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Thread: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what extent?

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    Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what extent?

    My pool is closed from Sept to memorial day.

    When it's open, I am great about taking care of it and keeping things humming.

    When the pool closes and the lines and closed and pump/filter winterized, I have a monthly winter pool service.

    Well after 3 winters, I am quesitoning whether I need it.

    It is VERY VERY expensive and all they do is put in cute sounding chemicals that I dont deal with in the summertime. I am embarrassed to tell you how costly it is.

    What needs to be done in the winter exactly? Is it worth it for me to buy a circulator of some sort, add chlorine occasiionally and swirl it?

    As diligent as I am in the season, I am just not going to be testing and balancing that regularly and keeping the pump on. My sense is adding beautec, scale mixtures etc is more expensive than the benefit I am getting. Am I better off leaving it alone? is there a minimum regimen I can use to prevent damage to the pool? I know they dont deal much with ph and chlorine - and that is maybe once a month anyway.

    Curious for advice.
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I close mine Columbus day and open around tax day and I dont do anything except pump out a little water. Other than that, I don't think about it.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    While I live further South and don't close, it does sound like you are not getting much for your money.

    I think most folks who close, button it up and deal with it in the Spring. If you close with your chemistry in the right place, virtually nothing can go wrong and you will open to a nice pool.

    is there a minimum regimen I can use to prevent damage to the pool?
    If you close with a clean pool, pH in the 7's, and a fair amount of chlorine in there (some even raise to shock value), I think there is an excellent chance you would open to a very clear, clean pool and certainly you will do no harm.

    Then you can keep that "winter maintenance" money in your pocket and buy fun pool toys or very good liquor!!
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Thanks

    I have a mesh cover so the rain water and snow melt get in there.

    That I assume changes chemistry and do all the worms that go to pasture in there over the winter?

    Does that change anything about the 'close and forget' model?
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Does that change anything about the 'close and forget' model?
    Yep. Algae need light and your mesh cover provides both light and a way for dirt and worms to get into your pool.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Actually, it doesnt change that much. Close in October, raise the
    FC to around 20, pH to 7.5, vacuum it really well, and button it up. If you have a newer mesh cover, they let very little light and dirt in. I close columbus day and open middle of April to really clean water and an FC around 2.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I knew I was getting a little out of my league. I will refrain from opining much on closing and leave that to y'all up in the Frozen Tundra!!
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Actually, it doesnt change that much. Close in October, raise the
    FC to around 20, pH to 7.5, vacuum it really well, and button it up. If you have a newer mesh cover, they let very little light and dirt in. I close columbus day and open middle of April to really clean water and an FC around 2.
    Thank you.

    Final questions.

    1 My mesh cover is 20 years old - is it worth upgrading? It was recently inspected and repaired but would I benefit from a new one (better winter water stability) is a question.

    2 Should I check pH or FC at all during the closure? I certainly could whenever I take the water level down to prevent freeze damage to the surface tile line. I am not averse to occasional testing at those infrequent times but can I do anything about it? Meaning - can you dump in a 5 gallon jug of liquid chlorine and not circulate it? I assume that natural convection is not very good - esp in the winter - and 'still' chemicals can damage the pool walls. (When they add chemicals, they use some sort of device they plop in a circulate the water around - dont know if this is needed or even affordable.)


    Thanks again
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Might be worth upgrading the cover. They have come a long way in 20 years.

    As far as adding stuff to the water when it's closed? I wouldnt mess with it. No way to circulate the water, really. I really can't stress enough that if you close the pool late enough in the year and open in april, everything will be fine. Even if you have a green pool when you open, it's easily cleared if you follow TFP!

    Really, once its closed, there's no need to mess with it except maybe draining a little water on occasion. I've pumped a little water out twice this year, but nothing else.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I will research a new cover. It cant be much more expensive than a year of winter maintenance - if at all!

    Is there anything special feature I should be asking for - or is a standard 'mesh' cover all that is needed?
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I have a mesh cover. In March (probably this weekend), I string a floater filled with 1 inch trichlor tabs in it across the deep end. so it floats in the middle of the deep end. I wrap the string ends around two anchors. I open the fins just a touch so the floater is barely open. The trichlor usually lasts until May and the pool is pretty clear when I open. If any trichlor is left, I just leave the floater in until it is all dissolved.

    Before I started doing this, I opened in early April cleaned the pool and put the cover back on, circulating the water 2 hours a day and checking the chlorine level about once a week through the skimmer. I added bleach in the skimmer when needed. This way, the pool opened immaculately clean when I took the cover off in may. You can swim virtually the same day you take the cover off in May after a vacuuming or two. I am lazy and the floater is easier, so I use that method these days.

    Two other things. 1. For a new mesh cover. My pool builder gave me the drawings for my cover. If you can find it, it is useful in getting a new one. 2. Regarding opening the pool, If you don't do anything and wait to the end of May to open, your pool will be a really pretty, deep green.
    19,000 vinyl pool, solar heat, .75 hp tristar, 48 sq ft de filter

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisL
    2. Regarding opening the pool, If you don't do anything and wait to the end of May to open, your pool will be a really pretty, deep green.
    Close in October, open in April
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I assume there is some element of passive circulation if the Trichlor trick described above actually works. It is certainly easy to try and I prefer not to open in April.

    Even if green - how long would that take to clear I wonder. I have never had algae thanks to TFP And.. is there any harm to having the pool be green other than the yuk factor? ie - damage to walls, etc...
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    I've opened my pool for the second year a couple weeks ago - early because of the mild winter, but never do anything from the time I close it. It is crystal clear after about 2 hours worth of cleaning. I have a mesh cover and only drained a little out of the pools this year - none last year. Never touched anything, but peaked in a couple times each year. Never had any algae problems yet and follow BBB method when not in SWG mode during the summer.

    I need to get into the maintenance business, but I'd probably become broke being too honest about not needing much to maintain a pool the "trouble free" way.
    18 x 36 Inground Gunnite, White Plaster 21K gallon
    18" raised spa, 8' Diameter (620 gallon)
    Triton II Sand filter, Intellichlor IC40 SWG
    Pentair Pump, Max-E-Therm 400 BTU
    Lamotte ColorQ PRO 7-Plus test kit
    TFT-100 test kit

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Thanks for the replies.

    I got 2 quotes today for the replacement of my 20 year old mesh cover. Thankfully they still had the original plans.

    They quoted me two options. One is mesh, one is solid (either with a mesh strip or a built in automatic water sensing pump).

    Is there advantage to the solid option? Based on what I see in the thread above - I am thinking not since the mesh folks have pretty clean water at start up. I assume the advantage is that a solid cover keeps everything out, and the water cleaner, but must be pumped of water.

    Thanks again for the help in advance. With the winter maintenance savings, it will only take me about 3 years to recoup the cover cost - that's a good deal.
    19000 gal in ground, pebble tec. Sta-rite system 3 DE filter, Aquarite SWG, raypak 406A heater

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Most people recommend the solid with the drain panel in the middle. The water drains into the pool but eliminates the need to pump it off.
    I have a new mesh cover with a tighter weave so no sun gets through.
    As long as you take care of closing down the pool properly you should have no need to maintain it during the winter other than drain some water if it gets too full (at least that's all I do).
    The biggest contributing factor to algae beside sun is warm water temps. If you have it, and the water temp is still cold, the algae will grow much slower and allow you time to treat it before it gets out of hand.
    I opened to a slightly cloudy pool last year, and within a couple hours it was crystal clear. This year with the amount of rain we had, i'm not sure what to expect under there.
    Eric

    IG 17x33 Grecian - Vinyl Liner (21k gallons), Hayward Pro-Grid DE 4820 filter, Hayward Super Pump, CompuPool SWG CPSC36, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Winter maintenance - do I really need it and to what ext

    Shackle: I pretty much echo bk406 and X'salloverit
    1. Our situation:

    We're a bit south of you in No VA. We have a 30k gal in-ground plaster pool with an older mesh cover.

    We use a pool co to close the pool because they blow out the lines with air and plug, etc. I've opened the pool, but generally get the pool co to open for convenience purposes only. We try to close the pool before what we call the "leafing season" when leaves fall from all the deciduous trees around us. Sometimes, this is mid to late Oct, depending on...well, our mood. Maybe TMI, but just to illustrate we're not overly concerned about "when." My wife likes to see the water, so we open as early and close as late as we feel prudent. In fact, we could go past Oct if it weren't for all the leaves.

    --We open in April, before temps get too high. Apparently algae grows better in water over 60 degrees.

    2. What we've learned after 5 years:
    --We USED to purchase the "winter service" but, like you, found it too expensive for what's provided.

    --We USED to add "winter algecide" but through the terrific and friendly folks here in TFP, we've stopped (see above comment on water temp vs algae).

    --While we do get worms and leaves in the pool over the winter, these all vacuum out when we open the pool. The other reason I hire the pool co is that their vacuuming equipment works better than using our pool system.

    --Since we started using a floater placed in the center of the pool, filled w/trichlor pucks, our water is a bit clearer in the spring.

    --We put three, 4x4 air pillows, on a rope, in the centerline of the pool to keep the mesh cover flat to propped up above the surrounding deck. This keeps a LOT of stuff off of the mesh, and it makes it easier to clean whatever gets on it (with a leaf blower and a plastic leaf rake). The less expensive pillows don't last long. Yes, they get pressure from the water below and the mesh above. Hence, I fill them with air to about 80%. At closing, they are just barely keeping up the cover. Of course, during winter, air pressure drops in them, which balances out the rise in pool water due to rain/snow. The point isn't to make the cover look like a tent, just to keep it from sagging.

    --Like others, we put a small pump in the shallow end, with a drain tube, to help keep the water level below the water tile during the winter (and obviates need for winter service that turned out marginal anyway).

    --When opening, we do have some green in the water. However, even at it's worse, a good shock and the water clears up quickly. Backflushing our DE filter, recharging, and we're pretty good for the season.

    I hope this is helpful.

    b/r
    AJGIII
    30K gallon, inground w/integral spa, blue/gray plaster; Pentair Intelliflo pump, D.E. filter, Ultraflow UV generator, Hayward tab chlorinator, Polaris 360, Raypak propane

    "As long as you are in the seat...Make a Difference"
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