As the summer days draw to a close, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your pool. This is especially important if temperatures in your area drop near or below freezing during the winter. As with anything outdoor of this nature, there is a specific process you need to follow for hassle-free winterization. These steps are part of proper maintenance and will help ensure that your pool is in top condition when the swimming season resumes next year. Here is a simple guide and tips that can help you complete this task.
Table of Contents
- How and when to winterize your pool
How and when to winterize your pool
The steps for pool maintenance before winter must be done in a very specific order to ensure easy use the following spring. Start after the summer season is over and temperatures remain steady at 18 degrees or lower. If you start preparing too early, you may have problems with algae, which thrives at higher temperatures. Give yourself a week to complete this process, as it involves following several steps over the course of a few days.
Proper protection of an in-ground pool requires a cover for safety and protection, so choose a durable version. Depending on the shape and size of your pool, one may need to be custom made for the in-ground pool in your backyard or patio area. Mesh covers are lighter and less expensive, but offer less protection than full covers. It is best to choose a cover that is made for winter use.
Remove ladders and accessories
Start by removing accessories such as skimmer baskets, cleaners, ladders, steps and solar covers from the pool. Hose off dirt and algae, let things dry, and store them in a safe place for the winter. Loosen the socket screw on the ladder anchor. If this rises, you can knock it down with a heavy wrench.
Loosen the ladder so the pool cover fits properly. Examine your ladder steps closely for cracks and tighten any loose ladder bolts. Most ladders can be stored outside, but plastic steps are better stored indoors. Also remove all handrails, filler tubes, eyeballs and fittings. Store them in a safe place where you can easily retrieve them in the spring.
Balance water chemistry and winterize pool.
It’s important to start with balanced water chemistry for winterizing your pool. Test and balance it by adjusting all chemicals as needed. Balance the water chemistry a few days before closing your pool to allow the chemicals to disperse. Adjust as needed and be sure to balance alkalinity before working on pH. Err on the higher side with each of these measurements, as levels will naturally decrease over time. Keep the following ranges for balancing water chemicals:
– pH: 7.4-7.6 ppm
– Total alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
– Calcium hardness: 200-400 ppm
– Chlorine : 2.0-4.0 ppm
How to clean your pool before winter
Brush and shock your pool to remove algae or other organic material before covering it. Even traces of algae can spread over the winter and cause problems. A brush designed for this purpose can help you scrub the walls and bottom of the pool. It is important to do a thorough cleaning when doing this, even if the pool walls look clean. This is also a good time to repair any cracks or damage.
The cleaner the pool is when you close it, the better it will look next spring. Any debris or algae left in the pool during closing will dilute the strength of the overwintering chemicals. Use a leaf net or hand skimmer to remove any obvious debris when winterizing your pool.
Run the water to allow the filter to remove smaller particles. After all, it’s important to make the remaining water as clean as possible, as any debris can cause problems if it gets trapped over the winter. If you have an automatic bottom cleaner, run it, remove it and store it for the next season.
Partially drain pool water and lower the water level.
Check the instructions for your pool cover to see if it states how low the water should be in the winter. Mesh covers usually require a pool height of about 30 inches below the water line, set into the ground. Thicker covers designed for swimming usually require the water level to be lowered 10 to 15 inches. Depending on how you remove the water from your pool, this process may take a day or two.
Drain and clean filters and equipment
Diatomaceous earth filters require special attention when winterizing a pool. Disassemble the filter and remove any debris left in the pump. Cartridge filters are a little easier, but you will still need to remove the cartridge and its connecting tubing for storage. This is also the time to drain booster pumps, chlorine generators and other components your pool may use. Also disconnect power to the pump, lights and heater at the fuse box. If you have a timer for your pool pump, turn it off and remove the timers.
In addition, it is important to drain all equipment so that the water does not expand and cause damage when temperatures drop below freezing. Clean the water out of the pipes with a blower and then plug them with expansion plugs. If you want to be extra careful about preventing burst pipes, consider adding antifreeze. Drain all filters, pumps and heaters and store the filter and pump indoors during the winter if possible.
Shock chlorinate and winterize the pool.
Read your kit’s instructions for winterizing the pool. This will help you figure out if you need to shock your pool with a variety of chemicals just before covering it. Kits may also include shock packs as part of the process. If recommended, this should be one of your last steps. As winter approaches, you should know how to prevent freezing pipes. In addition, shock chlorination will eliminate bacteria, while adding algaecide will combat algae buildup. Make sure you use a kit that is appropriate for your type of filter and read the instructions carefully to avoid mistakes.
Cover the pool and winter carefree
It’s finally time to cover the pool, and there are two types of covers: Safety covers and winter covers. Safety covers need to be anchored in place and offer the most protection from debris as well as people or animals accidentally falling in. Winter covers offer less protection, but you don’t have to worry about the extra step of securing them. Regardless of what type of cover you use, make sure it fits snugly and doesn’t have any holes or tears.
Re-check the pool as needed to keep it as clean as possible through the winter. Also, clean the cover to prevent dirt and debris from getting into your freshly cleaned water. If possible, move problem areas of the tarp to the deck or near the edge and do not place your pump over the cracks. Apply fucks as needed. There are those for solid winter covers and mesh or solid patches for safety covers. Secure the cover with water bags, straps or anchors for safety covers, and a cable and winch assembly for above-ground winter covers, depending on the type of cover you are using.