How to Open Above Ground Pool


Active member
Jun 20, 2016
Manchester, CT
I've owned an above ground for nearly 30 years and every spring I absolutely dread opening the pool. It's a smelly awful mess and takes a full weekend. We start on Saturday, getting as many leaves as possible off the cover. Then we untie it and start start to pull the cover to one side. It forms a bag of water and remaining leaves, which together must weigh a ton. There's no way to hoist that bag over the side. So then we drop a small sump pump in the bag, and every couple hours pull it out to clean it because it gets clogged with leaves. We continue until the bag is small enough that we can manhandle it over the side, which is usually the next day. We end up with lots of stuff in the pool, so it takes another week or two of vacuuming and running the filter before the water is clear. And obviously nobody is happy.

So is there a secret trick? Or does everyone go through this?


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
What is this thing called "opening"? We don't do that in Southern California. ?

People here have reported some success blowing the surface crud and stagnant water off the cover with a leaf blower. A shop vacuum hooked up to the exhaust works, too.


New member
May 27, 2018
York, PA
Sounds exactly like what I’ve done, ie trying to “hoist the bag!” This year I spent more time cleaning leaves and pumping excess water off in the weekends leading up to opening. (I also kept tightening the cover, so that pool water wouldn’t leach up through it.) That led to a cleaner, drier cover than in previous years, and I removed the cover by myself. Granted, it still took a lot of effort, but I pecked at the problem slowly and was less frustrated than in previous years.


Bronze Supporter
May 29, 2016
Richmond, VA
You can put this manual contraption on top of your winter cover. Blue Wave Drain for Winter Pool Cover very inexpensive ($15) and worth while IMO. I leave it on all winter and use it several times a season removing most of the water and scooping out pine needles. While it might be too frozen to do that throughout your winter you can certainly do it in the spring. Put it in a week or so before you want to open and the water will slowly but surely get syphoned off. Happy swimming this season!


Well-known member
Sep 18, 2012
IL, NW of Chicago
I've had my pool about 7 years, and have also struggled in varying degrees. It's always easier with 2 people, but I usually find I'm doing it by myself.

I think I may have been closest to what I want this year.
- I connected all the plumbing and filled the pool up so the cover had extra slack and the extra water was sitting relatively flat.
- Then I put a cinder block on the cover closest to where I was siphoning from. This gave a nice deep area for crud to gather.
- To siphon off, I have just used a pool hose I already have and got it started with a shop vac. I keep it oriented below the water be wrapping it around a snow shovel and place it like I want in the the pool.
- As water was moving, I occasionally moved crud around the cover towards the cinder block pit with a hose.
- When I got most of the water off the cover (never ending, becuase my cover is as old as the pool ans is starting to seep water in both directions), I dove my arm into the nasty water to get the cinder block out (note for next year: tie a rope around it).
- I then untied the cover and took it off like a taco shape. This allowed the weight of the remaining water to be distributed rather than contained at a single heavy point. I could relatively easily just slide the top off the "taco" off relative to the bottom.

This year, the problems I encountered where having to dive my arm into the nasty water to retrieve the cinder block, and dealing with the wind while removing the cover. Since I was working along (poor planning on my part again), I had to quickly work around my 24' pool. At a crucial point when I had it oriented like a taco and the pool was clear, the cable was stuck on an upright at the other side of the pool. I left the taco to loosen the cable. In that moment, the edge of the taco slid into the pool and started dumping the winter's worth of decomposing leaves into the pool.

Next year, I'll get even closer, or remember what I "learned" in previous years.


TFP Guide
Jun 4, 2012
western NY
I use a wet/dry shop vac to clean the cover off them simply slide it off. nothing into the water that a couple hours of filtering won't clean up