How to Maintain and Clean Your Pool in the Cold Season
Owning a private swimming pool may prove to be a wonderful way to spend some lazy days in the summer with your friends. However, it needs proper maintenance in order to keep it good looking and safe when it comes to everybody’s health. If you don’t know how to clean your pool, this article features a series of easy steps that can teach you exactly how it works.
Also, if you learn the secrets of cleaning your pool, there will be no need to pay other people to do it for you. Hence, you will have more to spend on refreshments for the hot summer days. These instructions that the article features focus primarily on how to clean your pool in the cold season.
1. Closing the Swimming Pool for the Winter
The first mistake you want to avoid at all costs is to empty your pool! With nothing to exert pressure on the ground beneath, your pool will pop out. This can really happen! No matter the climate, there is always a certain degree of water concentration in the ground layer. Hence, the pressure that the groundwater table exerts on your empty pool will make it pop out like a cork. If this happens, you will need a complete pool replacement, which will cost you a great deal of money.
Knowing how to clean your pool by yourself will help you save a lot of money and effort when you decide to reopen the swimming pool in the spring. A great tip is to close it a few weeks before the cold weather starts to set in. This ensures that the pool is protected from any kind of freeze damage if the temperature drops beneath the freezing point. Also, algae are less likely to grow in temperatures lower than 60 degrees. However, even if they do, they will grow at a visibly slower rate than in higher temperatures.
Before you get down to properly sanitize the pool, be sure to wear a safety mask. You will have to work with a range of powerful chemicals when you clean your pool. These may be harmful to your health if you breathe in the fumes. Also, you want to avoid possible lung, bronchial tubes or nostrils injuries at all costs. In order to maintain a balance when it comes to alkalinity and pH, you will need to use a series of different chemicals. This includes:
- Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash (for increasing the pH level)
- Sodium Bisulfate (for decreasing the pH level)
- Sodium Bicarbonate (for increasing the alkalinity levels)
- Muriatic Acid or Sodium Bisulfate (for decreasing the alkalinity levels)
Also, in order to kill bacteria that can be harmful to your health and to get rid of the algae that make the water turn green, you will need to use the following:
- Quaternary Ammonia or most commonly known as “Quats”
- Polyquats (a slightly more expensive and efficient version of the Quats)
- Bromine Salts
3. Mixing Ingredients
For starters, you will need to mix together some specific chemicals in order to get rid of the bacteria and algae. Also, this will prevent them from multiplying or at least make it harder for them to thrive while the pool is closed for the winter. A bottle each of both Algaecide and Sink & Sweep will take care of this in a matter of 48 hours. Next, you will need to purify the water. For this, you will have to systematically introduce a series of chemicals, in order to keep a balance in the water chemistry. First and foremost, make sure to wear safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask.
When it comes to diluting the chemicals, do not, under any circumstance, pour water over the products. This can result in a powerful release of a dangerous cloud that contains high levels of toxic fumes. In order to prevent this, pour the chemicals into a bucket that already contains water. Another way to do it is to pour them directly into the swimming pool. This will help you stay clear of any splattering or popping.
4. Balancing Water Chemistry
In order to properly maintain the perfect balance between pH, alkalinity, and calcium, you need to use the right chemicals. Before you proceed to add them to the water, you must test the pH levels first. For this step, you will need to have a pH tester. You can find it at the local supermarket. If you adjust the alkaline and pH levels right, together with calcium levels, you will protect the pool against corrosion or scale buildup. These can occur during the cold season when you keep the swimming pool covered. The following represent the optimal values for pH, alkaline, and calcium levels:
- You must adjust the pH levels anywhere between 7.2 and 7.6
- Balance alkaline levels anywhere from 80 to 120 parts per million
- Alter the calcium hardness up to 180, 220 or higher, according to the product instructions
No matter what, do not overlook the importance of adjusting the calcium level hardness. If you skip this step, the water will end up eating away at your swimming pool materials. This will affect the integrity of the pool, in time, and give you some hard times.
5. Shocking the Water
Because you want to get rid of all the unwanted bacteria, algae and fungi that might still be lurking in the water, you need to apply a more extensive treatment. This is one of the most important steps and also a measure of precaution that you need to know for when you clean your pool. For this, you will need to use an extra strong chlorine tablet that contains 65 percent sodium hypochlorite. However, if you are allergic to chlorine, you can also use a substitute of equivalent strength. You need to dilute this in a five-gallon water bucket before mixing it with the pool water.
If the shock granules are so mild that swimmers can use the pool right after you pour them in the pool, it means you need some stronger ones. As you prepare to close the pool for the winter anyway, go for a more aggressive treatment. Also, while the filtration system is working, pour the mix away from the pool skimmer outlets. After you complete this step, stay out of the water and check the chlorine levels after a few days. When the level drops between 1 and 3 parts per million, it is safe to proceed to the next step.
6. Cleaning the pool
After the chlorine level settles anywhere between 1 and 3, you can proceed to add powerful algaecides. This prevents algae from multiplying or blooming while you keep the swimming pool covered. The next thing you have to do is to remove everything from the pool. Except for the water, of course. So, take out filters, heaters, pumps, decorations, hoses, baskets and ladders. Make sure to clean each one before you store them in the garage.
When it comes to cleaning the swimming pool itself, use a skimming net on a pole. This way, you can clean your pool by gathering any impurities that float on the surface of the pool such as dead insects, leaves, and other debris. Next, empty out the pump leaf, built-in pool skimmer traps, and debris catcher. After you do this, proceed to brush the swimming pool walls and use a skim bag to collect any debris on the bottom. You can also use a pool vacuum if there is a large amount of waste and the skimming bag doesn’t do. Also, you need to do all of these while the pool is working. Later, you will have to drain the system and thoroughly clean the filter, as well.
7. Water Level Lowering and Equipment Draining
If you own an in-ground pool, you can drain the excess of water using the pool pump. However, if you do not benefit from this option, you can set up a vacuum hose. Place it in the skimmer, and it will absorb the water from beneath the skimmer level. Lowering the water level depends greatly on the type of cover you are going to use. Hence, if you want to use a mesh cover, you should drain the excess water 12 to 18 inches below the skimmer. If you’re going for a floating cover that is solid, you must lower the water level to 3 to 7 inches below the skimmer.
Next up on the list is equipment draining. This is yet another extremely important step for when you need to clean your pool in order to prepare it for the cold season. You need to clear the water out of all the pumps, heaters, chlorinators and filter before the cold season sets in. Open the drains on each piece and also take out the skimmer. Also, open the filter case and wash it thoroughly. Let the pieces dry out and then proceed to store them into a safe place for the winter. PLUG- CLOG
8. Ready the Plumbing for the Winter
A crucial step in order to clean your pool and prepare it for the cold season is plumbing maintenance. In order for the pipes not to crack over due to low temperatures in the winter, you need to dry them out. You can do this by blowing air into the skimmer outlet pipe back into the pool. If you own a large swimming pool that features multiple skimmers, repeat this step for each one. Finally, to keep the water from flowing back into the pipes, use expansion plugs to clog the lines at the returns.
Another option would be to pour swimming pool antifreeze directly into the pipes. About half a gallon of antifreeze above the plug in the skimmer should do the job perfectly. In the end, cover the skimmer opening with a chunk of plastic or Styrofoam. This will protect it from damage that can occur if the water freezes over or snow melts into the drain.
9. Covering the Pool
Before you proceed to cover your pool for the cold season, make sure that you execute the other steps leading to this exactly. There are two different materials you can choose from when it comes to covering the swimming pool. Most people choose to go for the tarp cover. However, this is not child of pet proof. So, in order to prevent them from wandering into the pool by mistake, you need to strap it down tight.
Reinforce it with an anchored mesh safety cover, and there you will have nothing more to worry about. Flexible vinyl tarps or solid floating covers lie just over the surface of the swimming pool water in a loose fashion with the edges running up the pool walls.
10. Final Touches
You may want to add a little bit of water, just enough to weigh the surface down. All you have to worry about next is the debris that falls on the covers. In case there is waste lying on top of the cover, you need to clean it regularly. If you have trees around the swimming pool, you might consider installing a leaf net over the cover in order to catch the falling debris. Also, you will need to pump rainwater or melted snow off the covers, as well.
For people that use an above-ground pool, they need to use air pillows. These prevent the expansion of ice and keep the swimming pool in one piece. Depending on the size of the pool, you will have to use one or more air pillows. Simply inflate each one and then proceed to tie them down in the center of the pool.
Owning a private pool is an awesome addition to your backyard, both for you as well as your friends and family. However, once the warm season is over, it becomes a thing that requires extensive maintenance, especially in the cold season. This article features useful instructions and tips & tricks that focus on helping you to be able to learn the secrets of pool cleaning. This way, you will be able to clean your pool all by yourself, without having to pay other people to do it for you.
At the same time, you will better understand how everything works, and if a problem is ever going to occur, you will know how to take care of it right away. All in all, once you clean your pool and cover it, there is not much left to do until the summer sets in. You will then be able to enjoy the nice weather in a clean pool, safe for you and all the others present at the party.