We are going to wrap up the semester with the perfect end of the pool season topic, winterizing chemicals. There are many schools of thought about how you should treat your pool water during the off season. The schools run from, “Don’t do anything,” to, “Buy lots of stuff.” Having been in the business for over forty years now I have seen and heard a lot of different processes and I can tell you that doing nothing is a huge mistake and doing too much is a waste of money and time.
Let’s go over some basic facts. Fact, even if you are not using the pool the water still has needs. If you don’t satisfy those needs the pool water, equipment, and pool surface will suffer badly. Regardless of use bacterial and algae are still active in your pool and need to be controlled. You control these enemies by keep your basic water chemistry in check, I am referring to pH and chlorine (or whatever type of sanitizer you are using). The other thing that needs attention is your mineral balance. We have discussed this fact in Pool School 103 to 105 where we talk about pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness. If you are not familiar with this class or would like to review them you can find them on Word Press. Fact if you don’t add winterizing chemicals you run the risk of developing Algae and Scale in the pool.
First and most important step before you winterize the pool water is to have your water professionally tested at our retail store. There are some people who think I will tell you that to get you into the store to purchase more chemicals, however there is a reason for this very important step, I will use a recent event to illustrate what happens when you don’t balance your pool water. We had a customer who was desperate for a new liner because he developed a hole in the liner which he attempted to patch, however he had not balanced his pool water in over two years. When he went to apply the patch, at the bottom of the pool, the liner cracked. No I did not say split, I said cracked. The vinyl had become brittle because the water wanted a certain mineral balance, if it does not find that balance it will begin pulling minerals from the surface of the pool water. Thus the liner, in this case, became brittle. The other common problem is the liner will wrinkle all over the entire pool. So do not skip this step because you don’t think it is important, as I have just demonstrated that it is VERY important. I have a customer who has a vinyl liner that is over twenty years old (that’s right 20 years!), the reason she had been able to keep the liner that long is because she has the water analyzed and makes adjustments as needed. The liner has no pattern but it is not brittle or wrinkled! Water balance is very important even in the off season.
The final chemical step you will need to employ are winterizing chemicals. What you need will depend on what type of cover you will be using. For over 34 years I have been selling a winterizing kit that provides excellent protection. We have two types of kits, we have a kit for people using solid pool covers, and a kit for people who use a mesh cover or no cover at all. The kit for solid covers contains a winterizing algaecide, a scale inhibitor and a floater that contains a non chlorine chemical. You do NOT want to put a chlorine floater with chlorine tables in it in a vinyl liner, fiberglass, or painted pool. If the floating chlorinator ends up at the side of the pool (and it will at some point during the off season) then it will seriously damage the surface of the pool. The floaters in our kits are exclusive to Aegean Pools and contain a non-chlorine chemical that does two things; first it is a slow release algae inhibitor. Second; are natural enzymes that will breakdown body oils. Body oils will float on the waters surface and find their way to the water line of the pool. Once at the edge of the pool they will stick to the pool surface and begin to trap dirt which turns them black in color. This is what most people refer to as bathtub ring. The natural enzyme will break down the oils into a biodegradable product and will keep the oil from forming at the edge of the pool. This trifecta of chemicals will keep your pool algae, scale and bathtub ring free!
The other style of kit is for pools that use a mesh cover, a solid cover that has drain panels that allow water to drain into the pool, and for pools that do not use a cover at all. This kit has all the same items as the solid kit but it also includes a phosphate remover. A phosphate remover takes the food away from algae and reduces the possibility of developing algae during the off season.
If you have a mesh safety cover and you do not treat the pool properly you will develop algae. Algae will develop because the mesh cover creates an environment that algae loves, indirect sunlight (shaded light). Because of this environment I developed a winterizing program, that is exclusive to Aegean Pools, that stops algae dead in its tracks. This also applies to pools that are not going to be covered during the winter. If you follow these general guidelines it will be very rare for you to develop algae, if you miss any one of these steps all bets are off.
- Have the pool professionally tested at least three days before you winterize the pool, and add the required balancing chemicals
- The day before winterizing clean the pool
- Add the On Guard Safety Zone Winterizing Kit available exclusively at Aegean Pools
- Winterize the pool late in the fall. Best time frame is November 1st Keep in mind the pool will winterize best if the water temperature is consistently below 60°. If you have a leaf problem you can cover the pool at any time you just won’t shut your system down until November.
- Between Super Bowl® and Valentine’s Day you will add a gallon of winterizing algaecide to the pool by mixing it in a bucket of water and pouring it through the cover, if you have a cover.
- Start the pool up no later than March 31st. This means getting your system running and having the water professionally tested and balancing chemicals added. If you want to recover the pool when you are done opening the pool you may, however you must keep the filter circulating during this time.
Following these steps faithfully will insure an easy start in the spring. So there you have it the conclusion of another Pool School year. Congratulations! See you in the spring! Enjoy your winter.