How To Winterize Your Swimming Pool
Unless you live in the very warmest areas of the country, the approach of winter means it's time to close down your swimming pool for the season. Neglecting to winterize your pool can lead to damaged or destroyed pipes, heaters and filters, and even cracks in the pool itself.
If You Live In A Cold-Winter Area:
Plan to winterize your pool over a weekend, as there are several steps to accomplish.
1. Close your swimming pool when nighttime temperatures are in the 40s, and daytime temperatures in the mid-60s. Vacuum the pool thoroughly, or use the skimmer to remove fallen leaves, dirt or other debris. Clean out the skimmer and the pump basket. Put away all the pool toys, rafts and poolside furniture.
2. Balance the pool’s chemicals. Use your test kit to establish water chemistry of:
- PH: 7.2 to 7.6
- Alkalinity: 80 to 120 ppm
- Calcium Hardness: 180 to 220 ppm
Now add a winterizing kit to the pool water. This adds extra chlorine and algaecide to the water to prevent the growth of algae or bacteria over the winter months.
3. Drain your pool to several inches below the mouth of the skimmer. Never completely drain the pool during the winter, which can lead to heaving or cracking of the cement.
4. Remove the skimmer basket, return jet fittings and pool lights. Take down the diving board, ladder and handrails. All of these items should be cleaned and stored in a safe place for the season. Your garage, basement or a backyard storage shed are all good locations.
5. Disconnect the pool pump, and remove any drain plugs. Turn the pump on for just a second or two to blow out any standing water. Remove the motor from the pump housing, and store it with your other pool accessories.
6. Now disconnect the filter, remove drains plugs and use a shop vacuum or air compressor to blow out any water remaining inside. Follow the manufacturer’s direction for your model filter to complete the winterizing process. Finally, disconnect the heater, remove its drain plugs and blow out any moisture inside. Lubricate all of the drain plugs, then store them in a bag or can where it will be easy to find them in the spring.
7. Use a reverse vacuum or air compressor to blow out all valves and circulation lines. You can then add pool antifreeze, which is not the same as antifreeze sold for automobiles, to the lines. This will keep your pool valves and pipes from potentially freezing and bursting during a particularly hard freeze.
8. Make sure any timers connected to your pool are set to “off.” Turn off the pool’s circuit breaker, or remove the fuse for the pool.
9. Now it’s time to cover the pool to keep out leaves, dirt, animals or blowing trash. First, set a pool pillow in the center of the pool. This will help balance the pressure of ice and snow piling up on the pool cover over the winter, which puts a great deal of stress on the pool walls. Put your winter cover over the pool, and fasten it very securely. It’s often easiest to do this with two people, one on each side of the pool.
If You Live In A Warm-Winter Area:
Pool owners who live in the warmest parts of the country, such as Florida, California or southern Texas, rarely have to deal with the long days of freezing temperatures so common in northern states. In these areas, pool winterizing is not nearly as complicated a procedure. Many pool owners in these warm locations don’t bother to winterize the pool at all, but if it is unused for several months, you can save money by closing it for the season.
1. Balance the water chemistry, and add pool shock chemicals.
2. Vacuum debris from the bottom of the pool, brush all surfaces of the concrete and then skim away any fallen leaves or floating debris.
3. Lower the water level to several inches below the skimmer mouth.
4. Cover the pool with a solid cover that prevents sunlight from reaching the water. This will prevent the growth of algae over the winter.
5. Remove the drain plugs from the pump, filter and heater, and be sure to store them in a safe place where you will find them in the spring.
Though not the most fun part of pool ownership, closing your pool for the winter keeps your investment in good condition and makes it much easier to open the pool up once warmer weather arrives.