What Do I Need to Start the Season
A question we are often asked at Purewater is what to pick up to start the season? The answer is not quite as simple as you might expect.
Many consumers want to be efficient and get all of their buying out of the way in one trip, understandably. Some will follow a pattern; what did I buy last year, and just do it all again. Simply put this is not what we recommend.
There are a few staples; almost every pool can benefit from a good dose of shock and algaecide to get things started. If you have hard water, or a history of problems with minerals or phosphates in your pool, a sequestering agent and/or clarifier and/or enzyme treatment can predictably go in your cart.
On the maintenance front, you definitely want to start the season, especially if you open your own pool, with the right supplies for cleaning it up. This includes the “tools of the trade”; if your trusty telescopic pole is bent and rusty, make sure you have a new one on hand. You want both a deep leaf rake and a good surface skimmer net. Check the brushes / bristles on your pool vacuum and pool brush to make sure that nothing is worn; many a liner has been shredded by a vacuum that was missing a set of brushes.
You also want to make sure you have a range of products to help clean up the pool; many of these last for years so only buy them if you need more:
- A good pool-safe liner/vinyl cleaner
- A cleaner/preservative for your winter cover and water bags (if you use them)
- A skimmer sock or two; these little disposable screens make a big difference when it comes to spring cleanup.
As for other products, our position has always been to start the year with a water test BEFORE you go on a buying spree. Take stabilizer for instance. All chlorine (including salt) pools benefit from having 40PPM of stabilizer in the water. BUT, depending on where your stabilizer is at to start the season, you may not need to add any.
Many products that are added to pools, including pucks, contain stabilizers. Over the course of the previous pool season, your stabilizer level may have climbed up to, say, 60PPM. For winter you drained about 25% of your water, refilled it with fresh water, and “voila”, you have 45 PPM (which is AOK) to start the new season WITHOUT adding any extra.
Similarly, if you have a salt system, you always want to start off with an accurate test to make sure of how much you need. While most salt pools do need a little top-up in spring, adding too much salt is not good.
We recommend that you get the pool circulating and basically clear before you bring in a sample for a test. The pool may need to run for a day or even the better part of a week to get to this state, and it might need a couple of good vacuumings and a few backwashes. If the water is close to clear when you get your first water test, it make that test more accurate which makes your shopping list more accurate.
For instance, if your pool opens very grimy and needs repeated filter backwashing to get it clear, you may find you had to add water a few times to offset the water loss each time you cleaned the filter. This changes the water chemistry, which changes the quantities of product you need to add/buy.
As a final note, remember to avoid overstocking products that have a finite shelf life. Most chlorines, stabilized and unstabilized, for example, start to degrade once the package is opened. Getting a great deal on a five-year supply of pucks may SEEM like a good idea, but by year 3 those pucks may not be doing what you wanted them to do anymore!
So be a little patient; all pool stores love to see big orders in spring, but in the long run, taking a patient approach to getting your supplies laid in for the season is usually worthwhile.