With the days becoming shorter and the kids heading back to school, most pool owners around the country are gearing up to close their pools. A large portion of pools are located in climates where it is incredibly important to winterize your pool. Closing your inground pool for the winter isn’t only going to protect your backyard oasis from the brutal winter weather, but will also help ensure a nice clean pool in the upcoming spring. That leads me to say, the best way to save time and money when closing your inground pool, is to winterize and close down properly.
When you decide to close your inground pool, that leak that you have been neglecting all summer can be incredibly detrimental to a proper pool closing. The first worry will be yourpool cover, which relies on the water beneath for support. Solid covers float on the surface, and will fall into the pool if the water level drops more than a few inches. The sides of the pool cover, and then the water tubes, all slowly pull into the pool. This is a big mess; leaving you with possible pool stains and a great deal of clean-up work.
Safety covers, although incredibly strong and intended for safety, also rely on the water beneath the cover for support. Without this support, the springs can bend and the straps can break, especially under a heavy snow load. Safety cover manufacturers recommend that the water level be no more than 18" from the cover.
Another problem, for vinyl pools, is that a leaking pool will expose large sections of the vinyl wall or floor to the elements. This causes the vinyl to contract, pucker, stiffen and generally become difficult to reset without wrinkling or it may rip as the vinyl stretches. Sand floors and walls beneath a vinyl pool can become eroded from a leaking pool, and is another problem to avoid. Especially important for vinyl liner pools, make sure your pool water level is holding - all winter long.
POOL WATER CHEMISTRY
If you are a typical pool owner, you will appreciate a sparkling clean pool when you open the pool in the spring. The secret to achieving this goal is proper chemical treatment during the fall. You should be maintaining proper water chemistry all the way up until closing day. Furthermore, we recommend using a winter chemical kit, which will help deliver chemicals throughout the winter and also hinder stains and algae blooms. To compensate for having no filtration for 6 months, we need the perfect chemical mix.
For those that open in mid-spring or late spring, I would suggest that you perform a shock treatment about a week before taking the cover off. This will help kill some of the algae that has most likely started to bloom in the water. Flip over the pool cover over on itself - along one side to expose the pool. Test and balance the chemistry, and shock the pool or add another quart of algaecide. Use your pool brush to circulate the pool water, and skim the surface if needed.
POOL WATER LEVEL
For vinyl liner pools, installing a skimmer closure is a great way to protect your skimmer and reduce the water that will need to be removed from the pool. A skimmer closure will seal the skimmer’s opening from the water in your inground pool. For those of you with a solid style cover, you will not have to drop your water level at all with the closure installed. Otherwise, lower it 3 inches below the skimmer.
If you own a mesh style cover, I suggest draining 6-12 inches below the skimmer, depending on how much rain you expect during winter. For mesh covers, if the water gets too high, it will touch the cover in the center, creating a wet spot that traps dirt and debris. When you see this, it's time to lower the water 3-4 inches, to prevent a tea bag effect.
BLOW OUT THE LINES
Since your pool is inground, you surely have underground lines running from the pool equipment to and from the pool. It is imperative to winterize these properly by removing all of the water from the pipes and valves. The last thing that you need to be doing in the spring is digging up the backyard! Winterizing your lines properly can be done with a high powered wet/dry vac or a Cyclone blower, which are also used as liner vacs to "set" vinyl liners.
First, you will blow the skimmer lines by blowing air from your skimmer to the pump, or to a second skimmer. The Cyclone will allow you to blow out a main drain line, where a wet/dry vac may not. Once the main drain is bubbling, close off the valve securely. The main drain is usually not plugged. After the suction side pipes are blown out, you want to blow air through the equipment and then back through the return lines.
If your blower won't blow the equipment or return lines from the skimmer, head over to your pump’s strainer basket, and remove the lid and basket. The blower hose should be inserted into the volute, or the impeller housing. From here, you can blow air through the filter, heater, chlorinator, etc, and then out the pool return pipes. Eventually you will see bubbles in the pool, at the return line. While the bubbles are bubblin', use the proper size Winter Plug to seal it tightly.
A useful tool is the One-Way Winter Valve. Thread these in place of your pool return eyeball fittings and they allow air and water to blow out, but seals up to prevent any pool water from seeping back in.
If you are not absolutely sure that you removed all the water from the suction and return lines, some Super-Safe Pool Anti-Freeze will be a good idea. DO NOT USE AUTOMOBILE ANTIFREEZE. Use only Propylene Glycol, which is non-toxic.
Your pool’s equipment should be the next stop. Sand or DE pool filters should be backwashed thoroughly, and then can be set to continue draining on a "Waste" setting. You can continue to vacuum the bottom of the pool, while draining water out if needed. If you own a DE or cartridge style filter, remove the grids/cartridges and give them a good cleaning before storing for winter. Fall closing is the perfect time to get your grids or cartridges extra clean. Use our Filter Cleaner to remove oils and minerals that could dry hard and clog the fabric.
If you have a gas pool heater it should be drained and air should be blown into the heat exchanger to ensure complete water removal. If your heater has a pressure switch hanging down in front of the cabinet, loosen the hex nut to drain the siphon loop assembly. You might invest in some Mouse Away or Moth Balls and apply it to the heater cabinet. Just like cars, heaters can be subject to nesting by mice who seem to enjoy chewing on wires!Look for any areas on your system that might be housing some water. All equipment or pipe drain plugs should be removed, and all pipes and equipment drained.Your underwater pool lighting is ready for winter, as is. There is no need to remove them and they won’t be in danger of encountering any damage.
COVER THE POOL
Once all of this is completed, it is time to cover the pool. If you do not yet have a cover, be sure you order a pool cover of the proper size for your pool. When using a solid pool cover,fill your water tubes to about 75 percent full, to allow room for ice expansion. Space the water bags end to end on the edge of the cover, 2-3 feet from the pool.
Once the cover is installed, go around and pull on the edge of the cover, to pull out any wrinkles across the pool. Fold over the edges or excess cover material under the cover for a more streamlined look, while maintaining at least a 2-3 foot overlap onto the pool deck.
For those of you with safety covers, raise up the anchors and install the springs, using the cover tool. Use our safety pool cover patches to repair any rips or tears, and keep them from getting bigger. Safety cover springs should be about 1/2 way compressed for proper cover tension and safety. Fill any gaps with foam or other material to prevent leaves from blowing under a safety cover.
Ensuring that you properly winterize your pool is going to be the best, sure fire way to save time and money, now - and next spring!
Visit our Winter Pool Supplies page we are also always available by phone to answer any specific questions you may have!
SPP Pool Expert