Winter is Coming: Is Your Pool Ready?

After long summer days of lazing in and around your pool, you probably hate to see the coming of cold weather. The changing season also means performing all those little tasks that prepare your home for winter, from raking up fallen leaves to winterizing your swimming pool.

While closing up your pool definitely takes more time and hassle than opening it in the spring or maintaining it in the summer, when done properly, it makes your springtime work easier and helps prevent costly weather damage to the pool. Whether you have an in-ground or above-ground pool, here’s what you need to know.

Preparing to Close Your Pool

Before you begin closing up either your pool, first inspect it carefully and test it to ensure it’s free of leaks. One of the greatest dangers to above-ground pools in particular is wintertime leaking. As ice forms on top of the pool’s water surface, it grips the walls. If the liner or sides leak, the water level beneath – which should support the ice above – gradually drops. Disaster waits to strike in the spring as the ice thaws, loses its grip on the walls, and smashes to the pool bottom. The liner can be completely ruined and the walls crimped, leaving you with an expensive problem.

An easy way to test for small leaks is to measure the exact depth of the pool water and record it or mark the level on the side of the pool. Place a bucket or pan full of water beside the pool. Mark or record its depth as well. With the pool undisturbed – no swimming, skimming, filtering or any other activity – wait 24 hours. Check the level of the water in both the pool and the container. Both should vary from their original depth by the same amount since they are subject to the same conditions. If the pool is lower than the container, you have a leak. Address the issue before proceeding to winterizing.

If you have a patio, deck or platform built around your pool, sweep it clean of dirt, leaves and other debris that may contaminate your pool water. Remove any poolside furniture and store in a protected area. Alternatively, cover furniture with durable, waterproof coverings. Also, prepare your pool cover. Purchase a new one (typically about 3 or 4 feet wider than the pool circumference or edges to allow it to hang over the sides) or remove a used one from storage. Check for holes and tears and clean it if necessary before using.

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