How to get pool season started
Three young women in a swimming pool

Here in Canada, where the outdoor swimming season is tantalizingly short, making the most of your pool means being ready to take a dip as soon as the weather allows. Here are a few tips to help in-ground pool owners get a jump on the season, and keep kids and pets safe all summer long.

Before you start

Like every complicated thing in your life from your car to your taxes, it’s advisable to have a basic understanding of how your pool works and the regular maintenance it requires. Now’s the time to study all of the manuals and instructions that came with your pool and pool equipment, and familiarize yourself with the recommended best practices for your specific setup. While most pools require similar maintenance, each one is slightly different and there’s no substitute for understanding its specific requirements before going any further.

Like fixing your car and filing your tax return, however, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Maintaining a pool can be labour intensive, and if you don’t have the time or the inclination to do the job yourself, you should look into hiring a pool maintenance company to step in. 

Start early

Aim to open your pool as soon as the outside temperature hits 15 degrees Celsius or so. It may not feel like swimming weather yet, but since the opening process can take a few days, getting an early start will ensure you’re ready. If you’re doing the job yourself, make sure you have all of the necessary equipment to get the job done, including a pool brush, algicide, a deep leaf skimmer, a garden hose, shock chemicals, skimmer socks, a replacement pressure gauge, and replacement filter cartridges.

Clean up

Remove the leaves and debris from your pool cover and give the pool cover a gentle scrub with your pool brush and some algae remover. If there’s a lot of water on the cover, use a portable pump to remove it. Then it’s time to remove the cover itself (which is much easier with two people) and store it in a mesh bag or a lidded plastic container for the season. If the water is green, don’t panic! Algae growth over the winter is common. Start by removing any large debris with the deep leaf skimmer and giving the bottom, sides and corners of the pool a thorough scrub with your pool brush to remove algae growth. Repeat as needed. 


Your pool has several essential parts that need to be in good working order, from the pool liner to the pumps to the filters. If your water level looks abnormally low, this may indicate a leak which will need to be fixed before you can move forward. Other seasonal maintenance tasks might include lubricating the o-ring in the pump cover, replacing the pressure gauge and replacing filter cartridges.


When adding “shock” chemicals to kill bacteria and algae, be sure to add the correct amount for the size of your pool, and never pour chemicals directly into the pool. Instead, mix them into a large bucket half-full of water, then distribute the mixture around the edges of the pool. It’s also important to do this at night or on an overcast day to keep the chemicals from evaporating in the sunshine. Always wear gloves, eye protectors and protective clothing when handling pool chemicals.


Once your pump is running and your shock chemicals are in, check your pool regularly over the next few days, removing any leaves and algae clumps that you see. During this process, it’s also important to keep your skimmer basket clean, replace the filter sock (if you use one) as needed, and brush the bottom of the pool to keep debris or chemicals from settling.

Safety check 

Anyone with kids or pets should take extra care to make sure the pool area is safe at the start of each season. This means checking that the fence and latched gate are in good working order if you have them (and installing them if you don’t). Other best practices include ensuring the pool deck is free of tripping hazards, equipment and chemicals are stored safely out of reach, and making sure you’re up to date on first aid and CPR.

Jeremy Freed is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. His writing about fashion, travel, food and design appears in Sharp, Harry and re:Porter magazines, among many others.

Jeremy Freed is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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