If you’re reading this, my condolences—it means you’re either entering or smack in the heart of your pool’s off season. I know that when September or so arrives, it’s not easy to retire your swimsuit, sunglasses, sandals, and sunscreen. And to make matters worse, it does take a good amount of grunt work and time to close your pool for the season the right way. Once your pool is properly hibernating, you probably feel ready to do the same. Thankfully, winter maintenance for your pool is a cinch—and you have a few options on how to go about it, whether you’re expecting a freezing cold or mild winter. I’ll explain what winter pool maintenance involves, how much you need to do, and how to care for your pool during the off-season—for any climate.
What’s the Deal with Winter Pool Maintenance?
Winter pool maintenance only applies to you if you actually closed your pool for the season—so if you live in a tropical paradise, you can close this window and head outside for a cannonball and a Mai Tai. (And I’ll continue to live vicariously through you.) For the rest of us who did need to temporarily say goodbye to swimming, it’s important to periodically check on that shadow of what the summer used to be: your covered pool. Winter pool maintenance usually just involves making sure your winter cover is secure and as light as possible—and depending on your climate, occasionally adding a few extra chemicals to your water. It’s basically prevention work, so that you don’t have a cloudy catastrophe to deal with on pool opening day.
How Much You Do Is Up to You
When it really comes down to it, every pool owner has their own winter maintenance style. Some would rather simply cover up their pool, get an automatic pool cover pump, check in on it occasionally, and gear up for some serious cleaning in the spring. Others are game to be a little more hands on, give their pool a weekly check in with chemicals at the ready, and have an easy-peasy pool opening day as their reward. If you do more now, you’ll have to do less later—and in my opinion, that’s worth a more attentive approach. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you. And as long as you close your pool the right way and follow these simple guidelines for freezing winters or mild winters, you’ll be in the clear for next spring.
The off season is the perfect time to plan for the future—and an efficient pump will save you tons of cash and effort to come. Try the BLACK+DECKER 1HP Variable Speed Pump, which is Energy Star Certified and comes with a 3-year warranty. According to customer Will M, “Excellent replacement for a very old single speed. The pump is very quiet and simple to use. Pool is clean at the fraction of the cost.”
Winter Pool Maintenance for Freezing Winters—In Three Steps
There are a lot of benefits to living in the Midwest, like unbelievable pizza, iconic sports teams, and massive lakes. But those winters, woof! If your winter climate usually involves snow, snow, and more snow, the way you maintain your pool during the season is going to be a lot different than those who can easily open up their pool and see what’s up. But this Midwest cloud has yet another silver lining: you get to worry less about algae, which grows in warmer temperatures.
1. Keep Your Closed Cover Light
It’s always a good idea to use a pool safety cover—especially since it’ll keep children and animals from potentially tumbling into the water. It’s just better for your peace of mind to know that everyone around you is safe.
Some pool maintenance experts recommend opening your cover for snowfall, since winter covers aren’t designed to hold a lot of weight. But I’m not sold on the idea: if you have a lot of snowfall, it could increase your water line, which you intentionally drained to below the skimmer when you closed your pool for the winter to prevent costly freezing damage. It makes much more sense that you keep the winter cover on and be extra diligent about clearing off the snow with a Shop Vac or the patented BLACK+DECKER 360 Degrees Bristles Pool Brush. Besides, it’ll be easier not to move your cover in freezing temperatures—which if you have an automatic pool cover, could damage it permanently.
2. Watch for Your Water to Thaw
Believe it or not, the winter is not going to last forever. Keep an eye on your frozen water, and when it thaws in the spring—usually before pool opening day—it’s game time. When your water is finally water again, open a corner of your winter cover and pour in a gallon or two of liquid chlorine. This will give your water a much needed boost after harsh conditions, and will make pool opening day all the easier.
3. Fix that Mean Green
If you have any familiarity with algae, you know that it’s a strong force that pool owners are consistently trying to keep at bay. Sometimes, it’s not even clear why it happens at all. But after a long winter of not running your pool pump, it’s likely to be there on pool opening day—even if your climate was never what you’d call warm. Before your water freezes, give it a dose or two of algaecide. On pool opening day, prioritize getting rid of the algae that might have infested your pool.
Remember, your winter cover is going to get some serious debris over the next few months—and left unattended under that weight, it could fall into your pool and bring all that gunk with it. Keep your cover light and secure with the heavy-duty Sunnora 1500 GPH Automatic Cover Pump. According to customer Eric Zimmerer, “Love it! Saves so much time.”
Winter Pool Maintenance for Mild Winters—In Three Steps
If you have a really, really calm winter ahead—and freezing temperatures just aren’t a concern in your area—you could technically still run your pump during the winter, though it’s typically recommended that you run it for about half the time. Some opt into this option when they don’t mind the energy bills throughout the winter to keep a sparkling clean pool—and less of a mess on pool opening day in the spring. If this sounds good to you, you can run your pump for half the time and otherwise follow the typical pool maintenance routine of the swim season.
If you’re headed into a mild winter and don’t want to run your circulation system, follow the guidelines below to both save yourself some operational costs and avoid opening your pool’s cover to a swamp on pool opening day next spring.
The Early Bird Gets the Water Clean
You could give your pool a mid-winter dose of chemicals like algaecide, pool enzymes for organic matter, and the type of antifreeze that is specifically manufactured for pools. But I’m sure at this point, you know that circulation is key to chemical balance—and without it, you could just be creating super-concentrated pockets of algaecide, pool enzymes, and antifreeze in your pool. It’s much better to achieve the perfect chemical balance for pool closing and add these winterizing chemicals while your circulation system is still working. It should be part of your pool closing routine, whether you have an inground pool or are closing an above-ground pool.
Care for Your Cover
If you have the right kind of pool safety cover that is properly installed, you could probably walk across it without it collapsing. But that doesn’t mean your cover can take anything. Let’s say you have a standard, medium-sized pool—that would be 600 square feet. Just a half-inch of rain weighs 2.6 pounds per square foot. Multiply that by the square footage of your pool—600, in this example—and that’s a whopping 1,560 pounds. And a half inch? You’d better bet that no matter where you live, you can expect more than half an inch of rain this winter. Make sure you have an automatic cover pump that works independently, can detect up to 1/8 inch of rain to work, and keeps your cover light and secure. My recommendation is the BLACK+DECKER 800 GPH Automatic Pool Cover Pump.
You’ll also want to periodically check that your cover is still properly installed. This is especially important if you live somewhere with high winds, but a thorough check every so often could ensure that your covered pool is safe from critters or any other kind of accidents that might occur.
Watch for Warm Days
Do you occasionally get days throughout the winter that are warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit? It’s got to be great for you to have a few sunny days to sit outside in a light jacket, but it’s bad news for your pool. Because what loves warm days just as much as humans? Bacteria and algae, which if left unchecked will give you a ridiculous amount of work on pool opening day. On these warm days, check and balance your chemicals—and another dose of algaecide won’t hurt. It’s not ideal since your circulation system won’t be running, but it’ll help.
A Word from the Wise: Open Early!
Don’t wait until National Pool Opening Day (for the curious, that’s the last Saturday in April) to open your pool if your climate is already consistently over 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer your water without circulation, the more likely that you’re going to have a murky, cloudy pool in the spring, complete with an algae-green tint. Open your pool as early as makes sense for your location, and you’ll be glad you did.
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 lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”
Go Off This Off-Season!
Listen, we’re rolling with the punches here. Winter exists and is going to continue to exist, so we have no choice but to enjoy the break from normal pool maintenance for the swim season. Stay consistent with the maintenance you do have to do this winter, and make a plan for all that extra time you have on your hands now. Mine includes a hot drink, a blazing fireplace, and space to daydream about next summer. Whatever yours is, enjoy.