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    Pros & Cons: Leaving a Pool Open in Winter

    November 9, 2018
    Alicia Harris

    keeping pool open during winter

    Leaving an inground pool open during winter is fairly common in the sunbelt, where the climate rarely dips below 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. But it's possible to do this in cooler climates, as well - with or without the help of a pool heater.

    We're not just talking about leaving a winterized pool uncovered all winter, which some pool owners do if they don't like the look of a winter cover. No, we're talking about leaving a pool in fully operating condition, with all pool equipment hooked up and the maintenance schedule staying pretty much the same year-round.

    Leaving a pool open for the winter may sound appealing, but it comes with a full list of pros and cons.

    leave pool open during winter

    PROS


    The View is Great

    A well-kept swimming pool can make any backyard look good. Clean, blue pools look much more inviting than a winterized pool with a cover installed.

    Swim Whenever You Want

    There's no better way to escape the wintertime blues than swimming in a nice, warm pool. Most people who leave the pool open all winter also install a gas heater or a heat pump to allow for comfortable swimming year-round.

    Save Money on Closing and Opening

    Pool closing supplies are no small investment. Winter pool chemicals, winter covers, safety covers and cover accessories (water weights, deck anchors, repair patches, replacement hardware, cover pumps, etc.) can rack up quite a bill in your pool maintenance fund. If you're paying someone else to winterize the pool for you, you can count on a few hundred dollars to come out of pocket. The same applies to pool opening chemicals, supplies and services. If you leave the pool open year-round, you won't have to worry about pool closing OR pool opening expenses.

    Pool is Easier to Keep Clean

    Cooler temperatures make it difficult for algae to grow, meaning you'll spend less money on chlorine and algaecide through the winter months. Any chemicals that do get added will be well distributed thanks to the help of your pool pump. Plus, aside from removing leaves in late autumn, the lack of winter plant growth means less organic debris will be falling in the pool. Ongoing light maintenance of an uncovered pool means you won't have to struggle with opening a green, murky pool.

    leave pool open during winter

    CONS


    No Vacation from the Pool

    A properly winterized and covered pool only requires the bare minimum for maintenance and cleaning. Winter is the perfect time to take a break from pool maintenance and focus on other things. However, if the pool stays open, you'll still be cleaning the pool frequently, balancing the water at least once per week and occasionally replenishing the water level. Don't forget about the filter - it will still need to be cleaned and/or backwashed as usual.

    Energy Costs Go Up

    This is probably the biggest downside of leaving a pool open year-round. During the winter, your pool's energy expenses go up. You'll need to install a freeze protection sensor for your pool pump, so that anytime the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, your pump starts running. This keeps the water moving so it doesn't freeze and burst your pool plumbing (bringing even more expenses your way). Heating is another significant source of energy expense for an open winter pool. Whether you're using natural gas, propane or electric, that heat (unfortunately) is not free! Using a solar cover or other type of pool cover can help you slow the rate of evaporation and conserve heat energy to keep the costs down.

    Some Equipment Won't Work in Cold Temperatures

    Cold air and lower water temperatures could render some of your pool equipment ineffective until spring. For example, heat pumps don't work well below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and salt chlorinators can't generate chlorine if water temperatures drop below a certain point - usually 60 degrees. If you rely on equipment that is dependent on temperature, you may want to use backup equipment (such as a chlorine floater or supplemental gas heater) during colder months. Alternatively, you could winterize your pool later in the season once these issues start popping up. A late pool closing and early pool opening still allows for maximum pool usage, and will save you quite a bit on energy costs.

    The Risks Increase

    If there's ever a power outage during freezing temperatures, you risk extensive damages to your plumbing and pool equipment if the lines are not winterized quickly. Bursting pipes and cracked pool equipment will mean expensive repairs and replacements in the spring. Not using a pool heater in extremely cold temperatures also has its own risks. Even if the pump is running 24/7 and the water is circulating, the surface of the pool can still freeze over when conditions are right. Without a safety cover to act as a protective barrier, it can be tempting for young children and pets to try and stand on this fragile layer of ice - it's a recipe for disaster.


    Deciding whether or not to close a pool really boils down to personal preference and risk assessment. Leaving a pool open for winter might work out great for one person, but closing the pool could work better for their neighbor next door. Those living in colder climates should take extra precautions to prevent freezing damage to their plumbing and equipment, but these precautions are sometimes more of a hassle than closing the pool altogether. Carefully consider all the pros and cons associated with leaving a pool open during the winter, and go with the decision that works best for you and your pool.

    Alicia Harris
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