With Halloween upon us and most of the trees' leaves planted firmly on the ground, there's no more denying that summer - and the pool season - is officially over. If your school has an outdoor pool on its grounds, you need to make sure it's properly closed for the cooler weather.
Swimming pools can add tremendous financial and educational value to your school if properly maintained, but they also require a good deal of preventive maintenance if you want to avoid headaches. Letting inspections and repairs lapse on your pool can result in unwanted budget-related strain, and the same goes for closing your pool for the winter. There are few worse things than opening a pool after a long winter to find thousands of dollars of damage that could have been avoided if proper maintenance procedures were followed. Here are a few tips to help you avoid such a fate come next spring.
Prepare for freezing temperatures
The significant drop in temperature that comes along with fall and winter doesn't just put a damper on students' plans to go swimming, it also carries implications for wintertime maintenance for your pool. Cold temperatures mean that water will freeze, and your pool is full of the stuff.
If you leave your pool more or less full over the winter, there's a significant chance that you'll uncover it in spring to find structural damage. This is because as the water inside freezes - and it will - it expands, exerting extra pressure on the pool itself.
Fortunately, this is a fairly easy problem to avoid. Pentair Pool Company recommended draining your pool until the water line falls below the bottom of your skimmer basket. This will leave the remaining water plenty of room to expand. Just be sure you don't drain your pool completely. Keep in mind that the ground beneath your pool is also subject to the same freezing expansion, and without the weight of water pushing against the bottom of your pool, the ground below could actually cause the whole thing to buckle.
"Balancing the chemicals in your pool is important year-round."
Do your chemistry
Balancing the chemicals in your pool is important year-round, especially during the winter. Even though it's not being actively used, without the proper chemical balance, you could reopen your pool at the end of the season to find it corroded and rusted.
Bounce Energy recommended starting this part of the process about a week before you close your pool for the season. The two things you want to keep an eye on are the pH level and the alkalinity of the pool. The source recommended keeping the pH level between 7.2 and 7.6, while the target range for alkalinity is between 100 and 150 parts per million.
Take care of loose ends
Preparing the water for the winter occupies a huge chunk of your overall swimming pool preparedness, but don't forget the other elements that need attention as well. Scrub the walls of your pool to remove any dirt and algae, since you likely won't get another chance until you reopen the pool. Similarly, remove all accessories. This includes ladders, skimmer baskets, filters and virtually anything else that can be removed. Store them in a dry place where they won't get damaged during the winter.