Starting up your pool — whether for the first time or again for the warmer season — is a significant undertaking. Between cleaning and chemicals required for a successful start-up, it’s undoubtedly an involved yet rewarding task for any pool owner. Considering how much effort goes into maintaining a pool’s chemical balance, it’s no surprise that a stagnant pool requires a bit of work to get up and running optimally.
Using the proper chemicals when starting up your pool will ensure your water gets off on the right foot, with only maintenance work needed to keep your water in good health the rest of the season. However, the entire start-up could be a much longer process if things are done wrong from the get-go. What chemicals — and how much of them — you’ll need for a pool start-up will vary.
What Chemicals Are Required for a Swimming Pool Start-Up?
When it comes to the chemicals needed for a swimming pool start-up, the state of your water is of chief importance. Ideally, your pool should be cleaned before filling it back up, as this process will reduce contaminants in your water. For this reason, a full water test is preferable.
An ideal chemical balance for your pool is as follows:
Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
Calcium Hardness: 180-220 ppm
Cyanuric Acid: 30-50 ppm
Chlorine: 1-3 ppm
Starting Up Your Swimming Pool: A Step-By-Step Guide
The pool finish will start to hydrate immediately after mixing, with most hydration taking place within the first 28 days. This critical period is when a finish is most susceptible to staining, scaling, and discoloration. Proper start-up practices, including timely brushing and constant monitoring and adjusting of the pool water, are mandatory. The recommended start-up method is based on techniques shown to produce favorable aesthetic results. Depending on local water conditions and certain environmental factors, elements of these recommended start-up procedures may require modification to protect the pool finish.
Filling the pool with considerably low calcium hardness, low pH, or low total alkalinity levels may necessitate changes to these procedures.
ALWAYS ADD A CHEMICAL TO WATER, NEVER WATER TO A CHEMICAL.
Pool Filling Day
Step 1. Ensure filtration equipment is operational.
Step 2. If appropriate for your geographical area, remove floor return heads and directional eyeballs
Step 3. Based on temperature and finish type, fill the pool to the middle of the skimmer or specified water level without interruption as rapidly as possible with clean potable water to prevent a bowl ring. Place a clean rag on the end of the hose in the deepest area to avoid damage to the surface material. If a water truck is required, 24 inches (60 cm) of water should be placed at the deepest area for a water cushion. Wheeled devices should not be used in the pool until after 28 days.
Step 4. At no time should any person or pets be allowed in the pool during the fill. Do not allow any external sources of water to enter the pool to help prevent streaking. It is recommended that you do not swim in the pool until the water is properly balanced.
Step 5. Test fill water for pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and metals. (Record test results.)
Step 6. Start the filtration system immediately when the pool is full to the middle of the skimmer or specified water level.
1st Day (It’s vital to follow these steps in order – prior to proceeding to the next step)
Step 1. Test pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and metals. Record test results.
Step 2. High alkalinity should be adjusted to 80 ppm1 using pre-diluted Muriatic Acid (31-33% Hydrochloric acid). Always pre-dilute the acid by adding it to a five-gallon (19 L) bucket of pool water.
Step 3. Low alkalinity should be adjusted to 80 ppm1 using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
Step 4. pH should be reduced to 7.2 to 7.6, adding pre-diluted Muriatic Acid if the alkalinity is already 80-100 ppm1.
Step 5. Brush the entire pool surface thoroughly at least twice daily to remove all plaster dust.
Step 6. Although optional, it is highly recommended to pre-dilute and add a quality sequestering agent using the recommended initial start-up dosage and then the recommended maintenance dosage per the sequestering agent’s manufacturer.
Step 7. Operate filtration system continuously for a minimum of 72 hours.
Step 8. DO NOT add chlorine for 48 hours. DO NOT turn on the pool heater until there is no plaster dust in the pool.
2nd Day – Brush the Pool
Step 1. Test pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Repeat all steps of 1st day except for Step 6.
Step 2. When alkalinity is adjusted to 80ppm and the pH to 7.2-7.6, adjust calcium hardness levels to a minimum of 150 ppm. Adjustments requiring over 20 lbs of CaCl2 should be pre-diluted and added in 10 lb increments in the morning and afternoon.
Step 1. Repeat 1st Step of 2nd day.
Step 2. Pre-diluted chlorine may now be added to achieve 1.5 to 3 ppm1. NO SALT SHOULD BE ADDED FOR 28 DAYS.
Step 3. Brush the entire pool surface thoroughly at least twice daily to remove all plaster dust.
4th Day – THROUGH THE 28th DAY
Step 1. Test pH, carbonate alkalinity, and calcium hardness and repeat 1st day Steps 1-5 each day for 14 days to prevent pool surface scaling.
Step 2. On the 7th day, if any plaster dust remains, remove it using a brush pool vacuum.
Step 3. After the 4th day, calcium levels should be adjusted slowly over the 28 day period not to exceed 200 ppm1
Step 4. After the 4th day, adjust cyanuric acid levels to 30-50 ppm1 based on the primary sanitizer of the pool (pre-dissolve2 and add through the skimmer).
Helpful Tips for Starting Up Your Swimming Pool
Refrain from adding tablets to the skimmer. Most filtration systems are equipped with timers; tablets will dissolve in uncirculated water inside the skimmer during the off cycle. When the system turns back on, it will pump the acidic chlorine through the pump, filter, and through the returns, possibly resulting in premature deterioration of the cleaning system, copper sulfate staining, and plaster etching.
Do not use powdered shock containing calcium chloride. Use liquid chlorine when shocking your pool (1-2 gallons in the deepest part of the pool while equipment runs)
Do not let pH bounce (rising over 8.0, correcting with acid, and dropping to 7.2 or lower). This causes etching, staining, calcium scale and nodules, copper sulfate, staining, and other costly problems.
Avoid gas chlorine and algaecide. While effective at controlling algae, these powerful chemicals can harm plaster. Use chlorine tablets, maintaining a 1.5-3.0 ppm and shocking periodically with liquid chlorine.
Contact Coronado’s for Full-Service Pool Solutions
Our specialists are committed to helping all of our customers achieve clean, safe, and beautiful pools. For more information on our pool plaster finishes or renovation services, reach out to our team today!
Source: The National Plasterers Council