One would assume that with Central Florida’s mild winters, swimming pool owners don’t need to do much during the months when Floridians consider it too cold to enjoy a dip (which would probably be around 70-degrees Fahrenheit). However, some measures are necessary to prepare your in-ground or above-ground pool for the off-season to ensure it’s ready come spring! Just make sure those measures are within good maintenance practices, as making some mistakes can seriously damage your pool.
Should I drain my pool for the winter?
Regardless of what type of pool you own – concrete, in-ground vinyl liner, fiberglass or above ground – the answer is NO! Here are the reasons.
Above ground pool – There are different kinds of above ground pools. You can drain your above ground pool only if it is an entry-level pool. These temporary pools cannot withstand freezing offseason temperature. But if you have an above ground pool with a vinyl liner, then it should not be drained. When the vinyl liner is exposed to UV rays and chemicals like chlorine, it shrinks and loses elasticity. If you drain an above ground pool with a vinyl liner, it will shrink, shift, and never return to its normal position even after you refill it with water.
Inground vinyl liner pool – For an inground vinyl liner pool, you need to maintain a minimum safe water level at all times. You can damage your liner if you drain your pool. The weight of the water ensures that your liner stays in place. If you drain your inground vinyl liner pool completely, you might have to have the liner repaired. The vinyl liner and the weight of the water also help protect the overall shape and structure of your pool.
Concrete pool – A concrete pool is hydrostatically balanced in the ground. Draining a concrete pool might not cause a problem every time, but when there is a problem, it can ruin your pool completely. If you drain a concrete pool under the wrong set of circumstances like blocked hydrostatic relief valve in the main drain, heavy rains, or flash floods, the pool can pop out of the ground.
Fiberglass pool –Just like concrete pools, a fiberglass pool is neutrally balanced within the ground. If you drain a fiberglass pool, it can pop out of the ground easily.
Other bad pool care ideas for winter
Apart from the draining issue, you also need to make sure that you don’t follow other bad pool care practices while closing your pool for the winter.
Using chlorine and bromine in excess – Adding chemicals is important for your pool, especially during winter months. But it is vital to know how to use these chemicals. During the winter months, you should not use strong floater or tablet form chemicals in your pool. When you add floaters to your pool, they usually drift toward the walls of your pool and stick on them, resulting in staining or even bleaching the sides. Tablets, on the other hand, usually sink to the bottom, which can cause serious damage to the pool surface.
Leaving your pool unprotected – If you want to protect your pool properly, you need to make sure that you always use a pool cover. A cover not only protects your pool, but it also keeps your family members and pets safe. But remember that a tarpaulin cover is not as safe as a mesh cover or hard cover. A tarpaulin cover cannot offer protection to your family members and pets. But a mesh cover or a hard cover offers adequate protection to your pool as well as your family members and pets. Also, a mesh cover or hard cover can lower your homeowner’s insurance.
How to actually prepare your pool for winter
The good people at American Pools & Spas provide an excellent guide to winterizing your pool. It’s so excellent, in fact, we’re providing it verbatim.
Clean the pool thoroughly – Whether opened or closed, clean the pool thoroughly to prevent algae buildup, stains and clogged pumps. Old leaves can stain the pool sides, clog the drains and promote algae, which increases your chores and costs when reopening the pool later. Use a leaf skimmer to remove leaves and debris from the surface, and clean up sunken debris with a pool vacuum.
Balance the chemicals – Maintain the pool’s chemicals in the winter as you would in the summer. At the very least, balance the chemicals at least one week before you plan to close the pool. On average, calcium hardness should be around 200 PPM and alkaline levels between 80 and 120 PPM depending on your pool. You don’t have to lower the water or drain the pipes if you keep the pool open, as the Orlando weather rarely drops below freezing in the winter.
Run the pump – If you plan to close your swimming pool completely, run the pump for at least six hours a day to help skim debris out of the pool and to circulate the water. In the rare case that the temperature drops near or below freezing, keep the pump running throughout the day and night. Failure to run the pump could increase the risk of plumbing damage. Another reason to run the pump is the additional circulation also helps if you need to add chlorine at any time. Using a floating chlorinator without the pump running can also damage the pool’s surface without proper circulation.
Remove pool accessories – Remove any pool toys from the water, and detach the ladders and handrails if you plan to use a pool cover. Take out anything that could collect rainwater, such as inflatable loungers and other pool floats. These items not only get in the way of a pool cover but also create breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other bugs into October.
Use a swimming pool cover – Covering the pool, even if you don’t plan to perform any further winterizing steps, reduces your cleaning, chemical and filtering chores. The cover should not have large gaps or holes where debris could enter the pool. A mesh-type cover protects the pool from dirt, debris and leaves and prevents accidental drowning and submersion if someone steps onto the covered surface. It also doesn’t require a cover pump, as rainwater seeps through the surface and into the pool.
Keeping your pool leak-free
Finding a leak in your swimming pool can be a difficult job. Some leaks are easy to find, but there are many that pool owners can’t detect without professional assistance. Certified Leak Detection uses technology and techniques we have developed over 20 years in business.
In addition to quick detection and repair of swimming pool leaks, we provide industry-leading leak detection and repair for spas and hot tubs, as well as slabs and foundations. Serving areas throughout Central Florida – including Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs – our team is ready to answer your call.
Contact us for quick, reliable service.