How to Get Your Pool Ready for Winter

With winter coming, now is the time for homeowners to consider closing their pool for the season. Ideally, this should be done well before the really cold weather sets in, to lower the risk of the pool and its accoutrements being subject to freeze damage. The best time to start closing up the pool is when the water is below 60F.

Preparation
Since you’ll be working with caustic chemicals, it’s important to wear protective gear like safety goggles and rubber gloves. Instructions on containers also need to be followed to the letter.

Balancing the Chemicals
Before the pool is closed, its chemicals need to be balanced. These are its pH, its alkalinity, and its levels of calcium. Balancing them protects the pool from developing scale, or a crust of minerals that can damage or discolor it. The pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6, the alkalinity from between 80 and 120 parts per million, and the calcium levels from between 180 and 220 parts per million. You can buy kits that help you test and adjust these levels.

Shocking the Pool
The water should then be shocked by a very strong chlorine product to kill microbes, fungi, and algae. The chlorine needs to be stronger than the type that was placed in the water prior to swimmers entering it. The usual way to do this is to fill a five-gallon bucket with water, add chlorine or its equivalent, then pour it into the pool while the filter is still running. The solution should be poured away from any of the pool’s outlets. The pool should then be left alone until the chlorine level is between 1 and 3 parts per million.

Adding Algaecide
After the chlorine has reached the above levels, an algaecide should be added. Like the chlorine, this algaecide is stronger than that used to maintain the pool when it’s in use.

After this, everything in the pool including ladders, filters, hoses, and pumps should be taken out, drained, cleaned, and left to dry. When they’re completely dry, store in the garage or a shed.

Skim Debris from the Pool
Debris such as leaves or dead bugs should be removed from the water using a long-handled skimmer. Then, the skimmer traps and debris catcher should be thoroughly cleaned. Vacuum the pool with a special vacuum and scour the sides and bottom with a long-handled brush.

Lower the Water Level
The pool’s water level should then be lowered using a pump. If you plan to cover the pool with a mesh cover, the water level should be lowered about 12 to 18 inches. If a tarp is going to cover the pool, it should be lowered from between 3 to 6 inches. If the filter can’t be taken out, it should be completely drained with a shop vacuum. Some homeowners may be tempted to use an air compressor, but this can damage the filter.

Winterize the pool’s plumbing by draining and drying them out thoroughly or add antifreeze. As with the plumbing in the house, cold weather can cause pipes to burst if there’s still water in them.

Cover the Pool
A tarp is not child or pet proof, though a properly secured mesh cover is. Excess water or snow should be removed from the top of the tarp over the winter. Above ground pools should have air pillows floated in their centers, then covered with a tarp.

Winterizing the swimming pool is a bit of work but it’s worth it. In the spring, the household will have a pool that’s safe, sound, and ready for the fun of the warm months.