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Opening Day

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As the weather warms up, backyards across the region will come back to life. Kids will play outside, lawnmowers will whir and pools will open. Before any Memorial Day party, homeowners with pools have to make sure their aquatic oasis is up and running. The process for opening a pool is not to be taken lightly, and as the experts House & Home spoke with will tell you, hiring a professional to do the work can save you a season's worth of headaches later. Here are some of the top tips from local pool professionals.

When is the best time to open a pool?
"Most people want their pools up and running by Memorial Day, so getting it open by mid-May is best. But depending on the weather changes, that's a good indicator of when [it's safe to open]."
—Chris Argenziano, CEO, The Pool Boss

"As far as opening, homeowners should call companies now to schedule dates. Don't wait until May to call, or else you'll have to wait. The earlier you call, the better."
—Walter Beyer, owner/president, Stardust Pools

What are some of the most important steps in the opening process?
"The first step is to clean off the pool cover before removing it. Next is to turn on the pumps and breakers and let things run for a couple of days to make sure it's all functioning properly. Put in chemicals at the same time and follow up with a water test to figure out the necessary chemicals and adjust as needed."
—Tom Lubrow, owner, Custom Pool Pros

What are the most common mistakes you see homeowners make when opening a pool themselves?
"One of the most common mistakes is not getting all the water and leaves off the pool cover. It can sometimes take two to three people to do, and if not done correctly, that will dump into the pool, turning it into a swamp. It can take weeks to get that clear."
—Walter Beyer

"A lot of [mistakes] are with the water level not being brought up to the skimmer, or sometimes it comes down to the pool not being winterized correctly, which creates issues with plumbing underground. If plumbing is not blown out, water stays in those lines and may cause pipes to crack."
—Chris Argenziano

"From a safety standpoint, one of the biggest mistakes we see is not inspecting bottom drains in pools and spas. Bottom drains should be replaced every seven years or less and it's important to have these firmly secured with the right screws and lids. It's important to do this to avoid any risk of entrapment. Some older pools might not meet new laws regarding drains (separated by three feet), so it's a good idea to have a professional look at the drain and possibly convert if necessary."
—Tom Lubrow

How can hiring a professional help this process go more smoothly?
"A pool company can take an hour to an hour and a half [to open a pool] while a homeowner might take the better part of their whole day. When we go out, it's a team of people, and it's a big time savings for the homeowner. A professional can also evaluate things and make repairs, whether it's discovering you need a new liner or pump. We can look at all the major things so the season goes more smoothly for you."
—George Piper, president/owner, Piper Pools

"It's also a good idea to have a professional inspect the coping around the pool, check the grout or look for loose tiles. Like anything else, pools need some TLC and the sooner you take care of it, the less likely you'll risk needing to do more invasive remodeling. Regular inspection and maintenance is important, and spring is a good time to do this."
— Tom Lubrow

"Calling a professional saves time and ensures it's done right. Not opening a pool properly can cause motor and filter problems."
—Michael Burke, owner, Pool Designs

How much maintenance is needed once the pool is open?
"Water should be tested weekly, which basically looks at the pH or acidity in the water and other factors depending on the environment the pool is in. With rain and environmental factors, the water changes weekly. Not keeping up with it could cause the plaster to be affected prematurely in a negative way. For saltwater pools, you'll want to make sure you have the right amount of salt and activate the cells so that it's not over or underproducing."
—Tom Lubrow

"Homeowners tend to throw chemicals in randomly, and the water may or may not need it. Run the pool for 24 hours and take in a sample to a reputable pool company for testing. Let them tell you what you need. From there, test the water at home a couple times a week and monthly at a pool store to keep the balancing chemicals in shape."
—George Piper

"Always vacuum your pool once a week and backwash the filter once a week to clean it out. After it rains, water can become acidic, so it's a good idea to test it to make sure chemicals are up to par."
—Walter Beyer

Custom Pool Pros
Linden and Freehold, N.J.
(732) 866-8667

Piper Pools
West Berlin, N.J.
(856) 767-3355

Pool Designs
Yardville, N.J.
(855) 439-6911

Stardust Pools
East Brunswick, N.J.
(732) 254-3330

The Pool Boss
Wayne, N.J.
(973) 943-4131

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 16, Issue 10 (April, 2016).
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here.
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