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9 effortless tasks for closing down your pool after summer

The days get a bit shorter and the nights a bit crisper as summer winds its way to a close. Most of us mourn its passing as we gear up for the start of the academic year and a more intense atmosphere in the office. No more lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; it’s time to get down to work.

One of the tasks that go hand-in-hand with the end of vacation season is closing your pool, whether it’s an in-ground affair or the above-ground version. As easy as it is to get caught up with travel and back-to-school shopping, this isn’t a task you want to neglect or you’ll suffer for it come spring. So don’t procrastinate. Assemble the necessary supplies and prepare your pool for its period of hibernation. If you’re not certain what’s involved, simply follow the steps below.

One week prior to closing

Inground pool with maintenance equipment beside it

1. Keep chemicals in balance

Balance your water chemistry, targeting the following values:

  • pH: 7.2 to 7.4
  • Alkalinity: 80 to 120 parts per million (ppm)
  • Calcium hardness: 180 to 200 ppm

2. Shock the pool

Even if the water looks clear, shock it. Shocking is the process of increasing the chlorine levels to a much higher level than normal in order to destroy certain impurities. Add superchlorinating powder, or shock, designed for pool closings and containing at least 65 per cent hypochlorite.

You generally need a one-pound bag for 10,000 gallons of water, but consult the directions on the package. Mix it with some pool water in a container and add it to the water while the filter is running. In a few days, the chlorine level will return to 1 to 3 ppm. Now, it’s time to add an algaecide as further protection against algae growth during the winter. The package will offer guidance on how much to use. Never add an algaecide when the chlorine level is high. Chlorine breaks down algaecides—and pool covers, too. As you’re adding the chemicals, walk around the pool in order to get the best distribution.

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Closing steps

Person cleans a filter from a swimming pool


3. Scrub your pool clean

Clean your pool:

  • Remove debris with a handheld skimmer and/or leaf rake
  • Run the pool vacuum
  • Scrub away any mold and grime
  • Make sure the pool is as clean as possible prior to covering it.

4. Drain some water

Lower the water level in the pool using your filter or a siphon pump. If you have an in-ground pool, the water level should be below the base of the skimmer door. For an above-ground pool, remove the outlet hose from the skimmer basket. Generally, you don’t want the water to come into contact with the pool cover.

5. Drain pumps, filters and other equipment

Drain all of your pumps, heaters, filters, and chlorinators to prevent them from freezing or cracking. Most of them have caps or plugs that can be loosened and removed. All of the residual water must be drained or blown out. A shop vacuum is the best way to accomplish this. You can store the caps and plugs in the filter basket during the winter. For above-ground pools, it’s not quite such a chore; you can simply remove the hoses and the plug at the bottom of the filter.

If you’re concerned that you haven’t removed all of the water, you can always use a pool anti-freeze to prevent problems as the temperature begins to dip.

6. Find storage space

You’ll need a place to store all of your pool accessories, such as diving boards and ladders. You’ll also want to clean them before the next season starts.

7. Have an above ground pool?

If you have an above-ground pool, consider using one of the air-filled rings called pool pillows to keep any water remaining the basin from freezing during the winter. The ring is inflated and tied to the sides of the pool. You don’t need to use a pool pillow for an in-ground pool unless the winters are especially cold and cruel.

8. Chemical float

Give your pool a treat: a chlorine pool floater, or the non-chlorine variety for vinyl pools. This sanitizes the pool and should be tied to the center of the deep end of the pool so that it doesn’t tip over or end up on the steps. If you have a mesh pool cover, you may want to consider using enzymes instead.

9. Get a pool cover

Your pool should be protected from the elements with a cover. Be sure it has no holes or gaps where debris can enter the pool. Solid covers are not recommended; safety covers are the preferred option. Solid covers will allow accumulation of melting snow or rainwater that will need to be removed.

Follow these steps and you should have no unpleasant surprises when it’s once again time for a splash in the shallows or a dunk in the deep.

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