Hi everybody, I just joined and I need advice. Sorry my post is long, but I'm trying to be thorough! Yes I did read the Intex thread, many times, and other websites, message boards, all summer! I have the Intex 18' x 9' x 52" Rectangular Ultra Frame Pool, about 4500 gallons. I bought it in 2009 and set it up for 2 seasons (draining and taking it down both years). Originally I had the saltwater system. The first one failed almost immediately and they sent a replacement. The second one failed in the second season. So now I have the sand filter and chlorinate. Anyway, taking the pool down was such a hassle, even with a man's help, that I didn't put the pool up for the next 5 years. Well I managed to get the pool up this year, and I am certainly not dealing with taking it down again! I have read so many conflicting bits of advice about how to close the pool and I just don't know what to do.
I live in north Texas. Last January, usually our coldest month, temperatures ranged from 16 to 80 degrees F (yeah I know, welcome to Texas), and that was in a season when we didn't get an ice storm. Usually we dip into the mid or low twenties a few times a season, but not for much longer than a couple of nights and it gets above freezing during the days, often into the upper 40s. Rarely into the teens, and rarely below freezing for more than 24 hours. Most winters we get a little snow, now 2 years ago we had a bad ice storm that left ice on the roads for about a week but that was pretty unusual. Enough about the climate, that is just to give you an idea, but also how variable it is here!
SO. I read a lot about winterizing pools, removing the pump and hoses, adding the chemicals, the air pillow, winter cover, etc. But when I asked about this on Reddit Pools, someone who used to do pool work in my area said they never closed/winterized pools, they just run the pump when it freezes to keep the hoses from bursting and add enough chemicals to keep it balanced through the winter. Seems like a lot of maintenance and trouble to deal with 365 days a year! To me the main problem with leaving it open is the maintenance, especially with leaves and bugs. Even during the summer I have to scoop leaves out every other day. And when I swim I spend at least 30 minutes every time with a fine mesh skimmer net going around and getting leaves and lots of dead bugs out of the water (ants, flying ants, gnats, little spiders, etc.). This guy said I could cover it, and use an air pillow to prevent water from collecting on the cover. Also there is the sand issue... I did a lot of research and got the HTH sand which was most recommended by actual people with the sand filter I have, but I still get a bit of sand in the bottom of the pool, and I don't want that to build up too much over the winter if I'm running the pump.
So, if I don't winterize, and do the occasional pump when it's freezing...
What chemicals do I need to add, and how often? Reddit guy says: "Shock it and add some poly algaecide. Lift the cover every few weeks, check the chems, and add shock/algaecide if needed." Does anyone here have experience doing this? Does it work to keep the water clean all winter?
If I put a cover on it, can I still run the pump? The pool is a big enough size that it's difficult to cover and uncover by myself. The guy advising me on Reddit said I can run the pump with the cover on. Is that true? Even with an air pillow under there?
What cover do I need? The guy on Reddit said the cover that came with it should be fine as long as it doesn't blow off. But I read in another thread here that the holes in it can let things get in. Are winter covers heavy or hard to take on and off?
Now, the only other person who responded to my Reddit post said "Running a pool through a real cold spike is no guarantee it won't freeze, so, if you're going to winterize it you shouldn't half step." (This is what I mean by conflicting advice!) So, in the case of full winterizing, I also have concerns:
About draining water to 6" below lowest opening. Intex rectangular frame sides will bow in if it is not filled up with water; 6" below the lower opening is really only halfway filling the pool so the sides will be badly bending in. This other Reddit guy said that Intex pools rely on water pressure pushing out to remain standing, and he would be woried about the pool collapsing if I got a heavy rain putting force on the cover.
What do you do with the hose opening areas? Do you just close the plunger valves? One guy on YouTube removes them and the strainers completely and just leaves the holes open. Wouldn't that allow things to get in the pool?
How does just adding winterizing chemicals at the beginning of the winter keep your water clean for months? Seems like the water will be gross by May/June.
Sorry for such a long post, but I made a major investment in this pool and the replacement pumps I had to buy, and everything else with it... and I love to swim! I was swimming up until a few days after the official first day of fall, when we finally dropped from the mid 90s to, well, the lower 80s and it got cooler at night so the water is now a bit too chilly. I just don't want to do this wrong! It seems like winterizing would be an easier way to go, except for the sides bowing in...