Ask Don: When Should I Winterize My Pool

Closing Your Pool

In our area, we close pools anytime after Labor Day. September and the first two weeks of October are our busiest times. We blow out the pool water lines just like your sprinkler lines, so be sure and schedule before the first big freeze.

Three of the first things you should check and adjust are the pH and (the level of acidic and alkaline qualities in the water), the calcium, and the alkalinity (how well the water resists a change in pH levels).

  • Pool pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6.
  • Calcium levels should be between 175 and 225 parts-per-million (ppm) for all pool types.
  • Alkalinity should be 80-125 ppm for plaster/gunite pools, and 125-150 ppm for other pool types.

Next check and adjust chlorine level in the pool water. Chlorine is what kills all the bacteria, viruses and germs in the water. The sun’s UV rays can diminish its effectiveness, so pool water also needs a chlorine stabilizer.

  • Check the stabilizer level and adjust to 30 ppm.
  • Check the chlorine level and adjust to 1 to 4 ppm.

Always wear safety goggles and rubber gloves when working with the chemicals. Also make sure you read and follow each product’s directions including how to use and how to store the chemicals.

Cleaning and Storing Pool Equipment

Cleaning involves more than just scrubbing the pool walls. The addition of certain chemicals will help keep your water stable, so it doesn’t damage your pool equipment.

Remove, clean and store pool ladders, diving board and other pool accessories. Clean pool walls and floor with a pool brush. Use a pool skimmer to remove debris from the water. Don’t forget to clean the skimmer baskets. You may need to add scale, stain and metal control chemicals. Scales are heavy deposits of calcium that can damage your filter system, so preventive action is best.

Add granular chorine and let it circulate for six hours.

Add algaecide as recommended to prevent the growth of algae on the walls and floor of the pool.

Clean the pool filtration system

Cartridge filters: Replace the filter as indicated by the filter pressure dial or the filter manufacturer. Some cartridge pool filters can be manually cleaned a few times before replacement.

1. Remove the filter and spray with water
2. Soak the filter in a filter cleaner.

Sand filters: Backwash the filter following the manufacturer’s directions. Need for backwashing is indicated by the filter pressure dial. Replace the sand bed as recommended. The following are typical steps for cleaning the sand:

1. Close the valves into and out of the filter.
2. Add filter cleaner at full strength to the filter top through the inspection port, anode port, sand fill or pressure gauge hole, whichever is applicable.
3. After one hour, open the valves and backwash the filter thoroughly.
4. Remove the drain plug.
5. Drain the filter and turn the multi-port valve to the closed position.

D.E. (diatomaceous earth) filters: Backwash the filter following the manufacturer’s directions. Need for backwashing is indicated by the filter pressure dial. Add additives or replace the D.E. as recommended by the filter manufacturer. Typical cleaning steps are as follows:

1. Remove the filter and clean with a filter cleaner to eliminate buildup of grease, oil and scale.
2. Inspect the septa for tears or stretching, and repair or replace as needed.
3. Clean the inside of the filter tank.
4. Reinstall the filter.
5. Make sure the drain plug is closed.

Final Pool Closing Steps

Drain the pool’s water level to appropriate level below the skimmer opening.

  • For painted or natural finish pools with solid covers: 6″ below the skimmer opening.
  • For plaster pools with solid covers: 1-6″ below the skimmer opening.
  • For vinyl-lined pools: 1″ below the skimmer opening.
  • For pools with mesh covers or no covers: 18-24″ below the skimmer opening.

Remove the directional fittings and install the freeze plugs.

Shut off the filter pump, drain all equipment and store as recommended by the pool manufacturer.

In extreme cold climates, add swimming pool anti-freeze.

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