Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Opening the Pool

By Mark J. Donovan

Yesterday I spent much of the day opening our pool for the summer. As usual I was filled with in trepidation as I began pulling back the cover. Opening the pool never goes smoothly.

There is first the process of removing the cover. Inevitably it is filled with water with decaying leaves. No matter how much you skim the cover first, you still wind up dumping dirty water and other organic matter into your pristine pool water that sits below the cover.

Next comes the installation of the water filter and its associated chemical delivery contraptions. There are a myriad of hoses that connect to these pieces and to the pool itself. Without fail, there is always something on this hulk of plastic and hoses that either breaks when you tighten it or springs a leak when you turn the pump on. To lower the risk of leaks, I normally buy a new set of hoses annually. However something else usually breaks. I am convinced pool manufacturers use the lowest quality plastics possible. One season in the sun and they become brittle and crack. Its as if the pieces are human, and burn like our skin.

Once the filter and hoses are hooked up its then time to remove the rubber seal that is covering the drain trap. This can be a challenge. Sometimes you drop a screw into the pool or you wind up loosing 100 gallons of water in the process. I’ve learned over the years to remove just two or 3 screws at a time when removing this rubber seal. You minimize water loss and you have fewer screws to fumble around with in your hands.

After removing the rubber seal on the drain trap, all that’s left to enable you to turn on the motor is to remove the plug on the output vent. This usually takes a towel and a little praying and cajoling to get it off.

With all the hardware connected it’s now time to start the chemicals. Again, I like to plan ahead and get them well in advance. Unfortunately, I always still find myself short of some chemical or a PH tester, or in this year’s case water. Yes, there was water high enough in the pool that it flowed into the drain, however this year it was apparently insufficient, or so I initially thought. The jet pressure was low and I could not seem to build it up. After multiple tries I finally discovered that as usual, there was a crack/leak in the system. This year it was the 2-year-old chlorine delivery contraption. There were multiple pinhole leaks that sprayed out a fine mist of water when the motor was running.

So today I am off finding a new chlorine filter. With a little luck, by this evening my pool will be operational and I will be reflecting whether or not it’s all worth it. Right now my opinion is, its not. However when the hot, sultry days of August hit, I’ll probably be changing my tune once again.