7 Tips for Closing Your Pool
It's that time of year -- time to close your pool for the cold months ahead.
Correctly preparing your pool for the winter will lengthen its life and make things easier next summer when you go to open it again. But there’s a lot more to it than just slapping a cover on and calling it a day.
Here are some tips on properly securing your pool for its long winter’s rest.
Timing is Everything
If you close your pool too early, you could be encouraging algae growth, making your life more difficult in the spring. Waiting until late summer is an easy way to avoid this issue. Plus, its an excuse to enjoy your pool as long as you can.
Added bonus -- if your pool is heated, you can wait to close until October. A good rule to follow is to wait until the water is lower than 65 degrees for at least 1 week before closing.
Remember to give yourself time to close -- start the process about a week before you actually want the pool to be closed.
Make it Sparkle
A thorough, deep clean will help prevent algae growth while the cover is on all winter. Be sure to scrub the bottom and sides prior to vacuuming. The more you scrub now, the less you will have to scrub in the spring. At this point of closing your pool, remove any ladders and accessories that can be stored.
Get a Professional Test
Before putting the cover on for the winter, take a sample of your pool water to a pool store to have it tested. The goal for the water should be a pH between 7.4 - 7.6, and alkalinity between 100 - 150 ppm. Rule of thumb is for the levels to be at the top of these ranges before closing for the winter.
Get the Chemicals Right
The winterizing chemicals you’ll add to your pool are: chlorine shock, winter algaecide, a sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), and pH increaser and/or alkalinity increaser.
Remember to add the chemicals at the correct time. It's best to add the shock 5-7 days before closing the pool, then waiting to add the algaecide until right before the cover goes on because the chlorine shock will destroy the algaecide.
The Filter & Pump
To extend the life of your pump, store them inside during the colder months. Before bringing them inside, remove the drain plugs and allow the pump to drain. Remove the pump, all the hoses that are attached, and the chlorinator (if you have one). Store all drain plugs in the pump basket so they aren't misplaced and you know right where they are come spring time.
Filters should also be stored inside during the winter, except if you have a sand filter (which may be too big or heavy to take indoors). Regardless, be sure to give your filter a deep clean before closing up for the cold.
The Great Debate: Drain or Not Drain?
To drain or not to drain, that is the question. The debate centers around protecting the skimmer from cracking because of the freezing temperatures.
For an above ground pool, the normal water level will actually be better. Disconnecting the hose from the skimmer and using a winter skimmer cover plate will removes the need to drain the pool at all.
In-ground pools are different. It is best practice to hire a professional to come blow out the pipes, and have them insert a rubber piece to protect the skimmer from damage. If this is done and you don't have tile on the sides of your pool, draining the pool is unnecessary. However, if you do have tile, draining is highly recommended. You should lower the water level 4 inches below the tile to prevent it from damage and cracking.
If you have an above ground pool, make sure you have an air pillow beneath the cover. In-ground pools don't require an air pillow.
In either case, make sure to securely fasten your cover down for the winter with clips and cables.