As the days start growing colder and summer fades away, it is the time to start preparing your in-ground pool for the upcoming winter months. Winterizing or closing pools is essential to ensure that it is protected from freezing water that can potentially cause significant damage. Another good reason to winterize a pool is to keep it clean and avoid unpleasant hassles next summer. Since closing a pool can save a tremendous amount of time and money later on, the following is a detailed guide on how to properly winterize and close an in-ground swimming pool.
1. Balance the Water Chemistry
One of most important first steps for winterizing an in-ground pool is to be certain that the water chemistry is balanced accurately. Not only should the pH level be balanced, but the Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness should be as well. Never toss in chlorine or bromine tablets because they will sink to the bottom and destroy the surface of the pool. Also, the floater should be removed, since the strong oxidizer inside will discolor or bleach the pool walls.
Many pool owners benefit from purchasing a winterizing chemical kit, which is intended to maintain crystal clear blue water for the next season. Be sure to read through all of the instructions provided by the manufacturer carefully before using these kits to avert any mishaps. Stabilizing these chemical levels dramatically helps to protect the pool’s surface from staining and scratching that could damage the liner.
2. Lower the Water
Next, drain the water from the pool until it is beneath the mouth of the skimmer. If the water is not below the throat of the skimmer, it can freeze here and lead to significant damage. For those that have an in-ground pool with a vinyl liner, there is another alternative to prevent harm to the skimmer. Place a winter skimmer closure over the mouth, which will act as a plastic dam to keep the water away from the skimmer.
When these closures are properly attached, pool owners are allowed to leave the water at its normal level. The cover plate will also enable the pool cover to be supported more easily and ensure the liner does not float in the winter. Unfortunately, a comparable device has not been invented for concrete pools yet, so make sure the water is below the skimmer in these in-ground pools.
3. Prepare the Plumbing Lines
After reducing the level of water, the next step is to blow out the water from each of the plumbing lines from the filter system. The best method for doing this is using the discharge of a shop vac to clear out all of the water from each line. Then, place a plug with a rubber gasket in the lines at the pool end of the plumbing system. Depending on the fittings, it is usually best to use a threaded plug or rubber freeze plug for an optimal seal. Never overlook this crucial part of the winterization process, mostly because the water can fill the line back up if not sealed efficiently.
Likewise, use a skimmer seal to close the pipe and absorb the pressure of ice buildup. The hollow tube will collapse if water should somehow reach the skimmer and freeze within. It is recommended that Teflon tape is positioned on the threads of the seal to create a tight hold, as well as to make for easy removal next season. On the other hand, there is no need to put a plug in the main drain system of the pool because the extreme depth at the bottom will generally protect it from any freezing water.
4. Drain the Filter System
Finally, it is necessary to drain all of the water from the filter system and all of its associated equipment. Most filters have a plug at the bottom for quick and easy draining capabilities. If there is one, open the air relief valve that is located on the top. Position the multiport valve into the closed or winterized setting, and then remove the pressure gauge. It is a wise idea to take the pressure gauge inside for the winter because water can gather in the tube, freeze, and cause the gauge to break.
After removing the two plugs and draining the pump, ensure that all of the water is out of the line and the impeller by turning it on for one to two seconds. Do not let the pump run for longer that this because it will burn out the seal rapidly. Then, proceed to drain the chemical feeder, automatic cleaner pump, heater, and all other filter system equipment. When draining, place all of the removed plugs in the pump strainer basket, in order to avoid search parties in the spring.
Since temperatures can drop below freezing at any time across the country, it is highly recommended that all pool owners winterize or close their in-ground pools. Even those that are lucky enough to live in the Sun Belt need to make sure that they follow all of these necessary precautions to avoid costly freeze damage.