How to winterize your pool

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Homeowners with pools who live in regions where winter can be harsh know they must eventually prepare their pools for the colder seasons ahead. People who live in climates not conducive to year-round outdoor swimming often find that by the cooler weather of autumn makes this season the perfect time to winterize their pools.

Although closing a pool is rarely celebrated, it is a very important task. Properly winterizing a pool will reduce the liklihood of damage in the months ahead, saving homeowners from financing potentially expensive repairs. Closing the pool before trees begin to shed their leaves is a good idea, as is doing so before the arrival of the first cold stretch. Homeowners who want to get started on winterizing their pools can heed the following advice.

• Gather all of the necessary equipment. To winterize your pool, you will need the pool cover, drain plugs, certain chemicals, and cleaning equipment. Have all of the tools you will need nearby so you will not be scrambling for items once you start working.

• Check the chemical levels in the pool. Check the pool’s chemical levels so you can create a sterile environment that won’t be overtaken by microorganisms in the water during the offseason. Many pool experts recommended ensuring the pH is at the appropriate level (7.4 – 7.8), checking the alkalinity of the water to ensure it is between 80 and 120 ppm, as well as verifying the calcium hardness is at the right level. Creating the right water environment reduces the risk that any problems will develop over the winter.

• Thoroughly clean the interior of the pool. When cleaning don’t forget to remove any accessories, such as ladders, ropes, fountains, etc. Clean these items and store them in a winter-safe area.

• Bring up the pool chlorine to shock level. Bringing the chlorine to shock level means the pool will have a higher amount of chlorine, which is necessary to kill off any remaining algae or microorganisms in the water. Keep the water filtering and at this elevated chlorine level for a few days prior to closing the pool to ensure that there will be no algae blooms once the cover is in place and you cannot monitor the water.

• Drain some of the water. Depending on the type of cover you are using, and whether or not you will be using plugs to block any ports into and out of your pool, you may need to drain several inches of water to ensure that it falls below filter skimmer baskets and return jets. All water should be forced out from any hoses and internal components of the pool so that the water will not freeze and cause damage.

• Adhere to manufacturers’ instructions on winterizing the filter. Some filters may need to be completely drained and cleaned. Some people prefer to remove the filter pump, gaskets and hoses and store everything in their garages for the winter. It may be possible to move smaller filters indoors. If not, covering the filter with a large, black garbage bag may protect it further from the weather. Be sure to turn off the electricity to the filter outlet at the breaker for the season.

• Take steps to inhibit algae growth. If desired, put a polyquat algaecide into the water and distribute it evenly to further inhibit algae growth.

• Install the cover per the manufacturer’s instructions and anchor it into place. It is a good idea to place a leaf net over the cover to catch any leaves as they fall so that they can easily be removed and not contribute to swampy conditions on the top of the pool cover over time.

• Invest in a small pump to drain water off the top of the pool cover periodically. An effective pump will prevent undue stress on the cover, ensuring it lasts longer.

Pool owners who prefer less pool maintenance can hire a pool company to handle winterizing tasks for them. By following the correct steps for pool winterization, you increase the liklihood of having a nice, clean pool to look forward to next summer.

— Metro Creative

Closing the pool before trees begin to shed their leaves is a good idea, as is doing so before the arrival of the first cold stretch.