WINTER is here and if you have a pool it’s time to close it down for the off-season.

During the colder months when your pool isn’t being used it is often a case of out of sight out of mind. But prevention is better than cure.

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pool swim-ready

Properly closing down your pool for winter helps maintain surface finishes and water quality, preventing damage to pool equipment, shell and water and saving you money in the long run.

And the easier it will be to get your pool swim-ready when the weather starts warming up again.

We consulted public advice from pool experts Swimart, to compile this 10 step checklist on how to properly close down your pool for winter.

1. Clean your pool

Start by brushing down the walls and floor of your pool and then vacuuming it. Clean out the pool’s skimmer baskets and remove any leaves and debris from the pump’s lint basket. This will ensure the filtration system continues to work efficiently.

2. Clean your pool filter

Any grease or oil deposits in your pool filter will harden over winter so thoroughly clean the filter, backwash and rinse.

3. Check your pool water

The pH level of your pool water needs to be between 7.2 and 7.6. Check your pool water by taking a water sample from elbow depth. Then, add the required treatments to restore your pool water to the correct pH level. If you are unsure, consult your pool specialist.

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4. Check your pool chlorine levels

During winter, your pool’s free available chlorine should be kept at a constant level of 2-3 PPM (parts per million) to keep the water clean and clear. Unless you’re using a salt chlorinator and pool blanket, then the chlorinator output should be reduced to 1-2 PPM. Chemicals are trapped in by pool blankets causing high chlorine levels, which can cause potential damage to your pool equipment if left unmonitored. Again, if you are unsure about this process, consult your pool specialist.

5. Shock your pool

Shock treating or shocking your pool helps your pool stay cleaner and less prone to algal blooms or cloudy water by helping to remove organic and inorganic wastes (chloramines) such as sunscreen and sweat to dead insects and bird poo, from the water. This process involves adding a treatment to your pool water to remove or destroy nitrogen and ammonia compounds by oxidation. Regularly and properly shocking your pool also helps ensure the sanitiser can concentrate on its job of killing algae and bacteria, instead of these other foreign materials. If you are unsure of what shock treatment to use, consult your pool specialist. Once you have added the appropriate shock treatment, run your pool pump and filter for several hours to ensure the treatment has been distributed thoroughly.

6. Immediately remove any algae from your pool

Algal blooms are essentially made up of tiny aquatic creatures that rapidly multiply. In the form of algae spores, these little creatures enter your pool water and multiply becoming a floating cloud or attaching themselves to different surfaces of your pool. Conditions such as warm, imbalanced water; lots of sunlight or lack of adequate sanitisation, filtration or proper circulation need to be just right for a bloom to form. By the time you see an algal bloom, most of the sanitiser in your pool has been used trying to control it. This leaves no residual sanitiser over to keep your pool water clean and healthy. You can use several products to help provide year-round protection from algal blooms that don’t require constant use. Consult your pool specialist for details.

7. Reduce your pool filter’s running-time

During winter, your pool filter only needs to operate 3-4 hours each day. Adjust your timer, if you have one, to these hours or switch your filer on during off-peak periods to save you money.

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9. Flick your pool’s solar heater to Winter Mode

Manually switch your pool’s solar heating system to Winter Mode, if you don’t have an automatic controller.

10. Use a pool cover on your pool

There are several reasons why you should use a pool cover – such as keeping your pool clean, reducing chemical loss and saving you money – but using a pool cover is an integral part of your winter pool care. Pool covers effectively keep leaves, debris and dirt out of your pool, meaning your pool requires less cleaning. And the less organic matter in your pool water means less chlorine is required to break them down and less food for bugs or algae to feed on. Chlorine also degrades under UV light, so using a pool cover reduces the amount of UV light hitting your pool water and minimises chemical degradation and evaporation. There are three types of pool covers; manual, semi-automated and full-automated. See your pool specialist to find the right cover for your pool.

10. Maintaining your pool throughout winter

Now that you’ve prepared your pool for the off-season, you need to ensure you maintain it during the winter months. Doing this every week will make getting your pool swim-ready after winter, easier and less costly. Here’s an easy weekly checklist:

  1. Brush down your pool’s walls and floors and then vacuum.
  2. Make sure all the pool equipment is working properly.
  3. Ensure the pool’s filter is operating 3-4 hours each day.
  4. Empty the pool’s skimmer basket.
  5. Check the pool water’s chlorine and pH levels.

This is general pool advice only. For more specific advice consult your pool specialist or see the team at Swimart Mackay.