Swimming Pool Chemicals

Pool closing - winterising

 

 

This is not usually the time of year that people like to think about their swimming pools, but this is really the most important time of the year to pay attention to the pool to avoid unnecessary problems and costly repairs come Springtime.

The following are generalised instructions on how to properly close an inground and an above ground pool. Please note however, that all pools are somewhat different and your pool may need specific care not mentioned here. If you have any doubts about how to properly close your particular pool then either give us a call or email your query to us. Remember it's better to be safe than sorry & prevention is better than cure!

Frequently Asked Questions about Pool Closings

  • What kind of chemicals do you put in the pool?
    • We suggest a the use of a concentrated shock treatment along with a winter algaecide and stain treatment product.
    • Also make sure you adjust the pH and Alkalinity of the water.
  • Do you put any Antifreeze in the pipes?
    • No, you should not have to.
    • The only way that you can guarantee that your underground pipes don’t freeze is to blow all the water out of the pipes with a high powered air compressor or shop vac.
    • The only time you would need to add Antifreeze is if you were going to leave water in the pipes. Then you would have to add it to keep them from freezing, but this is not recommended.
  • Do you drop the light, lower the light, remove the light?
    • No, you do not have to lower the light.
    • A long time ago, before people used compressors or shop vacs to blow all the water out of the pipes, they had to lower the water in the pool down past the returns. Then they used to have to remove the light and drop it to the bottom of the pool because if the pool water froze, it might expand and actually crack the light.
    • Now a days, since you can use the compressor to blow out the pipes, you can keep the water level in the pool high up so your light can stay where it is.
    • There is much less of a chance that the light will develop a leak if you just leave it alone.
  • Why do you have to lower the water in the pool if the pool has tile around the top at the water level?
    • If you have tiles and you do not lower the water level, then if the water freezes it can expand outwards and actually crack the tile.
  • Do you have to lower the water in a vinyl liner Inground pool?
    • No, the only time that a pool needs to have the water lowered is if you have a gunite or cement pool with tile around the top, at the water line.
    • If you have tiles and you do not lower the water level, then if the water freezes it can expand outwards and actually crack the tile. That’s the only reason.
    • If you have a liner in the pool then there is no need to lower the water level. When you use high powered compressors to blow all the water out of the pipes and plug the return jets and the skimmers there is no need to lower the water.
    • The higher you can keep the water in the pool, the better it is for your pool cover and there will be much less of a chance of the cover falling in.
  • Should I acid wash my DE filter before closing?
    • You should backwash it out before you close it down, that gets all the gunk and old DE out of the filter.
    • If you want to have the filter 'acid washed', that’s usually something you do at the pool opening.
    • You don’t want to have the filter cleaned and then have it sit for the next six months with acid residue in it. Most people want to have it cleaned out right before they start up the pool in the spring. It is best to wait till then.
  • Should I vacuum the pool before I close it?
    • We do not recommend closing the pool if there is a lot of debris in it, then you should vacuum it all out.
    • Most people vacuum the pool right after they open it in the Spring and only have to do it once.

Top

Inground Pool Closing

  • Locate all your winterising supplies. This should include:
    • the cover
    • the water tubes
    • the plugs for the skimmers and return jets
    • your winterising chemicals.
    • You will also need an air compressor or a powerful shop vac.
  • Backwash the filter very well to clean it out.
    • Drain DE filter tanks and leave backwash valve open.
    • On sand filters, unplug the filter drain plug and leave off.
    • Put drain plug with other removed items in the pump basket.
    • Make sure multiport valve has no water in it.
    • Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac if necessary.
    • Please note that it is not recommended to "acid wash" DE filters at the time of the pool closing. This is best to do in the Spring so that you can immediately run pool water through the system. It is not good to use muriatic acid on a DE filter and then just rinse it off and put it away. The acid may degrade the filter parts over the winter.
  • Disconnect your pump and filter.
    • Make sure that pump is totally drained out of any water.
    • Turn pump upside down once to make sure!
    • Remove any drain plugs from the pump.
    • It is a good idea to store any small plugs or parts in the pump basket. This way you will be able to find them easily in the Spring.
  • If there is a heater, drain it and make sure there is no sitting water inside.
    • Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac.
    • Drain heater totally and remove all drain plugs (if any).
    • Put drain plugs in the pump basket for safe keeping.
    • We do not recommend to remove the heater tray. You can remove it if you want, but you may have trouble putting it back in the Spring. It is not necessary on most units.
  • Unscrew and loosen any quick disconnect fittings or unions at your pump and filter system. Remember, the name of the game is "no freeze cracks". If the water is all drained out of your pipes and fittings, it cannot freeze and expand and crack.
  • Remove all return jet fittings (the entire fitting!).
    • If you crack a fitting while removing it, don’t panic!! You can get a replacement come Spring.
    • Remove all skimmer baskets. Put fittings and any other items that you remove in one of the skimmer baskets or the pump basket to avoid loss.
  • Blow out all return jet pipes using an air compressor or shop vac.
    • Hook up air compressor or shop vac to the return lines at the filter system, or some people prefer to screw the compressor fitting into the drain plug of the pump. This will give a good seal and allow you to blow out the entire system from that one spot but this is up to you.
    • Keep the air blowing until the air bubbles start to become visible from the return jets in the pool.
    • Put a plug in the fitting under the water when you see the bubbles blowing at full force. This will mean that 99% of the water is out of the pipe.
    • Make sure plug is in tight! This is most important.
  • Blow out all skimmer (suction side) pipes in a similar fashion as noted in #7.
    • Put a plug in the skimmer when bubbles start to become visible.
    • Make sure that you put Teflon tape on the plug threads before installing. This insures a tight seal.
    • Make sure there is something in the skimmer to allow for water expansion when it freezes. Usually a closed empty plastic bottle will work. This is very important! Do not just plug the skimmer lines and forget about them. Water can easily freeze in a skimmer and crack the plastic.
    • Also, if you have a slide, an auto vac system or a waterfall, you will have to drain and blow out those pipes as well.
  • Blow out main drain line (if any).
    • When you see bubbles coming out of the drain, plug the pipe on your end or close the gate valve.
    • This is as much protection as you can give to a main drain line. By doing this you will cause an "air lock" in the line and no more water should enter the pipe from the pool side.
  • Put duct tape on all exposed pipes to prevent anything from getting into them.
  • Remove rope and floats from pool and put with the rest of the supplies.
  • Remove dive board and ladders. Put in a safe spot - a shed or the garage.
  • Put the pump and filter in the shed or garage as well. You probably are not going to want to move your filter if it is a sand filter. Do not lose dive bolts or ladder bumpers, put them in the skimmer or pump baskets.
  • Mix any granular winterising chemicals in a bucket so that they are totally dissolved.
    • Dump mixture into the pool.
    • You want to avoid any undissolved granules from settling on the pool floor and staining the liner.
    • If you are using any liquid winterising chemicals, pour them in the pool as well.
    • Test the pool for pH and Total Alkalinity. Adjust to normal levels using pH Plus or Minus and Alkalinity Plus.
    • pH should be between 7.2 - 7.6 and Alkalinity between 100-150 ppm.
    • Make sure one of your winteriser chemicals consists of a Shock-type product. You want the chlorine level in the pool to be rather high (over 3.0 for wintertime).
  • Water level - you do not have to drain any water out of the pool provided that you have properly blown out and plugged all your underground pipes as outlined above and you do not have a pool that has decorative ceramic tiles at the water line.
    • Some people are used to their pool being drained down past the skimmer. This is usually done instead of blowing out the pipes and using plugs.
    • Realise that the higher their water level is through the winter, the better it is for the pool cover. Pools that are drained down low cause a lot of undue stress on the pool cover thereby shortening its life - as well as exposing the pool liner to the air and causing it to prematurely dry out.
    • The use of plugs prevents the skimmers from cracking, plugs the pipes and allows the water level to remain high for the cover so that rain water does not cause a lake on top of the pool cover, possibly causing it to fall in.
    • You really only have to drain the water down in a pool if it has tile at the water level because the surface water will freeze and expand over the winter and this could cause those tiles to crack.
  • Place the cover on the pool.
    • If there are rips or tears in the cover that are repairable, patch them with either vinyl pool patch (for vinyl covers) or with pool cover patch tape (for lightweight covers) or with a heavy duty duct-type tape.
    • If there are sharp points that extend into the pool, like step units or "ELS", then it is a good idea to put rags or cardboard between the cover and the points on the pool which extend out. Do this right or the cover may rip on those stress points.

Top

Above Ground Pool Closing

  • Locate all your winterising supplies. This should include :
    • the cover
    • the air pillow
    • the plugs for the skimmers
    • the winter plate
    • your winterising chemicals.
  • Backwash the filter very well to clean it out.
    • Drain DE filter tanks and leave backwash valve open.
    • On sand filters, unplug the filter drain plug and leave off. Put drain plug with other removed items in the pump basket.
    • Make sure multiport valve (if any) has no water in it. Blow it out with a compressor or shop vac if necessary.
    • Please note that it is not recommended to "acid wash" DE filters at the time of the pool closing. This is best to do in the Spring so that you can immediately run pool water through the system. It is not good to use muriatic acid on a DE filter and then just rinse it off and put it away. The acid may degrade the filter parts over the winter.
  • Plug return pipes and skimmer and remove all hoses.
  • Disconnect your pump and filter.
    • Make sure that pump is totally drained out of any water.
    • Turn pump upside down once to make sure.
    • Remove any drain plugs from the pump. It is a good idea to store any small plugs or parts in the pump basket. This way you will be able to find them easily in the Spring.
    • Store in a shed or garage.
  • Some people like to remove the skimmer box and install a winter plate with gaskets.
    • If you do this, make sure it does not leak & yes, you will get wet doing this!
    • Most people simply plug the skimmer hole with a black rubber plug as it is easier.
    • You can let the water in the pool go down to the bottom of the skimmer if you like, then you do not have to plug the hole at all. This method is also OK, but realise that the pool cover will sit lower in the pool, therefore you might want to use a cover that is one or two sizes bigger than your pool so that you have the extra material available.
  • Blow up and install your air pillow.
    • Air pillows are usually used but are not absolutely necessary.
    • They are a good idea in case the water in the pool freezes, expands, and breaks the pool wall. The pillow takes up the slack, however realise that this is somewhat rare.
    • If no pillow is available, you can use tires, tubes, balls, or other air filled floating objects.
    • Throw them into the pool to take up ice expansion.
    • Tie air pillow at two places and position in centre of pool & tie strings to the pool wall so the pillow does not move during cover installation.
    • Pillows are NOT to keep the rain water out of the pool cover, they will not do that as the rain water will always settle around the outside of the pillow.
  • Remove all deck equipment from pool, ladders, rails, slides, etc.
  • Add chemicals.
    • Mix any granular winterising chemicals in a bucket so that they are totally dissolved.
    • Dump mixture into the pool.
    • You want to avoid any undissolved granules from settling on the pool floor and staining the liner. This is very important.
    • If you are using any liquid winterising chemicals, pour them in the pool as well.
    • Test the pool for pH and Total Alkalinity. Adjust to normal levels using pH Plus or Mimus and Alkalinity Plus.
    • pH should be between 7.2 - 7.6 and Alkalinity between 100-150 PPM
    • Make sure one of your winteriser chemicals consists of a Shock-type product. You want the chlorine level in the pool to be rather high (over 3.0 for wintertime).
  • Place cover on pool and secure.
    • Make sure that cover cable wire is tight so that cover does not blow off or fall in pool.
    • Make sure the pillow is still in the middle of the pool after cover installation. If not, reset cover and pillow.