Follow these five steps when you're ready to open your pool for the season:

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First, take a sample of your pool water to your Authorized Sustain System Dealer. To ensure an accurate sample, follow these simple steps:

  • Rinse your water sample bottle with pool water.
  • Use it to scoop a quart of water from the pool, submerging your arm to your elbow. To avoid getting surface water, hold the bottle upside down until it’s completely submerged. Then, turn the sample bottle right side up while its still submerged.
  • Your Sustain System Dealer will professionally analyze your water sample for (pH), Total Alkalinity (TA), Calcium Hardness (CH), Stabilizer (CYA), Free Available Chlorine (FAC) and Summer Shield Chlorine Extender levels.
  • Your Dealer will provide you with recommendations for balancing your pool water.

Next, check the physical components of your pool. Is your pool equipment up and running? Check the filter and pump operation. Clean the hair and lint trap on the inlet to the pump. Make sure everything is in working order. Is there good water flow in the skimmer? Check for leaves or other debris that might impede flow. Are the return jets cleaned and set at the proper angle? The recommended angle for jets is 45 degrees downward.

Then, clean your pool surfaces to remove debris and algae. If algae are present, your Authorized Sustain System Dealer can provide the necessary chemicals, instructions and procedures to eliminate it.

Balance the water in your pool by following your dealer’s recommendations based on your test results. Your dealer’s suggestions will address each of the following water balance factors:

pH [Ideal range 7.2-7.4] The pH scale measures the acidic or basic nature of pool water. pH is the most important component of water balance. The ideal pH range is between 7.2-7.4 (the minimum is 7.0, the maximum is 7.6). To increase pH, add sodium carbonate. To decrease pH, add muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate granules. When applying these chemicals, pre-dissolve in water and walk the solution around the perimeter of the pool. Read label instructions for the application of these, and all pool products. Low pH can cause eye irritation. High pH will lower the effectiveness of the chlorine. An important tip: The Sustain System is non-corrosive, and the tendency is for the pH level in your pool to increase slowly over time. Test your water at least weekly with 3-Way Test Strips or a DPD Test Kit.

pH Levels

Total Alkalinity (TA) [Ideal range 80-100 ppm] Total Alkalinity acts as a pH "buffer" in pool water to prevent large changes in pH. While the ideal TA range is between 80-100 ppm, the correct TA varies with the level of calcium hardness. To increase TA, add sodium bicarbonate. To decrease TA, add sodium bisulfate granules or muriatic acid. When lowering Total Alkalinity, "slug the acid" using pre-dissolved sodium bisulfate granules or muriatic acid. To "slug the acid" means to add acid to the deep end of the pool with the circulation pump turned off and pool water quiet. Allow water to remain quiet for one hour before restarting the pump. If your water's TA is too high; pH levels will tend to drift up. TA that is too low results in a pH level that fluctuates, commonly referred to as "pH Bounce." Again, follow your dealer's instructions for amounts of adjustment chemicals and applications techniques. [ More info...]


Calcium Hardness (CH) [Ideal range 200-800 ppm] Calcium Hardness is a measure of dissolved calcium in the pool water. Proper CH is essential in the protection of plaster and pool equipment. The ideal CH range is from 200-800 ppm. Your dealer will check the CH level of your water when you bring in a water sample at least once every six weeks for routine testing. To increase CH, add Hardness Increaser. To decrease CH dilute your pool water.


Stabilizer/Cyanuric Acid (CYA) [Ideal range 30-50 ppm] Cyanuric Acid is a granular chemical, commonly referred to as Stabilizer, that helps prevent degradation of Free-Available Chlorine by direct sunlight. The ideal CYA range is from 30-50 ppm.

  • When opening your pool, add stabilizer to achieve a level of 40 ppm.
  • Add stabilizer after the pool has been cleaned and the filter has been backwashed.
  • Add the stabilizer slowly into the skimmer in small increments with the pump running.
  • Run the pump continuously for at least 4 days.
  • Do not backwash filter for at least 4 days to be sure the CYA has dissolved. Stabilizer will eventually be diluted by rain, splash out and backwashing. [ More info...]

Once the stabilizer level falls below 30 ppm, it may not effectively protect your chlorine from sunlight. Your Authorized Sustain® System Dealer will check the stabilizer level when you bring your water in for your six-week check up.

Establish a Free Available Chlorine (FAC) residual to eliminate the remaining invisible contaminants in the water. FAC is the active form of chlorine that should be maintained in the ideal range of 1-3 ppm to be assured the water is sanitized. When opening your pool, add two pounds of Sustain® Shock Treatment, according to label directions, for every 10,000 gallons of water (twice the normal dose). Operate your pool's pump for 24 hours and test for FAC. If the reading is less than 1 ppm after 24 hours, continue shocking the pool (2 lbs./10,000 gallons) until 1 ppm of FAC is established when you test the following day.

If FAC is 1 ppm or greater, you are ready to begin using the Sustain 3-part System.

Now its time to add the Sustain® System products.

Step 1

Step One: Add Sustain Summer Shield® Chlorine Extender according to your dealer's recommendation as noted in the Start-Up Worksheet. Simply pour the Shield Extender into the skimmer or into the water around the sides of the pool.

Step 2

Step Two: Fill the skimmer dispenser with blue Sustain® 3-Inch blue Chlorinating Tablets and place the dispenser in the skimmer basket, open end up. (Never mix blue Sustain® Tablets with white chlorinating tablets or any other pool tablets) The skimmer dispenser comes with an adjustable lid to regulate chlorine delivery. Adjust the lid opening to increase or decrease chlorine delivery to maintain 1-3 ppm FAC. For in-ground pools, start with the lid off, and use it later, if necessary. For above-ground pools, start with the lid fully open and adjust as needed.

Step 3

Step Three: Add Sustain® Shield Energizer blue Tablets to the skimmer basket, (one cup for every 5,000 gallons of water). Continue to circulate the water for at least 5 hours.

NOTE: For smaller skimmers, remove the 3-inch tablet dispenser before adding the blue Shield Energizer Tablets, and replace after Shield Energizer Tablets have dissolved.

REMEMBER: The Sustain Pool Care System is great for preventing algae. To receive the benefits of the Algae-Free Limited Warranty you must begin with an algae-free pool.