Prepare Your Pool for Winter the Right Way
Whether you just installed a pool this year and are facing your first winter, or are a veteran of many years, preparing a pool for winter is a process you want to take seriously. The problems incurred by improperly winterizing a pool can range from annoyances (replacing all the water) to catastrophes (losing an above ground pool, for example).
As a contractor, we’ve seen (and repaired) firsthand the problems that come from failing to properly winterize a pool. However, by taking the proper steps in the correct order, you can safely prepare your pool for winter the right way and be ready for next summer with minimal hassle.
First, gather your supplies. Assuming you have the bigger equipment such as a vacuum, skimmer, and air pillow, you will need the following from your local pool supply store:
- A phosphate remover
- A pool chemistry test kit (or box of test strips)
- Antifreeze (if you are in a climate where temperature drops below freezing)
Start with the chemicals
First, begin the process about a week before officially closing (covering) your pool. You will want to add your phosphate remover to ward off algae during the winter. Be sure to use the recommended amount by pool volume.
Next, you’ll want to scrub the sides and bottom of your pool with a brush (make sure it’s gentle if you have a vinyl-lined pool) and then vacuum your pool to remove all debris. Besides restricting the growth of algae even further, this will also make your spring opening that much easier.
Now you are ready to address the water itself. Start by adjusting the water level. This will vary by climate. For climates where temperatures fall to freezing or below, you should drain your pool to about 6 inches below skimmer-levels for (vinyl-lined) or below the tile line (for plaster). This will also help you clean the filter system (see below). For non-freezing climates, you should add water – almost to the point of overflowing.
With the water levels adjust, you should now balance the pool chemistry. Measure the water balance with your test kit. The pH should be around 7.5, and the total alkalinity should be in the range of 80 to 120 ppm.
It might seem like overkill, but you want to make doubly sure your pool is free from algae and bacteria. To do this, we recommend Shocking and chlorinating the pool water.
Clean parts will prepare your pool for winter
Once you’re prepared the water, it’s time to tackle the machinery. Start by backwashing the filter. Let the pump run for 1 or 2 full cycles before backwashing (follow manufacturer instructions for your filter) and cleaning your filter with chemicals.
After that, you can safely drain the pool lines that connect from the tank to the filter. For those of you in climates prone to freezing, you will want to add antifreeze. This will prevent burst or damaged pipes and lines that can be very costly to repair.
You’re almost there! Now you want to add your air pillow (pre-inflated) and find a simple way to anchor it in the center of the pool. With the pillow in place, install your pool cover (safety, winter, or leaf net), which will vary according to your climate and preference.
Keep a careful inventory of all pool chemicals and make sure they are locked in a secure bin or part of your garage. Take note of any warnings on the labels regarding freezing temperatures – those chemicals will need to be stored indoors. Alternately, you can only buy enough for the season and not have to worry about storing dangerous chemicals near your family. Clean and store other equipment, such as skimmers and vacuums, in the garage as well.
Check in on your pool over the winter
Finally, though it is not mandatory, we recommend monitoring the chemical balance of your pool monthly. This will ensure that the water is at the right pH and alkalinity level right up until you are ready to open it again for spring.
It’s that simple. By spreading the tasks out over a few days, which will also allow the chemicals to do their job, you can prepare your pool for winter the right way without worry. Of course, if any questions do arise, contact your local pool supply store, or even the contractor who installed your pool, for their advice.
At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and pool-installation services to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!
For more information about how we can make your next home renovation project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.