If you live in southern New England and have a pool, there are a lot of months when you won’t be using it. In winter, many owners neglect their pools. This can cause a lot of problems that will need to be dealt with in the spring, and some can cause real damage. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some ways to keep your pool healthy during winter.
Get a Good Cover
Pool owners can save a lot of trouble by getting a tight and correctly sized pool cover. This keeps snow, rain, dirt, leaves, acorns, pine needles, and even small animals from getting into the pool and causing more cleanup chores later. All that stuff can degrade your pool’s pH levels too. If your cover doesn’t fit well or is significantly worn or damaged, consider replacing it. High quality covers can be expensive, but they do prevent costly damage to your pool, and they last longer. Of course, you’ll need to remove fixtures such as pool ladders, handrails and diving boards before you can cover the pool.
There are different kinds of pool cover, including a standard winter cover, and a safety/security cover.
- Standard covers often require a set of water tubes that go around the perimeter of the cover and hold it steady. You fill these tubes with a hose, but only to about 80 percent capacity to prevent freeze damage. These tubes are made of gentle material that won’t damage the cover. Do not use makeshift items such as bricks or cinder blocks to hold the cover steady, as they can tear the cover fabric and cause serious structural damage.
- Safety/security covers usually attach to the deck surface with spring-loaded straps, making them more secure. This allows them to better handle heavy loads such as a buildup of snow.
Protect Your Equipment From Freezing Water
Make sure your pool equipment isn’t full of stagnant water. When that water freezes, it will expand. This can cause expensive damage. Drain your equipment and disconnect any fittings that may hold water.
Blow Out the Pool Lines
Since your pool lines are vulnerable from ice cracking as well, it’s a good idea to blow the water out of them with an air compressor or a shop vac with special attachments. If you’re not comfortable doing this, call a pool company. If you feel able, here are the steps:
- Turn the valves so the skimmers (and main drain, if applicable) are open.
- Connect the air compressor to your pump by threading the hose into the drain plug opening. (This may require an adaptor.)
- Run the compressor and look for bubbles coming from the skimmers and/or return lines.
- Walk around the pool and plug all return lines, making sure that no bubbles escape.
- Use a Gizzmo to plug the hole in the bottom of the skimmer where bubbles are forming. The Gizzmo will absorb the expansion from water freezing in your skimmer, helping protect the plastic from cracking.
- If your pool has a main drain, plug the pipe on your end when you see bubbles coming from the drain, and close the gate valve to create an air lock in the line.
- If your pool has a heater, remove the drain plugs and direct air into the unit by closing off all valves except the one to the heater. Run the compressor until you see no more water leaving the drains. Now shut off the compressor and replace the plugs.
- Blow out any other lines your pool may have, such as for a slide, an auto vac system, or a waterfall.
Keep It Clean
If you have a cover or not, you’ll want to keep your pool as clean as you can. Regularly check and empty out your pump baskets, skimmer baskets, cleaner bags and floor cleaner containers. You’ll also want to scrub the surfaces to keep algae from building up on the pool walls and floor.
Maintain the Right Water Level
Pools in warmer regions can keep regular water levels all year long, but here in southern New England where it freezes, we need to drain some water in the fall in order to keep the water four to six inches below the skimmer during winter months, and perhaps longer.
Maintain the Right Water Chemistry
A crucial part of pool maintenance is regulating your water chemistry every week, or twice a week if you have a spa. This includes your pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and cyanuric levels, which all need to be kept in normal ranges in order to avoid damage to your surfaces and equipment. Algae growth is less of a problem in winter but can still grow when temperatures reach 60 degrees or more. You can use an algaecide to keep it at bay. One thing that can be relaxed is your sanitizer levels, as long as you maintain all the other normal chemical levels. You also won’t need to add much chlorine during winter because of the lack of use, and high chlorine levels will damage your cover, so you still want to keep it within a normal range and test the it often.
Check Your Equipment
If they’re in use, periodically check your pool pump, heater and exposed plumbing to make sure they’re all operating correctly and there are no leaks. Check on your filter gauge and clean your filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, because even a covered pool can acquire debris.
If you need any help keeping your pool healthy this winter, call Aaron Pools. Established in 1972, this family-owned-and-operated business has a dedicated, award-winning team with over 400 years of combined experience. We love to help improve the quality time that families spend together at home, and that’s why we’ve installed more than 2,000 swimming pools and hot tubs, from Cape Cod to Connecticut. For the best possible service from our highly experienced installation team, call 508-784-1160 or contact us today.