Swimming Pool Blog
by Rob Cox, Sept 05, 2011
Ten Steps to Closing your swimming pool
Winterizing your own swimming pool, or thinking about it? Sure, you can hire a local company to button things up for the season, or you can close the pool yourself. Pool closings are done in a specific order. Follow the guidelines below, and if you have specific questions, send an email to the author at the top of this page. We want to make it easy for you to close your own swimming pool this winter!
1. Remove ladders and accessories. Loosen the ladder anchor socket bolt. When it rises about 1/2in. knock it down with a heavy wrench. Wiggle the ladder loose (so the pool cover will fit properly). Most ladders can be stored outside, but the plastic steps may do better if stored inside. Also remove any handrails, fill spouts, eyeball fittings, pool cleaners and skimmer baskets. Store in a safe place, where you can easily find them again in the spring.
2. Balance your water chemistry. Start with pH, adjust to a 7.2-7.4 range, using pH Up or pH Down chemicals.Total Alkalinity should be in the 80-120ppm range, and Calcium Hardness should be 180-220ppm. The pool should also be free of any visible algae, and be as clean and clear as possible.
3. Clean the Pool. Skim, Vacuum & Brush pool thoroughly, in that order. Technically #4 in the graphic above,vacuuming the pool can be difficult when the water is below the skimmer. The pool should be spotless when you cover it. Remove every bit of organic matter, and give the pool one final skim, if necessary, before covering it for the winter.
4. Lower the water level.
- If you have an inground pool with a mesh cover, lower the water level between 6-12" below the bottom of the tile, but never more than 18" from the top of the pool, or top of the coping stone or pool edge.
- If you are using a solid pool cover, one that floats on the surface, lower the water level 3-4" below the bottom of the skimmer opening. The exception to this is if you are using an Aquador type of skimmer device. Like Tupperware for your skimmer, using an Aquador will allow you to keep the water level at the normal operating level, during winterization.
- Above ground pools should also lower the water no more than 3 or 4" below the skimmer. If too much water is removed, or if the water leaks out during the winter, the cover could fall in, or worse, the liner can relax and wrinkle, or even worse, the walls could collapse inward.
5. Turn off heater. Shut off the pilot, if your heater is a millivolt style, with a continuous pilot. Shut off gas supply to heater, and turn the gas valve to the off position. On gas heaters with pressure switches hanging down (Laars style) connected to a siphon loop, disconnect the pressure switch to drain the copper tubing. Open the drain plugs on both intake and outlet headers, making sure your heater is drained completely of pool water.
Also shut off the timer clocks for the pool pumps, removing the timer dogs. Disconnect power to any other electrical components that you don't want to operate during the winter.
6. Add your winter closing kit chemicals. If you are not using a winter closing kit, be careful with chlorine floaters, which can sink or tip over, and stain vinyl and plaster surfaces during the winter. Use a high quality algaecide, winter stain & scale preventor (chelator) and some form of oxidizer. Follow instructions on your winter kit, or if using your own granular chlorine, be sure to shock several days prior to closing. Shocking the pool just before adding algaecide can be a problem, the high chlorine levels can break apart the polymer chains in your algaecide, rendering it useless.
7. Drain water from pump and filter. DE filters should be opened up, and the filter grids should be hosed cleaned and inspected for rips or tears (Staining is usually OK). Cartridge filters should have the cartridge removed and cleaned thoroughly. In both cases, after cleaning, reinstall the filter media back into the tank for winter storage. Lubricate any filter o-rings you come across in the process.
Adding antifreeze to your pump could cause damage to the pump seal, and should be avoided, much better to drain completely, all of the water from the pump and filter (chlorinator and heater, or other equipment).
8. Blow the Pipes. The very best way to avoid pool closing problems from freeze damage is to "blow the lines" using a small air compressor, at low psi or high volume air from a blower like the Mighty Vac or a powerful shop vac. Blow air through all equipment and pipes, to and from the pool. See our Mighty Vac video showing how to blow out in ground pool plumbing and equipment.
9. Fill water bags, or bring up mesh cover anchors. If you are using a solid pool cover, fill the water bags where they will lay, or if done elsewhere, be careful not to drag or drop the water bags as they are moved around the pool. Fill bags only 80% full, to allow for expansion. Keeping several small pails or pans of water around the pool is a good idea to keep birds and critters from poking holes in the pool water bags, to take drinks during a dry spell. Above ground pools should also use an air pillow, or ice equalizer pillow, to absorb the expansion of the ice and prevent the ice sheet on the surface from putting pressure on the pool walls.
10. Cover the pool! Skim the pool once more if needed. The pool should be as clean as possible! Is the cover clean? If you spread a dirty cover across the pool that you just cleaned, you may be in for a mess come springtime. As you spread the cover over the pool, inspect closely for tears or rips. If possible, move these problem areas to the deck, or close to the edge. And don't put the cover pump in this area - you can end up pumping your pool water out of the pool, through holes in the cover. Then the water drops, and the cover falls in - big mess.
Keep an eye on the pool cover during the winter, keep it clean and as dry as possible. Remember that solid pool covers with water bags are not safety pool covers, and can be very dangerous for kids or adults who accidentally fall on top off them. Restrict access to the pool area during the winter and keep an eye on the kids!
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