13 October 2015

So long, pool! Fall is here and it’s time to close up shop!

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In this article, we’ll look at winterizing above-ground pools. We’re happy to have as our co-author a real expert in the field: Nicolas Guillotte, president of ACPQ, Quebec’s pool merchant association.

When should I shut down my pool?

As late as possible, ideally in October, when the water temperature has hit 10°C. The idea is to keep the water clean as long as possible before closing the pool, to avoid a build-up of dirt and bacteria.

First the cleaning, then the closing!

La première chose à faire est de passer l’aspirateur. On poursuit le travail avec un lavage à contre-courant, plus communément appelé back-wash. Quand vous enclenchez la manette du filtre à la position back-wash, l'eau remonte dans le filtre, agite le sable et déloge ainsi les saletés, qui montent en surface et sont évacuées par le tuyau de vidange.

The first thing to do is to vacuum the pool floor. Then follow up with a back‑wash. When you set the filter handle to the back‑wash position, the water rises in the filter and shakes up the sand, which releases dirt and debris. These will rise to the surface and be expelled through the back‑wash hose.

This should take about two minutes. The next step is to set the filter to the rinse position to expel the dirty water between the filter head and the sand. Run the pump for 30 seconds.

Next, regulate the water alkalinity to 100–120 ppm and the pH to 7.2–7.4. It’s time for a little superchlorination! The idea is to increase the total residual chlorine content for a few hours in order to break down and kill any chlorine-resistant microorganisms.

  • Clean all the accessories

The cleaning isn’t over yet! The filter, solar blanket, and dirt ring around the sides of the pool all need to be cleaned. Of course, be sure to use the right products for each to avoid damaging your pool equipment. 

  • Empty the pool 

Start by closing your skimmer, then stop the pump. Set the filter handle to the drain or waste position. If you don’t have a bottom drain, you’ll need to use the vacuum to drain the pool. Drain the water down to a level of 15–18 inches below the skimmer. (If you’re unsure of how much water to drain, talk to the people at your pool store, since the recommended water level for this step can vary depending on the pool.) Once you’ve drained the pool to the recommended level, shut off the pump.

  • Store the pump

Unplug your pump, then unhook all of the hoses, dump out the water, and clean as needed. Store your pump in a heated and dry place.

  • Store the filter

First step: unscrew the pressure gauge, remove the sight glass, and empty the filter tank. Hang the filter upside down for a few days to ensure the tank is completely drained. If you have a sand filter, don’t try to hang it upside down—just remove the bottom plug. If you have a cartridge filter, you’ll need to remove the cartridge, clean it, and drain it. Reassemble the filter and set it to winterize or between positions.

  • Winterize the bottom drain 

The most important thing is to fill the bottom drain pipe with antifreeze. For optimal winterizing, insert a foam backer rod in the drain after adding the antifreeze. 

  • Winterize the skimmer

Remove the weir, face plate cover, and basket, then fill with styrofoam.

  • Winterize the water return

Unscrew the ring around the water return to remove the eyeball. Screw in the winterizing plug to stop water from getting out.

  • Roll out the winter cover

Don’t forget to put a beach ball under the cover so that rainwater drains off to the sides. Puddles of rainwater can put too much pressure on the cover, which could damage the pool. Remember: the winter cover will need to be removed before the first heavy freeze.

  • Turn off the water heater

It’s best to drain the heater with a vacuum or to blow air through it. Remove the drainage plug if there is one.

Pay close attention to the water level in your pool. Precipitation (snow and rain) can raise the water level and cause damage. Drain the pool back down to 18 inches below the skimmer as necessary.

Make sure you have good drainage around the pool. Don’t break ice in the pool, as this could damage the cover. Once the pool is frozen, don’t touch it until spring, but do keep an eye on it throughout the winter. Fancy a skating rink? Don’t build it in your pool!

These tips are for your information. Winterizing your pool properly is your responsibility. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to bring in a pool maintenance and winterizing professional—damage from improper winterizing is often very expensive to repair.