Winterising Your Pool

A swimming pool frozen over with a hole made in the ice below the steps 

As the summer sun slides over the horizon making way for the cooler months it's time to think about how to get your pool ready for winter. Unlike our cousins in North America and Europe, there is very little chance of your pool ever freezing up in winter, but even so there are maintenance activities you should carry out to ensure an easy transition back to the swimming season when Spring arrives!

In Perth, while it is cold enough to make swimming in the pool unpleasant, it isn’t cold enough to stop bacteria and algae building up in your pool, so you will need to maintain the water quality over winter to stop the water going green. In summer you may be running the pool pump for 8-12 hours per day to circulate the water through the filters to remove fine particles and to circulate chlorinated water back into the pool for disinfection.

In winter, you might be able to drop the pump operation and only run it for a few hours per day. It is recommended that it runs for around 6 hours per day, but depending on the organic load placed on the filtration and disinfection system, and depending on water temperature and the amount of sunlight the pool receives, you may be able to reduce this to as little as 2 hours per day.

To reduce the load on the pool’s disinfection system it is vital to prevent organic matter entering the pool. A well-fitted winter pool blanket should prevent most debris from your garden entering, but you’ll still need to get in and empty the skimmer basket weekly and give the pool a vacuum or run your automated cleaner a couple of times a month over the winter break.

The addition of an algaecide is highly recommended. Several long-acting formulas are available and these will do much of the work in preventing the growth of unsightly green algae in the pool. Be cautious of overdosing the pool with copper-based algaecides – with the cover on you may end up with unattractive and hard to remove staining from the copper. Speak with your local pool shop about what might work best in your pool.

Also, consider the use of phosphate reducers or phosphate blockers in your winter chemistry mix. Phosphates are plant foods and algae thrive in phosphate-rich waters. In winter rain and run-off carry fertiliser from your lawn or garden into your pool, this fertiliser promotes the rapid growth of algae even in cooler and low-light conditions. Phosphate blockers are a type of very fine clay which binds to the phosphates and prevents it from becoming a nutrient source for the algae. These are available from your local pool shop and should become a part of your winter pool maintenance program.

The better prepared your pool is before winter the easier it will be for you to get back in the swim in Spring!


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