While it may not be swimming weather yet, the season of sunscreen and pool chairs is rapidly approaching. With a forecast of ‘90 and sunny’ undoubtedly on the horizon, pool owners need to take this last spell of cool weather to prepare their backyard oasis.

Wayne George, VP of Westport Pools, says it’s time to get started. “Today is the day to schedule your pool opening with your pool company,” he says. “Companies you want to work with are going to book up quickly, especially in May.” George isn’t alone in thinking pool owners should be setting up appointments now. “Probably 75 percent of our customers are signed up and on our schedule,” explains Andrew Grapperhaus, service manager at Baker Pool & Spa. “Don’t wait until it’s hot to open your pool.”

The rational behind this sooner-the-better attitude isn’t just due to scheduling. “There’s very few times when you get the cover off and there isn’t something that needs to be done,” warns George. According to John Jacobsen, president of Liquid Assets, some common issues include sand inside the pool; decreasing water level; pump, pipe or tank drips; sinking bricks or flooring near the skimmers or return jets outside of the pool; and a noisy or overheating pump. “They’re all things that most homeowners can’t do,” says Jacobsen of the problems. “They really need to know the plumbing of the pool.”

Even if the pool itself is fine, the water might not be. Grapperhaus says pool owners should not expect to swim in a pool opened during the early spring for at least seven days after its opening—and that number can double if the pool is opened later in the season. He explains that the longer it has been closed, the cloudier that water can be. Normally, this will be taken care of within a week of the water flushing through the pumps; however, if the pool is opened later and has been stewing in warmer temperatures, this may take up to two weeks.

To save time and money, these experts recommend pool owners complete a few tasks. First, George advises finding all of your pool tools and equipment, such as the ladders and fittings. Spending on-the-clock minutes searching for items after the professionals arrive wastes time and money. Owners also can slip a garden hose into the pool underneath the cover and fill the pool to capacity, plus remove all water and debris from the top of the pool cover, to cut back on the amount of time the professionals need to stay at the house.

“Right now, you want to check the water chemistry,” says Grapperhaus of the pH and alkalinity balance. “Even throughout the winter, it is important to keep both of those in range to avoid any damage to the pool.” He notes that many companies offer monthly winter pool maintenance to keep the unit secure during the off-season. Two weeks before opening the pool, Grapperhaus recommends owners super-chlorinate and use an algaecide, as this also will speed up the opening process.

Tips for pool owners…

•Set up your appointment with your pool company now.

•Complete simple tasks, such as removing debris, filling the pool and finding the tools, before the professionals arrive.

•Be prepared for your pool to need both work and time, and plan parties and events accordingly.

•Super-chlorinate your pool and use an algaecide two weeks prior to opening.

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