Did you know there are more than 10 million swimming pools in the U.S. – and just a fraction of those pools are located in the southernmost states? It’s true, and that means that just about this time of year, there are millions of people who find themselves suddenly faced with the prospect of getting those millions of pools ready for winter. If you’re among those millions, here’s a quick rundown of the steps you need to take to get your pool ready for its annual winter nap:
- Clean it out. Before anything else, you need to make sure your pool is free of leaves and other debris. Use a net to fish out the floating debris, then vacuum the bottom to remove sediment.
- Test your pH. If you don’t have a pool testing kit, now is the time to buy one. Make sure your water is adjusted to the proper levels of pH, calcium and chlorine content.
- Consider using a winterization kit. These kits increase the levels of algaecides and chlorine to help prepare your water for overwintering. Follow directions to the letter when adding chemicals to your pool to avoid damage, and don’t use floater devices to disperse them.
- Now drain it – just a little. Freezing temperatures cause water to expand. To prevent expansion-related damage, drain water to just below the skimmer. Never drain a pool completely – the freezing soil below or around your pool can heave and cause the pool to heave right along with it; keeping some water in the pool can help prevent heave.
- Take care of the pump. Disconnect the pump, and if your pool uses a heater, disconnect that too. Drain all water from the pump and remove the drain plugs. If you like, you can turn the pump on just for a few seconds – more than that, and you can damage the pump mechanics. Drain the heater and blow it out with a shop vac or, if you have one, a compressor. Remove the heater plugs and place them with the other plugs in the pump basket for safe keeping. Remove the skimmer baskets and return jet fittings and store them with the plugs.
- Now drain the pipes. Disconnect fittings at the pump and filter and make sure the pipes and drain lines are free of water. Use your shop vac or compressor. Clean the filter according to manufacturers’ instructions.
- Add a float. Place a flotation device in the center of your pool to prevent pressure buildup as freezing water expands.
- Keep it snug with a cover. Make sure your pool cover is strong enough to handle the winter snow load without ripping and to prevent animals from falling into the pool if they decide to walk across it. Repair any rips, or better still, replace the cover. Make sure to install it following the manufacturers’ guidelines.
You can find more tips at the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) website. And remember: A little time spent preparing your pool for the winter means it will be ready that much sooner when the warm weather returns next spring.