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While some people leave their pool open year round, most people in Oklahoma close and winterize their pools during the non-swimming season. While the terms "closing" and "winterizing" are often used interchangeably, the real meanings are slightly different. Winterizing the pool refers to protecting the pool and its equipment from freezing during the winter months, whereas closing can mean anything from locking the gate to "putting the pool to bed for the winter". Be sure of on thing, if you call a pool service company in Oklahoma in the autumn, both terms are understood to mean the latter.
Some folks forget about pool care pool when they stop swimming, and the pool is neglected until time to winterize. Please don't do this. It isn't good for the pool or your finances. The pool should be kept clean, chemically balanced, and safe for swimming right up until the day of winterization. It only takes a little time to continue maintaining the pool, and , as the season cools, less chemicals are needed to keep the water clear and in balance. If your yard has trees, and you have a safety cover, you can put it on while the falling, then winterize the pool at the appropriate time. Automatic cleaners are also helpful, especially when used under a safety cover.
Here in the Oklahoma City area, we used to say the time to close the pool was around the end of October, and open it in mid April. For the last few years, though, it should have been more like late November to mid March. The usual rule of thumb is to wait until the water temperature is expected to remain below 59 degrees, which is usually at least after the first heavy frost. This is the temperature at which algae begins to have a tough time growing. Since most winter algaecides are only good for about six weeks, the later the better. (More about algaecides later)
First, the pool should be clean, clear, and chemically in balance before it is winterized, because you won't have filtration or even circulation. for quite some time while the pool is closed. If you use chlorine, or have a salt system, the pool should be "shocked", or super-chlorinated, the day before. This makes sure that there is no live algae in the pool.
For plastered pools, we recommend that the water level in the pool be lowered to about 6" to 8" below the tile. This is so that when the pool freezes, the pressure from the ice does not damage the tile. If you have a mesh cover, ( or mesh drain panels) rain water and snow will add to the pool over the winter, but that is usually compensated by evaporation. With true solid safety covers, there should be an automatic cover pump to keep standing water off the cover.
For vinyl in-ground pools, the water level should be lowered no further than the bottom of the skimmer faceplate. The weight of the water in the pool is what keeps the liner in place, so you don't want to take a chance of floating the liner in the event of a really big rain. Additionally, you don't want to let the pool run over in the heavy spring rains, so you will need to monitor the water level in the pool, and keep it at least a few inches below the top of the liner.
Fiberglass pools can float out of the ground, or be subjected to cracking, especially those which do not have a working sump system to keep water out from under them. The best policy, in most cases, is to drain the water just below the skimmer faceplate, an monitor the water level closely. If the pool does not have tile, you can leave the water level near normal.
As mentioned above, Chlorinated and salt pools should be super-chlorinated the day before closing. For Alternative chemistry, such as Baquacil, follow the instructions provided by the chemical manufacturer. All pool chemicals should be individually mixed with water and dispersed throughout the pool. NEVER mix more than one chemical at a time, and ALWAYS add chemicals to water, DO NOT put the chemicals in the bucket first. Most winterizing chemical kits contain shock, a winter grade algaecide, and a stain preventative. Some have a slow release feeder. Follow the directions on the kit. Once the chemicals have been put in the pool, they should be dispersed with a few swift walks around the pool with a dip net. Chemicals should be added after the water level has been lowered, so as not to waste them!
If you have never winterized a pool before, it might be wise to consider hiring a professional (A-Pro Services, for example.....) the first time through this part, and familiarize yourself with what they are doing. Most technicians won't mind, as long as you don't slow them down. No need to take notes, I'll explain, here, how we do it.
First the filter should be cleaned, before the water level is lowered. Sand and Diatomaceous Earth filters should be thoroughly backwashed. Cartridge filters should be removed for later cleaning, and the filter reassembled.
Next we remove all drain plugs in the system. We then plug all lines at the pool, except for the main drain, and put all the plugs back in at the equipment end except one, usually the pump drain plug. If the filter is a sand filter, we also leave off it's drain cap, as well. Using a quick connect adapter which is screwed into the drain plug hole, a compressor is attached and air pressure is introduced. It doesn't take much pressure, it is the volume that is needed. In the case of sand filters, leave the drain cap off until only air is coming out,
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