As warm weather gives way to cooler temperatures every fall, many pool owners start closing their pools during this time of year to prepare for the winter months. But why?
If you are a new pool owner, this may be confusing for you, especially if it is your first time closing your pool and you are unsure what to do. Or you may be like us during the first winter with our pool, and we weren’t sure if we needed to close the pool.
So, if you own an inground pool or an above-ground pool, let’s talk about:
- Why do people close their pools
- When you should close your pool
- Why we don’t close our pool
- What we do to prepare for the winter months
So read on below to find the right information and helpful tips for you!
2 Reasons Why People Close Their Pools
#1. It’s too cold to use the pool. The time, effort, and cost to maintain it aren’t worth it.
#2. Freezing temperatures may damage pool equipment. Don’t want to run the risk of damage, which can be very costly to fix.
I think it’s pretty obvious that your swimming pool won’t seem refreshing at all during the fall or winter. It can be just too cold to use the pool.
For some people who live in very northern states, there really isn’t a choice. They just close their pools because it is just too cold to even consider keeping the pool open.
But for others, these are the things to consider if you want to close your pool or not:
1. Freezing Temperatures and Potential Damage
In regions where temperatures drop below freezing often and for long periods of time, the water in the pool, pipes, pumps, and filters can freeze. This can cause them to expand and potentially crack, leading to significant damage and costly repairs. Avoiding this damage is the main reason people close their outdoor pools for the winter.
Closing the pool and draining water from the appropriate components can prevent such damage, making it a worthwhile consideration for those living in colder climates. Winterizing processes, such as adding antifreeze to the pipes, blowing out pool lines, dropping the pool’s water level, protecting your skimmer basket, and installing a pool winter cover, can further protect the pool from the harsh winter elements, ensuring the pool’s longevity.
2. Increased Maintenance Demands
Keeping a pool open during autumn and winter implies dealing with a consistent influx of falling leaves, debris, and the need for extra chemical maintenance to maintain water quality. This can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Also, how fun is it to maintain your pool like this if you can’t use your pool??
Closing the pool can mitigate these maintenance challenges and frustration, allowing for a more relaxed off-season and a smoother transition when reopening in the spring.
3. Costly to Keep the Pool Water Warm
As temperatures plummet, the desire to dip in the pool also plummets. If you have a pool heater, you may be able to extend your pool season by heating your pool water.
If it’s not all that cold, the cost to heat your pool water can be somewhat minimal. On the other hand, heating your pool often and warming the water from very cold temperatures can get pretty costly.
For those who do not plan to use the pool until spring, closing it can be a logical choice, eliminating unnecessary upkeep and expenses related to heating and filtration. This is especially true for pool owners in the northern states, where the climate makes pool usage impractical during winter.
These are the main things to consider in a cost-benefit type decision. But, the one thing you need to really know to make this decision is the typical temperature of your backyard in the winter.
Let’s get into this more below
When Should You Close a Pool?
Typically, when the water temperature consistently hits 60 degrees Fahrenheit or below, it’s a signal that it’s closing time for your pool. This usually falls between Labor Day and Thanksgiving for a majority of the states, but definitely not all states.
The timeline between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is generally recognized as the ideal time to close your pool in many states. Some people specifically recommend that the third week of September / late September is the perfect time to start winterizing your outdoor pool. This is when the pool water tends to maintain a temperature around or below 60 degrees Fahrenheit – not many people are excited to use their pools at this temperature!
However, the exact timing can depend on the local climate, with warmer states having the luxury to delay and colder states necessitating an earlier closure. But, if you decide to close your pool, it’s very important to close your pool at the right time.
Closing Too Soon:
Closing a pool while the weather is still warm and the water temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to several problems:
Algae Growth: Warm water is a conducive environment for algae growth. The winter protection chemicals you add to your pool during closing won’t last as long as you expect if the water is too warm. This can lead to an algae bloom, which can be difficult to manage and clean in the spring.
Chemical Imbalance: If closed while it’s still warm, the water chemistry can become imbalanced, requiring extensive chemical treatment when reopening.
Missed Enjoyment: Premature closure could mean missing out on some delightful days of pool enjoyment during the early autumn when there can still be some warm days.
Waiting Too Long:
On the other end of the spectrum, delaying pool closure has its pitfalls, especially in states with harsh winters:
Freezing Damage: Water left in pipes and equipment can freeze, expand, and cause substantial damage to the pool’s structure and plumbing system. Plus, trying to close a pool when it’s really cold outside can be really, really unenjoyable.
Debris Accumulation: A delay in closing allows more leaves and debris to enter the pool, creating additional cleaning work and potentially causing stains and water quality issues.
Increased Maintenance: The longer the pool remains open, the more maintenance it requires, including regular cleaning and chemical balancing, which can be burdensome as the weather becomes less conducive.
👉 Tip: If you aren’t sure what time is a good time to close your pool, talk to pool professionals in your area for their recommendations. These people should help you find the best time to start closing your pool the right way.
Why Don't We Close Our Pool?
Our winters are pretty mild where we live. This means:
- Lower pool damage risk from cold and freezing temperatures
- Easier to heat the pool and our attached spa to use our pool in the winter
As a result, the great benefits of being able to use our pool outweigh the minimal risks and costs for us.
We live in the greater Houston, Texas area. Here, winters are pretty mild, and we don’t have too many days at or below freezing. As a result, our pool water temperature doesn’t stay below 60 degrees Fahrenheit for too long during the year. So, we face less risk from the cold and freezing temperatures damaging our pool.
Since the winters are pretty mild and temperatures don’t get too low for long periods of time, we frequently use our heater to heat up our attached spa or the entire pool. This allows us to keep using our pool all year long.
And the maintenance to keep the pool open for us isn’t any more than what we do during the summer. In fact, we are worrying less about pool chemicals and the pool’s water chemistry during the winter.
So, for us, it’s a pretty easy choice. The winters really aren’t a threat to damaging our pool, and it is fairly easy to heat up our pool or spa when we want to use it. As a result, we can get a lot of use out of our pool during the winter.
How Do We Prepare For a Freeze and/or a Loss of Power?
When temperatures drop to freezing or below freezing, here is what we do:
- We run the pump, water features, pool vacuum, and all other equipment that may freeze non-stop
- We regularly check our equipment for any damage or leaks
If needed, especially if there is a loss of power during a freeze, we will drain water from our equipment to “winterize” the above-ground equipment.
Even though we live in a warmer climate, it’s not uncommon for there to be a couple of days each winter that can be freezing temperatures. On these days, we will run our pool pump, water feature pumps, and pool cleaner pump until temperatures rise above freezing.
Running the equipment will keep water moving through your system. Moving water like this will keep the water in your equipment and above-ground lines from freezing. Thus protecting your pool and pool equipment from damage.
This process will happen automatically with our pool because we have a “freeze protect” setting that will run this equipment when the temperature drops below a certain temperature. For us, we have this set to 35 degrees Fahrenheit to start moving the water before it actually starts to freeze.
👉 Tip: One thing you should check with your pool builder or any pool professional is what pool equipment needs to run when it freezes.
What Do You Do if it is Freezing and the Power Goes Out?
If the temperature is below freezing and the power goes out, your equipment won’t be able to run to keep water moving through the system to prevent freezing water. So what do you do?
One thing you should know is where the drain plug is on each piece of equipment. If you can’t run your equipment, you may need to completely drain the water from your equipment by opening the drain plugs and other openings. By doing these, you are effectively “winterizing” your pool equipment.
👉 Tip: Make sure you know where your pool equipment drain plugs are and all the steps you need to take to protect your equipment from freezing if you lose power. You should do this well before winter. You don’t want to spend a lot of time outside when it’s freezing trying to figure out what you need to do.
Should You Get a Backup Generator?
The reasons to get a backup generator continue to grow, especially as it seems more and more areas are being impacted by severe weather.
A generator could also give you peace of mind and be a good idea for your pool during the winter. If you have a properly sized generator, you could run your pool equipment if you lose power. We have seen more and more people get generators for this reason, especially whole home generators.
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