Winterizing Your Pool

How to prep your pool for winter

Cannonball! It’s time to make your last big splash as we head into the fall season! Is your pool ready for the colder months? Get it protected from damage caused by freezing temperatures and weather. Don’t live in an area that typically freezes? Best to play it safe and still take the proper precaution. If done correctly, winterizing your pool can save you time and effort when it comes to having it prepped for next summer’s BBQ and pool parties.

First thing’s first! Before closing your pool, be sure to brush and vacuum all the debris.  An Aquamate Leaf Skimmer can be used to easily pick up any leaves or bugs that are floating in the water.  Attach your garden hose to PoolMaster Pool and Spa Vacuum and lower it into the water to let the vacuum work its magic to clean the bottom of your pool.  Keep in mind that the water won’t be cleaned or sanitized in the off-season so get that water nice and clean! Don’t forget to remove any pool accessories that shouldn’t be left in the pool like toys, slides, vacuums, and heaters.

If you live in an area where freezing temperatures are common, make sure that the water level is at least 4 to 6 inches below the skimmer or tile line.  This prevents the skimmer from being easily damaged by any freezing water.  Freezing water expands and causes damage to the pool, plumbing, and filter system.  In freezing areas, add an antifreeze after draining the pool water a couple of inches.  Antifreeze prevents pipes from bursting or being damaged.  In areas that don’t experience frigid winters, you have two options when it comes to water level.  You can fill the pool with water to the point of overflowing, or drain the water to the level of the mouth of the skimmer and place a cover over the skimmer’s mouth.  Completely drained pools can crack from the pressure of the cold and will require costly repairs.

Balancing the water chemistry is the next step of the process.  It is very important to balance the pool’s pH, calcium hardness, and total alkalinity.  Having the right chemical balance helps prevent calcium deposits from staining the pool’s surface.  The pool should have a pH level between 7.2 and 7.6.  If it is higher, be sure to use a pH decreaser or a pH increaser if the level is lower.  AquaChek Pool & Spa Test Strips are quick and easy for pH testing as they give accurate results within 15 seconds.

Next, make sure the water hardness is adjusted to the proper level of calcium already in the water.  For all pool types, a calcium level between 175 and 225 parts-per-minute is ideal.  To decrease the calcium level, you can drain some of the current water and refill it with water containing a lower calcium level.  Add a calcium hardener to increase the level of calcium.  The next step is to adjust the alkalinity- the dissolved particles in pools with water that have a pH higher than 7.0.  If the total alkalinity is not balanced, the water may be murky next spring.  To keep the water looking clear and blue, use a winterizing chemical.  This prevents algae from forming.  This chemical will be effective even into the spring.

Plan to clean the pool as well as its filtration system. For sand filters, refer to the manufacturer’s directions for backwashing the filter correctly.  The directions should involve closing the filter’s valves, adding a filter cleaner, backwashing the filter an hour after adding the cleaner, removing the drain plug, draining the filter, and finally, closing the valve.  For cartridge filters, refer to the manual to see when it is time for you to replace your filter.  Some cartridge filters can be cleaned multiple times before needing to be replaced.  After removing the filter, spray it with water and soak it in a filter cleaner.

After cleaning the filter, turn off the filter pump and drain the equipment as directed by the manufacturer.  Don’t forget to drain water from any additional pumps, filters, or heaters.  If you use a chemical feeder, drain and completely empty it.  Any leftover chemicals can wear down the equipment.

The final step in winterizing your pool is covering it up.  Not only does a cover protect the pool, but it also helps keep your family safe from accidents.  The water in the pool will help support the cover.  The type of cover depends on your pool, but a good, solid cover will protect against any extreme weather- rain, snow, and ice.  You may want to use air pillows under the cover.  The air pillows create a tent with the cover which helps debris slide off instead of clumping together on the top of the cover.

These winterizing steps will help your pool stay clean and protected during the months as you dream of sunshine and warmer weather! Take care of your pool and it will take care of you.

About Big R

Bill and Pat Crabtree originated the Illinois Big R Stores in 1964. The first store opened in Watseka, Illinois. To date 18 stores have been opened in central Illinois and northern Indiana. We have 11 stores in Illinois including Watseka, Gibson City, Danville, Tilton, Pontiac, Morris, Washington, Rochelle, Pekin, Homer Glen and McHenry. Our 7 Indiana stores include Warsaw, Wabash, Crawfordsville, Michigan City, Elkhart, Marion and Rochester. We recently expanded to Northwest Ohio, adding stores in Lima and Findlay (Coming Soon). The offices and warehouses for Big R remain in Watseka, IL. Joining the company in 1973, Jerry Gibbs now provides family leadership for the company. New generations of the Crabtree family continue to participate in the business. Farm and Ranch store owners in the western states started the Big R brand name; they chose the name "Big R" to convey the "Ranch" identity. The Big R group is now comprised of 12 independent owners with a growing 75 + stores throughout the U.S. They all are members of Mid-States Distributing Company of St. Paul, MN. The Mid-States Coop has over 600 stores throughout the United States and Canada.