Closing the pool for another season

Closing a pool at the end of the swimming season can be bittersweet. Homeowners may be sad to bid adieu to the lazy days of splashing and swimming, but ready to embrace the cooler weather and the beauty of autumn. Before the leaves begin to fall from the trees, pool owners must prepare to close, or winterize, their pools.
• Gather your supplies. Make a list of the supplies you need to close the pool. Having everything on hand will make the process far more efficient than trying to wing it. Closing a pool can be a large job, so it pays to have some extra hands available. Enlist some helpers who will be available to hand you materials or to assist with placing the cover on the pool — which can be challenging to do on your own.
• Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase necessary chemicals. The chemicals used throughout the season will also be needed in the winterization process. Therefore, be sure you have enough before pool supplies become difficult to find in area stores. These include sanitizer, algaecide and pH-balancing chemicals.
• Clean the entire pool area. Ensuring the pool water and the surface of the pool is clean can make reopening the pool easy. Vacuum the pool thoroughly, removing any debris and organic matter that can contribute to algae growth. Don’t forget to brush down the walls of the pool and clean the jets and area where the filter skimmer meets the pool. Pool walls have plenty of crevices where algae can hide and multiply.
• Test the water. Leading pool products manufacturer Hayward recommends adjusting the pH to between 7.2 and 7.8 to prevent stains, scaling and algae growth. Alkalinity should be 80 to 125 ppm for plaster/gunite pools and 125 to 150 ppm for other pool types. Test the level of available chlorine, and super-chlorinate the pool to maintain a sanitation level of at least 4 ppm. Once the pool cover is on, the amount of chlorine that escapes due to sunlight and evaporation will decrease. An algaecide may be used, if desired, as well. In very cold climates, a pool-water antifreeze may be necessary. Check with your pool supply retailer for more information.
• Run the filter. Run the filter at least 24 hours before disassembling the filter for the season. This will help circulate any chemicals added through the water.
• Drain the pool’s water to the appropriate level. Water should fall just below the skimmer opening. Many pools do not need to be completely drained for the winter.
• Shut off the filter pump, heater and any other equipment. Let all water drain out and allow equipment to dry before storing them away. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for lubrication and covering. Install freeze plugs if you choose to use them.
• Adjust electricity settings. Turn off the circuit to outdoor outlets that feed the pool equipment, testing to make sure the power is off.
• Put accessories away. Remove any ladders, diving boards, slides, external drain lines, and other recreational materials from the pool, storing them in a garage or shed so they are not subjected to potentially harsh winter weather.
• Inflate air pillows to roughly 80 percent full if you will be using them. Gather your helpers to attach the pool cover or leaf catcher net. Secure it thoroughly with anchors, water bags, wire fasteners, or whatever method is applicable for the cover and pool type. Remember, a quality pool cover will last for several years and keep leaves, dust and other unwanted items out of the water.
Come early autumn, homeowners can begin closing their pools to keep them secure and clean until the next swimming season begins.