I built a new inground pool kit in my backyard this summer. You can see our photo gallery on facebook. It's not my first pool, not even my second, but it's the first pool we had built for my grand kids. And even though we [my wife] never decided on the pool decking material, the kids loved the pool just the same.
The equipment we installed a few months ago performed beautifully. We installed a Hayward Eco-Star pump, Hayward Cartridge filter and a Lochinvar heater. A Hayward salt water chlorinator was also plumbed into the system, to create chlorine from salt that I added to the water after we filled the pool.
So, let's talk about how I winterized my new set-up, or how I shut down my pool equipment for the winter.
Salt System Winterization:
We loved the Hayward AquaRite salt system, by the way. It was so much easier than using chlorine tablets. The water never gave me any trouble, and had a soft feel. One afternoon, I noticed my 4 yr. old grandson licking his arm after he got out of the pool. I asked him what he was doing, and he said "Tastes like Potato Chips!" It's not really that salty, or at least I didn't notice any saltiness to the water.
Before closing the pool, a few days before - I turned up my salt generator to high - to shock the pool. It brought the chlorine up quickly to 10ppm in about a day. When I closed the pool a few days later, the chlorine level was still very high. What an easy way to shock the pool! Pre-mixing and pouring the granular shock around the pool takes so much longer, and can bleach the liner if you're not careful.
To winterize the AquaRite salt system, all I did was remove the unit from the plumbing after I had blown air through the pipes. I checked the blades of the salt cell to make sure that it didn't need to be cleaned. It looked clear, so I just stored it indoors. I may still clean it though, before opening the pool next spring.
Cartridge Filter Winterization:
My new Hayward SwimClear filter has 4 large cartridges inside. It's big enough to where I only have to clean it once per year. I removed the filter top and pulled out the cartridges, then I took a seat and gave them a deep cleaning with the garden hose. Reassembled the cartridges back into the tank and removed the drain plug to allow any dripping water to drain out.
Since cartridge filters don't have the ability to backwash to lower the water level, I had installed a valve that would allow me to bypass the filter and vacuum to waste. This was useful for lowering the water level below the skimmer for winterizing. It's also helpful if I ever need to vacuum up an algae bloom or a large amount of silty dirt (knock on wood...).
Pool Pump Winterization:
The Hayward Eco-Star pump really was quiet, and it only cost $50 to run the pump all summer - not too bad! For winterizing, there is not much to do with the pool pump, just remove the drain plugs, after the air was blown through. Some people remove their pumps or motors and store them indoors for the winter. Not a bad idea, but not something we did. This pump is really state-of-the-art; I'm surprised it doesn't winterize itself!
Pool Heater Winterization:
The Lochinvar heater we installed, was also really quiet, and also also energy efficient. At 95% efficiency, it has the highest rated efficiency of all gas pool heaters. It was fast heating too, averaging about 2 degrees per hour.
To winterize my new Lochinvar heater, I removed both drain plugs (after blowing air through) and also loosened the pressure switch from the copper tube, to allow water to drain out. I shut off the gas valve, closed the door, and shut off the power. I also put some moth balls inside of the heater, to keep away any critters that might try to make a home of it during the winter.
Blowing the Lines:
I use a Cyclone blower, which blows the lines out in a few minutes. While the returns are bubbling air, I plug them tightly, using a threaded plug with an o-ring - the Hayward SP1022C. The skimmers I plug up with the Skimmer Guard. One thing I like to do is blow air both ways on the skimmer lines. Even though I saw the pipes laying straight and level before they were covered up, I sleep better at night being sure that all of the water has been removed.
Putting on the Pool Cover:
Afterwards, we put on a regular solid pool cover with water bags. I mentioned above that our pool deck is still not installed, so I bought an extra large pool cover, so that I can cover 6 ft of deck [dirt], all the way around the pool.
By next year, we [my wife] will decide on pavers or stampcrete for the pool deck, and then we will definitely install a safety cover on the pool - again so I can sleep better at night.
I hope you're able to sleep well this winter, without concern of freeze damage or pool cover safety. If your pool is keeping you up at night with uncertainties, give us a call. I'd love to talk to you about your pool!
SPP Pool Expert