Pools can add value to your property, give you an excuse to have people over and provide you with a fun way to spend time with family and friends without having to leave home. When winter comes, however, you’ll need to take steps to make sure your swimming pool can handle the cold weather. If you don’t take proper precautions, even a light freeze can damage a pool. Furthermore, allowing a pool to go unused for several months without proper winterizing can lead to algae or bacterial growth and other unwanted consequences.
How To Winterize Your Pool
Below we’ll look at the basic steps to winterizing your pool. A little attention before winter comes will ensure you and your family can start swimming as soon as warm weather returns.
Clean the Pool
The first thing you will need to do is clean the pool thoroughly. Clean mildew, algae and other gunk around the rim using a good pool brush, and remove floating and sunken debris with a skimmer or pool vacuum. This step helps prevent algae growth as well as chemical imbalances that can occur as organic matter decomposes over the winter. Giving the pool a thorough cleaning also goes a long way towards having a sparkling pool when it’s warm enough to swim again.
About a week before you close your pool, add PhosFree or another anti-phosphate compound to your pool water. Phosphates contribute to algae blooms, so removing them now will save you a ton of headaches come springtime. Black algae can even get into concrete and cause cracks in your pool, so it’s important to take this preventative measure.
Reduce The Pool’s Water Level
Freezing water expands, and ice can damage your pool and equipment.
How much do you need to drain your pool? The answer varies depending on the type of pool you have (concrete/plaster or vinyl-lined) and the climate in which you live.
Generally speaking, in climates that experience freezing temperatures, the water level should be 4-6 inches below the skimmer for vinyl pools and 4-6 inches below the tile line for in-ground pools. In climates that don’t experience freezes, the water should actually be as high as it can get without overflowing.
Manage Pool Chemistry
Make sure that you take the time to adjust the pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Monitoring your pool’s chemistry will prevent damage to your pool during the winter months and give your pool a good starting point for the spring.
You can measure your water chemistry with a test kit. You’re aiming to get your pool water to fall within these ranges:
- pH: 7.2 – 7.6
- Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
- Calcium Hardness: 180 – 200 ppm
If you need to adjust the water chemistry with additives, now’s the time to do so.
Shock and Chlorinate
By this point you’ve already adjusted the pool’s chemistry, treated for phosphates and lowered the water level of your pool. Now it’s time to shock your pool. As strange as that phrase sounds to non-pool owners, anyone who has been a lifeguard or who has had a pool knows that shocking a pool is actually a good thing.
Shocking your pool kills bacteria, ensuring nothing grows in the pool over the winter. To begin the process, choose a granular product with at least 65% sodium hypochlorite, and make sure to use the appropriate amount for your pool’s size. Mix your product with water and pour into the pool while the filter is running so that it gets fully distributed throughout the pool.
We don’t recommend using winterizing floaters that contain chlorine or bromine. These products can bleach or stain the pool wall as they drift to one side, especially if your pool has a vinyl liner.
Remove Water from Pool Plumbing and Fixtures
Now it’s time to clean out your pool plumbing and filters and make sure they’re dry. This step prevents algae or bacterial growth in warmer climates and damage from freezing water in colder climates.
Here are the main steps you need to follow:
- Drain pool lines using a shop vac. Seal the lines with either a threaded plug or a plug with a rubber gasket to make sure the water doesn’t get through and refill the line.
- Remove skimmer baskets, ladders, filter baskets and other loose items from the pool and store them in a clean, dry place outside of the pool.
- Use a Gizzmo to seal the line in the skimmer. These inexpensive devices help prevent freeze damage. Putting Teflon tape on the threads will ensure a tight seal and make it easier to remove in the spring. Add pool antifreeze to the skimmer as well.
- Drain the filter, feeder, and pump and purge any remaining water. Make sure no residual pool chemicals remain in the feeder.
- Don’t put the plugs back onto the equipment, so any water that does get in can drain out again. Instead, store the plugs in the pump strainer basket so you can find them in the spring.
Add an Air Pillow and Pool Cover
If you have an above-ground pool, install an air pillow, which will keep your pool from freezing. Then install a cover to keep your pool clean through the winter. Choose a sturdy cover that will withstand the climate and keep out debris, and weigh it down with a bit of water to prevent the wind from blowing it away.
How to Winterize a Saltwater Pool
The process for winterizing a saltwater pool is exactly the same as a regular chlorine pool. The only difference is that you will need to select winterizing chemicals made specifically for saltwater pools. You will also need to shock your pool just like other pools.
Leave It to the Experts
Taking care of a pool is a lot of work. When you need a hand with your pool maintenance, contact the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services. We can inspect your filtration and pumping system and make sure your pool will be ready to go as soon as warmer weather returns.