Closing and winterizing your pool
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This axiom was coined by Benjamin Franklin in 1736, and is still applicable to many areas of our everyday lives. When it comes to protecting homes — the single largest investment for many Americans — spending on preventative measures is a sound strategy for the long-term preservation of your greatest asset.
With winter now in sight for much of the country, it’s time to protect one major home investment — the outdoor pool. Low temperatures and frozen precipitation can shorten their useful lives and lead to costly repairs, so it’s important to properly close and winterize outdoor swimming pools.
Ice is not your pool’s friend
Whether you have an inground or above-ground swimming pool, the expansion of water as it turns to ice may damage the structure, plumbing and filtration systems if proper safeguards are not applied. While totally draining a pool may work for some, the experts say it’s preferable to reduce the amount of water without draining it entirely.
For inground pools the water should be lowered several inches below skimmer levels. This allows you to clean and drain the plumbing and filtration systems to guard against damage from freezing. If you have an above-ground pool, you can lower the water level slightly to allow for expansion of ice and simply remove and drain the pump and skimmer system and store the equipment until needed. If those pieces are not detachable, follow the same procedures recommended for inground pools.
For a vinyl-lined pool, leaving the water in over the winter will help keep the liner in place, maintain proper shape and provide protections from wrinkling and tearing.
The right mix of pool chemicals is important
Leaving water in the pool will make it much easier to prepare for use when warm weather returns and also will help keep your water bill in check. However, it’s not as simple as lowering the water level and forgetting about it until spring.
You’ll need to cover the pool (more on that in a moment) and add chemicals that include, but may not be limited to:
- Stain preventers
- Algaecides and/or other anti-bacterial agents
- Water balancers
InTheSwim.com has a useful list of chemicals to keep pool water safe and clear throughout the year.
Pool covers are a good investment
Covers are made for almost all standard-dimension pools, and like so many other products, you generally get what you pay for. Lower-priced covers may be fine if you live in a region that gets little to no frozen precipitation, but if you live in northern latitudes where snow and ice can pile up, investing in a heavy-duty cover for winterizing your pool is advisable.
Before buying, check out online reviews to see what people are saying about the pool cover’s durability, ease of use and installation. Also, talk to pool professionals and ask for their recommendations. Covers for standard pool sizes can run from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.
Putting your pool to bed for the winter
Before installing a cover, make one final sweep to remove any leaves or other debris from the water. Some pool owners install air-filled pillows that float beneath the cover and provide a slight elevation so that rain and meltwater will drain. Even with the pillows, snow and ice can accumulate, in which case you should use long-handle brooms and/or leaf blowers for frequent removal.
Reminder: Never walk on an installed pool cover. Aside from possible damage to the cover, you could be putting your personal safety in peril should it give way.
If you don’t own a pool, but are considering taking the plunge, LightStream offers loans for all kinds of home improvement projects at competitive rates.