As we turn the corner into the month of August, adults tend to move far ahead of themselves by thinking of what’s to come. Already, back to school ads are playing on the television, and some have begun thinking of the holidays coming down the line in a few short months. UGH!
Let’s not forget that there is still more summer to live and enjoying the outdoors with your family and friends is always a fun memory to put into our hearts.
If you own a swimming pool you continue to enjoy the joys of outdoor BBQ’s, pool parties and are planning for the final hurrah on Labor Day. Children are still on school vacation till the end of the month or after Labor Day.
If you do not own a swimming pool, you can still plan camping trips, and other vacation jaunts and family fun.
If you were thinking of a building a swimming pool but couldn’t decide there is still plenty of time to move ahead with your project. Late summer and fall are perfect times for building, there is no hurry to get the pool in before a holiday party, you can plant your lawn and landscaping around the pool without worrying about the hot scorching sun burning everything before it germinates and you have the entire fall to prep your backyard dream so that in the spring you are ready to go. We actually build several pools each fall and work right up to Thanksgiving with our projects.
Now I suppose as we move towards September the average family will begin thinking of the actual pool closing. Personally, we close our pool at the latest possible date, when the leaves dropping in the pool start to overcome the time I want to put in scooping them out. Generally we close in October, and for some of our customers they will close that late as well. My rule of thumb is close as late as possible and open as early as possible and usually you will open your pool with very few problems with the clarity of your pool water.
I find in our area, once the kids go back to school, parents want to close up this chapter of the year and shut the pool down. Our most popular week for closings is that week after Labor Day; even though there is still more swimming time to be had. But I also understand that children go right back to their busy schedules of school and after school activities where the pool may not get used.
So what should you be planning ahead for when thinking of closing the pool down? Well, for one I am a big proponent of the Safety Cover. The newer mesh ones have a tighter weave and have UV protection so that nearly 99% of the sunlight is blocked from entering the pool leaving you with a nice clear and clean pool at the time of your opening. The other advantage is that it is a taut cover held to the ground with springs so there is no standing water that needs to be pumped off it through out the winter, and it will not fall in the pool leaving you with a spring mess.
Of course it is a safety cover, which means that when you throw a ball out for the dog and he runs across it each time he won’t fall in the ice cold water. Also these covers are built so that children who may wander across the cover may get their feet a little damp but they will not fall into the pool.
Your other cover options are the old fashioned tarp type cover that covers the pool and is held down by water tubes. These will collect water on top and if you do not pump the water off regularly the cover may fall in dragging what ever leaves and debris on top of the cover with it. This is why I caution people not to use cinder blocks or bricks because if they go in the pool they may cause damage to your pool liner or surface.
Above Ground pools will use the tarp type of cover as well which is held tight to the pool by using a cord that goes around the cover. A pillow or tube can be placed in the middle of the pool prior to putting the cover on. This helps the water to fall toward the edges of the pool theoretically to help with the siphoning of water off the cover when it rains and snows.
TIP: If you are using water tubes or air pillows fill these with air only about 75-80% full. Leave some space for them to expand and contract.
If you need a new cover don’t wait until the last minute. We measure for safety covers and custom order each cover, meaning we go out and measure the pool and stairs and any other cut outs, waterfalls and other features that the cover will need to fit over. When the cover is installed we will need to drill holes in the concrete to install the grommets which the springs attach too. This is the labor intensive part of the project.
Can you do install the cover yourself? I am sure there are some handy people who can, but sometimes there are over 30 holes to drill, and placing them so the cover fits properly can be an art especially if you have water features. You also want to think of all the money you spent on your deck and ask yourself if you feel confident enough to do the project. If you have blue stone or other materials for your decking think twice before drilling. We normally include your pool closing and installation with the price of a safety cover so consider that when you call for quotes on a cover.
Also pertaining to your pool closing is what chemicals to use. Yes there are closing kits out there but really just keep it simple. We use shock and algaecide, and for an in the ground pool we blow the lines out and add antifreeze to the lines and skimmers. We also use a gizmo or plastic plug in the skimmer which may help the skimmer from cracking should water freeze in there.
TIP: Bring your pump and filter once empty of water inside to the garage, basement or shed. If you have a sand filter, drain the water completely. If you have a cartridge filter, soak the cartridge in a filter cleaner solution and if you have a DE filter clean these as well and do an acid wash every other year or so to keep them at their best.
TIP: Don't forget to turn off electrical breakers for the pool equipment.
For more pool maintenance questions and tips check out my swimming pool books at http://www.amazon.com/author/propoolgirl
If you follow these suggestions your spring time opening will be a breeze.
Lastly, if you own an in ground pool I will concede to the do it yourself owners that opening is quite easy, but if you have any doubts, closing your pool is a little more involved. Every year we get those who did not blow out the lines properly or winterize their heater correctly and they face the beginning of their swimming season with an expensive fix. Close the pool professionally and if you want to save some money, open your pool yourself if you are budget conscious.
For you lower east and west coasters, here is where we may be a little envious as you obviously have a longer swimming season than most of the country but we still have at least a full month to push the swimming envelope and our Fall season is spectacular. Plan those parties and enjoy the outdoors when ever possible. That means shutting those video games down and turning the television off and actually socializing with the ones you love! Have fun and make those memories!