As we swap pool cocktails for hot chocolate and make our way indoors to hibernate from the cold and dreary days, here are some important pool maintenance tips to consider when preparing our pools for winter. Whether an above ground pool, semi inground or inground pool, maintaining our pools during the winter months will make the start of our summer season that much easier. Follow our eight tips below to help winterise your swimming pool.
Clean the pool
Now more than ever, your pool needs a thorough cleaning, especially if it is to lie dormant for winter. Start by brushing the sides down and letting the fine particles settle before vacuuming the pool floor. Skim the leaves off the top surface of the water and empty out the skimmer basket. Ensure your pool filter is clean either by backwashing (sand filter) or hosing in between each pleat (filter cartridge). If you have a ‘winter’ setting on your filter, engage this once the filter has been cleaned. Do not drain your pool as this could compromise the structure itself.
Keep the pool chemically balanced
Ensuring an optimal chemical balance for your winter pool can certainly help fend off any algae and other micro-organisms that tend to thrive in cool, dark places. Aim for a PH balance of between 7.2 and 7.6 and an alkalinity between 80 - 120ppm (parts per million). Your pool shop can help you with this through sample testing.
Check your chlorine levels
Reducing your chlorine levels in winter is perfectly acceptable due to the water temperature being lower and there being fewer people in the pool. Aim to keep your chlorine level at a constant 2-3ppm to keep your pool clean and clear. If using a salt chlorinator and pool blanket, reduce the chlorinator’s output to 1-2ppm to ensure as little build up of chlorine levels as this can cause potential damage to pool equipment if left unchecked.
Keep your swimming pool covered
Let’s face it, who wants to go out in winter to clean a pool full of leaves and debris? Covering it with a pool blanket or cover helps reduce the pain of cleaning an accumulated mess at the bottom not to mention possible staining that can result in leaves having been left for a lengthy period of time. Ensure the cover fits well and no gaps are left for debris to enter. By covering your pool also helps protect it from evaporation and having to top it up more than what is necessary when the warmer season starts.
Keep your pool pump running
Maintaining your pool during winter means to keep the pool pump running - but at a reduced level. Cutting back from 8 hourly to 4 hourly cycles will keep your pool looking clean at a lower cost of energy. By adding an algaecide to the water at the beginning of winter and letting it circulate with the pump on, will also help keep algae from clogging the filter.
Shock treat the pool
There seems to be conflicting opinions on whether shock treating a pool during winter is worthwhile. For pools that suffer from cloudy waters, shock treating helps boost chlorine levels to keep it sparkling clean. We recommend shocking a pool if it has not been covered; the level of combined chlorine (chloramines) is above 0.3ppm; you notice algae forming or poor water clarity. Once done, ensure the pump and filter run for several hours to evenly distribute it around the pool.
Check all pool equipment
As with all things, maintaining and checking pool equipment and areas around the pool is vitally important. This includes amongst others checking that the pump is working and there is no calcium build up on the chlorination cell; checking the area around the pool such as tiles and decking; lubricating gate hinges and locks as well as the cleaning and packing away of pool toys. This helps to ensure the safety of all when the summer season starts again.
Maintain a cleaning schedule
Although not as often, winter pools do need to be maintained regularly. This includes setting up a weekly or bi-monthly schedule to check all equipment, ensure the skimmers and filters are debris free and keeping the correct chemical balance. By doing a little each week helps to prevent a huge clean up at the start of summer when you want to enjoy your pool at its best!