Ask Angi: How should I prep my pool for summer?

Paul F. P. Pogue
Tribune News Service

As summer dawns, your pool's sparkling waters no doubt beckon. But before you dive in, it's important to awaken your pool from its winter slumber with a few small preparations. You can handle many of these tasks yourself, but a professional pool maintenance company can take care of the job quickly and efficiently. You'll pay around $300 for a one-time opening and about $125 for regular maintenance visits. Pool upkeep costs may seem high, but it's a vital part of protecting your investment and your family's safety. A professional's expertise is well worth the money.

Here's a rundown of what you can expect from your pro and how you can help keep your pool pristine all summer long:

Staying cool in your pool all summer will be a breeze, provided you give it the proper maintenance.

One-time opening

When a pro opens your pool for the summer, they'll brush the walls, remove debris from your cover, check the filter system, fill the pool with water, activate the system, and test your water to ensure it's balanced in keeping with your manufacturer's instructions.

You can hire a pro to return every week or every other week to keep the pool in top condition. They'll vacuum, brush, and skim the pool, as well as check the levels of various elements in your water and keep them in balance. They'll also replace dirty filter cartridges.

Testing your water

It’s a breeze to keep your pool clean yourself by completing these regular tasks:

— Check the skimmer basket

— Skim the surface

— Scrub and vacuum debris

— Test water weekly with a home test kit

— Regularly add pool shock in keeping with your manufacturer's recommendations

Your pool's safety depends on a careful balance of elements. For example, chlorine prevents bacteria from spreading in the water, but too much can cause skin rashes and respiratory problems.

Check these levels weekly and add elements as needed:

— pH: 7.2–7.6

— Alkalinity: 80–150 ppm

— Calcium hardness: 175–275 ppm

— Chlorine: 1–3 ppm

Keep on top of potential problems

In addition to regular cleaning, keep an eye on your pool's physical components. If your pump, heater, and thermostat seem to have problems, contact your pro for assistance. Your pool's water level will drop due to evaporation over time, but if you lose more than a quarter-inch of water per day, your pool may be leaking and require professional attention. Your pump should have an automatic suction cut-off device, which will shut down pressure if something blocks the drain.

A pool cover plays a significant role in keeping your pool in good condition by keeping out debris and preventing water loss and evaporation. Be sure to get one that meets standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials Specifications.

A fence at least 4 feet high should surround the pool. Make sure gates open away from the pool and are self-closing and self-latching. Store all pool materials in a locked location. Lastly, of course, never leave children unsupervised near the pool.

Tweet your home care questions with #AskingAngi and we’ll try to answer them in a future column.