Preparing for Winter: Properly Closing Your Pool

Get Your Pool Ready for WinterThe hot summer days are beginning to cool and the leaves in the mountains are starting to turn.  Now is the time to beginning planning for the swiftly approaching fall and winter.  It’s time to start thinking about your change of seasons to-do list. This probably includes making sure that the maintenance on the snow blower is done, getting the leaf blower ready to go, winterizing sprinklers, trimming the trees, mowing the lawn for the last time, working on all the landscaping, and of course, there’s football to watch and hunting to do.

Another item on the get ready for winter list is to winterize your pool.  This is a crucial task in colder climates.  If this job is rushed or not done properly, if there is any water left in areas where it shouldn’t be, it will freeze, expand, and rupture pipes, pumps, and drains.

Professional pool companies may charge $200-400 dollars to winterize pools, but they also provide peace of mind all winter. Not only do they insure their work, they typically prioritize customers who get winterization services. That means that if you experience any maintenance issues in the spring, you’ll be first on their schedule when they make service calls.

If you choose to perform the winterization yourself, it’s critical that you know what you are doing, and that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations completely.  Even one small skipped step can lead to costly repairs, which may total much more than the cost of hiring out the winterization.

Here are some of the basic steps for winterizing most pools:

1.  Balance your pool water. You’ll want to adjust your pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels several days to a week before your pool closing so that you have the time to adjust them if necessary.

2.  Thoroughly clean the pool. The cleaner your pool is when you cover it, the better it will look next year.

3.  Decrease the level of pool water. For a mesh cover take the level to 8-12″ below the tile. For solid pool covers, lower the level to 3-5″ below the tile. The lower the water, the less damage there will be to your cover.

4.  Remove your drain plugs. Examine your pipes, pump(s), filter, heater and chlorinators, and remove any drain plugs. Open all directional valves to allow water to meet the water in the pool.

5.  Blow out the lines.This is the most important step in winterizing a pool; you must ensure there is no water left in the equipment or plumbing. Blow out the lines with a powerful shop vac or an air compressor.

6.  Plug your lines.Once you’ve blown out the lines while winterizing a pool, use expansion plugs or freeze plugs to plug returns, skimmers, and cleaner lines.

7.  To shut off power to the pump, turn off the circuit breaker. This is also the time to turn off any timer dogs on the time clock, in the event that the breaker gets turned on accidentally during the winter.

If you do want to hire the professional and not worry about all the hassle, make sure that you call early.  Once the weather turns, customers will begin to call faster than some companies can provide service.  Even if you’re not ready to close your pool yet, you can always call and schedule the service for several weeks down the road, leaving yourself plenty of time to watch your favorite collegiate football games.

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