Next to your barbecue, your pool is the MVP of your backyard during the summer. Your pool works hard all season long, keeping everyone lucky enough to enjoy it cool and entertained. The arrival of fall’s colder temperatures means that everyone is less interested in splashing in your pool while soaking up the sun in their swimsuits, so it’s time to start thinking about giving your pool the TLC it needs to close up for Canada’s outdoor pool hibernation months.
Following a proper end of season maintenance routine will ensure that your pool is safe and ready to serve you the summer fun you’re looking forward to next year.
A note on closing temperatures
Don’t wait until too late in the season to close your pool. Depending on your pool’s size and the methods you use, you may need to get into your pool as part of the closing process, so you don’t want the water to be too cold. It’s also best to close your pool when the temperature is above freezing so that you don’t risk your swimming pool’s waterlines freezing.
However, closing your pool when the average outdoor temperature is still above 15 degrees Celsius could cause unwanted algae growth.
Mind your chemicals
If you’ve been maintaining your pool all summer long, you’re probably already familiar with the precise balance of chemicals it needs to stay clean and safe. Your pool will need extra closing chemicals to keep the water and liner clean over the winter months.
● Shock/clarifier treatment (saltwater pools need non-chlorine shock chemicals).
● Saltwater pools will also need stain and scale remover.
● You can also use pool antifreeze to protect plumbing lines if your pool’s manufacturer recommends it. However, antifreeze may not be necessary when you blow out all of your pool’s plumbing lines with a shop vac or compressor.
● You can purchase a closing chemical kit to get all the chemical ingredients you need to close your pool.
● Test your pool’s P.H. levels, calcium hardness and total alkalinity. Balancing chemicals and making sure they fully dissolve before closing prevents them from damaging a pool’s lining.
Make sure you adjust the concentration of chemicals you use for the size of your pool and follow all chemical use safety instructions. Chemical treatments need to be applied to your pool while the filter is running, so you should start this process a week before closing your pool.
Remove and protect pool accessories
The larger your swimming pool is, the more accessories it probably has. Even small accessories like floatation devices and toys should be cleaned and stored safely for the winter, so they’re in good shape for next summer.
● Remove safety ropes and drop-in steps. Remove ladders while taking care that their liner-protecting bumpers don’t fall off.
● You can unbolt your diving board and store it for the winter—wrap slides and other immovable accessories in builders plastic to help protect them from the elements.
● If your pool has luxury accessories like a slide, waterfall, or other water features: drain and blow out their piping systems.
Cleaning and Draining your pool and it’s hardware
You wouldn’t store a summer vehicle in your garage for the winter without giving it a good cleaning first. Your pool should also be as clean as possible when you close it for the season. Letting debris settle on the liner or inside the filter, pump, or plumbing lines can damage or stain your pool and make opening it in the summer more difficult.
● Clean and remove your pump’s skimmer basket and hair trap for winter storage.
● Skim your pool in addition to brushing and vacuuming its walls and liner.
● Finally, drain your pool until the water level is several centimetres below the skimmer/return lines.
Protect your plumbing from freezing temperatures
Even though you won’t be completely draining your pool for the winter, all of your pool’s plumbing lines need to be water-free. If water is left in these lines over the winter, it will freeze and damage your pool’s expensive-to-repair plumbing. This step in the pool closure process is the most difficult, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a professional’s assistance.
Freeze proofing your pool involves using an air compressor, shop vac, or air blower to dry out all of your pool’s water lines. Before you begin this process, remove any hardware from your return fittings, including the return fitting eyeballs.
You’ll also need to plug each line so that no water can re-enter your pool’s plumbing system. Your pump, skimmer, and filter lines, as well as any specialized salt or chlorine systems, need to be blown out and sealed with the proper winter plugs. If you have a heater, it’s piping also needs to be drained and plugged.
Your skimmer should be plugged with either a special tube plug called a gizzmo or a skimmer plate. Threaded plugs or rubber freeze plugs are also needed to plug your pool’s return line holes.
Cover up for the winter
The final step is to make sure your pool is covered correctly to protect it against U.V. rays and the harsh winter elements. Check your cover for damage and repair any holes or tears you find with the appropriate materials, such as vinyl patches or patch tape. If you’re using water bags to secure your cover, check them for leaks to ensure you have enough to line your pool’s perimeter.
The process of covering your pool can vary depending on the type of cover you choose. Above-ground pools typically use fabrene winter covers, while in-ground pools often use more durable safety covers or custom-fitted lock-in vinyl covers.
Traditional fabrene winter covers can be secured on top of in-ground pools with water bags. Only fill the water bags 3/4 full, to prevent them from bursting when the water freezes and expands. To secure an above ground winter pool cover, you’ll need to weave a cable through the grommets around your cover’s perimeter and tighten by threading the cable through a turnbuckle.
While installing a safety cover, ensure the cover anchors on your pool’s deck are still in good shape and in the proper position, securely attached. Unfold the cover and lay it over your pool, starting with the shallow end. Use the anchors to secure your cover according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Lock-in vinyl winter covers should include a step cover, if applicable. Secure the step cover first, and then unfold it length-wise. Stretch your vinyl cover across your pool and fasten it into place along with your pool’s winter coping channel.
Once you finish closing your pool, you may need to perform some light winter maintenance to keep it protected.
● Regularly remove leaves and debris from your cover throughout the fall, winter and spring.
● Drain any excess water that accumulates on top of the cover.
● Periodically check your pool’s water level. If you notice a leak, add more water to keep your pool filled to slightly below the return lines and make a note to repair leaks in the spring.
If you have any concerns while closing your pool in the fall, calling your preferred pool maintenance professionals will ensure the job is completed correctly. Taking care of your pool is an integral part of caring for your property.
Whether you’re planning on hibernating this fall or looking forward to winter recreational activities, you can enjoy the season knowing that your pool is protected.
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