What Do I Need To Know About Closing My Pool For The Winter?
Labor Day has come and gone, and the Summer of 2017 is behind us. The cool fall weather is fast approaching, making September the best time to close your pool. Since this is a key element in the successful annual maintenance of your pool, it is important that you plan ahead. Make sure you have all the tools, parts and supplies you will need, as this is not a 1-2-3 job.
Closing your pool requires preparation, a good understanding of how to balance the chemicals in your pool, and a full day dedicated to the task. The true test of a successful pool closing will occur when it is time to open your pool in the Spring. A failed pool closure will rear its ugly face as soon as you uncover your pool and attempt to turn on your pumps for the first time.
Properly winterizing your pool will limit the chances of equipment and piping from freezing. It will also limit the need for repairs or the lengthy delays getting your pool water clear when you open it again.
The first step in closing your pool is cleaning it. Well actually deep cleaning it. Take the time to vacuum your pool, brush your pool walls and clean out your skimmer baskets well. Consider purchasing a telescopic pole with a scrubber at the end to scrub the bottom of the pool floor. This is the perfect time to take extra care of the small areas with some build-up of dirt to prevent the growth of algae and to improve the overall aesthetic of your pool.
When done cleaning, make sure to empty the things in your pool, like ladders and any other objects that are normally kept inside the pool water during the summer.
After you’ve worked to get your pool sparkly clean, be sure to balance the chemical levels in your pool. Your pH, chlorine and alkaline levels must be stable. This will help your pool get off to a good start in the Spring. In addition, you should consider shocking the pool to prevent stains occurring on the walls and floor of your pool. When looking for pool shock, consider ones made just for pool closures, as they contain scale preventer and an algaecide as well.
Backwashing your filter is another part of the pool closing process. However, it is important that you allow your pool pump to run a complete cycle first. This should take about eight to ten hours. After you backwash your filter, make sure you open both the drain at the bottom of the tank and open the air relief valve, if you have one. This will allow the water in the tank to drain.
As there are many types of filters available on the market (cartridge, sand and DE filters), it is important you consult with the manufacturer or a local pool supply company to learn the right way to backwash your filter. When speaking with a professional, ask about new products on the market that make pool closings easier, or that limit the potential for damage during the winter. Broken skimmers from poor winterization are one of the most common winter related pool failures, and could be limited by adding protective devices that will fail first before your pool equipment.
One of the first instincts of many pool owners is to empty the pool completely for the winter. That is not suggested as the soil under and around your pool can freeze, expand, and then move your pool out of place. The weight of the water in your pool keeps the pool in place. As the northeast experiences temperatures below freezing, it is recommended to drain your pool 4” – 6” below the skimmer.
One of the last steps in preparing your pool for winter is blowing out your pool lines. This is one of the most important tasks. Failure to properly blow out your lines will cause your pipes to freeze and crack, creating an unnecessary expense and mess, especially if the piping is located underground. You can use a simple shop vac to blow water from the skimmer, through the equipment, back into the pool. It is important to remove any directional fittings and install freeze plugs. Pumps, filters, heaters and chlorinators should also be drained.
Some pool owners use antifreeze in the piping leading to the skimmer to help prevent freezing. Keep in mind this is NOT the same antifreeze you use in your car. Pool antifreeze is made for a specific purpose; to keep your skimmer and piping from freezing.
Don’t forget to turn off all your pum, heaters and any other equipment associated with your pool. Store parts that you will need for Spring in one place. This will make opening your pool easier and less stressful.
Lastly, cover your pool. Consider using a combination of a safety or standard winter pool cover, and a leaf cover. By placing a leaf cover on top of your heavier pool cover, it will allow you to remove the leaves and debris that gathers over the winter first, and then remove the heavier cover with a lot less effort.
Most of the hard work in opening your pool is removing your pool cover filled with water, leaves and debris.
There are many how to videos available on YouTube, as well as some of the pool manufacturer’s websites, if you are insistent on taking on this project by yourself. However, it is always good to consult with or hire a professional who has knowledge of your pool equipment. They can assist you with closing your pool or help guide you in the right direction. As with all home service contractors, it is important to make sure they are licensed and insured.
Stuart Roaker, President – The Pool Therapist
(718) 370-7000 www.pooltherapist.com