Even during the off season, your pool still requires some care and attention. Some of us, especially those who live in colder climates, have likely chosen to close our pools for the winter months. For others, the off season simply means less use of the pool and a diminished amount of time and effort spent on regular maintenance.
If you have chosen to winterize (close) your pool, you’ll need to first inspect your system to be sure pipes and mechanical parts are all in good repair. Clean the pool thoroughly using the brush and vacuum. Next, adjust the pH level for winter weather and add algaecide to prevent algae from growing while the pool is dormant. Drain the water from the pump, filter, and heater, to prevent water from freezing in the pipes and causing the pipes to burst if you live in an area where you won’t be able to keep the pumps running using an air blower, and plug the return fittings with a winter return fitting plug. In some cases, it’s best to add pool antifreeze to your water as well. Drain the water to about 5 inches below the skimmer, and cover the pool securely with a tightly fitting cover. Never allow ice and snow to build up on the cover, as this will cause damage to the cover.
If you live where the water temperatures will remain between 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you will probably have an un-winterized pool. Due to the cooler temperatures, you’ll probably be using the pool infrequently if at all, and many times, this leads owners to neglect to properly care for the pool as well as they would during the peak season. You’ll need to continue to run your pool filter daily – however you can cut the running time in half. Continue to test the pool and add chemicals as necessary to maintain balanced water chemistry. Vacuum periodically and remove leaves and other debris to prevent staining, calcium deposits, and algae. If you use a heater to maintain temperature in the pool, consider investing in a solar blanket. Pump lid o-rings, push-pull type backwash valves, and other valves or unions that have rubber gaskets or o-rings should be lubricated.
If temperatures dip below freezing keep the pump running! Heating the water is not necessary, but the water will need to be flowing through all of the pipes. Be sure all valves are at least partially open and the pump is running when temperatures drop. Significant damage can occur in only a few hours of temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and will lead to expensive and complicated repairs.
It’s a good idea for all pool owners to be sure that during the period when the pool will be used little or not at all any floating items are removed. This applies to items such as ladders and ropes, flotation devices and swim toys, for example. Thoroughly clean the items and store them appropriately for the winter.
Make time to inspect your pool regularly to ensure that any problems that arise will be noticed as soon as possible to minimize potential damage. Properly caring for your pool during the off season ensures you’ll have the best possible start to a healthy and enjoyable pool when spring arrives.