When you live in a cold climate, like here in Canada, preparing your pool for the winter is a necessity. While fiberglass pools require the least amount of maintenance as they do not need to be drained, they still some care and attention before winter arrives. Other pools need additional care to avoid damage from the expansion of water as it freezes.
Before you do the actual close the pool for the season, get prepared. Starting in the fall, allow the water level to drop to the bottom of the skimmer. Wait until the water temperature is well below 15C before you start the closing process. When water temperatures are this low there is little chance of algae growth. The pH of the pool water should be between 7.4 and 7.6 other chemicals should be at proper levels too. If you maintain your pool throughout the season, there will be little to adjust at the end of the season.
Several days before you are ready to close the pool, shock the water by adding a large amount of chlorine. This increases the free chlorine, which should kill off whatever bacteria or algae that may be lingering in the water. Let the chlorine level drop to normal levels before you close. Check that your winter cover does not need to be replaced and that you have sufficient water bags.
The actually close only takes a few hours, but you will need some help for at least part of the operation. First, remove any debris that may have fallen into the pool such as leaves, dirt, or branches. The pool should be as clean as possible as the water will sit for many months and when the weather warms again anything in the pool will decompose as the water warms. Remove any detachable accessories from around the pool, including ladders or diving boards. Some of the clamps or locks can be stubborn, so make sure they are fully released.
If you have a concrete or vinyl liner pool, you must drain it for the winter. Pump the water out with a pool pump until there is approximately 10cm of water left below the bottom of the returns. You will also need to remove all of the fittings on the pool such as the skimmer basket and return eyeball. Now you ready to blow out the lines.
A large shop vacuum can be used to blow air into each return line to clear out any water lingering there. Make sure you let it run for a while as even a small amount of moisture in the pipes can cause them burst. You will need a curved funnel to add pool anti-freeze, not automotive anti-freeze, to the pipes. Four liters will protect three meters of piping. Also remove all of the drain plugs from the pump, filter, and heater. Be sure to store the plugs where you can find them next year and to protect all of the drains themselves with a non-hardening joint compound to prevent rusting. Once the anti-freeze is in place, seal the pipes. Use rubber plugs to do this. You will also need to protect the skimmer, either by using some insulating foam or by using an item called a Gizzmo designed for this specific task. You are now ready to cover the pool.
Try to center the cover over the pool. You and your assistant may have to wrestle with it for a while to get it in place. Press the edges down until it lies as flat on the water as possible, with the excess pressed up and over the wall. Place your water bags around the perimeter of the pool and make sure that there are no loose edges that could flap in the wind. Over the winter, try to keep the cover as clean as possible by using a rake or leaf blower. Keep an eye on the water bags as they can burst or get tossed around in a storm.
Finally, you must drain all the water from your filter equipment. Remove the plug at the bottom and open the air relief valve if your filter has one. Close the valve (it may be labelled winterize) and remove the pressure gauge to store indoors. Also drain the pump, chemical feeder, heater, and any other filter equipment that has water in it. If you have followed these simple instructions, your pool is ready to rest until next season. It will be in tip-top shape, and ready to provide you with hours of fun in the sun.
Have questions about properly closing your swimming pool before another cold Canadian Winter? Feel free to contact us here for help!
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