Nothing says “summer is really over” more than the ritual of closing and winterizing a pool. It can be a complicated procedure, so many people hire professionals to do it. But whether you close it yourself or hire a company to do it for you, make sure health and safety is your top priority to avoid personal injury.
“Shocking” Bacteria Away
Adding chemicals is a process called “shocking.” It is necessary to ensure that a cesspool of bacteria does not grow in your pool during the winter. Scrubbing the pool with a brush and giving it a thorough vacuuming will also assist in avoiding algae from building up. Cleaning, winterizing and properly storing the pool pump and filters is also essential.
Pool Water Levels
Lowering pool water levels is a controversial topic, but in locations where water will freeze, it is recommended that the water level should be lowered to 4 to 6 inches below the skimmer in vinyl pools, or below the tile line in a plaster pool. In areas where temperatures are not likely to dip below freezing, the water should be to the top of the pool essentially to the point of overflowing. All pool lines should be cleared and antifreeze should be added to avoid pipe damage. A certified gas technician needs to turn off and cover the heater. All pool chemicals must be stored properly and in a secure area away from any heat source.
Pool Safety Cover
It is essential to place a safety cover over the pool after all ladders, diving boards, and accompanying screws are removed as these could be tripping hazards. The cover acts as both a leaf and debris catcher, as well as a lid for safety over the water. Covers should be fitted for your pool shape and size, and made of proper material – not just a standard tarp. The pool cover usually overlaps the edge of the pool by a few feet. No cover should ever be placed loosely only in the pool area over the water.
Even if covered, the pool is still a hazard when any water is present, especially if it is not enclosed. Many pool owners use an air pillow on pools where the water has been lowered so there is supported space between the cover and the water line. For pools that are enclosed, the gates into the pool area should be locked.
Place Appropriate Signage
While the pool cover might make it obvious that there is a pool, signs should be posted indicating that there is a covered pool and that there is to be no trespassing, especially in areas where there is snow. Individuals should never walk onto the cover.
Obtain Timely Repairs
Any rips in the cover must be repaired if possible. Old covers may need to be discarded and replaced as they do have a life span and get damaged by the elements. Pools that are drained can cause extra stress on the cover which will shorten its life. The cover should be properly secured by pegs that are pounded fully into the ground, and not merely weighed down.
Intermittent Safety Checks
Closing and covering your pool does not mean you can turn your attention away from it. The springs on the straps should be checked periodically to ensure they are attached, properly secured, and have proper tension. The cover should be checked to ensure it is secured and not ripped, and large accumulations of snow and water should be carefully removed. Never walk on the cover to clear it. Some pool owners also periodically check the water chemistry over the winter.
Call Your Insurer
A properly closed pool will make opening your pool much quicker and easier the following spring. By taking precautions, a homeowner can rest assured that no one can intentionally, or accidentally, access the water. Once your pool is closed, you should also call your insurer to notify them of your actions and confirm it is still insured. Once completed you can turn your attention to fall hikes and winter sports. Stay tuned for the safety articles on these winter activities.