The weather is finally warming up and the rain is gratefully abating. You know what that means—pool time! If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, you’ll have to put in some elbow grease to get it ready for the summer. Of course, you can hire a pool service to do the work for you, but where’s the fun in that? You can save some money and up your weekend-warrior street cred by doing it yourself.

Here are the steps you should take to give your pool an opening tune-up so you can start enjoying it as soon as possible:

Step 1: Clear the area
Before you start work on the pool itself, get rid of any leaves and debris surrounding the pool. This stuff can easily get into the pool while you are opening it up and make your job more difficult. If your trees and bushes have become overgrown, give them a trim.

Step 2: Clear off your cover
Over the winter and early spring months, your cover has probably become pretty grimy. Leaves, debris and water usually combine into quite a murky mess. Before you can remove the cover, you have to get rid of the mess. If it’s still wet, use a submersible pump (you can rent one if you don’t own one) to remove the water. Then, sweep away the remaining debris. Give the cover a quick rinse with a hose.

Step 3: Uncover the pool
How you remove the cover depends on the type of cover you have. Follow the manufacturer instructions on the removal procedure. Try to avoid getting any debris and dirty water into the pool while you remove the cover. A little bit is inevitable and you’ll have to clean it later, however.

Step 4: Clean the pool cover
With the cover off the pool, stretch it out in the yard or driveway and give it a good cleaning. Use the manufacturer recommended cleaner to remove bacteria and mildew. Let it dry completely before fan-folding or rolling for storage. Store the cover away from pests and moisture to keep it in good shape for next winter.

Step 5: Give the pool a once over
Check the pool for any damage that might have occurred while closed, like cracks in the lining or damage to the filter or pump. Also, remove water from any water tubes you have.

Step 6: Re-attach equipment
Clean ladders, rails, slides and diving boards before you reinstall them. Make sure you tighten all the bolts well. Spray bolts with a metal lubricant to prevent them from rusting and make removal easier when the season ends. Hook up the pump, filter, heater (if you have one) and any other equipment you have.

Step 7: Clean and fill the pool
Fill up the pool to the waterline and start cleaning out any debris that made it into the pool. Brush and vacuum the walls and floor to clean off algae and skim out leaves and other debris.

Step 8: Power up the pool
Turn on the circuit breaker to the pool and switch on the power. Look for leaks and cracks in the system. Check grounding wires and straps, and check the priming action on the pump. Backwash the filter well. If you find any problems with the circulation system, contact a pool service technician for repairs.

Step 9: Prepare the water
Let the pool filter run for about a day so the new and old water can mix. Then test the water with a pool test kit. You’ll need to shock the pool with a chlorine shock product to bring the chlorine up to 3.0 ppm. If the test kit indicates the need for other chemicals, add them. Let the filter run for at least another 24 for hours and retest the water. Once the chlorine level is under 2.0 ppm, it’s safe to dive in!

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