Personal Finance

Kat’s Money Corner: Closing down your pool the right way is worth it

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We love having the convenience of a pool in our backyard, especially in the height of summer. That said, maintenance gets costly fast, especially when you’re ready to shut things down for the winter. Following expert advice when winterizing could save you time and money come spring when it’s time to think about swimming again.

Get everything spotless.

Don’t let gunk glue itself to your pool all winter. Remove all the leaves and debris from the water, and scrub any tiles with cleaner. Cleanse your skimmers and pump basket and anything else that gets periodically funky. You’ll be removing most of the moving parts from your pool to store them, so you may as well store them clean to protect them and make reopening your pool less of a chore.

Drain the pipes, not the pool.

Water is your pool’s enemy in the winter, because expanding ice can damage the plumbing or strain the walls of the pool. Closing the skimmer valves and lowering the water level to 18 inches below the pool’s edge will give water room to expand as it freezes without putting pressure on the liner.

Disconnect your pump and filter and drain all the components. The same goes for your heater, if you have one. Making sure they’re bone-dry will prevent any freezing or mildewing no matter where you store them in the winter.

Use an air compressor to remove as much water as possible from your pool’s plumbing. This includes the main drain line and any jet lines. Wait until you see bubbles emerging before you seal them up.

If you’re not sure you’ve gotten all the water out, you can use special pool antifreeze, but be sure to follow the instructions to the letter. When you’ve gotten all the water out of the lines, close up all the pipe openings with plugs.

Get the chemicals right.

This is a good time to “shock” your pool to remove organic contaminants that create a pool’s chlorine-like smell. Adding more chlorine – or shocking – fixes the situation and protects your pool from corrosion or scale buildup.

Some pool owners also add a chemical winterization at this point. Pool retailers sell ready-made kits of chemicals and algae fighters made for the long haul. Be sure to follow the manufacturer instructions. Bigger pools may need supplemental chemicals.

Get it covered.

Before you put the final cover on your pool for the winter, there’s one more step: an air pillow, which you can find at your local pool shop. This will help distribute the ice that might form on your pool cover, and it gives ice in your pool something to push on instead of the walls.

Make sure you have a heavy-duty winter cover – your summer one won’t get the job done when it comes to heavy snow cover or pesky wildlife. If the cover will be in contact with any sharp edges, cushion them with rags or old towels. Stretch the cover tightly over the pool – you’ll need help from a few friends. Then run wire through the rivets around the cover’s perimeter and tighten it with a wrench. Your pool cover shouldn’t go anywhere until spring.

If this all sounds complicated, that’s because it is. In my family, we leave it to the professionals.

We pay for our pool to be opened and closed, and if we go out of town we will pay for someone to come and check the pool midweek and add chemicals so it doesn’t get out of balance. My husband has been listening and learning, though, so when he is brave enough he may venture to do it himself. We’ll see.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens or visit http://communityamerica.com.

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