi higher than the normal operating pressure, then you need to backwash your filter.

#Step 8: Clear your pool from any debris

Skim your pool surface, vacuum floor, and brush pool walls to make it debris-free before you add your chemicals. Less debris means less chemicals needed to add to your pool.

#Step 9: Add sanitizers to your pool

Shock your pool and add algaecide. After the chlorine is allowed to decrease from the pool shock, test chlorine to ensure that it is in the safe range (1-3ppm), then add a chlorine stabilizer.

#Step 10: Test and balance your pool water

Test your Pool Water


Check the alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness of your water using your pool test kit. Make sure that the indicators are at their proper levels.

  • If alkalinity is below or above their ideal range (80-120ppm), adjust accordingly. Add alkalinity increaser or alkalinity decreaser to your water.
  • If pH is below or above the ideal range (7.2- 7.6) you can add a pH increaser or pH decreaser, respectively.
  • For calcium hardness, add calcium chloride if reading is below the proper level range of 180-220 ppm.

Note: In adding chemicals to your pool, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations on how to add and how many chemicals to add to your pool. Take precautionary measures in handling the chemicals.

#Step 11: Retest your water

After at least 24 hours of running your pool, test your pool vater. Adjust chemical levels as needed.

If everything is balanced and you have a clear pool, congratulations, you have finally opened your above ground pool. Your hard work paid off and it’s time to reap your reward- enjoy swimming!

May you find this article on how to open an above ground pool for the first time helpful. Let us know about your experience in opening your above ground pool.