How To Winterize A Swimming Pool
Date Recorded: January 18, 2016
Title: How To Winterize A Swimming Pool
Author: Swimming Pool Steve
Length: 8 Videos (Playlist)
This video blog series is intended to teach swimming pool owners about how to winterize each component of their swimming pool to protect against damage from freezing temperatures. Following a step by step process Steve talks about the pool water level, skimmer line, skimmer, return lines and return ports, pool pumps, cartridge filters, sand filters, gas heaters, pool lights and also salt water chlorine generators.
Failure to properly winterize your pool can very likely cause damage to pool equipment, plumbing lines and integral pool components such as the skimmer. These repairs are extremely frustrating for pool owners since they are expensive, but also because they are completely avoidable if you follow established protocol for how to winterize a swimming pool. Also discussed in this video blog series is how to add extra levels of protection to your winterization techniques to help prevent damage should you make a mistake closing the pool, or experience an equipment failure such as a faulty Gizmo or winterization plug.
How To Winterize A Swimming Pool Episode Breakdown
Episode 1 - Pool Returns (4:34)
Episode 2 - Pool Skimmers (11:54)
Episode 3 - Pool Pumps (4:26)
Episode 4 - Sand Filters (4:13)
Episode 5 - Cartridge Filters (4:31)
Episode 6 - Gas Heaters (7:12)
Episode 7 - Pool Lights (4:36)
Episode 8 - Salt Water Cell (1:44)
This is the regular pool Gizzmo that is intended for above ground pools or inground pools with short style (old) skimmers with 1.5" FPT (female pipe thread) ports on the bottom. The Gizzmo acts as a winterization plug (with the use of a thread sealant such as teflon tape) as well as acting as an ice-break in the skimmer. If the water that fills your skimmer from rain and snow melt freezes, the Gizzmo will crush inwards instead of your skimmer walls cracking and pushing out.
This is the Super Gizzmo designed for use in any inground swimming pool that has a standard skimmer. The Super Gizzmo has both 1.5" male threads as well as 2" male threads for use with old style or new style FPT skimmer ports. The narrow section in the center of the Super Gizzmo is designed to fit around the center collar found in mode full size pool skimmers. When used with a thread sealant such as teflon tape, this gizmo can be used as a winterization plug and if you have a front side port (equalizer port) as well as a backside suction port, you can use two of these Super Gizzmo plugs for added protection in your skimmer.
This swimming pool antifreeze is concentrated unlike other brands of antifreeze such as most RV and swimming pool antifreeze products. This is ideal for use in pool skimmers (the place you really need to have antifreeze) and the concentrated nature is perfect since water will eventually find a way back into your winterized skimmer. By having concentrated antifreeze in the skimmer line as well as the skimmer body will provide a secondary level of protection should your Gizzmo fail. Having this product in the (drained) skimmer line, as well as in the skimmer body, is well worth the cost to provide this extra level of protection to your pool.
Foam rope or "backer rod" is used for different construction purposes but is also perfect for adding an extra layer of protection to the winterization of your pool pipes. This backer is 3/4" thickness which is hearty enough to provide some freeze protection inside the pipes but still small enough that you can squeeze 12" or so into the empty skimmer lines and return lines after you have blown them out. This way if water gets past your Gizzmo or winterization plugs you can have some hope that the system will not sustain any damage. In the event that you have an equalizer line in your skimmer that you can not air lock by blowing through it to the main drain, then sleeve as much foam rope as you can into the equalizer pipe before plugging it.
These rubber expandable pool winterization plugs are suitable for pool returns and skimmer equalizer ports as well as for use plugging the open pipe terminations from where you removed the salt water cell if you have one. The sizes for these plugs range from 00 up to 13. For most standard swimming pool return outlets this #8 rubber plug will the correct size. For 2" pipe openings such as sometime found in the bottom of the skimmer use a #11 rubber plug
As discussed in this video blog series, swimming pool technicians use powerful air blowers for winterizing pool equipment - most specifically for blowing out return lines and the skimmer line. While other equipment such as wet / dry shop vacuums on the blower setting, or potentially modified leaf blowers can be used in a pinch, the power of these cyclone air blowers is enough to blow water 10' out the top of your skimmer. The product comes as pictured and will require a short hose length (standard pool 1.5" vacuum line segments work great for this). If you want to open and close your own pool this blower would be a great investment. If you do not have a pool vacuum such as a Hayward Navigator or Pentair Kreepy Krauly with 3' hose segments that you can borrow hose from then you need to order something like these 1.5" pool vacuum hoses and a hose clamp to complete your blower.
This interesting tapered adapter is probably the biggest tip, or secret, on this page that swimming pool technicians use but pool owners have no idea how useful it can be. This tool goes by many names such as skimmer cone, vacuum adapter, Baracuda valve cuff and likely many more regional names. This would traditionally be used for plugging your vacuum hose into your skimmer suction for vacuuming the pool. Since the air blower shown above uses vacuum hose, this adapter becomes the perfect tool for winterizing pool equipment. Simply connect this adapter to your blower hose and use the tapered end to fit snugly into pump intakes, unions, valves, heater ports and any other line that you need to winterize. The unique shape allows for a perfect and nearly air tight seal - often well enough that you can leave the blower in place and go pool-side to continue winterizing the pool. If you do not already have one of these hiding in the deepest, darkest corner of your pool shed then consider ordering one before you need to close the pool again.
What Pool Closing Chemicals Should I Use?
When it comes to the water chemistry of your pool at the time of closing, it is important to have the water neutral, balanced and sanitized. If possible you want to
remove all organic debris from the pool such as leaves, sticks, algae, sand and pool toys and have all traditional water test parameters within the ideal range. A
pool winterized in this condition will have the least chance for damage, algae growth and green water in the spring. Will it ruin the pool if it is not 100% balanced?
No, probably not. In the spring your water will be green and require a fair amount of effort and chemical treatment to get running again. It is less work to balance
the pool properly before you close than to try to deal with the mess you left come the start of the next pool season.
While you want to maintain a normal swimming level of chlorine in your pool up until the closing date, do not bother adding "extra" chlorine until after you have already pumped down your water level to close. At this time you want to chlorinate the water heavily, up to around 10ppm of free chlorine, directly before you cover the pool. In the average sized swimming pool, 10L of liquid chlorine is a good amount to add right at closing. 5L for smaller pools should be plenty and pools larger than 20x40 might require a little more than 10L. These are just general guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction with your own pool closing.
Pool chemical closing kits - What comes in them? - Pool chemical closing and opening kits are actually usually the same products with different labels for marketing towards spring and fall seasons. These closing kits almost universally contain one shock product, either chlorine powder or non-chlorine oxidizer, one weak algaecide as well as a stain and scale control product. If you want to go the extra mile for your pool then by all means you can use one of these such as this Pool Winterizing Kit.
It is worth noting that chlorine is a sanitizer primarily, but it also is an oxidizer as well as an algaecide. These three properties, as well as it having the ability to build and hold a residual value are the reasons why it is used to treat swimming pool water. If the pool is well balanced and you add 10L of liquid chlorine after draining for winterization, then you really do not need any extra algaecide or any extra oxidizer so save yourself a few dollars there. If this year you did not get the pool as clean as you had hoped before closing time then perhaps that is a good time to invest in the closing kit. (Do not use liquid chlorine as well as chlorine shock from a closing kit as this will likely raise the sanitizer levels too high. Use a non-chlorine oxidizer shock like potassium monopersulphate instead of chlorine shock winterizing kits if you plan to add liquid chlorine. Some winterization kits also include pool antifreeze as well as foam rope however you would be better to order these items individually to ensure you are getting concentrated antifreeze and not a watered down version of it.
Swimming Pool Safety Covers
If you are considering adding a winter safety cover to your swimming pool then be sure to read the lengthy article by Swimming Pool Steve on How to measure, order and install a pool safety cover for your pool.