Fall signals the end of pool season, when all the floats and beach balls are finally deflated. Kinda sad really, but it has to be done. Only closing the pool is much more than simply slapping a protective cover over the water. There are chemicals and compressors to consider.
Wait until the water dips below 65°F to start the winterizing process. For some parts of the country, that may be well into October. Others will want to guard their pool’s surfaces and equipment from freezing temperatures early in September. The purpose of winterizing is to inhibit the growth of bacteria and algae in the water, as well as keep mechanical parts from cracking. Doing maintenance now will help make the spring opening much easier.
First, check all parts and equipment to make sure everything is in working order, including the water’s chemical balance (to prevent stains while the pool is dormant). You don’t want to cover up problems only to have them show up next spring when you’re ready to dive in. If you haven’t already, fish out any toys or thermometers and detach the diving board and ladders.
Catch any floating debris with a net, and use a vacuum to clean the bottom and sides. You may want to scrub along the water line, removing the ring of oil and dirt that can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Now that the water is clean and clear, lower the water level with a pump to account for melting snow and rain. If you have a mesh pool cover, lower it 16 inches. For a solid cover, lower it a few inches, just below the tile rim and skimmer throats.
Now for the tricky part — blowing out the lines. No two pools are the same, so it’s hard to give step-by-step instructions here. In areas that experience hard freezes, this is the single most critical step. Failing to do so could lead to damage and costly repairs. So if you find yourself confused, it may be prudent to phone a professional. You’ll need an air compressor to blow water out of the filter and heater pipes, rubber plugs to stop up the returns, and a skimmer guard or antifreeze (not the kind you put in your car!) to keep the skimmer from cracking. We found a great detailed explanation of this process, which involves backwashing and the opening and closing of valves, on YouTube by Poolandspa.com (parts 2 and 3). Couldn’t have explained it better ourselves. The idea is to keep pipes from bursting and to extend the life and efficiency of your filter/heater/pump. Note that you’ll want to remove any old chlorine tablets, and if you live in a particularly cold area, you’ll want to store your filter and pump in the garage. The final steps in blowing out your lines is to disconnect the equipment, disable the timer and turn off the circuit breaker. This will keep your motor from automatically or spontaneously turning on and burning out.
Next up are the chemicals. Add shock treatment at the rate of one pound per 10,000 gallons before adding algaecide. You may also want to use a rust and scale remover. As a final provision, a chlorinator or winter chemical ball comes highly recommended. These products slowly release chemicals into the water for three to four months. (Check out part 4 of the video series by Poolandspa.com for more details on adding chemicals.)
The final step, and the easiest, is putting the cover on. The process differs depending on whether your brand uses water bags or grommets. Start covering the attached spa or any tricky corners first. When using a solid cover, you’ll need a cover pump to draw off the melted snow and rain. For tips on installing different types of covers, click here.