Ever thought of winterizing your pool as an unnecessary and daunting task? Well, just like weather stripping your home or adding antifreeze to your car, your pool requires the same TLC as all the other little joys in life. In order to save a great deal of time, avoidable frustration, equipment damage, and lots of money, winterizing is essential.
Not winterizing your pool can lead to a host of problems including cracked equipment (pumps, skimmers, etc.) lifted and cracked cement, frozen underground pipes, and freeze-thaw damage. Here are some common questions about the winterizing process.
Ah! Winter is coming. Do I need to drain my pool?
A common misconception amongst new pool owners is that you must drain all the water from the pool to prepare for winter. Doing that would be the equivalent of offering Superman a kryptonite-flavored lollipop! Just don’t do it!
Suffice it to say you should never drain your pool. This should be a job for a licensed, experienced and insured professional. Don’t believe us? We’ve heard of cases where the owner drained a pool and the concrete or fiberglass shell actually floated out of the ground like a huge boat…and other stories about the liner in a vinyl pool shrinking within hours of the water being drained.
In other words, completely draining a swimming pool is a big no-no.
Do I need to add any chemicals to my pool to prepare for the winter?
Although ‘no’ would probably be the easiest answer, ‘yes’ is the correct one: You do need to add a mixture of chemicals to your pool to keep it clean for the winter. No one wants to remove the pool cover in the spring and see the Swamp Thing! But have no fear–there are winterizing kits that have everything included– all you have to do is follow the directions.
Should I clean my pool before winter?
Yes you should, but a light cleaning will do. Make sure that dirt, leaves, toys or UFOs (unidentified floating objects) are all removed from the water. This step should be done before adding chemicals. A good time to clean is when the seasons begin to change, but before trees start to lose their leaves. Avoid liner stains by getting debris out, rather than letting it soak for several months.
I have an above ground pool–does it need winterizing too?
Yes! Above ground pools need the same amount of attention as in-ground pools. Unless you’re talking about a kiddy pool, above ground pools have filters, pumps, and an intricate construction that needs to be taken care of. The list of tips below is general—follow your manufacturer’s instructions for specifics.
- Empty some of the water (must follow manufacturer’s guidelines for this step!)
- Change the pump, filter and hose settings
- Store the ladder
- Remove the skimmer basket
- Clean the vinyl liner
- Add appropriate chemicals
As we said…for more specific details, dig out your owner’s manual, dust if off and you should find all the information you need.
Do I really need to cover my pool? I like looking out and seeing an ice-skating rink in my back yard.
Yes, you do need to cover your pool for many reasons–not covering would mean that all your hard work up to this point would be a total waste. First of all, many pool accidents occur when a pool isn’t even being used.
Depending on your needs, one pool cover may be better than another. If you simply want to protect the pool from the elements, but don’t need to safeguard the pool, a standard winter pool cover will suffice. But if you have children and animals around, you’ll most likely want a safety cover that works almost like a fence, by completely covering and safeguarding the pool from mishaps.
One dilemma that pool owners have run into over the years is that mesh covers, although useful, allow dirt and debris to enter the pool, and also allow sunlight into the pool which in turn leads to algae. For this reason, we suggest placing a leaf net cover over a solid cover, which keeps major debris on top, letting it bake in the sun and get nice and dry so it’s easy to remove. How wonderful!
Ok, so how do I cover my pool? Can I use tarp? And what’s with people using floats and noodles under the pool cover?
Covering your pool isn’t difficult. It may take a few people to do it, but it is probably the easiest part of winterizing. Using a tarp is not a good idea. It won’t protect against children or animals falling in—not to mention the fact that tarps aren’t very sturdy.
Before you apply your pool cover, you should apply some sort of flotation device in the center of the pool. It is true that some people use pool noodles, but there are other and probably more effective devices that you can use. Consider using a car or truck inner-tube or a air pillow sold for this very purpose.
The float has two functions. First, it balances the rainwater and ice that forms on the pool’s cover during winter. Secondly, the area around the float won’t freeze and will allow the ice to push inward toward the float, rather than outward towards the pool wall. This will ease the tension on the pool walls, a condition that can lead to serious support issues in the future.
Lay the cover across the pool and over the float, secure it and tighten the wire around the perimeter. If you leave the cover unsecured, it may fly off in high winds or droop during heavy rains or snowfall.