As the days get shorter and we find ourselves pulling out the scarves and mittens for cooler mornings, it may be easy to forget about our backyard pools. Those of us that experience colder temperatures during the winter should always take care to maintain our pools effectively and safely in order to ensure the longevity of the pools function. When a pool is not properly winterized you risk causing major pool damage that can result in thousands of dollars in repairs. Take a look at AquaMobile’s tips on how to winterize your pool, to make sure you keep your backyard paradise in tip-top shape for seasons to come!
1. Clean Out the Pool.
Pool water collects leaves, insects, debris, and dirt throughout the summer. Ensure that you clean your pool to the best of your ability using a pool vacuum or net. Don’t forget about your skimmer and pump baskets, as well as the “scum line” near the edge of the pool. Remove ladders, skimmer baskets, solar blankets, and any other equipment that can be stored away for the winter. Don’t add any extra tablets or chlorine/bromine floaters as they can damage immobile equipment. Let existing tablets in chemical feeders run out so that none remain.
2. Make Sure Your Water Chemistry is Balanced.
This next step to winterize your pool is an important one as it helps protect it from corrosion. Using a test kit, assess the pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Your chemicals should read as follows: pH: 7.2-7.6; Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm; Calcium hardness: 180-220 ppm.
3. Shock Your Pool with Winter Algaecide.
As total chemical levels stabilize, add winter algaecide to the pool in the recommended amount. Kits specifically made to winterize your pool are ready-made by pool retailers and are available based on pool sizes. These steps protect your pool from corrosion and scale build-up over the winter months. Read instructions carefully as some chemicals require that the pool filter is turned on while chemicals are added in order to avoid stains from undissolved granules or high concentrations of chemicals.
Kids Safety Tip: Keep chemicals and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) used to handle chemicals out of reach of children. Ideally keeping these items under lock and key from all persons, children, and pets is the safest possible approach. Ensure that children are aware of the risks and understand the dangers that the chemicals might present.
4. Freezing Factor: How to Evade The Number One Enemy.
The number one enemy of your pool during the winter is the water itself. When it freezes, the expansion force is intense and can crack buildings, concrete, and roads. There is no exception when it comes to your pool and if the proper measures to winterize have not been taken, the consequences can be pricey and a hassle to deal with. No matter where you live, precautions should always be taken to protect from freeze damage. First and foremost, do not empty the pool completely. Only drain water so that it falls below the skimmer mouth. This ensures that water does not enter the skimmer and freeze throughout the winter, as well as providing the pool with ample weight so that the expanding soil beneath does not push it upwards and displace it throughout the duration of the winter.
5. Disconnect and Drain The Pump and Filter.
All water must be drained or blown out of systems to winterize effectively. During the winter, trapped water can freeze and crack pipes, fittings, and hoses. This can result in major repair costs and flooding.
- Disconnect pump and filter. Remove any drain plugs as these may hold water inside. Once the pump has been drained turn it on for 1-2 seconds (no more), to allow for the impeller to get rid of any remaining water. Store small parts in the pump basket so you can find them easily for next year.
- Heaters should be drained and blown out using a compressor or shop vac. Similarly to the pump and filter, remove any drain plugs and stash them in the pump basket for next season.
- Jet fittings should be completely removed as well as skimmer baskets. Small items like fittings and dive board bolts can be placed inside the skimmer baskets.
- Loosen any quick-disconnect fittings or unions within your pump and filter system, and then blow out the pipes. Once again, a shop vac or air compressor is ideal for this. Force air from your pump down the skimmer and through the suction side pipes. Hook up your compressor to the return lines at the filter system, or by attaching it into the pumps drain plug in order to blow out the return plumbing. Keep doing this until you see air bubbles coming out of the return jets, then tightly plug the fitting below the water line.
- Also, blow out the main drain line if applicable. When you see bubbles coming out of the drain, close the gate valve. This creates an air lock in the line which means that no more water will be able to enter from the poolside.
6. Clean the Filter.
Depending on the type of filter you have you may need to clean them differently to effectively winterize. For a sand filter, clean by backwashing. For a D.E. filter (diatomaceous earth), remove the filter elements and spray them with filter cleaner and then rinse clean with a garden hose. It is important to note that you should not acid wash a D.E. filter at your pool closing time. Wait until spring when you can use the pool water running through the system to rinse it out. For both, always open the drain at the bottom of the filter to let any excess water escape, while opening the air relief valve on top if present. Lastly, placing the multiport valve in it’s winter position, and removing the pressure gauge, ensures your filter has been winterized effectively.
7. Cover Your Pool.
Place an air pillow in the center of the pool to absorb the pressure from the water and help protect your pool walls. Use a tight cover on the pool to keep out water, leaves, or other debris. This cover is stronger than a summer cover as it withstands the weight of snow and ice, as well as protecting anyone from accidentally falling through the cover into the water.
8. Make The Winterized Pool Safe For Your Kids.
Never leave kids unattended around the pool, especially if ice is present and the ground is slippery! Ensuring that all equipment and chemicals are safely stored and out of reach will also ensure the ultimate safety for your children throughout the winter months.