Pool Closing Guide

There are several important concerns when winterizing your pool.  The most important thing to consider is making sure nothing freezes and breaks over the winter.  This includes above ground, such as the pump, filter, heater, skimmer or solar system, and underground, like the plumbing lines.  Next, we want to be sure that the water in the pool is in the best shape possible next spring.  To do this, the water must be clear and balanced, it must be properly treated before covering, and the winter cover must be in good enough shape and be secure enough to last all winter.  This can be accomplished by following these steps:

 

1. BALANCE THE POOL WATER   Make sure your waters chlorine/bromine, pH and alkalinity are in the proper ranges.

2.  CLEAN THE POOL  Before closing the pool, make sure all organic debris, such as leaves and algae, are removed from the pool.

3.  LOWER THE WATER LEVEL  In most pools, the water only needs to be taken down 6 to 8 inches below the skimmer opening.  This can be done with a submersible pump or through the pools filtering system, if it is plumbed with both a bottom drain and a skimmer, and you are able to turn off the skimmer.  By drawing water from the drain and pumping it out your waste line, you can lower your pool.  On Sand Filter systems, be sure to set the dial valve to “WASTE”, not “BACKWASH”.  Also be sure you are not flooding anything or anybody!!  On Bump DE Filters, it is OK to merely open the backwash valve at the bottom of the tank.  On any other filter, call us and ask before pumping large amounts of water through the backwash system.

4.  WINTERIZE THE SKIMMER  First, remove all water from the skimmer line and the skimmer itself.  If you are lowering the pool water through the pools plumbing and you can shut off the skimmer line, leave it closed until the water is below the skimmer.  Then open the skimmer valve until you see air rush into the pump.  Then shut the valve again and continue pumping the water down as needed.  If you are unable to do it in this manner, then you will need to use a wet/dry vacuum to remove all the water out of the line.  Next, pour about one pint of anti-freeze into the suction hole of the skimmer.  Then, screw in a Gizzmo (a special winterizing plug) into that hole, and pour the equivalent of 1/2 gallon into the skimmer.  Some skimmers have the drain line connected to the front.  There are several important concerns when winterizing your pool.  The most important thing to consider is making sure nothing freezes and breaks over the winter.  This includes above ground, such as the pump, filter, heater, skimmer or solar system, and underground, like the plumbing lines.  Next, we want to be sure that the water in the pool is in the best shape possible next spring.  To do this, the water must be clear and balanced, it must be properly treated before covering, and the winter cover must be in good enough shape and be secure enough to last all winter.

5.  CHEMICALLY  TREAT  THE  WATER  There are two schools of thought on this.  One is to shock and add algaecide to the water before lowering it so you can circulate the chemicals  in the water.  The other is to lower the water and then add chemicals.  This method means you have less water to treat so your chemicals have more punch.  Also, if you shock the water first, then lower the water, you may be pumping high levels of chemicals onto your lawn when you lower the water.  Ideally, you would be able to lower the level, treat the water, and still circulate it with the filter system.  Most pools are not able to do this however.  By necessity, when we close pools, time dictates that we lower the water first.  This process has worked well for us.  Dosages are pretty easy to figure out.  You need to shock the pool with the same amount of shock you’d normally use when shocking the pool.  Then, add 1 quart of algaecide per 25,000 gallons of water.  The algaecide should be at least 40% active ingredient.  Now, if your cover is in good shape, the water should look blue and clear when you take it off in the spring!

6. THE UNDERGROUND PLUMBING  Every pool is a little different.  The majority of pools in the area are plumbed under ground with “black poly” pipes.  These lines are black and the connections are made with clamps.  This type of pipe is considered frost proof, which means it does not need to have the water blown out of it, or even plugged.  For pools of this type, it is not necessary to drain the water below the return jets.  Just drain the water 6 to 8 inches below the skimmer.  Pools that are plumbed with rigid white PVC plastic below ground must have the lines blown out.  The same is true with pools that have solar lines built into the deck.  Often, it is possible to blow air and anti-freeze into these lines with the water above them.  It takes two people to do this.  First, disconnect the plumbing for the line at the equipment. Pour 1/2 gallon anti-freeze into the pipe.  Attach a wet/dry vac hose to the pipe and blow air into the line.  You will see air begin to bubble up in the pool.  Beginning at the fitting closest to the blower, plug each fitting, waiting until air is blowing out of the next fitting and so on.  Remember, all pools are slightly different.  Pools with fiberglass steps that have jet fittings often need to be blown out even if the plumbing underground is black poly. WHEN IN DOUBT, CALL AND ASK!!!

 7.  COVER THE POOL  Remove the ladder, hand rails, diving board and thermometer.  If you have a light, remove the retaining screw and sink the light under water by attaching a weight (We use an empty anti-freeze jug and fill it with stones).  This protects the light from getting caught in the ice when the pool freezes.  Plug any return or suction inlets as needed.  Have someone hold or set weights or water tubes on the back edge of the cover while two of you pull the cover out over the pool.  Get the cover set in place and place your weights around the perimeter of the pool.  It is important that you do not pull the cover up tight.  By leaving slack on the pool, you are providing a place for water to gather when it rains or snows.  We like to try to make the cover fit the contour of the pool as much as possible.  We think it looks better and is safer that way.

8.  WINTERIZE THE EQUIPMENT  Again, the idea is to make sure nothing freezes and breaks.  Pumps usually have two drain plugs.  One drains the basket housing, the other the impeller housing.  Remove both of these.  On sand filters, remove the drain cap on the bottom side of the tank.  It is important to get anti-freeze into the sand in the filter, so you need to remove the dome or valve on top to do so.  Call us to find out how to do this if you’re not sure.  Leave the dial valve set in between positions, so water can’t sit in it and freeze.  Remove the pressure gauge and store it for the winter.  Also remove the backwash sight glass if there is one.  DE filters should be taken apart and the elements should be cleaned thoroughly, preferably soaked in a cleaning solution (we can do this for you).  Cartridge filters should be treated the same as DE.  Heaters need to have the gas shut off to them.  To drain the water, open the door and locate the pressure switch.  This is connected to a 1/4 “ copper tube and it will have two wires attached to it.  Disconnect the switch and shake all the water out of it.  Newer heaters have a self draining pressure switch.  Next, look for drain plugs or fittings on the sides of the heater.  These may look different on all  heaters.  Sometimes they look like wing nut drain plugs, or like a small faucet.  When in doubt, look in the owners manual for the heater or call us.  Also, turn the main gas control valve inside the heater to the off position.  Chlorinators and brominators also should have a drain plug on them that you should remove.  Try to get all residual tablets out of the vessel.  Look at the plumbing for any low spots where water might sit and gather.  Usually you can undo a union or disconnect a pipe to drain the water. 

 

That’s the general idea for closing your pool.  Remember, all pools are slightly different and this is a very broad overview,  intended as a guide in helping you close your own pool.  If you have any questions, call us.  It’s always cheaper to prevent a problem than to fix one!!

 

The Pool Guys