Swimming Pool Blog
by Sean Griffin, October 9, 2018
Winterized Swimming Pool Maintenance
The majority of swimming pool owners would prefer to ignore the dormant winterized swimming pool in their backyard until spring rolls around, when you begin to think about taking a dip again. However, a winterized pool will greatly benefit from a bit of simple, minor maintenance through the cooler months. Winter upkeep helps ensure that the pool plumbing, equipment and the cover stay in good condition for years to come.
Here are a few “DOs” and “DON'Ts” for keeping an eye on your swimming pool during the winter months.
When it comes time to close down the swimming pool, most professional pool companies will balance the water chemistry for you. Alkalinity, pH, calcium, cyanuric acid and sanitizer levels should be within the parameters of proper water balance. The style of cover being used (mesh or solid) will dictate the water level and which additional chemicals (if any) need to be added. A completely solid cover that doesn’t allow sunlight or water to enter the pool will require far less maintenance than a mesh cover or a solid cover with a drain panel.
Algae growth is less likely during colder months, as long as the ambient air temperature stays low and direct exposure to sunlight is greatly reduced. Long-lasting winter algaecide is recommended to prevent algae growth over an extended period of time. A winter floater may be used to slowly disperse chlorine or non-chlorine sanitizer throughout the pool. Avoid adding algaecide to the water while there's a high concentration of chlorine, such as after shocking the pool. A high chlorine level will destroy the active ingredients in both copper- and polymer-based algaecides. Stain and scale preventatives will help remedy unsightly stains and scaling buildup while the pool water sits stagnant over the winter.
Remember to refill floating dispensers. Tie it off with a long string (attached near the edge of the pool) so it's easy to reel in and refill.
Test water chemistry monthly with a test kit. When temperatures rise in the spring, consider testing more frequently. The closer you get to summertime, the more likely you’ll develop problematic pool water.
Add algaecide as needed. The amount of phosphates in the water and the history of previous algae outbreaks will dictate how frequently to introduce additional algaecide.
Don't super-shock the pool until you have the ability to leave some of the pool uncovered. Gassing-off can occur, leading to early deterioration of the pool cover. Also bear in mind that any algaecide in the water will be rendered useless with high clorine levels.
When a pool is properly winterized, all water is removed from the plumbing lines and pool equipment. Although regular maintenance is not required while the pool is closed, a quick visual inspection is still needed during the winter months. The presence of ice or freeze damage is an indication of an improperly winterized swimming pool. If any cracked plumbing calls for repair, you may need to set up a space heater to thaw out the work area. This method is very common when a year-round portable spa develops a leak. Some extra winter tips for swimming pool equipment are listed below!
Do several quick visual inspections to make sure there is no ice around any pool equipment, which could indicate damage and leaks. Also check for visible hairline cracks along plumbing lines.
Make sure rodents have not nested in any pool equipment. Mice are notorious for taking up residence inside swimming pool heaters.
Be certain the power breaker remains OFF so the pump won't turn on while the plumbing lines are empty. If it does, it can burn out the shaft seal or melt pump components.
There are several ways to cover your swimming pool in the winter months. Tarp-style winter covers can be weighed down by water tubes around the pool, or safety covers can be secured to anchors that are permanently drilled into the pool deck.
As a pool owner, your goal should be to remove any debris that accumulates on the pool cover. This is especially important for mesh covers that allow water to drain through into the pool. Keeping the cover clean will prevent concentrated sediment (contains phosphates) from “mucking” up your pool water. Leaves that sit on a pool cover will deteriorate and filter through a mesh cover, and a large quantity of leaves on a solid cover can hinder the cover pump, which is vital for removing standing water. Perhaps most importantly, keeping the cover clean will ensure years of use and help make springtime cleanup much, much easier.
If you have snow accumulation or layers of ice on your pool cover...DO NOT TOUCH!!! Trying to adjust your pool cover with a large weight load or with sharp-edged ice on the cover can lead to damage. Ensure that your cover pump is continuing to work overtime to keep water from accumulating on the cover. Also make sure to replace any damaged cover hardware or water bags. Always le snow and ice melt before removing cover or attempting to lower the water. The actual water level beneath any pool cover is designed to support the extra weight provided by frigid mother-nature.
Never adjust water level or attempt to move a pool cover when ice, snow, water or excessive leaves are present. Doing so can result in damage to your pool cover and/or introduce debris to the pool water.
Ensure the automatic cover pump remains in good working condition and is free from obstructing debris. Check on it regularly to avoid damage to your cover.
Keep extra safety cover hardware or pool cover weights (water tubes, Aqua Bloks, etc.) on hand in case you need extras. Do not use items like concrete blocks or patio furniture to weigh down the cover - they can damage the pool if they fall in.