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Winterize the pool: Winterize a pool in 8 easy steps
Last updated on: January 25, 2020
As much as you enjoy the bathing season, this seemingly endless summer will come to an end in Germany at some point.
When the temperatures drop and the outfit of the walkers goes back towards Eskimo, these are good indications that the summer is drawing to a close.
By this time you are probably already thinking about how to winterize your pool.
Sure, we think it's a shame that summer is slowly over. And of course nobody wants additional work. However, there is no reason to worry.
With our instructions for wintering the pool, the necessary work is done within a few hours and then all you have to do is wait until the next bathing season.
Perhaps you are a new pool owner or you are already an old hand who just wants to make sure one more time, our instructions are aimed at all groups and will guide you step by step when wintering the pool.
Why do you have to winterize a pool?
In Germany we are not spared winters, so you cannot avoid thorough preparations for the wintering of the pools. The working steps are important to avoid damaging the pool.
The pool is open during the bathing season. During this time, the problems are mostly limited to insects trying to make your pool your home, leaves falling into the swimming pool and other unwanted foreign objects. With a maintenance plan that includes regular care, none of this is a big deal.
In winter, however, it looks different. If the swimming pool remains unused in winter, it is of course not worthwhile to suck up impurities from the pool with a pool vacuum when the temperature is below zero. Without the necessary preparations, and especially with an uncovered pool, you can expect a lot of work in spring.
In addition to purifying the water, you will need to rebalance the pool chemistry and possibly even deal with frost damage. It can be dangerous for the pool equipment if there is still water in the hoses or the filter system, which then freezes and spreads.
With the right preparation, wintering the pool is risk-free. Cold damage and contamination of the pool water are almost impossible with our tips. Just follow these instructions and save time, money and a lot of frustration. What more do you want there?
When to hibernate a pool
From when to when the pool season goes, depends a little on where you live. As a rule, not many people are ready to go swimming outside when the outside temperature drops below 15 ° C. Depending on the weather, the bathing season in Germany can be longer and shorter.
A big reason to wait for temperatures to drop is because higher temperatures encourage algae growth. The last thing you want is algae, which can multiply in pool water over the long winter.
At the low temperature, the growth of algae is significantly inhibited, which gives you enough time to thoroughly dry-clean the pool and to ensure a balance of the pool chemistry.
When the weather goes completely crazy and the temperatures rise above 15 to 18 ° C in the winter months, you should use the time (and the good weather) to check the pool chemistry and, if necessary, to compensate. This way you make sure that you don't expect any nasty surprises when you put the swimming pool back into operation.
Hibernate a pool step by step
A really cold winter can be dangerous for all types of pools. With the right preparation and equipment, you can avoid potential damage and ensure that you will have many years of fun with your pool.
As a rule, an outdoor pool is always overwintered with water in order to protect the lining of the swimming pool from the effects of the weather. The only exception are pools, which can be set up and taken down quickly.
Step 1: Obtain the necessary materials
Before you start winterizing your pool, collect the necessary materials and chemicals:
- Pool shocker
- Means to increase the alkalinity
- Calcium hardness enhancer
- Winter concentrate
We were particularly impressed by the following overwintering concentrate:
We recommend these air cushions for the pool:
Step 2: one final cleaning
Just as you would not put dirty laundry in the wardrobe or put the dirty coffee cup on the kitchen shelf, you overwinter a pool completely without treatment.
You can start the next pool season without any nasty surprises if you clean your pool thoroughly at the end of bathing time. To do this, vacuum the entire pool, remove foreign objects and brush the walls.
The cleaning of the pool water makes the following steps much easier because, for example, the disinfectant does not use up on algae and other foreign organisms.
This pool brush with soft nylon bristles is best for inflatable swimming pools:
Before the winter break, you can also send your pool cleaning robot on its last tour for this year.
Step 3: test the pool water
An important step in the winter pool is the balanced pool chemistry. Take the five minutes to check out the chemistry of your pool.
Test the water with test strips or a test kit. If you want to be very specific, you can also take a water sample and have it checked by an expert.
We were particularly impressed by these test strips:
The optimal values for the further steps and the wintering of the pool are:
- pH: 7.4 to 7.6
- Alkalinity: 100 to 150 ppm
Both values naturally decrease over time. Therefore, the high ends of the ranges are better because the concentrations drop again over the winter months anyway.
Step 4: correct pool chemistry
Balanced pool water keeps foreign organisms away and prevents damage to the pool liner. Therefore, at the end of the season, use the necessary chemicals to bring the water into balance.
Bring the pH in the perfect range
The pH value pool is one of the most important values in the. This number is between 0 and 14 and indicates how acidic or basic the water is. The lower the value, the more acidic the water. Higher values indicate a higher proportion of base.
Even if you are not a chemistry teacher, you can measure the pool pH and correct it accordingly:
If the water is too acidic (the pH is too low) you need to add a base. If the water is too basic (pH value is too high), you have to add acid.
We remember that the ideal pH for wintering is 7.4 to 7.6. The pH falls naturally over the winter season. So aim for a pH value of 7.6 when you winterize the pool.
The two chemicals pH-Minus and pH-Plus are used to control the pH value:
The likelihood is high that you will need pH-Plus as the optimal pH value for wintering the pool is higher than during the pool season.
Check the alkalinity
The alkalinity is a measure of the concentration of carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides and other alkaline substances in water. You should control alkalinity the same way you did with pH.
Due to natural circumstances, the alkalinity will naturally decrease over time. The ideal range for alkalinity is between 100 and 150 ppm. You can increase the value with an alkalinity enhancer. As with pH, it is best to aim for the higher end of the range (i.e. 150 ppm) as you will not be maintaining the pool for several months.
The right water hardness
You have probably heard of soft and hard water. And no, hard water doesn't mean ice.
Rather, the problem is calcium hardness. Hard water with a high calcium content deposits calcium in the filter system and can therefore create an unsightly, chalky layer.
On the other hand, water that is too soft is just as undesirable because in this case the water will draw calcium from the pool. As a result, tiled pools or metal parts such as the ladder can be damaged.
By using chemicals, you have to control the calcium hardness in order to avoid damage such as damage to plaster of paris in soft water. Vinyl pools are at least spared this problem, but here, too, damage to the metal can occur.
For increasing calcium hardness as well as lowering calcium hardness, there are appropriate means that you can add to the pool. If the calcium hardness is too high, you can simply add new fill water to dilute it and thus lower the calcium level. Just make sure that the fill water contains less calcium.
Aim for the 150 to 400 ppm range for calcium levels. The ideal value is exactly in the middle at around 275 ppm.
Step 5: Use wintering agents
For anyone who doesn't feel like taking out their white lab coat and is not a fan of scrubbing the pool, there are winter products available.
These winter care products are a mixture of algicide, which at the same time prevents the crystallization of mineral salts (i.e. the formation of limescale) and dirt deposits. You will benefit from this with the spring cleaning at the latest.
Simply follow the manufacturer's instructions for the dosage of the chemical and you will save yourself some work when commissioning the pool.
Note: If you want to lower the water level over the winter, you should do this before you add the wintering agent to the pool so as not to use up unnecessary chemicals.
Step 6: perform a shock chlorination
With shock chlorination, you can ensure that the swimming pool is completely clean and that there are no more algae living in the pool.
The dosages differ from product to product, so simply follow the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging of the pool shocker or the manufacturer of the brand.
A shock chlorination of the pool is only carried out overnight because the main component of the pool shock - the non-stabilized chlorine - is broken down by solar radiation. Typically, chlorination with the normal calcium hypochlorite shock lasts 8 hours.
Note: Use a proper pool shock so that the chlorine works quickly and is then quickly broken down by the sun. Normal chlorine granulate would ensure a long-lasting chlorine content, which only slowly breaks down in cold water. The consequences would be bleaching, wrinkles and damage to the pool liner.
Step 7: clean and seal the lines
The pool's filtration system is in no way different from the pipes that are laid in a house, for example.
The freezing of standing water in the pipes can lead to serious damage as the ice spreads, which is very costly, especially in the case of pipes laid underground.
Rinse the water out of the pipe system and add antifreeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Important: Use only antifreeze that is designed for use in pools. The antifreeze for the car, for example, is completely unsuitable and can damage the pipe system.
Then close the lines with rubber stoppers. Don't forget the sewer pipes.
Step 8: overwinter the skimmer
The skimmer can be overwintered by first removing the skimmer basket. Store it in a dry place over the winter months.
Now either cover the skimmer with a skimmer cover or lower the water level below the opening of the skimmer so that no water can flow into it.
However, when it rains (as rain or snow), you have to make sure that the water can run off.
Important: Never empty the pool completely over the winter. because this will dry out the vinyl walls, which will significantly shorten their lifespan.
Note: Water that collects in the skimmer can freeze when the temperature drops. The expanding ice can then lead to damage. We recommend covering the skimmer whenever you have a lot of precipitation in winter.
Step 9: Hibernate the pump
Open the drain plugs so that the water can drain out. Now remove the pool pump, all hoses and everything that is still attached to the pump (e.g. chlorinator).
Store all parts indoors to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
Step 10: winterize the pool filter
The correct procedure here depends on the type of filter:
Sand filter system
First carry out a backwash of the sand filter and then set the valve to “Winterize”. Then unscrew the drain plug. If your system also has a vent valve, you should unscrew this as well. It is best to keep all the individual parts in the pump basket so that you can find them again quickly for the next season.
At best, you can overwinter the sand filter system in the house. If the sand makes transport too difficult or there is no parking space in the house, you can leave the system outside. Just make sure that all drains are open so that no water can collect in the filter tank, which could then freeze.
Simply empty the filter cartridge and rinse it off with a hose. Open the valves and store the cartridge indoors over the winter.
Note: We always recommend storage in the house. This increases the life of your pool equipment and protects it from damage caused by the cold and the weather.
You have to proceed in a similar way with pool solar heaters. First empty the solar system completely for winter storage. To do this, simply open the drain cock. In the case of a system that is operated with its own pump, you must open the drain screw accordingly.
Step 11: clean and stow the pool accessories
The pool accessories are also not designed to withstand the cold season outside. The ladder, pool slide, bath toys, air mattresses, and other accessories are best stored indoors. Failure to do so could damage the accessories, or worse, the pool.
Corrosion of metal can also occur, which can then lead to contamination of the pool water.
So collect all pool accessories. Anything that is not rivet and nail proof is first thoroughly washed off with detergent and then stored in a dry place.
Step 12: insert pool cushions
In regions where snow and ice can be expected (i.e. all over Germany), these pool air cushions are mandatory during winter. The cushions are filled with air and then spread over the surface of the pool water. In this way, the overlying pool tarpaulin does not stress the walls of the pool as much.
The main trick with regards to the pool cushions is not to fully inflate them. Fill the pillows with air approximately 50 to 60% percent. In this way, the air cushions can withstand a certain weight without bursting at the first pressure.
A thin rope can be used to keep pillows centered on the pool. All you have to do is guide the rope through an eyelet (if in doubt, a specially pierced) eyelet and fix it on both sides of the pool.
Note: In fact, centering the pool cushions is not absolutely necessary. It's more of a precautionary measure. Especially with a larger number of cushions or a smaller pool, you no longer have to bother with the cords.
Tip: The pool cushions have the problem of a notoriously short duration. However, you can lengthen it with some tape. Simply tape all the seams of the pillows with waterproof tape.
Step 13: apply ice pressure pads
Water expands when it freezes. The ice then presses against the walls of the pool and this can lead to costly damage. The solution to this problem is simple (but also ingenious). If you let the so-called ice pressure pads float in the water, the pressure of the spreading ice is transferred to the pads instead of the walls.
The ice pressure pads are not randomly distributed in the water for optimal protection, but attached as a chain along one of the longest and one end of the pool.You can easily determine the number of ice pressure pads required. Measure the pool circumference and divide the value by two.
The ice pressure pads are only sold as sets, so you can get lots of volume discounts.
These ice pressure pads were able to convince us:
Step 14: Pull the pool cover over the pool
We are nearly finished! In the final step, all you have to do is cover the pool with the pool cover. The pool tarpaulin should measure about 0.8 to 1 meter more than the inside dimensions of the pool.
Then fix the tarpaulin with cables, cable ties or clips. The icy winds in winter have a lot of power. For this reason, secure the pool tarpaulin well so that it is really firmly in place.
We're big fans of DIY too, but there's no room for improvisation here. At this point, please do not use stones, flower pots or anything else that can damage the pool cover if it falls into the pool.
The pool tarpaulin you use must be impervious to light in order to prevent the formation of algae.
During the winter you should keep an eye on the pool cover from time to time and make sure that there is not too much water and snow on the pool cover. If necessary, you may also need to lower the water level further.
A final word
Let's sum it all up again. The pool water is clean and free of debris. The pool chemistry is balanced and all pool accessories have been made winterproof or are safe and protected in the dry. The pool tarpaulin was pulled onto the pool and is supported by several pool cushions.
If you were able to mentally tick off all of these points again, nothing more is to be done. Now it's time to put your feet up, cuddle even more in the blanket and wait until the next pool season starts.
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