Another swimming pool season is inching closer and closer which means the time to open up your pool is soon approaching. Normally, this occasion is met with great celebration as the birds chirp, the snow shovels are tossed into a lost corner of the shed, and the marching band fires up to announce the arrival of summer!
But not this year. Maybe you plan to travel a lot more than normal, or perhaps the house is not occupied, or the pool needs a major renovation, or for financial reasons you’ve decided the pool shall stayed closed for the summer. OK, what now? You know what to do to close a pool and to open it again, but what do you do to keep a pool covered and closed?
Below are some tips when it comes to not opening a pool for summer.
What You Should Do
First, this might not be the news you want to hear, but you may want to maintain the pool to some degree at least. A pool isn’t designed to be stagnant during the warm months of the year, and pool covers deteriorate faster in strong summer sunlight. Leaving the pool closed all summer is a guaranteed way to end up with a green, smelly mess and permanent stains or damage to the pool surfaces.
What I would recommend ~ is to brush the pool well, then and add water balancers as needed, and then add a good stain & scale chemical, followed by a strong algaecide, and a floater kept full of chlorine tablets. Come to think of it, these are the chemicals in our Winter Kits. Keep the water level at the bottom of the tile, or a few inches lower, and keep the winter pool cover installed tightly.
If you cannot do all of this, ask a neighbor, a family member or a pool service to check and maintain the water on a monthly basis. If you don’t keep up with some maintenance, your pool liner or plaster will deteriorate into a big mess that’s harder and more expensive to open the next time.
Another thing you will need to maintain is the water level in the pool. If you have a safety cover, rainfall will raise the pool water levels. When it touches the cover, debris is trapped and turns the cover into a giant tea bag. It also weakens the fibers over time, and makes the cover less safe, and – allows the water to warm too much. Keep the water level a few inches below the tile, or 8-10″ below the cover.
If you don’t mind the possibility of permanent stains, and possible damage to the pool plaster, vinyl or fiberglass surfaces, then go ahead and just let it go. This is a good option if you are planning a pool renovation. Next year, or whenever, the pool will be drained and acid washed, or pressure washed, filled and started-up again, after repairs are made.
Don’t Drain the Pool
Whatever you do, do NOT drain the pool. Draining your pool for any extended period of time will lead to serious damage, and the damage is different for inground pools and above ground pools, but equally devastating for both.
If your pool has a vinyl liner and you drain all of the pool water at any time of the year, you run the risk of ruining the pool liner, or developing large wrinkles when refilling. Especially for older liners, if you drain the pool completely, a vinyl liner could rip or ‘snap’ when trying to refill the pool later. A liner not covered in water will quickly shrink, harden and slowly disintegrate, even if the pool is covered.
Inground pools face a different threat. If you drain your inground pool for any length of time, you’re likely to see cracks form in the plaster, which will shrink and crack if left dry in warm temperatures – even with a pool cover on it. Delaminations can also occur, leading to ‘pop-offs’ of plaster in areas of the pool.
For above ground pools, a drained pool won’t only destroy your vinyl liner, but you will risk the collapse of the pool’s metal walls as well. Above ground pool walls are designed to stand up to the sheer force of the water weight, and without that force pressing outward, the walls could fall inward in a strong breeze.
Having no water in your inground pool lends the potential for catastrophic damage. If you drain your pool completely, and the water table around the pool is high, the ‘hydrostatic‘ pressure of the ground water can actually lift your concrete or fiberglass pool out of the ground. It can also ‘float’ vinyl liners, forcing large puddles of water underneath the liner.
Really, you should always open your pool. Believe it or not, opening your pool will save you a truckload of money in the long run. If you keep your pool closed, at a minimum, you will have to drain it, acid wash, or replace the liner the next time you open the pool. Other problems often also occur to the pool or equipment, when a pool falls into dis-use.
So unless money is a very serious issue, it’s best to either open and maintain the pool yourself or hire a pool service, or a local kid home for the summer – especially if you are planning to travel extensively or be out of town for long periods of time.
An option for above ground pool owners is to disassemble your pool entirely if you know you won’t use it for an extended period of time. Plan on replacing the pool liner when you go to re-install your pool down the road.
Another option is to go ahead and open up your pool and keep it covered but run the pool filter less. The best combination for this scenario is to use a solid pool cover and run your filter for about 3-6 hours a day. Good water balance, a little bit of chlorine and daily filtering will help keep the pool water fairly fresh so the water doesn’t get too stagnant and smelly, but this could all fall apart, if you don’t check on things once or twice per month.
In Summary, if you’re not opening the pool this year, you have 3 options:
- Keep it closed but maintain good water balance, a good water level, and use chlorine tablet floaters, algaecides and stain away (Winter Kits).
- Open the pool, but keep it covered all summer, and run the filter only as much as needed. Keep the water balanced and chemically treated.
- Keep it closed and maintain proper water level. Open next year with a drain and clean, or replace the plaster or vinyl liner at the same time.
InTheSwim Staff Blogger