I’m sure there are pool owners who love the winter just as much as the summer, but I haven’t met them. The idea of diving into a cool pool on a sweltering hot day just sounds better than drinking hot chocolate after a long morning of shoveling snow, no? But whether we like it or not, winter isn’t going anywhere. Every year, we have to close and cover our pools, deflate our floaties, and stuff our sandals to the back of the closet. And every year, even in the dead of winter, we still need to maintain our pools. Thankfully, with these ten quick tips, maintenance will be so easy that it won’t feel like it’s work at all. I’ll explain why maintenance is necessary, how to make sure you closed your pool properly, and the ten winter tips that work for every weather—and get the job done fast.
Sorry, But Maintenance Has No Season
It’s tempting for all pool owners to simply close their pool down and not think about it until it’s time to open it back up. Seems like that’s the easiest way to do it, right? Well, not so fast there. Pretend your pool doesn’t exist for the next few months, and you’ll be spending a lot more time and elbow grease to get it back to swimmable in the spring. Sure, you’re probably not going to evoke irreversible damage, but it’s going to be a lot of work and money to restore that swamp in your backyard.
And without any off-season maintenance, a swamp is exactly what you can expect when you open your pool back up in the spring. If you’re not checking that your winter cover is secure—or worse, you don’t have one at all—chances are there’s a lot of gunk that’s fallen into your pool, which depletes whatever was left of your sanitizer from pool closing day. And that chemical balance you worked so hard to maintain when closing? Well, it’s totally shot, which means you might experience harmful scaling in your pool. Plus, nasty algae can grow unhindered—and we all know that once algae grows in your pool, it takes a serious effort to eradicate. All that and cloudy, murky water? Yeah, no thanks.
You Properly Closed Your Pool... Right?
Before we get into the ridiculously-easy, tried-and-true ways to keep your pool properly managed throughout the winter, let’s make sure we’re on the same page here. None of these tips will work unless you’ve properly closed your pool for the season. Whether you have an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool, there are a specific series of steps to get it ready for the winter coming. If you have an inflatable pool, you’ll also need to close it—though that usually involves taking the entire pool down for the winter, so unless you live in the loveliest winter climate of all time, you probably don’t have to be here.
Although it varies based your pool type and the weather you’re expecting this winter, closing down your pool for the season usually involves cleaning your pool’s surface, brushing down your pool walls, vacuuming out debris, blowing out all the water in your system so it doesn’t freeze and crack your pipes, bringing whatever equipment you can inside, and installing a winter cover. Yes, it’s not exactly an easy process, but it is necessary to keep your pool in order for the off-season. And once it’s done, winter pool maintenance is a breeze.
During the winter, it’s absolutely essential to prevent water from collapsing your winter cover—and it’s much easier to have a cover pump that works on its own. Keep your cover light and secure with the BLACK+DECKER 800 GPH Automatic Pool Cover Pump, which detects up to a quarter inch of rain and works on its own—fast.
Pool Care, No Matter What Your Weather
Remember, what you do for your pool during the off-season does depend on your local climate. For instance, if you have winters in which it’s too cool to swim, but too warm to close down entirely, you can check your chemical balance half as frequently as you would during the swim season—and you’re going to want to stay on top of that winter algaecide. If you live in a place with freezing winters, you’re going to want to properly blow out your lines—and if you have an above-ground pool, take those lines down entirely. If you live in the tropics and can swim all year long, you don’t need to be here. Take a dip for all of us shivering in turtlenecks, yeah?
These tips were designed for all pool owners, with just a couple of clearly-marked exceptions. Follow them below to keep your pool as clean and protected as possible this year, no matter what your pool type or your weather.
Ten Tips to Keep Your Pool in Top Shape this Winter
As always, prevention for your pool is going to be a lot easier than cleaning up a messy aftermath. Maintaining your pool during the winter shouldn’t take too much of your time—in fact, the best way to do it is just spending fifteen minutes every week to make sure everything is in order. If your chemical balance, winter cover, and plumbing stays in order all winter long, you’ll have the easiest pool opening day possible in the spring—and if you’ve opened your pool for the season before, you probably know that it can take a few hours or days, depending on the condition of your pool. A clean pool ready for opening can be achieving with just a little bit of consistent effort on your part. Sounds super doable? Good, because it is.
Now your pool is closed and your mind is primed. We’re ready to get into the nitty gritty details here—but don’t worry, they couldn’t be more simple to implement. Let’s look at exactly what winter maintenance pool care you’ll be doing for those fifteen minutes a week.
1. Add Algaecide on Pool Closing Day—Or As Soon As You Read This
Algae is one of the main forces you’ll be fighting this winter, whether you’re anticipating it or not. Even pools that have never experienced a proper infestation have been known to get their first algae bloom over the winter, especially if they frequently had milder days of weather. Since you’re probably not removing your winter cover to inspect the inside of your pool, you won’t know if algae has been a major problem until pool opening day.
If you have had algae growths in the past, you know that the best way to get rid of them is with a double or triple dose of fast-acting and ultra-powerful pool shock. But the best way to prevent algae from cropping up in the first place is algaecide.
Ideally, you’d add a healthy dose of algaecide on the last day your pump is running for the season, and you’d run the pump for a full day to make sure it’s really, really circulated. If you never added algaecide and your pool is already closed for the winter—meaning your pump is out of commission for the next few months—then go ahead and add it to your pool water. Even if it’s not circulated properly, it’s better than nothing. Just make sure that your algaecide doesn’t have a large amount of metal like copper, since metal stains aren’t on anyone’s wish list.
2. Get Ready for That Freeze
This is your last chance to make sure you blew out those lines properly. If it hasn’t frozen yet and you skipped that step when you were closing your pool, now is your chance. Otherwise, you might have to deal with some time-consuming pipe replacements, since freezing water inside your lines could cause them to crack. Unfortunately, most PVC plumbing is impossible to repair, and during the process of replacement, you might need to replace more than just the one or two broken pipes, depending on the way your system is set up.
We’ll get more into this during the fifth step, but your winter cover is also going to need to be cleaned off intermittently with a pool cover pump. Otherwise, the water that is left on top could freeze, and that frozen water will be much more of a headache to remove. I recommend a powerful pump that saves time by getting the job done fast.
3. This One’s for the Midwesterners: Add More Chlorine
If you’re reading this, you live in the coldest part of the United States. Yikes. There is something beautiful about living in a winter wonderland, but easy it is not. And unfortunately, that can also extend to pool care, too—but only if you don’t take a few smart, preventative measures.
There’s some time between when you close your pool and when your temperatures (and your pool water) start to seriously reach the point of freezing. During that window, it’s important to keep adding chlorine to your pool—but not so much that you bleach your pool’s liner. And when your water thaws in the spring, it’s essential that you open up a corner of your pool and pour in about one to two gallons of liquid chlorine. These two steps should keep your pool from being as green as your grass in the spring. But if you do open your pool to disappointing, murky water, keep adding liquid chlorine and running your pump. It should sort itself out in no time.
4. Check Cover to Make Sure It’s Secure
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s so simple that it sometimes gets woefully overlooked. It’s important to get the right winter cover for your pool, and make sure it’s properly secure. Get this step wrong and your pool’s chemical balance isn’t going to stand a chance against all that debris coming in. Remember, rainwater can often bring microscopic algae spores with it as it falls into your pool. And if your cover never fit in the first place, it’s just asking for leaves, twigs, and even small creatures to land into your water.
Of course, a pool safety cover only lives up to its name if it’s properly secured, and it’s not just rodents who might fall in. Protect your and your neighbors’ children and pets by checking your cover every single week. It’s important.
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.”
5. Keep Pool Cover Clean
So let’s say you check every week that your pool cover is secure. That’s great. The best way to keep it that way is to keep your pool cover free of debris, including of the water that accumulates on the top. That water usually becomes a disgusting, murky mess of leaves, dirt, twigs, and who knows what else—and if it’s not properly cleaned periodically, it can end up right in your pool.
In this case, the type of pool cover you have matters. If you don’t have a safety cover and don’t consistently keep it clean, there’s a big chance that the weight of the water on your cover will cause your cover to collapse. That means all that debris and gunk will mix into your pool water, and deplete all the chemicals you’ve been adding to keep your water as fresh as possibly through the season. Ack. And if you do have a safety cover, chances are that water will fall into your pool next time you try to remove it.
Make sure that whatever cover pump you do use, it’s not going to clog easily with debris. I suggest the reliable and automatic BLACK + DECKER Pool Cover Pump, which will clean off 800 gallons of water per hour and can detect water down to 1/8 of an inch.
6. Watch for Warm Days
You know those days when you walk outside and think, I can’t believe it’s winter? We might love them, but your pool does not. Days that reach about fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit are the best for checking chemical balance, including your sanitizer, and adding another dose of algaecide. Unfortunately algae likes warm days just as much as we do, and will use the opportunity to grow. Keep it at bay by spending a few minutes outside on warm days—hey, you’d want to do that anyway!
7. This One’s for the Warm Coasters: Do It Differently
So you happen to live in one of the most coveted regions of the country, huh? If you can see palm trees right now, you’re in a great place. So it doesn’t matter too much that you have more weekly pool maintenance on your hands... right?
If your weather is too warm for closing your pool entirely and too cool for swimming, you can put a cover on your pool, halve the amount of time you’re running your pump every day, and continue to check your chemical balance every week. That means that you don’t have to deal with the strenuous pool opening and pool closing days, and your energy bill is going to be about half as much—and you can cut it down even further by getting a variable-speed pump. Not bad. And gives “coasting” a whole new meaning.
8. Added Sanitizer? It Shows
I know, I know. You’re not running your pump, so how on earth could you add sanitizer? As long as your water isn’t frozen, it might be helpful to open up a corner of your pool safety cover every so often and add liquid chlorine (since tablets, my favorite, won’t work as well without the pump circulating water to dissolve them). Be sure to keep the cover on—just lift that corner. Liquid chlorine can be broken down by ultraviolet light, which can be present even on a cloudy day. So whether or not the sun is out, that winter pool cover will keep your chlorine working.
It’s not required, but adding mid-winter sanitizer will give your pool an extra boost to fight off any contaminants. Even without that pump circulating it evenly throughout your water. Again, it’s just better than nothing.
9. A Little Enzyme Does a Lot of Work
Enzyme pool chemicals were designed to break down non-living organic contamination, such as bird droppings, pollen, or leftover body oils from the swim season. But they also can help prevent that nasty waterline ring that can occur through the winter and otherwise requires a fair amount of elbow grease to lighten.
Another benefit of adding an enzyme chemical to your pool has to do with keeping your sanitizer working its strongest this winter—which will go a long way to make your pool opening day all the easier in the spring. By attaching non-living organic matter, an enzyme chemical takes another task off sanitizer’s plate. That way, your sanitizer can keep working on all that potentially harmful bacteria. That’s an important job.
10. Open Early!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Open your pool as early as possible! Usually, that’s when your weather is consistently above around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The earlier you open your pool, the smaller that warm window of time when algae blooms can really take hold. Plus, if you have a pool heat pump, you can start swimming as fast as you open your pool—and save a ton in energy costs compared to other heating types, too. A cleaner pool, and an extended swim season? It doesn’t get better than that.
Since we’re thinking of the future, remember that as of 2021, the switch to variable-speed pumps will virtually be federal law. Thankfully, the Black & Decker 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a warranty, is eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Robert Tafoya says, “Pump works quietly, efficiently, and is easy to install.”
Hello, Pool Opening Day!
Opening your pool for the season is never an easy task, exactly. But now that you’ve nailed your winter maintenance routine, it’s going to be a whole different ballgame. Gone are the times when it took several days to get your pool ready for swimmers. Plus, you can expect to spend a whole lot less money on chemicals, and a whole lot less effort and time on changing your pool water from green to clean. Now the excitement of beginning the pool season can be just that... excitement! And I’d say that’s something to celebrate. Enjoy.