Today was the day that I both dread and look forward to each year: the day I close the pool. It’s not a set date on the calendar; rather, it’s whenever I get a free day (or two) and the weather cooperates.
How do you close a pool?
Closing the pool is a wet, dirty, and thankless job. Sure, I could hire someone, but I would have to do a vast majority of the work myself anyway, unless I really wanted to shell out some major bucks ($400-600). After hiring someone to open the pool for the first year, I learned that I’m just as competent and capable as they are to perform the opening and closing duties. I just needed to watch what they did and do some reading. Also, I asked a lot of questions at the pool store.
To give you non-pool-owners an idea of what’s involved with closing our pool, here’s what I have to do (roughly and not necessarily in this order):
- Clean the pool: You can’t have any leaves in the pool or else they’ll rot and stain the plaster
- Put in chemicals: You can’t just wait to put the winterizing chemicals in at the last minute, but that’s what I did today. This year, we’ve been VERY fortunate to not need many chemicals, and that includes for closing too. Personally, I think it’s the new thermal pool cover keeping in the chlorine and no rain to alter the pH.
- Put on the winter cover: We have a very heavy spring-supported pool cover that supports tons of snow and ice through the winter. It takes 4 people to put this on without dropping it into the pool, and Nick and his wife helped us put it on (thanks!).
- Dismantle the pool pump and filter: You can’t leave water in these units during the winter as it will grow moldy and probably freeze and ruin the equipment. Also, you can’t completely drain them until the pool level is down below the skimmer and you can suction out the lines (see next bullets).
- Drain the pool: Not everyone needs to do this, but we have tiles on the top of the side walls that would crack if the water freezes. I need to drain about 8 inches now so that I don’t need to drain it again during the winter after an unexpected melt. I actually do this while I’m doing everything else, but I need the water below the skimmer line for the next step. I use a small sump-pump which drains maybe an inch per hour (give or take).
- Vacuum & plug the water lines: I really don’t like this step because I never know whether I’ve gotten all the water out. I hook up a shopvac to the end of the pipe (e.g. in the skimmer or the return lines into the pool) and flip it on. I wait until I hear a certain noise (from experience) and then I know I probably won’t get any more water out. It’s a little dance I have to do to make sure I open and close the other ends or openings in the lines so I can get enough suction. I use adjustable rubber stoppers to plug the lines inside the pool
- Put antifreeze in the lines: I use pool-grade antifreeze, and I only put it in the places where I can pour it, such as the skimmer and filter. It prevents any remaining water from freezing and breaking the PVC during the winter.
- Hose off the cartridge filters/reassemble filter & pump: These are large cylinders, much like the paper filters in your bagless vacuums, but they’re not paper. You can reuse them each year, and if you damage one, expect to spend about $70-90 for a new one. My filter has 4 and they require lots of soaking and hosing to get all the dead plant, bug, people and other matter out from the folds. Then I have to put them back in the filter and put it all back together.
- Clean, fold and store the thermal cover: Ugh, I hate this part. The thermal cover is a giant sheet of bubble-wrap that keeps heat in your pool and also magnifies the sun’s rays to transfer heat. It’s also a great place for leaves and particles to hide (between the plastic bubbles). It’s very large and cumbersome (not as bad as the winter cover though), and requires a good deal of cleaning and proper drying. However, leave it sit on your lawn too long and all the grass will die underneath it.
- Remove and store the railing & pool vac: Taking off the railing (see picture above) is pretty easy, as is storing the “Ray Vac”. The Ray Vac looks like a string ray with a long tail hooked to the side of the pool. It uses the pool pump’s action to meander through the pool and clean up debris. This year, I needed to use it to clean out the leaves all the way until I had to shut off the pump.
So how long does this all take?
Depending on the chemical needs, it could run 1-3 days to close a pool. After the first time or two, you’ll get into a pattern and know what to expect. This year, I spent a solid 7 hours closing the pool, not counting the trip to the pool shop for the water testing. I started at 11am, took a 1 hour nap while the cartridge filters soaked and the pool drained, then continued until 6pm.
As a side note, I did as the guys at the pool shop how much it would cost to tear out the pool. It would be about $15,000-20,000. Hmm. Still tempting. That’s the only reason I like closing the pool though…because I don’t have to deal with it until next April/May.
So there you have it. That’s what it takes for me to close the pool each year. This year, I closed it pretty late due to the hot weather (we actually swam last weekend), but the temps changed so quickly and so many leaves were falling that I couldn’t wait another week. Pools are a pain, but if you’re not the one maintaining it, then it’s a lot of fun 🙁 (yeah, I’m pointing at you Stacie).
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