It's Late October, and freezing temperatures have gripped the nation. For swimming pools, freezing temperatures risk severe damage to the pump, filter, heater and even underground plumbing.
If you are in need of an emergency pool winterization, you could call a pool service company in your area, they're likely slow at this time of year. Or, perform a quick pool closing yourself, by following these steps below.
- CLEAN THE POOL: Leaves and debris can stain the pool and use up winter pool chemicals, so it's always best to close the pool as clean as possible. If that is not possible in your current situation, just do the best you can, and if the pool is a foot deep in leaves, you may just want to plan on draining and cleaning in the spring. Vinyl pools however, don't have the luxury of draining the pool for cleaning, so it's best to clean it before closing.
- BACKWASH THE FILTER: For sand filters, give it a good long backwash, 15 or 20 minutes. For DE filters, after backwashing for several minutes, shut off the pump and open the air bleeder to drain the tank. Remove the clamp band and lid, then pull out the filter assembly for a thorough hosing. For cartridge filters, also pull out the element and clean it thoroughly. Replace grids or cartridges back into the tank after cleaning, for safe winter storage.
- LOWER THE WATER: For self-draining safety pool covers, lower the water 10-12" below the tile, and for floating solid winter covers, go 3-5" below the tile. For sand or DE filters, if you have separate main drain and skimmer valves, you can close the skimmer valve and continue to lower the water through the main drain only, with the filter valve set on the backwash setting (Multiport valves can use the Waste setting). If you don't have a separate main drain valve, you can siphon the water level, or use a pool cover pump to lower the water level.
- BLOW THE LINES: We've covered this part in more detail, here and here, but in a nutshell, you want to force the water out of the pipes with air, and then plug the skimmer and return lines in the pool. A large wet/dry vac can be used with some success, as can a small air compressor, but the best for blowing out pool lines is the Cyclone blower, which has no problem blowing out main drains or other deep pipes. If you are unable to blow the lines, or uncertain if all of the water was evacuated, you can pour Non-Toxic Pool Antifreeze into the skimmer, about a gallon per 10 ft of pipe. With a funnel and hose, you can also usually find a way to get the antifreeze into the pool return lines, after lowering the water and plugging the return fittings, using good winterization plugs. Do not use antifreeze in a pump, filter, heater or chlorinator - drain by removing the drain plugs. And be sure to use Non-Toxic Pool Antifreeze, not automotive antifreeze.
- ADD WINTER CHEMICALS: You can buy a winter closing kit that is designed for your pool, or you can buy the items separately. Our winter kits include a winter algaecide, stain & scale agent, floating sanitizer and an oil absorbent sponge. If you can't add the closing chemicals during an emergency pool winterization, you can always pull up the cover a week or two later and add them at that time.
- COVER THE POOL: A winter pool cover blocks sunlight and keeps dirt and debris out of the pool, which is important to prevent stains and keep the water from becoming choked with dissolved solids, and growing algae in early spring. If you can't cover it the same day of your last minute pool winterization, you can always put the cover on in a week or two. Skim the surface and scoop the floor as best as you can to remove as much debris as possible before covering the pool.
No Time for All This?
Keep Pumps Running: If you are having a real emergency, perhaps the current temperature is 30° F, and you haven't winterized? If you keep [all] the pumps running, with [all] the valves open, the water won't freeze, as long as it's moving through the pipes.
If Power Goes Out, or you need to quickly protect the equipment - Remove the Drain Plugs on the Pump, Filter and Heater. Open the Air Bleeder on the filter, and for filters with a multiport valve, place it between two positions. Open all valves, so that water is not trapped against a valve diverter.
Pool Winterization Is: Two things, first removing the water from the pool equipment and pipes aboveground, and from the pipes below ground - or using Pool Antifreeze below ground. The second part of closing a pool is protecting the water, with chemicals and a tight fitting cover, so it doesn't stain and turn dark green in early spring.
There are other things too, like shutting off the power and closing any gas valves, and lubricating rubber o-rings with a Teflon lube. Don't forget to plug the skimmer and return lines, to keep water from getting back into the pipes.
For more information on pool closing, see these other popular pool closing blog posts:
- The Complete Guide to Inground Pool Winterization
- The Complete Guide to Pool Closing Chemicals
- How to Winterize a Vinyl Liner Pool
SPP Pool Expert