It looks like the cooler weather is finally here to stay in the Lowcountry. For those homeowners who have a swimming pool, that means it’s time to winterize and cover it for the season. If you usually just throw a cover on and forget about it for the rest of fall and winter, you’re probably making more work for yourself (and setting yourself up for potential problems later on). Here are a few tips on how to winterize your pool the right way to prevent future issues and make reopening it in the springtime a breeze.
First Things First…
Before you close your pool for the winter, it’s important to give it a good cleaning. Remove any leaves, insects, twigs, and other debris that might have fallen in with the changing seasons. Skim out any organic matter out now so you can start with clean slate in the spring. Store your ladders, floats, and toys for the winter as well.
Lower the Water Level
If you have an inground pool, drain enough water so that the waterline is below any tiles. While we don’t get freezing weather too terribly often here in the Lowcountry, it can happen from time to time. Freezing water can cause tiles to crack, so it’s best if the water isn’t touching them. Don’t drain the pool completely, though. Hydrostatic pressure from underground water can cause an empty pool to become unstable.
Once the pool is cleaned and the water level is lowered, you’ll need to adjust the chemicals. Check the water’s chlorine, pH, and alkalinity. If you’re not sure of the recommended ranges for these, you might want to take a sample of the water to your local pool store and have them help you out. You might want to consider adding products to prevent algae bloom and remove phosphates (which is what algae feed on).
Winterize the Plumbing
This step could be considered optional in our area since, again, we don’t encounter too much freezing weather. If a freeze does happen, however, you’re going to want to be sure your pool equipment can handle it. Use a wet-dry vacuum or compressed air to remove water from the pump, heater, filter, and underground pipes. Add an antifreeze product if you wish, and then plug the equipment to prevent any water from getting in.
Cover the Pool
To keep leaves, debris, and even wildlife out of the pool during the cooler months, cover your treated and winterized pool. Your local pool store is the best place to find a variety of options, and the experts there can give you great advice. Use a pool cover made from plastic fabric and held down by anchors surrounding the pool; or make your own using a tarp and sandbags. The latter is not recommended if you have small children as it could pose the threat of a drowning accident.
Do Routine Checks
Take a peek under the pool cover about once a month to make sure everything’s alright. You may need to remove excess debris that found its way in or adjust the chemicals every once in a while. You might also want to add chlorine or bleach to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.
Reopen Your Pool Early
The longer you keep the pool closed, the higher the risk of stagnant water and algae bloom. To prevent this from happening, take the cover off the pool before outside temps reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature for algae growth. If you don’t want to clean up that green slime in the spring, open the pool before the water has a chance to warm up under that cover.