Open a Pool – Starting the System

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 43,715
    Pool Installation expert Jonathan Broga demonstrates how to start a pool system.

    Jonathan Broga: Hi, I am Jonathan Broga with Potomac Pool Service. Today, I am showing you how to open your pool for the season. Right now, we are going to start the system. It's ready to go with plugs in it. The plugs are out of the pool. It's time to fill-up the pump, adjust the valves accordingly, get it started.

    There are two considerations when you're getting ready to prime your system and actually pressurize it. One is you're going to be sucking in dirty water that's been sitting in the bottom of your pipes or in the bottom of your pool all winter and it'll be nice not to put that right into your fresh filter that was backwash last winter.

    The second thing, or not even to return it to the pool either, we'd like to get rid of it. So we're going to adjust this valve accordingly. With this multi-port valve, we're going to adjust it to Waste. With the system set to Waste, we'll suck the dirty, wormy water out of the bottom of your main drain and blow it right out the backwash line without going into your filter and without going back to the pool you're hoping to swim in.

    Before you turn a pool system on, you will always want to know where the water is actually going. In our case, we're sending it to Waste. However, your system may not have that or once we're done with Waste, we're going to actually filter the water and return it to the pool. In that case, you absolutely have to understand where the water is going and give it a place to go.

    Your valves on the return side of your system may be, in fact, closed from winterization, which means the water would have nowhere to go and it would find a way out. So you need to check your return side valves and make sure they are open. I'd open them all. Make sure they are as least resistant as possible going back to the system when you first started.

    This pool has valves with actuators on them, that require electricity to turn. So I am going to turn the breakers on to our system, so that I can move this valve. If you are turning the power onto your system at this point for a similar need, make sure you understand what you are turning on. Don't turn on anything that you are not ready for live electricity be flowing through.

    Now we're going to prime the system. This system will not run on air, it needs water to get started. So we're going to fill the hair and lint strainer basket. Additionally, this system is a couple of feet above the pool water level, which means it's going to be hard for the system to catch prime and we'll probably have to try a few times. You will start by filling up the hair and lint strainer basket with water.

    In this case, I have arranged the valves in such a way that the water doesn't simply flow back downhill to the pool. I am going to trap this pipe full of water, start the system, open the valves. I am going to have to repeat that process several times most likely to get this system running.

    In this case, we are in luck. It primed on the first try from the spa main drain. It's pulling water out of the bottom of the spa, running it through a multi-port and out our waste pipe. This system is now running. Once we have the water running up through the spa pipe and we know that pipe is primed, we can open the main drain pipe. Air will initially come out of that pipe, but eventually the pump should prime itself again filling this pipe with water. Then we'll repeat the process for the deep skimmer and the shallow skimmer, until the whole section inside of the system has been primed with water.

    If you ever lose prime by opening a valve and allowing air into the system, the easiest thing to do is go back to the last known workable configuration, close the valve you have just opened, allow the system to catch prime again, as it's doing now and try that valve again.

    Open it a bit slower the next attempt, so that it doesn't get one big large pocket of air all at once. In this case, I have opened, closed, open, close. I will keep working the system until I purge the air. Now we have our two main drains running purely on water. We're going to try and prime the skimmers, same back and forth type of battle, until all the air is out.

    Now that the system has been primed running to Waste, we can turn it off, switch the valve to Filter. Meaning, we are actually going to direct the water through the filter now. When doing that, read the warning labels on your filter. Make sure that your pressure release valve is open. We want this pressurized air to flow out of the system. This lid can pop-off of the filter with tremendous force. Don't have your head over it, while you are starting the system up. Keep your air valves open.

    Final thought when moving valves and priming the system. Whenever you are going to change your valve of any sort, its generally a good rule to turn off your pump. If you have any questions about what valve you are turning or why you are turning it, always turn off your pump first, then make the adjustments. Finally, before you turn it back on, confirm that your water has a place to go.

    So that's what it takes to get a system up and running. Next, we're going to clean the water.