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With the air cooling down and the weeks marching on, it’s time to think about how to prepare your pool for winter. Some people heat their pool and continue to use it during most of the cooler months, while others cover it up and put it into hibernation. Whichever you’re planning to do, there are a few things that you should do before the temperature gets too low. If you are a new pool owner and haven’t already developed a seasonal routine, then this will help get you started.
Cleaning is Always a Good Idea
Whether or not you plan to keep using the pool, a good autumn cleaning is a must. Throughly scrub the interior of the pool, then vacuum. Clear the lint basket attached to the pump and the skimmer baskets, as well. Finally, clean the filter. If you’re shutting the pool down for the winter, then clean it just before covering it. Please keep in mind, we do not recommend turning off the pump and filter over winter - it is designed to run everyday and if doesn't the pump's motor can cease and come Spring, you will need a new pool pump.
For Winter Pool Users
If you have a good system in place for heating your pool and you don’t mind a chill in the air, then you may be planning to use your pool on all but the coldest days of winter. If the pool is how you stay fit, then chances are, you are willing to brave the cold air in order to get your daily laps in.
First the good news: if the water is cool, there’s less risk of algae and contamination and you will need less chlorine. The government recommends a minimum chlorine level of 2.0mg/L for water that’s cooler than 26°C and a minimum level of 3.0mg/L for water that’s warmer than 26°C. However, you will still have to keep close tabs on the pH; make sure it’s between 7.4 and 7.6. Corrosion is more likely to occur at lower temperatures, so you must keep the alkalinity level and pH within bounds during the winter.
Even if you’re still using the pool this winter, you’re likely to use it less than you do in the summer. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it can be cleaned less often. You should continue to clean the pool regularly, keeping it free of leaves and debris, and run the filter for at least four hours a day. It’s also a good idea to keep the pool covered with an insulating pool blanket when it is not in use. That will keep some of the heat in and some of the debris out.
For Winter Shut-Down
If you plan to close the pool during the cooler months, then clean it and then cover it, but don’t forget about it.
Before covering up the pool, adjust the chemicals. Make sure that the alkalinity is between 100 and 150 parts per million and that the water hardness — the calcium — is at 200 to 300 parts per million. Next, add a large dose of chlorine to ‘shock’ the pool and kill off anything that might want to grow in it over the winter (BioGuard's Burnout Extreme is a great 'shock' product). If you’re purchasing a prepared formula, then choose a shock product that’s strong enough to require a temporary shut down. After all, you were planning to stop using the pool, anyway. Then, wait for the chlorine level to return to one to three parts per million.
You can't turn off the pump and filter during the winter, if you do you can damage your pool pump, your filter sand among other things. Just 2-4 hours per day in winter is all it takes and it is a great idea to use an algaecide to prevent a green pool. Continue to clean the pool occasionally, too, especially if it is at all exposed to the elements. Be sure to remove all the equipment and ladders before covering the pool for the winter, too.
The onset of winter temperatures require a little more attention to the pool than usual. If you properly prepare your pool for winter, then it will be much faster and easier to bring it back up to full speed in the spring.