Winterising Your Swimming Pool
May 26, 2012 Swimming Pools
Winterising your swimming pool, if you live in a warmer climate with an extremely low frequency of below freezing temperatures, you don't need to be quite so aggressive when winterising your pool. But in colder climates anywhere with more than two weeks of days with below freezing weather, on average--you need to be aggressive indeed to make sure that your pool's entire underground pipe system is completely cleaned out of water.
If water freezes underground during the winter, it can crack your pipes, allowing water to leak into the earth surrounding your pool. If that happens, expect to pay plenty in repairs, and expect to have a useless hole in the ground while you wait for everything to be fixed.
The steps to winterising your pool are as follows:
- Backwash your pool filter thoroughly. Drain out any filter tanks, disconnect any cartridge filters, and shop vac any filter connections in order to ensure that all of the water is gone.
- Disconnect your pool pump and filter. Make sure, again, that there's no water remaining in the pump.
- Loosen all pipe fittings in your filtration system to make sure that no water collects, expands, and cracks the pipes.
- Remove the skimmer baskets entirely and store them in a safe place.
- Hook up a shop vac to the pipe fittings in the filtration system (again, make sure that the pump and filter are out of the picture at this point, or face futility.) Blow out all of the water from the return pipe system first: when you see air bubbles start to form in the pool water, you'll know that the pipe is cleared out. Plug the water returns tightly on the side of the pool.
- Do the same for the skimmer baskets and the vacuum port. "Gizzmos" are fittings specially designed for winterising skimmer baskets, and should be used to plug the skimmer basket drains.
- Blow all of the water out of the main drains. Since it's impossible to conveniently plug the main drains in the pool itself, quickly plug the main drain pipes in your filter area. This should create an air-tight seal which will prevent most water from breaking into the underground main drain pipes over the winter.
- Wait a minute, you've been saying through the last three points. I don't have a shop vac. Okay. It's not as good of an option since you're not getting rid of all of the underground water, but you can avoid having to blow out any pipes by simply draining water from your pool until the water is below the skimmer basket level. This can cause stress on your pool basin and leaves you vulnerable to some types of ice damage, so if you can blow the water out of your pipes, do it. But if you can't and you feel like taking risks, go for this option.
- Once all of the drains are closed up, add winterising chemicals (available at a pool supply store) to the pool water. Make sure you add a shock treatment as well, since in order to keep the pool safe over the winter, you'll need to keep the chlorine content of the water extremely high (ideally around 3 ppm, or triple the normal level of combined chlorine.)
- Place a winter cover over the pool. If your pool cover has ripped during the summer, don't take chances: replace it!
- Keep an eye on your pool cover over the winter. If water collects on the top of it after a rainfall or for any other reason, make sure to clean the water out. The pool cover will start to corrode due to the standing water and can buckle at the edges, making it impossible to keep the water in the pool as warm as it needs to be over the cold winter months.