You might have already done it, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to learn the right way to close up your pool for the winter. Doing it right not only protects your pool from costly freezing mishaps, but also saves you time in the spring when when you or the kids can’t wait to get out the floaties.
Here in Largo, our overnight lows for the next few days are supposed to be in the 40s and 50s. Which means there's NO chance you're going to wake up, look outside and see anything like this:
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be ready for a freeze. You should have a winter plan for your pool, even here in sunny Florida. Here are four steps to closing your pool the right way.
1. Prepare yourself
Winterizing your pool needs to be done at the right time. A lot depends on your local climate. If you’re a new pool owner or just aren’t sure when is best for you, try asking a neighbor with a pool. Or maybe maybe it makes sense to give Fibre Tech a call. One good rule is waiting until it’s below 60 degrees. That’s a temperature at which algae is less likely to grow.
Make sure you’ve got the chemicals you need, as well as safety materials like gloves, a dust mask, and goggles. You surely know from experience, but chlorine and other chemicals can burn the nostrils and lungs.
When handling your chemicals, wear protective gear and always be sure that you’re adding the chemicals to water, and not the other way around. Splashing is less dangerous when it’s the water splashing out instead of undiluted chemicals.
2. Deal with the pool’s water chemistry
Start by adjusting the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Do this about five days before you’re ready to seal up the pool for good. Your pH should come in between 7.2 and 7.6, alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and calcium hardness between 180 and 220 ppm, generally speaking. Each of these will depend some on varying factors due to climate and the kind of pool you have.
Then, you’re going to shock the pool. Many people buy shock treatments that allow for swimming right after the treatment. If that’s what you have, it likely isn’t strong enough for winterizing. You should have a product with at least 65% sodium hypochlorite or a substitute of equal strength. To shock, add the treatment to a bucket of pool water and slowly pour into the pool away from water outlets. Keep the filtration system running to make the shock circulate throughout the pool.
Once your chlorine levels are back down between one and three ppm — this can take a few days — add a winterizing algaecide to the pool. This will kill any algae forming now or over the winter. It’s recommended you get a winterizing algaecide because that will be stronger and functions all winter. Pro tip: Don’t cut corners. If your chlorine levels are too high, they’ll make the algaecide useless.
3. Clean pool & lower the water
Get everything out of the pool. Everything. Pumps. Ladders. Hoses. The kids. The whole nine yards. Clean the equipment you’re done with for the year and store it. Then skim the pool. Do this as close to when you’re fully closing up as possible to make sure you get everything. Stray leafs and other debris can start small and seemingly innocuous. If you leave it for the winter, it can become the source of problems.
Get out the big guns. Vacuum and brush the pool. Backwash the filter a few times.
Once you’re totally clean, lower the water level. How low you need to go will depend on the kind of cover you’re using. With a mesh cover, bring the water down 12 to 18 inches below the skimmer. With a solid cover you only need to go three to six inches.
4. Final steps: Winterize equipment and cover the pool
Get everything out of water and the water out of everything. Drain your pumps, filters and everything else that water gets in. That’s right down to skimmer baskets. Remember, water expands when it freezes, meaning it can damage just about anything.
Clean the filters and store removable elements as appropriate. You can even go as far as using a Shop-Vac® to get all the water out. Finding cracks and breaks in the spring is way worse than taking an extra 10 minutes in the winter.
Any pipes and hoses running water to and from the pool should be blown out. You can use a Shop-Vac® to blow air into skimmer outlet pipes to clear them. Plug them up once you’ve got the water out. The other option here is pool antifreeze. (Please, please note that this is not the same thing is car antifreeze. The mistake has been made.)
Cover the pool with a tightly fitting cover. Make sure you get it on there properly with no edges of the pool showing. Anchor it down. If your cover is near a tree, you may want to consider a leaf net cover for easy removal of leafs during the winter.
And you’re there. You’ve got the pool protected and spring is on the way.