Winterizing

Although in South Texas we don’t live in a harsh cold climate with the anticipation of months of freezing temperatures, we still need to prepare our body of water for the winter months. Houston, at least the past few years has experienced freezing temperatures, if only for a couple of days.

The biggest concern is equipment cracking as the water expands in the pipes and other equipment. In Houston climates, we experience a temperate climate, and, by keeping an eye on the forecasts we’re able to eliminate the damage caused by a short-term cold front. When the forecast predicts near freezing temperatures, simply turn on the pumps for the full term of the cold spell. The circulating water will prevent freezing. In addition, if you have a pool heater, set it at the lowest thermostatic setting.

During the winter we’re often asked about either cancelling service or reducing from weekly to monthly servicing. In fact, the work in winter doesn’t lessen in comparison to summer months, more change direction.

Like summer, the main objective during winter is to ensure correct water chemistry. This protects the pool from corrosion or scale buildup. Use a test kit to check the pH (7.2 – 7.6), total alkalinity (80 – 120ppm) and calcium hardness (180 – 220ppm), chlorination (1.0 – 3.0ppm), and in saltwater pools the salt content (3200 – 3600ppm). However, in summer it’s continued usage and sun that reduces our chemicals. In winter, excessive rain will reduce concentrations of these indicators and unbalance the pools.

In theory, during winter, you’ll use fewer chemicals to maintain the chemical balance, so you can reduce the filtration from 8 hours to 4 hours. But, the wind and rains cause the pools to flood and the falling leaves and debris can clog the system, affect the water balance resulting in algae and, if left too long stain the surface of the pool.

Leaf debris after one windy day…

Green pool from rain & unbalanced chemicals

Due to this you’ll need to spend more time cleaning. On a weekly basis, clean leaves, insects, dirt and debris from the pool, skimmer basket and pump basket. You’ll also need to use a pool vacuum or fish them out with a long handled debris net. Finally, brush the sides to remove algae and treat the body of water to ensure the chemical balance is correct.

If you plan to close down your pool for winter, balance the chemicals as mentioned, shock the pool with chlorine shock (powder shock), remove any pool accessories, ladders, fittings, skimmer baskets, pool cleaners and hoses and drain the pool at least 12 – 18 inches below the skimmer basket. Drain the pumps, filters and heater to prevent cracking in freezing weather and apply lubricants to any lids, valves and o-rings. In addition, covering the pool even if not winterizing will certainly reduce cleaning efforts, chemicals and filtering demands.

You can purchase winterization blankets and chemical kits from Leslies. These chemical kits put large levels of chlorine and algaecide in the water to prepare it for the winter months. Rick at Leslies on I45 South next to Lowes and Home Depot has a wealth of knowledge should you be preparing for the winterization by yourself.