by Rob Cox, June 6, 2012
What NOT to do to prepare your Swimming Pool for a Hurricane
Hurricane season is once again upon us. Many of our customers in the south will be forced to deal with hurricane force winds, rain and flooding if any 2012 hurricanes should come close to shore.
What should the pool owner be concerned about if a hurricane was on the approach? What hurricane preparations should be made for a swimming pool, and how does one recover from moderate to severe hurricane damage to a pool?
Let's start with what NOT to do with your swimming pool in the event of a hurricane.
Don't Drain the Pool
When extended rains raise the water table, hydrostatic pressure will build to a point where it can push on the pool and pop it out of the ground or push a vinyl liner off the floor. When the ground becomes saturated, pool decks or home foundations can slip and move. The weight of the water in the pool will help to hold the pool in place, as underground water levels build.
Many people are worried about the pool overflowing. So what? That won't usually cause any problems if you have decent drainage or areas for run-off around the pool. And most pool water conditions are not harmful for surrounding plants or grass.
Don't Drain the Equipment
The weight of the water in the pool filter just might be what keeps it in place. You should shut off the pool pump as a hurricane approaches. Pumps and filters usually have tabs on the base that will allow you to secure them to the slab if you want to keep it from flying away.
Gas pool heaters should have the gas supply shut off at the heater. You also should shut off propane supply at the propane tank and for natural gas heaters, close the valve on the main house gas meter that leads to the pool heater.
If you can remove your equipment to an indoor location, that would be preferable. Aboveground filter systems can be easily moved indoors, but not so easy for inground pool equipment. Pump unions can be installed to allow you to remove and reinstall the pool pump more quickly.
Don't Cover the Pool
Solid pool covers, or winter pool covers, can be blown off the pool fairly easily in a hurricane. They also rip easily if tree branches or other flying objects fall on top. A safety cover will perform much better of course, but if a tree falls or heavy branches are blown onto a safety cover, the cover could be ruined or severely damaged.
If your pool is already covered for the winter, add some water on top of solid covers, to help hold it down in place. Add extra water bags around the edge to help secure the cover, but avoid using solid objects like logs, planters or cinder blocks, which could be thrown around by high winds. For aboveground pools, using cover clips or wall bags can help hold it in place. Hanging weights on the cable that runs around the pool can help keep it taut, or wrapping the edge of the pool several times with cellophane can block out the wind.
Safety covers will handle more wind blown debris is they are not so tight. Loosen the straps so the cover deflects in the center, down toward the water, but keep all springs securely attached to the anchors.
Don't Throw the Patio Furniture into the Pool
Unless you really don't have anyplace else to put it. More common for large hotels, with dozens of chairs and tables, placing the furniture into the pool keeps it from being tossed about in a hurricane. It can cause damage to the furniture or to the pool to do this, so it's best to be avoided when possible.
Do secure all items out in the pool area. Toys, skimmer lids, pool poles - all need to come inside. Bring in everything that is not bolted down and could become a flying projectile.
Do shut off the filter pump at the breaker and the gas supply at the meter. Check for proper drainage and flow around your filter pump, and if you suspect that the area might flood, reinstall the pump higher, on a cinder block for example. Or, remove the pump by cutting the piping and gluing on two unions, and disconnecting the wires (make sure power is off from the breaker box and timeclock). Store the pump in a dry, cool indoor room during the storm.
What would you do to prepare for a hurricane? What do you do to prepare your pool for a hurricane? Make a comment below, if you've got some value to add to this blog post!