The start of the school year marks a transition for everyone. For some, it marks the start of preschool, high school or college. For others, it marks the start of an empty nest as the kids move out. And yet for those with pools, it marks the transition to the end of pool season. Although it is still hot and humid, it is not too early to check your supplies and winter pool covers and plan an upcoming weekend to close the pool for the winter.
A pool is a large investment, so take the time to understand how to close your pool properly. Last year, we outlined the steps to close your above-ground pool for the winter. In addition, we provided the following video on the proper ways to winterize your pool.
To help pool owners through the pool closing process, find answers to some common questions that arise as pool owners, new and veteran, begin to walk through the season ending process. For any additional questions, then find your local NAMCO store and ask a seasoned professional.
If you need some new equipment or chemicals, then NAMCO has the following discounts to help prepare you to close your pool for the winter.
What is the first step to close a pool? Step 1 is simple. Vacuum the debris to ensure there is clean water. This also makes the pool opening process easier.
Do I need to apply any chemicals before closing the pool?
Yes. It is vital to add winter chemicals.
First, you need to balance your water chemistry. For any questions, stop by your local NAMCO store with a water sample for a free balancing test.
Next, shock your pool, which is added based on the volume of water in your pool. Then, add winterizer, which is added as a preventative for any algae growth. The chemicals make it easier to open the pool in the spring time.
How do I add winter chemicals?
First, when adding winter chemicals, make sure they run for at least one cycle, which is typically 4-6 hours.
Why? To allow all the water to pass through your filter at least one time to ensure proper circulation.
There are two other main items to prepare and add at this time as well. The ice equalizer and winter tabs are important parts of the pool closing process.
Preparing the Ice Equalizer: Of note, fill it no more than 2/3 full with air and be aware that when filling it with air, there is a blockage that prevents the air from coming back out. To secure the equalizer, there are reinforced grommets in opposite corners and take a single continuous line, run it over the pillow, and then and back through the other side.
Prepare Winter Tabs: Please review the following steps to properly prepare and incorporate the winter tabs.
- Remove the plastic blockage at the top to be able to string the line through the top of the tab.
- Remove the label and you should see several indentations in the plastic.
- Poke these indentations to allow the chemical to release slowly over the entire winter season.
- Once you’ve had those openings poked out, take your winter tablets, string it across your pool and secure it to the other side.
Expert Tip: When setting up the winter tabs and inflatable, make sure to use two separate lines so that when you’re inflatable deflates, it doesn’t pull the lines down too deep.
- Finally, before lowering your water level down, remember to add liquid pump protector. This step neutralizes any residual chemicals in the pump housing and lubricates the seals within the pump itself.
Are old chemicals ok to use?
Pool chemicals have expiration dates. It is important to discard and replace any chemicals that have expired. Of note, never dispose of chemicals in the household trash or down any drains unless directed by a water treatment facility. Please do not pour chemicals down a drain or toilet if they lead to a septic tank. Keep in mind that purchasing new chemicals should be part of the pool opening process.
Should I drain my pool?
No. Pools can handle cold temperatures better when partially filled with water. In fact, a drained pool can cause additional damages to your pool.
How much water should be removed?
The water should be reduced to just below the return line where the water shoots back into your pool.
Is there anything to do before the adding the winter cover?
Yes. After the water has been reduced, then disconnect your filter and bring it inside to a controlled environment.
Additionally, you should protect your skimmer and return fitting as well. To protect the skimmer, then you can purchase plates that simply pop into the opening of the skimmer on the inside of the pool. The plates prevent any water from getting into the skimmer body and causing damage over the winter.
Also, consider protecting the return fitting. To do so, first, remove the eyeball inside. The eyeball consists of three components: collar, eyeball and interior fitting. Upon removing these three pieces, you will see a plug.
The plug goes inside the opening and prevents water from going inside the fitting and causing damage due to freezing conditions over the winter.
How to select the proper winter pool cover?
The winter cover is very important to maintain the longevity of your pool, as well as reducing summer preparation in the spring.
First, it is important to select the right pool cover size. The pool cover is based on the dimensions. If these are unknown, then simply measure the diameter of a circular pool or length and width of an oval pool. Find a pool cover that meets these dimensions.
Next, consider the winter conditions. Since the winter pool cover protects the pool during the winter, you may want to consider the typical weather conditions while selecting a winter cover. Pool covers have various qualities and prices. Premium covers are made of higher quality and lightweight material, which makes them easier to handle. Lower cost covers may be made from thicker material, but not provide the same protection and are more difficult to attach. It may be frustrating to purchase an expense winter pool cover, but may be worth the price to ensure the pool remains in good condition over the winter.
There are other items to note as well, which are based on your specific living conditions and yard.
If you live in a windy area, then a cover with more mounts and/or weights might be important to prevent as much wind as possible from getting under the cover.
If you live in a snowy area, then a cover that can handle more water weight might be important to avoid causing any unnecessary damage to your pool.
If you pool is surrounded by trees, then leaves may be an issue over the winter. It will be important to find time to clear debris (weather permitting) over the winter and find a cover that has features to help minimize debris clean up.
For those looking to find a new winter cover, then check out these deals.
How to attach a winter cover?
One of the first things you’ll need to attach the pool cover are cover clips. The cover clips act as an extra set of hands to get your cover in position initially. This is important especially if you have a larger pool because it can be quite difficult to mount your cover to your pool. When using cover clips, ensure the flat side is facing away from the pool and the curved side is against the pool. An added benefit to the cover clips is protection against wind getting under the cover as well.
To attach the winter cover, then ensure the cover is about 6” below the pool frame. To do so, start at the bottom of the frame and roll the cover forward. Repeat this step until the pool is covered.
After the cover is attached to the pool, it still needs to be secured with the cover clips. Once the clips are in place, then run the cable through the grommets.
Finally, the cable needs to be secured, which will need the winch. To secure the cable, feed the cable through one end passing through the center. Take the other end of the cable and feed it through the center to the other end of the winch (see picture below).
After both ends of the cable are fed through the center of the winch, start to turn the handle. As the handle turns, the pool cover will become taught to the pool itself.
What if something looks wrong with my winter cover?
It is possible that some damage occurred to your cover. The following are common concerns, along with the likely reasons and possible solutions.
WINTER COVER FAILURE
Winter Cover has a Seam Separation.
Faulty Seam Manufacturing.
Replacement cost determined by warranty and date of purchase. The customer must have receipt or proof of purchase. The Warranty does not cover labor costs, loss of water or chemicals, misuse of product or faulty installation.
Winter Cover is Torn (Not On Seam).
Cover has been dragged across ground or sharp edges or been subjected to excessive weight.
Cover should not be reused, and is not covered under any warranty.
Grommets are pulling out of Cover.
Cover has been subjected to excessive weight (water bottles or other types of weights to hold cover down.) Water level of pool too low which creates excess stress on cover.
Cover is not covered under any warranty.
Cover is Brittle or Bleached.
Cover has been exposed to excessive chlorine or bromine levels.
Cover is not covered under any warranty. When shocking the pool, keep the cover off for at least 24 hours.
Should I winterize the pool filter?
Yes. In order to protect your investment, then it is important to winterize the pool filter. Here are some simple tips.
- Clean your filter. If you have a Sand or D.E. filter backwash for several minutes. If you have a Cartridge filter remove the cartridge and thoroughly spray the debris from the pleats of the cartridge. To clean correctly, then use the jet mode on a garden hose attachment. For a thorough clean, we also have Cleaning Wands available.
- For D.E. and Cartridge filters it is important to soak the fingers/grids or cartridge in a filter cleaning solution. First, fill a clean trash can with water and pour the correct amount of Bear Strip Filter Cleaner into the water. Then, submerge your fingers/grids or cartridge into the Bear Strip. As it is the end of the season, let the filter soak at least 24 hours.
- Disassemble your filter, chlorinator and valves and lubricate all o-rings using Boss Lube. (Do not use petroleum based lubricants, over time they will cause the o-ring to deteriorate!) O-rings tend to dry out during winter months, which may cause cracking, by doing this you can save yourself time and money in the spring.
- Remove your fingers/grids or cartridge from the cleaning solution and spray off the filter one more time and allow it to dry.
- Reassemble your D.E. or Cartridge filter making sure to plug all open holes in the filter. (This keeps small animals from living in them during the winter.) We suggest using expansion plugs.
- Store your D.E. or Cartridge filter in a controlled environment, if possible. If you store your filter in a shed or a detached garage make sure you cover your filter and keep it away from chlorine or any corrosive chemicals that off gas.
- Sand filters, remove the drain plug on the bottom of the filter. Remove the valve from the filter and store inside. Cover the center tube and secure it in place. Cover the filter and secure the cover over the filter.
What could go wrong?
If done incorrectly, there are some risks to the winterizing process. Improper pool closing could lead to broken skimmers, return lines, pumps or filters, among other things. Depending on the winter weather, than improperly affixing the pool cover could lead to the cover caving in or something along those lines.
If this does occur, then it is not the end of the world, however does make the pool opening process much more difficult as the debris must be removed. Additionally, there would be some more extensive use of chemicals and shock to restore the water balance.
Should I remove any ice or water during the winter?
Yes. The best way to remove ice and water from the swimming pool cover is to use a cover pump. Either before the water freezes or when the ice melts use the pump to remove the ice/water from the cover.
It is never a good idea to try to remove ice from the pool cover because it has sharp edges and if you drop the ice, it can damage your cover and liner.
Is it possible to prevent ice or water from building up over the winter?
Yes. The best way to prevent large buildups of ice is to keep the water level on top of the pool cover to a minimum. In high wind areas you’ll want to keep a small amount of water on the cover. This will help to prevent wind whip and damage to your cover.
(Never hang anything from your cover, which voids all warranties on your winter cover).
Can I use a pump to remove water from the cover?
Yes. If you have a swimming pool cover pump you will want to drain the pool cover with it (as mentioned above). However, it’s not that easy to drain the pool cover off if you have leaves and other debris on the cover. What can happen is that the pump impeller or the pump filter will get clogged and the pump will clog and will not be able to draw water.
The best way to keep that pump pumping without getting clogged is to take the pump and place it inside of a container that has a few holes drilled into it. You will then take this container with the pump in it and place it on the pool cover. This will stop the big leaves and other debris from clogging your pump.
Remember do not place your cover pump directly on the cover. Most pumps are strong enough to pull water through the cover and drain your pool.
If you have any questions, then please consult a pool professional or your local NAMCO store. Remember a pool is an investment, so take the time and attention to care for your pool properly.