WINTER TIPS FOR POOL OWNERS
1. Invest in a reliable submersible pump. Winter months bring plenty of rain and snowfall which can raise the level of your pool water or result in accumulation on your pool cover. Most submersible pumps will connect easily to a garden hose and allow you to remove that water in a relatively short time. This is important to prevent potential damage to your cover or the pool itself. Vinyl swimming pools in particular, need to have the water level kept below the top of the liner so that water does not get behind the liner and possibly wash out the pool bottom. Check your submersible pump regularly for proper operation and keep it free from leaves and debris.
2. Don't break the ice. If temperatures drop below freezing there is a good chance that the surface of the pool will freeze over. Resist the temptation to break the ice! Most times the pool will be just fine. Typically the danger of damage happens if you attempt to break the ice. Either the sharp object being used to break the ice can cause damage to the pool surface, or the sharp jagged edges of the broken ice could result in a costly repair. If left alone, ice will often expand upwards and shouldn't be a cause for alarm. A greater concern is the pool equipment and plumbing. Winterizing the equipment is the best way to have peace of mind. Running a small space heater in the equipment room can also help to prevent freezing of your pump and filter.
3. Testing, testing. If your pool is uncovered and exposed to the elements, it is wise to test your chemical levels mid-winter. The most important reading will be the free chlorine level. If a large amount of rain water or debris enters the pool there is a risk of cloudy water or algae growth. If the chlorine level tests at zero, a light shock may be needed to keep the water clean and clear. Most pool professionals offer winter shock treatments that are designed to dissolve thoroughly in cold water. Carefully read the instructions on the package before applying any product.
4. Open early. Don't procrastinate opening the pool. Even if you don't plan on swimming you can circulate the pool and have it ready for when the warm weather hits. As soon as the winter weather seems to subside, fire up that pool! Getting an early start will help you get everything cleaned up before the mad rush at your local pool store. You will also be able to inspect everything for any potential issues that developed over the winter, and you can address them long before your first pool party.
The old adage is true, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By planning ahead and taking a few simple precautions, you can have confidence that your pool will safely endure the winter months. So curl up by the fire, watch for the first snowfall, but don't forget about the pool!