The Winter Pool: Off-Season Operation Tips

winter-pool-maintenanceFor our customers in the sunbelt – how do you maintain your pool during the off season?

Despite what season it is, you can keep the pool maintained so that when it’s time to reopen, you won’t have as much work awaiting you.

Closing the pool or maintaining the pool during the winter, that is the question. Indeed, most sunbelt pool owners opt to keep their pool open year-round.

If it is warm enough to keep the pool open in the winter season, here’s some tips to help you stay on top of pool maintenance this winter.

Running the Pool Pump

How long should you run the pump for during winter? Many sunbelt pool owners reduce filtration during the off season to reduce the energy expense. But be careful not to go too low!

Circulation is important if you are keeping the pool open. Let the pump run as long as it takes for the water to cycle through the circulation system. This is known as the turnover rate. Generally, pumps need to be run for 6 to 8 hours at a time for proper circulation.

pump-run-chartAnother factor to consider when running the pump is debris – if debris is an issue in your pool, you may need to run the pump longer. Running a pump for only 3 hours every 24 hours means there is 21 hours for debris to build up.

A third factor is the weather. The temperature will affect how long you run your pump. At temps above 65 degrees you need full daily operation. And, at temps below 35 degrees run the pump for 24 hours to prevent freezing.

Two speed pumps can operate on low speed during cold weather, and the new variable speed pumps have built in freeze sensors to turn on low when temperatures get close to freezing.intermatic-seasonal-timer

Another option is to add the Intermatic Seasonal Timer. This digital timer is the first to adjust automatically for off-season demand, by reducing run time during colder months. It works on single or dual speed pumps, and allows you to control another device such as a booster pump or pool light.

Winter Pool Chemistry

Even though no one’s using the pool, it’s still important to be testing the water with test strips or test kits, to find out what you need to add to the pool – primarily chemicals to adjust the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels.

ph-upIdeal winter pool pH is between 7.4 and 7.6. Add pH Up if it is under 7.4, and if higher than 7.6, add pH Down to the pool water. Ideal winter calcium levels are between 175 and 225 ppm for any type of pool. Add calcium increaser to increase the hardness level.

Anytime pools are open there are essential chemicals to maintain the health of the water. Test your water regularly during the winter – at least monthly, to protect your pool and your pool water.

Winter Freeze Alerts

When it temperature drops below freezing, your pump needs to be running. To stay on top of these things, consider a system to notify you of freezing temperatures.

You can set up alerts from the Weather Channel to send a text or email to your mobile device about freezing temperatures and other severe weather alerts. Sign up for their free text or email weather alerts. PE-153 timeclock

Or, you could add the Intermatic PE153 Digital Timer, which has the ability to add a temperature sensor to the circuit. This will turn on the pump when temps get close to freezing, automatically. Runs up to three circuits or devices, programmable for any on-off times you like.

Winterizing a Sunbelt Pool

If you are unable or unwilling to maintain the pool, you may be better off closing the pool, so that you don’t have to worry about it.

If you are wondering about how to close and winterize the pool for the season, here’s a quick rundown. For more, see our other many blog posts on how to winterize a pool.

Add winter pool chemicals, then lower the pool water below the base of the mouth of the skimmer. Your filter pump may lower the water, or you can also use a submersible pump.

cyclone-pool-blowerCyclone blowers or a large Vac/Blower can be used to blow out the lines. Start with main drain and the skimmers, and then blow air through the pump and the filter and back to the return lines. Once the air is blown out you can then use your winterizing plugs to plug up and seal the pipes for winter.

Pool antifreeze is helpful to use for the pipe for any water that may still be in the pipes. Pool antifreeze will protect the skimmer from freezing water that accumulates from winter rains.

Swimming pool covers are not required for pool winterization, but they do have advantages. They eliminate the growth of algae by not allowing sunlight to peek into the pool water. Because pool covers fit tightly over the pool, you won’t be using as much chemicals, thus saving money. Your pool will stay clean, and reduce any possibility for staining. Safety pool covers also add protection, as a veil of safety for curious animals or toddlers.

Whether a pool owner decides to close the pool for the season, or keep it open – weather permitting – you will want to remember to maintain the pool and the water. Winter neglect can damage pool surfaces and equipment, or make extensive and expensive water clean-up.

There are several things you can do – no matter whether or not the weather allows you to keep the pool open – that can keep your water and pool healthy and clean!

Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

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