by Alicia Harris, October 4, 2018
Winter Pool Care Tips
With fall in full swing, many pool owners are closing their pools (if they haven’t already) in preparation for freezing temperatures. If you’re closing the pool on your own, you’re probably already familiar with the basic steps in closing a pool. Once the pool is properly closed for the winter, its maintenance requirements lessen significantly. However, contrary to popular belief, the maintenance doesn’t completely go away once the cover goes on. We’ve put together a short list of simple winter pool care tips to keep your pool clean through the winter season and help make spring opening a breeze.
Don’t Close Too Early, Don’t Open Too Late
Warmer temperatures can spell disaster for water that’s been sitting stagnant. Algae, especially, thrives in warm, still water. If the pool is closed too soon or fall temperatures are warmer than expected, winter chemicals will be used up too quickly trying to fight off microbial growth. On the same note, waiting longer to re-open the pool will allow water quality to deteriorate quickly as the weather gets warmer.
Keep an eye on weather predictions to figure out good closing and opening dates for your pool. The pool should be closed when the daily high temperatures are consistently below 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit, but before temperatures dip below freezing levels at night. Once temperatures start getting consistently warmer (late March to mid-April), go ahead and open the pool again. Try not to wait until the water is nice and warm to take the cover off the pool. Otherwise, you’ll likely have a lot of clean-up work to do. As the saying goes, “An earlier opening is an easier opening!”
Check the Water Once a Month
Even while the pool is closed, you’ll still need to make sure the water stays balanced and chemical levels are where they need to be. Unbalanced water can cause problems with stain and scale, and it can also limit the effectiveness of winter chemicals. The ability to test and balance pool water will depend on whether or not the pool is frozen, so plan accordingly while the water is thawed. If you need to add chemicals (such as extra algaecide or enzymes) in the weeks or months leading up to opening day, use a pool brush to agitate the water and help distribute the chemicals. If adding more, just make sure chlorine content is at 1-3 ppm - high chlorine will make algaecide and enzymes ineffective.
Keep track of changes in water level. Make sure there’s not too much water in the pool, which is a common issue with mesh covers in wet winter climates. Also keep an eye out for dropping water levels, which could indicate a pool leak. Left undetected, a bad leak can cause serious pool damage over the winter months. Monitor closely, and add or remove water as necessary to keep winter water levels in the suggested range for your pool.
Keep the Cover Clean and Clear
While you’re monitoring the pool water, check on the cover, too. Debris on the cover should be kept to a minimum, so gently brush, blow, hose or vacuum off any leaves, twigs, dirt, etc. from the cover. A mesh cover will allow water to pass through into the pool, but solid pool covers will need a cover pump to help remove excess rainwater and snowmelt. A cover weighed down by water and debris carries a higher risk of damage or falling into the pool and taking all that dirty water with it. A clean cover will also be easier to remove in the spring without dumping debris into the pool.
Adjust or replace any water weights, air pillows, straps, clips or cables as needed to keep the cover snug and secure - it’s not a bad idea to have a few extras on hand! If the middle of the cover starts sinking deeper into the pool, chances are pretty good that your water level has dropped (see previous tip!). Water levels lower than 18” can put too much stress on the cover and cause it to tear or fall into the pool. Fill the pool as needed, and if the drop was caused by a leak, make plans to get it fixed as soon as possible.
PoolCenter.com has all you need for closing your pool, opening your pool, and every bit of maintenance in between. Our Pool Information Center and Blog are both packed full of helpful “How To” articles, and the Pool Store is stocked with all the parts and supplies you need to properly care for your swimming pool.