It’s that time of year again. The wind comes with a chill, the clouds are creeping in, and your pool is under a cover for the winter (well, it better be!). And while we’d all much rather be jumping into warm waters cannonball-style, that’s just not our current reality.
Whether or not you’re ready for this year’s snow season depends on how well you closed your pool for these cooler months. Incidentally, closing the right way is also the difference between an easy pool opening day in the spring or, well, an expensive one. Freezing weather can permanently damage your equipment and pipes. And there’s nothing chill about that.
I’ll make sure you prepared your inground or above ground pool for freezing weather and explain the three things you should do to protect your pool in the snow. We’re racing against the weather here, so let’s go.
You Did Prepare Your Pool for Winter, Didn’t You?
The tips I’m going to give you are how to protect your pool in the snow. But well before the snow hit, you should have winterized your pool to prepare it for the winter. And I mean well before—it’s usually recommended that you close your pool when the warmest your days are consistently hits below 65 degrees. And if you live in a place with snow, winterizing should involve protecting your pipes and other equipment from freezing in the winter. Because when water freezes in your system, it expands—often cracking the material that you need to be ultra-sealed to withstand the pressure of your circulation system.
Inground Pool Winterizing
Closing an inground pool for the winter is a big process, and if you don’t know if you did it right, it’s time to read up. But what’s often overlooked is the measures pool owners who deal with snow and freezing temperatures are recommended to take.
Drain Part of Your Pool: Lowering your water level will help big time to prevent freezing damage, and all it takes is pumping your water to “waste” until the water line is where you want to be. Remember, your winter pool cover needs water to hold it up, especially after it gets covered with debris or heavy snow. Unless your pool cover manufacturer says differently, lower your water just one inch for a vinyl liner. For a plaster or non-vinyl liner, lower it six inches for a solid pool cover, eighteen to twenty-four inches for a mesh cover, and to the bottom of the skimmer if you have an automatic pool cover.
Blow Out Your Lines for the Winter: In order to prevent your pipes from freezing—and then cracking—you want to purge your plumbing of every drop of water that could respond to the cold temperatures. Using an air compressor or a ShopVac, you’ll need to blow air through the lines to make sure they’re dry.
- Remove all skimmer baskets and return fittings, which look like giant screws around the diameter of your pipes.
- Remove all the drain plugs from your filter system.
- Set your multiport valve to “recirculate.”
- Attach your ShopVac or air compressor (and an adapter, if needed) to the pump’s drain plug opening and blow air through the system.
- Watch for bubbles to come out of the system via the return lines and skimmer.
- Use your ShopVac to remove water from the skimmer until it’s dry.
- Insert a skimmer plug into the hole at the bottom of the skimmer.
- Insert winter pool plugs in the return lines as you see air bubbles coming out of each one.
- Turn the valve in front of your pump to the main drain setting to move air toward the main rain, and watch the deep end of your pool for bubbles. Let it run for about a minute.
- Turn your pump valve back to the skimmer line, shut off your air compressor, and put a valve in your pump to prevent leaking.
Install a Winter Cover: This will keep your pool water safe from debris and contaminants, and keep the chemicals in your water without getting seriously diluted by rain, snow, or whatever else might come your pool’s way. Most covers can even make sure all gaps are gone, so no worries about skimming out leaves—though you will want to check on the cover periodically.
To keep the water off your pool cover (and out of your yard) you want a powerful, reliable, and heavy-duty cover pump like the BLACK+DECKER 1500 GPH Automatic Submersible Pump. It works on its own to detect water up to 1/8 inch and comes with a whopping 30 ft discharge hose and 25 ft power cord. Check out this user review to find out more.
Above Ground Pool Winterizing
If you have an above ground pool, it’s recommended that you use more strenuous—but a lot more effective—measures to prepare for freezing temperatures.
Take Down and Store Your Pump and Filter: To take down your pump, remove all drain plugs from the pump and the filter. You’ll also want to remove the pump itself, the chlorinator, and all hoses. Store all drain plugs in the pump basket for easy locating next spring, and keep the pump, chlorinator, and hoses in a dry, shaded area indoors. Your filter is coming down, too, if it’s not too heavy—but first, you’re going to want to clean it by backwashing (or taking its cartridge out, if you have a cartridge filter).
Take Down Your Plumbing: First, disconnect the lines. Usually above-ground lines connect from your equipment to your pool with a pipe that can be twisted right off. Once your lines are disconnected, turn them onto their side to drain them out. Once all the water still lodged in them runs out, let them air dry outside—we don’t want any mold to appear on pool opening day. Once they’re completely dry, store them in a dry, heated place.
Install a Cover and a Pillow: To install the freeze-protecting, debris-dodging pillow, blow it up and place it in the middle of your pool. If you’re into perfectionism, get a pillow that has built-in grommets that allow you to secure all four corners to your pool and keep it perfectly center. Just make sure that you inflate the air pillow only to around half of its capacity, or it might pop mid-season. Better yet, seal off the seams and valves with duct tape after you inflate the pillow. Next, put on your winter cover according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Everything that happens in your pool relies on your pump. Stay in top shape with the ultra-powerful Black & Decker 3 HP Variable-Speed Pump. It includes a warranty, qualifies for utility rebates, and pays itself off in up to 80% energy costs saved in all stages of operation. Check out this user review to see it in action.
How to Protect Your Pool in Snow—With Just Three Tips
Now that you’ve made sure you winterized your pool correctly, it’s time for the easy stuff. Most of the work you’ll be doing during snowy weather has to do with this first step: keeping an eye.
1. Keep an Eye
When snowy weather starts to hit, it’s important to check in on your pool cover, as well as the accumulation of snow on and around your pool.
If you have an above ground pool and you allow snow to accumulate, it will slowly increase in weight, which will then put a strain on the cover itself. And if your cover is securely attached to your pool walls, as it should be, that weight will strain the top rails, and perhaps even pull them in toward the pool pillow you set up in the middle of your cover.
If you have an inground pool, too much snow can stretch that expensive pool cover. It can also accumulate enough weight to dip your cover into the water—bringing snow and other nasty junk like moldy leaves and twigs right into your pool. That’s the worst case scenario.
In addition to monitoring for snow accumulation, you’ll also want to check for any kind of freezing on your pool cover if you use an automatic pool cover pump. If the pump does power on in ice, it could be permanently damaged. This applies to all automatic pool cover pumps, even the ultra-powerful Black & Decker 800 GPH Automatic Cover Pump.
2. Brush It Off!
Snow building up? Brush it right off of that pool cover using a brush with resilient bristles that won’t break—or damage that expensive cover. You should be brushing your cover as needed even when it’s not snowing—because chances are that it is the landing place of debris like leaves, twigs, and even dirt.
3. Get the Right Pool Cover Pump
Are you looking at a massive lake in your backyard—on top of your pool cover—and wondering how on earth you’re expected to brush a body of water? Your cover should be fairly dry in the winter, and if it’s not, it’s time to pull out a powerful pool cover pump. If you didn’t brush off the snow in time and it’s turned to liquid, it’s also time to pull out a powerful pool cover pump.
A cover pump displaces the water that’s accumulated on your cover and puts it wherever you direct it (which should be far away from the pool, especially if you have an inground unit, to prevent the dreaded inground pool pop-up). As a result, your cover stays secure, without weighing enough to damage your equipment or (oops!) fall right into the pool, taking all that dirty water in with it.
Just make sure that none of the water on your cover is frozen, or you run the risk of damaging your pool cover pump. It’s made to displace water, not a skating rink.
Looking to extend the swim season as much as you can? A heat pump is the answer for you—but you’ll want a powerful unit that will save you on your energy bill every month, like the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 95,000 BTU to heat 18,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.”
Sunny Days Ahead!
A well-maintained pool cover makes for an easy peasy opening day. Now that you know what to do in the snow, you can relax, drink something steaming, and count the days to spring. I’m right there with you. Enjoy.