Swimming is a fun activity, but pools require plenty of maintenance. One part of owning a pool is closing it in the winter to open when the weather improves. Professionals charge up to $300 USD for this service, so you can save money by doing it on your own. It isn’t difficult to do as long as you know how your pool is set up. It needs to be well-cleaned with a working pump. Once you have the water conditioned, you can cool down in crystal-clear water all season long.
- Sweep debris off the pool cover with a soft-bristled broom. If your pool cover has more than 1 in of water on it, scoop up debris with a pool rake. A pool rake isn’t actually a rake. It’s a scooping net meant for collecting leaves and other debris.
- Use a cover pump to drain any water on the cover. A cover pump is similar to a regular pool pump, but it sits on top of the cover to clear it of water. Place it where the water is deepest, usually in the center of the cover. You can use a push broom to get it into position. Activate it to let it drain the water.
- Remove the cover and lay it flat on the ground. After finding a safe spot for it, spread it out on the ground.
- Wash the pool cover clean with soap and water. Sweep or spray away any debris still left on the cover. Then, scrub the entire cover clean with a soft-bristle broom or pool brush.
- Rinse and dry the cover to prepare it for storage.
- Fold the cover up to store in a bag or container. To keep the cover protected in storage, put it in a pool cover bag or a plastic container well-sealed with a lid.
- Inspect the pump and other equipment for damage. Before reconnecting them, inspect them for cracks. Each piece of equipment will have black, rubber O-rings on the pipes and drain plugs. After removing the old rings, simply slide the new ones in place over the valves or connecting pipes. Spread a pool gasket lubricant on them to keep them safe.
- New O-rings are available at hardware stores, or any other place that carries plumbing supplies.
- Reconnect the pump and other plumbing equipment. Connect the pump, filter, heater, cleaners, and any other hardware responsible for managing the water supply. Plug the pump pipe into the filter housing, using plumber’s tape to prevent leaks. The skimmer connects to the pool pump, which connects to the filter. The filter connects to the heater, chlorinator, and any additional equipment you may have.
- If you don’t have any extra equipment to attach to the filter, run the filter’s hose to the pump’s return inlet valve.
- If you have an above-ground pool, use flexible plumbing lines to connect the skimmer to the pump and other equipment.
- Run the pump to drain the water line if you used antifreeze. If you put antifreeze into the water line to protect it during the winter, drain it out before removing the winterizing plugs. Make sure the controlling valve on the pump is set to waste. Activate the pump, letting it run for at least 1 minute. Most of the antifreeze will drain out, leaving plenty of room for pool water.
- Replace the winterizing plugs on the pool pump and other equipment. If you installed the plugs when you closed the pool for winter, check the water line leading from the pool to the pump. The plugs are caps that fit on the outflow valves. Turn the wing nuts counterclockwise to detach the plugs from the water lines, then replace them with regular pool drain plugs.
- Refill the pool to replace any missing water. Even a well-covered pool loses a little bit of water to evaporation. Before running the pump, bring the water back to its normal level. Use a hose to spray water directly into the pool until it is refilled with the water about halfway up the skimmer basket on the side wall.
- Always refill the pool before turning on the pump or treating the water. The fresh water throws off the chemical balance , so doing it now will save you from having to test the water a second time.
- Open the return valves on the pool’s pump system. Walk to the outflow valves on the pump and water line. Turn the pump valves counterclockwise to open them. If your pump has a filter valve, set it to the filter position as labeled on the device. Then, check the water line for air bleed valves that need to be opened as well.
- If your system has bleed valves, you will see them sticking out of the top of the pipe. Turn the caps counterclockwise to let air out of the pipe. These valves will spray air and water after you activate the pump.
- Start the pump and filter system. Walk over to the circuit breaker wired to the pool pump. Make sure it is turned on. Then, activate the pump for at least 3 minutes while watching the system for any problems. Inspect the plumbing for leaks and look for the air bleed valves to release air and water from the line.
- If you have time, let the pump circulate water for 2 or 3 hours. Give it plenty of time to get back into working order.
- Add a metal sequestrant to the pool to eliminate toxic chemicals. Metal may have seeped into the water while it was stagnating over the winter.
- If you’re unsure about the metal levels in the pool, get testing strips that test for elements like copper. The strips will turn colors when they detect metal. If the level is higher than recommended, add some of the sequestrant.
- Test the water using a water testing kit.
- Balance the alkalinity to 80 to 120 parts per million (ppm). Adjust the pH to be between 7.2 and 7.8. Treat the pool’s calcium level so it’s above 150 ppm.
- A low pH level leads to corroded pipes and colored stains. A high pH level can leave stains on pool equipment and encourage bacteria and algae growth.
- Chlorine shock also helps raise the calcium hardness level. You will have a chance to add shock later, so you may wish to wait to treat the water if the calcium level is close to 150 ppm.
- If the water is low in calcium, it stains and abrades the pool liner. If it is high in calcium, it looks cloudy and scaly.
- Brush and vacuum the pool while the pump is running. Take the opportunity to clear out the remaining debris while the pump circulates the treatments you added to the water.
- Mix shock into the pool to add plenty of chlorine to it. Chlorine shock eliminates bacteria and other remaining contaminants.
- Run the pool pump for 24 hours to finish conditioning the water. Leave the pool pump and filter systems active. As long as they are working the way they should, they will mix the conditioning chemicals into the water while also separating out bacteria and debris. Check the next day for clear water to enjoy when you inaugurate your pool with the first swim of the season.
If the water still looks cloudy, you may need to let it circulate for a little longer. You could also purchase a water clarifier to clear it up faster.
Want us to check your pool water? Bring a sample to Monnick Supply in Marlborough or Framingham, MA.