While our swimming season in Middle Georgia may last longer than in other parts of the country, most inground pools in our area aren’t kept open year-round. Even if you brave the cooler temps and regularly swim through October and into early November, it will soon be time to close your backyard pool and prepare for the colder weather we can expect from December through March.
A hard freeze may not threaten most pools in our region, but winterizing your backyard inground pool is still essential to closing your pool for the cold months. The process only takes a few minutes each day over about a week and will save you a world of trouble when it comes time to reopen the pool at the end of the spring.
Step 1: Test and Balance the Water
Your first step in preparing your pool for winter is to balance the water to prevent surface damage while the pool sits idle during the cold months. You can test the water using test strips or an at-home pool test kit. Or, you can bring a sample of your pool water to our Warner Robins showroom, and we can run a detailed analysis to tell you exactly which chemicals to add in what amounts to bring your pool water into balance.
If you handle your balancing yourself, you’ll look primarily at three different measurements: total alkalinity, pH, and total hardness. You should balance each one of these aspects of your pool’s water chemistry in order. Completely balance one measurement before you move on to the next:
- First, balance your pool’s total alkalinity between 80 and 150 ppm. If this value is low, add an alkalinity increaser like sodium carbonate (soda ash) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
- Next, balance the pH. The water’s pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6. Add increaser (base) or decreaser (acid) to bring this value into balance.
- Finally, balance total hardness to between 175 and 275 ppm. If your total hardness is low, a hardness increaser such as calcium can help you bring the value up.
Step 2: Clean the Pool and Filter
This step may be second on the list, but it’s probably the most important. The cleaner your pool is when you winterize it, the easier it will be to open it again in the spring, and the less likely you will have to deal with contamination over the winter. It’s vital to clean the water, the pool’s surfaces, and the filter.
- Use a skimmer to remove any debris from the water.
- Brush the walls and bottom of the pool thoroughly using a pool broom or brush to loosen any debris from the liner or pool surfaces. Then, vacuum the bottom of the pool and empty the skimmer baskets.
- Finally, backwash the filter and use the appropriate chemical cleaner to clean the filter medium.
Step 3: Shock the Pool
One of the major issues that can arise in winterized pools, particularly in the Southeast where winters tend to stay much warmer than the national average, is outbreaks of bacteria or other biological contaminants. Our warmer weather doesn’t provide the respite from these irritating infections that are regularly killed off during the freezing winters experienced up north.
Due to that, a proper shock treatment for your pool’s water before closing it down for the winter is a vital step in keeping your pool healthy during the off months. Shocking involves adding high-potency chemicals to the water to quickly destroy any biological matter in the pool and prevent outbreaks. In a particularly warm winter, you may need to shock the pool again about halfway through the season to keep bacteria under control.
- Use a high-quality pool shock that won’t affect the water’s hardness or pH to maintain the balance you established in Step 1 and prevent scale growth.
- Follow the shock manufacturer’s instructions for applying the shock. Make sure to calculate the correct dose for the volume of your pool.
- Run your pool’s pump for at least four hours to ensure the shock is adequately circulated through the water and the pool systems.
Step 4: Protect Against Algae
Another common issue for pools in warmer climates is algae. During winter, the naturally occurring algae from plants or soil can enter your pool and cause a “bloom” or colony of algae cells to form. A quality algaecide can inhibit algae growth and stop the bloom before it begins.
- Choose a high-quality algaecide that won’t cause surface staining.
- Add a dose of the chemical to your pool, following the manufacturer’s instructions for dosing and application.
- Run the pool’s pump for 24 hours to ensure the chemical has adequately circulated.
Step 5: Winterize the Equipment
This step is primarily intended to protect your pool pump, filter, and other equipment from damage in the event of a freeze. While freezing temps are rare in Middle Georgia, there’s seldom a winter where we don’t drop below 32 degrees for at least a little while, so draining and winterizing your pool’s systems is still an important step.
- Collect all pool equipment (vacuums, hoses, buoy lines, skimmers, etc.). Clean everything with fresh water, allow it to dry, and then place it in safe storage to protect it from the winter elements.
- Turn off all pumps, filters, chlorinators, etc., according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Drain your pool to a level below the skimmer and water-return fittings.
- Open sillcocks or remove drain plugs to ensure that your pump, filter, and other equipment are completely drained.
- Set your filter to its “winterize” setting or follow manufacturer instructions to prepare it for the winter months.
Step 6: Cover Your Pool
There are two main types of cover for swimming pools: safety and winter. A safety cover is anchored to points on the pool’s decking to ensure that it stays in place and provides better protection against debris, people, or animals falling into the pool. Winter covers aren’t anchored in place and are easier to deploy.
Regardless of the cover you choose, make sure it fits well and is free from rips, tears, or other damage.
Step 7: Wait for Spring!
Particularly here in Middle Georgia, you won’t have long to wait until it’s time to open the pool back up and hit the water again!
Mid State Pools’ Experienced Pool Experts Can Help You Get Your Pool Ready For Winter – 478-953-7300
Mid State Pools and Spas builds custom pools for residential and commercial customers in:
- Warner Robins
- Lake Oconee
- And all across Middle Georgia!