Swimming Pool Blog


The Dormant Pool - winter pool check-up

The Dormant Swimming Pool: A winter pool checklist
 by Sean Griffin December 09, 2010

The Dormant Swimming Pool: A winter checklistfrozen winter swimming pool

The goal of every pool owner is to limit, if not eliminate the maintenance involved in running and caring for your pool while enjoying the benefits. Unfortunately even in the winter season after your pool has been closed down for the harsh winter months, maintenance might be necessary to prevent structural damage and ensure your next upcoming pool season doesn’t require an expensive repair. Especially for those of us up north it is important to take a moment before winter really sets in, and go through a quick winter check list before mother nature turns your leisurely swimming pool into a make shift hockey rink.

The water level is dropped when winterizing a swimming pool. The appropriate level depends on what type of pool structure as well as what type of winterization cover is being used if any. Ultimately it depends on whoever drains the pool water and how much rainfall is predicted. Certain covers can dictate the amount of water that can be removed. For safety covers you can sometimes void a warranty by lowering the water below 18 inches. Although they serve as a safety barrier, most covers are still designed to be supported by the water beneath. Before a deep freeze sets in it is wise to peel back a corner of your cover and check the water level. A small pump or a siphon can assist you in re-lowering the water below any skimmer mouth or tile line. Also take into account water displacement. A large mound of snow on the cover will raise the surrounding water level. After adjusting the water level you should take the opportunity to add an algaecide or refill any floater to help maintain good water chemistry.

The majority of pool skimmers have lids that are not water tight and will accumulate rain water and run off. Once you’ve lowered the water in the pool make sure all the skimmers are plugged and have an expansion device present which will alleviate any outward expansion pressure from freezing water. Most common are gizzmos which serve as a plug and also an expansion device.  You can also use a quart or gallon bottle filled partially with pebbles or antifreeze.        

If properly shut down the pool equipment requires no maintenance but it doesn’t hurt to do a quick walk through, making sure you don’t see any warning signs that freeze damage may occur, or has occured. Making sure there is no moisture at the equipment pad is a painless way to ensure lines are properly capped off and all the equipment was drained. Freezing is not the only thing to monitor at the equipment pad. When the temperature begins to drop many small rodents and other creatures sometimes make a home out of you filter or heater. I’ve seen filter grids turn into a rats nest and heater firebrick turned into an insulated dwelling for field mice. Not only are these animals a nuisance but they also tend to chew through wiring and expensive components. If you do not already have a heater cover I recommend using one in conjunction with mouse away bags that are designed to ward off unwanted visitors. Usually when I winterize and drain a filter, I insert any drain plug a quarter turn so that any moisture will escape and no pesky animals can enter.

Now that you’ve done a quick walkthrough checking the water level and the equipment pad make sure to tend to whatever pool cover you are using over the winter season. If you use an automatic cover pump, these should be tested periodically. Most on the market are automatic but make sure they are receiving power and don’t trip a breaker. Also ensure the pump impeller has not become clogged and has the ability to pump out standing water.

For those who use a tarp style winterization cover make sure cover does not become compromised and punctured. With holes in the pool cover, you may end up pumping out some pool water with your cover pump (not good). If your cover does have holes, try to patch them, or position them closer to the pool edge, and place your cover pump on the opposite side of the pool cover.

Regardless of what cover you use make sure to keep all standing debris off of it. A clean and dry pool cover will last much longer. Clean carefully with your pool brush and leaf rake or a soft push broom. Be careful that sticks don't snag and puncture while cleaning.

Ice on the pool cover should be allowed to melt. Never try to remove ice from your pool cover, or thaw it with some wacky method. If a crust of ice is on top, you can carefully poke through to set a pump or siphon, but be careful not to quickly pump out too much water from beneath an ice sheet, which can thereafter fall, and damage a thin pool cover.

 

Winter Pool Cover Check List:

SOLID POOL COVERS

Above ground pool solid covers:

-Ensure winch system or tie downs are secure. Replace any missing or damaged cover clips

-All air pillows are inflated and are positioned properly

-All standing water is being removed from the cover (siphon or pump)

-Monitor water level of pool ensuring no leak has started

-Remove leaves/monitor water chemistry

In-ground solid cover w/ water bags:

-Ensure all water bags, aqua-blocks, or weights are sufficient in weighing down perimeter of cover, Replace any compromised water tube or bag

-Ensure pump is working and has not become clogged

-Monitor water level to ensure pool water is not being removed from the pool. Patch any hole or tear that may occur

-Remove leaves/monitor water chemistry

 

MESH POOL COVERS
Mesh covers: Mesh covers have come a long way and have improved on the amount of sunlight that makes its way through the cover and hits the water. Make sure mesh material is constantly allowing water to properly drain.

-Check that all straps are connected to anchoring system which usually consists of an anchor inserted into surrounding decking. Make sure any spring is compressed roughly two-thirds and proper tension is maintained across entire cover.

-Monitoring water level to ensure freeze does not occur at tile line or within the skimmer throat

-Remove leaves/monitor water chemistry - if ice exists, (like in the picture above) don't try to remove it, you may damage cover.

*Some mesh pool covers filter water down to 20 microns before it enters the pool but to prevent cloudy water, proper water chemistry maintenance is vital with a mesh cover to avoid staining and additional costly chemicals that may be needed to bring pool water back to swim able condition. Use of pool enzymes during the winter, in addition to having good chlorine and algaecide levels, will drastically reduce spring clean-up of mesh pool covered pools.

Solid Safety cover w/ mesh drain panels: These safety covers utilize mesh drain panels located in the center of the cover to concentrate silt and runoff water directly beneath drain.

-Check that all straps are connected to anchoring system which usually consists of an anchor inserted into surrounding decking. Make sure any spring is compressed roughly two-thirds and proper tension is maintained across entire cover.

-Solid covers should allow water accumulation at all areas to drain to a center point. Adjust straps if water pools in area other than drain location.

-Ensure drain is unblocked and water has ability to go into the pool

-Remove leaves/monitor water chemistry. If ice has stuck cover to pool - let it be, it will thaw.

-Monitoring water level to ensure freeze does not occur at tile line or within the skimmer throat

Solid Safety cover w/cover pump: In theory nothing enters the water when using a cover pump so water chemistry is highly unlikely to go bad. Main goal is to ensure cover pump continues to work

-Solid covers should allow water accumulation at all areas to drain to a center point where pump is located. Adjust straps if water pools in area other than pump location.

-Remove leaves/monitor water chemistry

 

 

 

 

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