Winterising outdoor swimming pool
May be you will be surprised that your outdoor swimming pool in Bulgaria needs to be prepared for the winter. Many foreign citizens who bought properties with pools in Bulgaria were not familiar with the characteristics of the local climate and didn’t know what to do. We can say only pools which are located in the close proximity of the sea coast don’t need winterization (but they need to be shut down anyway). For all other outdoor facilities, even located on several kilometers away from the beach, special winter care is required.
The preparation of the outdoor inground swimming pool for the winter season is a very important aspect of the correct pool maintenance. The main purpose of the procedure is to preserve the pool during the cold months when eventual water freeze may damage the construction, the tiling and the expensive pool machinery and equipment. The task is somewhat time and effort consuming and if you are not sure you can manage it by yourself, it is better to hire a professional to do the job. For those, who want to give it a try, we have prepared a short step-by-step instruction of how to do it.
If you want your pool to stay clean we recommend following the procedure:
1. Balancing the water chemistry
A week before the closing of the pool, a water chemistry check has to be done and particular measures have to be taken if needed. The water characteristics should be as follows:
Chlorine: 1 – 3 parts per million
Alkalinity: 80 – 120 parts per million
Calcium Hardness: 175 – 250 parts per million
pH: 7.2 – 7.6
1. Boost the Chlorine level up to 10 – 12 parts per million using a “Chlorine Shock”. Wait till the Chlorine lever normalizes to 1 – 3 ppm, and then put a winter algaecide to prevent the algae from growing (ensures the water to stay clean and sparkling during the whole winter).
2. To adjust the Alkalinity level of the water use Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) to RAISE the level and Muriatic Acid (pool acid) or Dry Acid to LOWER the level.
3. To adjust the Calcium Hardness level of the water use Calcium Chloride to RAISE the level and special commercial Hardness Reducers or Chelating Agents to LOWER the level.
4. To adjust the pH level of the water use Sodium Carbonate to RAISE the pH level and Sodium Bisulphate to lower the pH level.
5. To ensure the good dispersal of the chemicals in the water, keep the circulation running for 24 hours.
Brush or vacuum the sides and the floor of the pool. Remove all leaves and other debris from the top and the bottom of the pool using a leaf rake. Leaves and other dirt may cause staining of the pool’s surface.
From our personal experience, we cannot 100% guarantee that the water will remain sparkling and will not become green and muddy, even if you have followed strictly the above listed instructions.
HERE IS WHAT WE DO:
A week before closing the pool we stop adding any chemicals in the water. Of course, the water gets green a bit, but this is not a big deal. When the springtime comes we drain completely the pool and use the water to irrigate the gardens. After emptying the pool, we brush and clean it thoroughly and fill it with clean fresh water.
3. Removing the pool accessories
Uninstall and remove all wall fittings, ladders, slides, handrails, skimmer baskets, etc. and store them in a dry and safe place for the winter.
4. Lowering the water level
The water in the pool has to be lowered up to the bottom of the skimmers mouth. This will protect the skimmers against damages caused by the eventual water freezing and expanding during the winter. DO NOT completely drain the pool, because this may cause structural damages on the construction.
5. Draining the pump, filters and pipework
Backwash and clean the sand filter and the pump basket (strainer). Drain the water out of the pump, filter and chlorinator by removing the drain plugs. Otherwise, it will freeze, expand and crack. The best way to remove the water from the equipment is to blow it out with an air compressor or a shop vac. Turn the multiport valve on a “Closed/Winterized” position and remove the pressure gauge. Disconnect the pump and the filter and store them in a dry and warm place for the winter. Remove all water out of the return jet pipes by blowing it out with the compressor or shop vac – blow each plumbing line of the system until bubbles start appearing in the pool and then plug the jets. Do the same by the skimmer pipes and put a Gizzmo to seal the skimmer opening. Instead of a skimmer Gizzmo, an empty and closed plastic soda bottle will do the same – to act as an expansion bottle to be compressed by the ice instead of cracking the skimmer.
All valves above the water level should be left open and all under water level closed.
Turn off the power supply to the system. If you have a chemical feeder, you have to remove any chemicals or chlorine tablets left and drain the feeder.
6. Putting expansion bottles in the water
In order to compensate the water expansion when freezing, put floating plastic bottles in the water near the pool’s board. You can use empty plastic soda bottles. Put some sand in the bottles to ensure they will stay vertical in the water. Tie the bottles together with a rope and put them close to the pool’s walls. In order not to have swimming bottles all over the pool, secure the rope ends with a stone or other heavy object at the pool’s boards. By eventual freezing of the water during the winter, the expansion of the ice will crack the bottles and not the walls and the tiling.
7. Installing the pool cover
The final step of the pool’s winterization is the installation of the safety cover. The winter pool cover is recommendable but not an absolute must (your pool will surely survive during the winter also without it). The cover keeps the sunlight and the debris away from the water during the winter period. When placing the cover strictly follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Regular water check
It is advisable to check the condition of the water and the equipment from time to time during the winter. By heavy rains and snow the water level may increase and draining of the excess water may be needed.
Please remember that these are only general instructions and tips for proper pool winterization. This is not an user’s manual and we don’t assume any responsibility. If you are not sure about what and how to do it, we recommend hiring a professional.
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