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Thread: To close or not to close........

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    To close or not to close........

    We've been in our new house with a salt water pool for 6 months now and it's getting time to decide whether or not to close the pool for the winter. We're in Nashville TN so the winters are reasonably mild. Average lows are in the low thirties or upper twenties. We can get into single digits on occasion.

    The pool controller has a freeze protection circuit that turns the motor and swim jet on when the air gets down to 38 degrees. The pool also has a gas heater, but I'm not sure if that does anything for me winter wise or not.

    One concern I have about closing the pool is the pump and filter are lower than the water level of the pool. I'm not sure how you can get all the water out of the drain lines in this case. There are valves before the pump for both the drain and skimmer, but they stick out of the block 6 to 12 inches.

    I know I'll have to pay a little more for electricity if I leave it open, but less than in the summer I would think. I've run the pump for 15 hours a day through the summer. I've read that I can cut that back to maybe 2 hours a day. And, if I close it, I'll need to get a cover. That's a good bit of money and I'll need to store it somewhere in the summer.

    So, any ideas which way I should go? If someone in a similar climate has this all figured out, let me know which way to go. I'm leaning toward leaving it open to keep from having to buy and store a cover, but if I have to, I have to......

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Thad

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    I don't close my pool, but I'm in a warmer climate than you. I only run my pump 4 hours each day during the winter, and it keeps it nice. We got into the teens a couple of years ago, and I just ran it a few more hours during the night, no problems.
    Built in 1957 44,000 gallon in-ground, Wet Edge Primera Stone in Sky Blue, Intelliflo VF Pump, 600 lb. Pentair Triton II TR-100 Sand Filter, CircuPool RG 60 Plus SWG, TF-100 test kit
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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    If you blow out the lines using a skimmer Gizzmo and plug the returns and close the main drain valve - water wont flow back to the pad from the drain because the air trapped in the pipe has no place to go. If desired you can also drain the pool below the returns.


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    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    The advantage of closing and covering the pool is that it takes no maintenance during the winter and it saves on electricity. The disadvantage is the cost of the cover, blowing out the lines, sealing off the pool, and the difficulty in removing the cover. On the other hand if you do not close it you will continue to have to maintain it, although it will not need near as much attention as in the summer except to remove leaves, etc. When I was not closing the pool I had one night where it got into single digits. I ran the pump all the time it was near or below freezing and my pump is in an enclosed area so I put a small electric heater in the pump area to keep that temperature above freezing. I think in your climate you can do either.
    Larry in Texas

    Above ground 7,700 gallons, 19 inch sand filter ( 2 sq. ft.), Liquidator, and a WaterWay Hi-Flo Pump with an A.O. Smith 1 hp SF 1.0 motor.

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    So far, I'm still leaning toward keeping the pool open this winter. I understand that I can cut back on the amount of time the pump runs, but how do I calculate the run time? And, what should I set the chlorinator to? Is there a chart somewhere that would let me know where to keep these setting? I assume it would be based on water temp, water volume, etc.

    When the pool was installed the pump was programmed to run from 6:00am until 9:00pm and the chlorinator was set to 30% I think. The installer came by during the heat of the summer and turned the chlorinator up to 80%. That's how it's set now. I'm having a hard time getting anything other than a quote from him now. I would like to make these adjustments myself, and I can through the control panel. But I need a little guidance in what the setting should be.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks.
    Thad

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Thad, The answers to a few questions may help us provide better guidance. What are you using in the chlorinator? Have you read and studied the Pool School material (There is a button that links to Pool School at the top right side of every page on this site.) Do you have a comprehensive test kit like the two described in Pool School?
    Larry in Texas

    Above ground 7,700 gallons, 19 inch sand filter ( 2 sq. ft.), Liquidator, and a WaterWay Hi-Flo Pump with an A.O. Smith 1 hp SF 1.0 motor.

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    BoDarville's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Quote Originally Posted by touchton
    When the pool was installed the pump was programmed to run from 6:00am until 9:00pm and the chlorinator was set to 30% I think. The installer came by during the heat of the summer and turned the chlorinator up to 80%. That's how it's set now. I'm having a hard time getting anything other than a quote from him now. I would like to make these adjustments myself, and I can through the control panel. But I need a little guidance in what the setting should be.
    touchton:
    Nashville is about 3-4F cooler than DFW on average, so it may be worth trying to keep your pool operational year-round and see how it works for you. I keep mine operational year-round.

    I'm not sure what kind of pump you are running and what the flow rate is in gallons per hour (GPH). Nevertheless, I suspect that running your pump for 15 hours/day seems excessive unless you have a 2-speed or multi-speed pump and are running it at a low speed. I run my 1-speed pump an average of 5.5 hours/day in the summer which equates to a water turnover slightly higher than one. I had crystal clear water all season. Check out this Pool School article on determining pump run time: http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-.../pump_run_time

    Regarding the chlorinator, I also have the same question as Txmat: What are you using in the chlorinator? I manually dose my pool with bleach unless I'm out of town for more than a weekend. This does not involve using the chlorinator. During the winter, the chlorine demand drops but I still test FC/CC and pH every few days and top off with bleach / MA / Baking Soda as needed. Aside from when the freeze guard turns the pump on during near or below freezing temps, I run the pump during winter whenever I need to add any chemical to the pool. Even then, I run it for about a half-hour to distribute any chemical additions.

    I would also check and see if your freeze guard setting is adjustable (most are). Having it come on at 38 is overkill. I would set so that it comes on at 32-33F. Even if the air temp drops a degree or two below freezing for a just a few hours you will be OK even if the water is uncirculated. If you want extra protection, you could wrap the exposed pipes.

    Biggest concern is an extended power outage during sub-freezing weather. Aside from having a generator to run the pump (the best solution), I would locate and note all the drain plugs in your plumbing system now to mitigate this risk. There should be one on your pump, filter, and heater at a minimum. If the power does go out for an extended period of time during freezing weather, drain the water from these areas as they are directly exposed to the elements and will freeze first. As for the pool (assuming it is in-ground), it will take an extended power outage combined with much below freezing temps for several days before you have an ice problem there.
    Gold Supporter, TFP Lifetime Supporter, 26,680 gal Plaster IGP 3.5 - 10' depth / Attached Waterfall Spa, Manually Chlorinated, Triton Sand Filter, 1.5 HP * 1.1 SF = 1.65 SFHP 1-speed Pentair WhisperFlo WF-26 Pump, 400K BTU NG Teledyne Laars Series One Heater, Polaris 360, Test Kit Comparison, Chlorine/CYA Chart, SLAMing Your Pool, OCLT
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Touchton,
    Thanks for starting this topic. I live in NE Tennessee, which is very comparable year-round in terms of temperature, and I, too, have been pondering the idea of not closing. I paid to have it closed last year (too early I realize now), but we threw away the cover this year when we opened and I vowed I'd get a rigid cover this year because of the hassle of water bag style cover. Anyway, needless to say, with the cost of a reputable rigid cover, whether solid or mesh (another difficult decision), the idea of not closing is appealing. I'm estimating chemicals and electricity will come to less than $10/month, and I'll have to deal with leaves for a while (but most of the leaves may have already fallen by the time I would close even if I do decide to close, so that wouldn't even be much of a factor in the decision).

    Quote Originally Posted by BoDarville
    Aside from when the freeze guard turns the pump on during near or below freezing temps, I run the pump during winter whenever I need to add any chemical to the pool. Even then, I run it for about a half-hour to distribute any chemical additions.
    BoDarville,
    1) At what water temp. do you stop running the pump "normally" (except for during near or below 32 degree air temp and when adding chemicals?
    2) Do you keep the pump on non-stop when the temp is below freezing?
    3) Do you maintain the same FC level as during the summer? (At lower water temp., I notice it takes much less bleach to maintain a certain level of FC, but I wonder if maintaining the same level is even necessary, as algae has such a difficult time forming at lower temps.)
    ~18,000 gal (16x32)
    Hayward sand filter
    Circupool RJ45 SWG
    Hayward Max-Flo XL SP2305X7 pump (0.75 HP)

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    BoDarville's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    iam4iam:

    Here are my answers to your questions:

    1) At what water temp. do you stop running the pump "normally" (except for during near or below 32 degree air temp and when adding chemicals? I do not use water temp as the primary criteria but it is a factor in how often I need to add chlorine. The primary criteria for running the pump as the weather cools is whether I need to add chemicals and/or whether the water looks like it needs to be filtered or the pool vacuumed. However, as water temps decline and the days get shorter, chlorine demand drops so the chemical additions are less frequent.
    2) Do you keep the pump on non-stop when the temp is below freezing? Yes.
    3) Do you maintain the same FC level as during the summer? (At lower water temp., I notice it takes much less bleach to maintain a certain level of FC, but I wonder if maintaining the same level is even necessary, as algae has such a difficult time forming at lower temps.) I keep my FC at the low end of the recommended range for my CYA during the off-season whereas I target the mid- to upper range during the summer based primarily on bather load. During winter, the chlorine additions are much less frequent than during the summer due to the reduced demand with cooler water temps and no bathers.
    Gold Supporter, TFP Lifetime Supporter, 26,680 gal Plaster IGP 3.5 - 10' depth / Attached Waterfall Spa, Manually Chlorinated, Triton Sand Filter, 1.5 HP * 1.1 SF = 1.65 SFHP 1-speed Pentair WhisperFlo WF-26 Pump, 400K BTU NG Teledyne Laars Series One Heater, Polaris 360, Test Kit Comparison, Chlorine/CYA Chart, SLAMing Your Pool, OCLT
    A good test kit is an investment, not an expense.

  10. Back To Top    #10
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Thanks, DB. Clearly the only cost factors in the decision as to whether or not to close are pump run time and chemical additions. I just calculated that I could run my pump for 300 days at 24 hrs/day for the cost of the cover I'll likely buy if I decided to close. As for FC level, I've been wondering if the difficulty for algae to form in cold water would allow one to drop below the recommended range for given CYA during winter for those who do not close. Perhaps that's a question for another topic, although it would certainly factor in to the cost of chemicals in the off-season, which is a significant factor in deciding whether or not to close. Then there are the "intangibles," like vacuuming in the bitter cold.
    ~18,000 gal (16x32)
    Hayward sand filter
    Circupool RJ45 SWG
    Hayward Max-Flo XL SP2305X7 pump (0.75 HP)

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Thanks for the suggestions so far. I ordered a TF-100 test kit this week and I'm going to play with it this weekend. I'll report my findings back here.

    What I was calling a 'chlorinator' is actually a T-Cell. I don't know if those are the same things or not. I'm still learning as best I can. The only adjustment I have for it is a percentage and it's currently running at 80%.

    Let me get to playing with the test kit and I'll report the numbers when I have them.

    Thanks again for all the help.

    Thad

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    I've been using the Test Kit today and here's what I'm seeing. Keep in mind, this is my first attempt of using the test kit, so anything subjective may or may not be what it seems. First, I used the K-1000 Test Kit and here are the results:
    Cl = 5
    Br = 10
    pH is greater than 8.2

    Next, I went through the Weekly Test Kit. Chlorine Drop Test results indicate:
    FC = 5ppm
    CC = 0.5ppm
    TC = 5.5 ppm

    Total Alkalinity Test indicates:
    TA = 90

    Calcium Hardness Test indicates:
    CH = 130

    Now, the real kicker was the CYA Test. I did this twice and got the same results. The black dot dot in the bottom was always visible. I don't think I saw any distortion at all. So, my CYA appears to be less than 20, but I can't tell how much less.

    I tested the Sodium Chloride using the K-1766 Test Kit. It shows 2800ppm of salt. The salt level displayed on the Aqua Plus indicates 2700. I think it only has a resolution of 100 so I'm thinking their reading are close enough.

    The Pool Calculator and the Water Balance for SWG's talks about Borates. I don't see a test for that. The Water Balance for SWG's indicates it should be between 30 and 50.

    I entered the result in the Pool Calculator. It indicates I need to at 17oz of muriatic acid for the pH but that's assuming a Borate level of 0.

    So, all that said indicates to me the pool chemistry is out of whack, but I'm still not sure exactly what to do.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Thad

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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Treat borates as zero unless you know otherwise. Get pH down using MA and get some CYA in there Shoot for adding 30ppm and checking again a few days later... target 30-40ppm for now. Until you check OCLT and then if you are closing leave it well below the target of 70 in case you need to shock in the spring... then after you open and you are clear of algae you can raise CYA to 70.

    -sent with Tapatalk 2
    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
    sand filter, A.O. Smith 1.5HP main pump motor (C48L2N134C1),
    Hayward SuperPump (model ?), Polaris 380 & PB4 Booster Pump

  14. Back To Top    #14
    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    BTW no need to post Bromine levels - the test is measuring CL unless you have added Bromides.

    -sent with Tapatalk 2
    Inlaws Pool Boy since June 14th 2012, Pool built ~ 2003, In-Ground, 16'x32'
    13500 gal, Vinyl Liner, Fiberglass Slide, TF-100 Test Kit, Hayward 210T
    sand filter, A.O. Smith 1.5HP main pump motor (C48L2N134C1),
    Hayward SuperPump (model ?), Polaris 380 & PB4 Booster Pump

  15. Back To Top    #15

    Re: To close or not to close........

    Thanks for the input. I've added MA and a CYA stabilizer. I'm running the pump for 12 hours tonight and I'll test everything again tomorrow.

    Thad

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    iam4iam's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Quote Originally Posted by BoDarville
    I keep my FC at the low end of the recommended range for my CYA during the off-season whereas I target the mid- to upper range during the summer based primarily on bather load. During winter, the chlorine additions are much less frequent than during the summer due to the reduced demand with cooler water temps and no bathers.
    It would seem that one could "safely" even drop below the recommended FC range as the water temperature cools, since algae has a more difficult time forming in colder water. That is, the colder the water, the less FC necessary (and hence a lower concentration of HClO, if I correctly remember the form in which the FC actually "does its work") to prevent algae. Does anyone have experience (or theory) that supports this conjecture?
    ~18,000 gal (16x32)
    Hayward sand filter
    Circupool RJ45 SWG
    Hayward Max-Flo XL SP2305X7 pump (0.75 HP)

  17. Back To Top    #17

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Not sure if you would want to drop below the recommended range. You will however notice a dramatic decrease in chlorine consumption. With the solar cover and these temps my FC dropped only 1ppm over a 5 day period this past week. Water temp was around 60.
    Dedicated TFPer since 2012 with recommended test kit
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  18. Back To Top    #18
    iam4iam's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls234
    With the solar cover and these temps my FC dropped only 1ppm over a 5 day period this past week. Water temp was around 60.
    I know what you mean. My temp is just above 60 and I'm not losing much more than that (about 0.25ppm/day on average) and I don't even have a solar cover. My issue is that my loss seems somewhat erratic, even more than differing amounts of UV from day to day would seem to explain. Sometimes I even second guess my measurements. The bottom of my range (CYA = 70) is 5 ppm. I've been as low as 4 ppm a couple times in the past few weeks, and I even cut my pump run time in half (from 4 hrs to 2 hrs) a few days ago, and the pool is still crystal clear. Because of the erratic nature of my FC loss, I've still been measuring every other day or so, but I'd like to "worry" about it less often, and if I were comfortable knowing it could drop to, say, 3 ppm, I'd probably only measure once per week (and consumption would be even slower when the concentration lowers). I guess the reason I'm wondering is really more of a matter of convenience and peace of mind than savings, though, since I would only save about $0.13/day if I cut my FC concentration in half at the current depletion rate (and the depletion rate will likely drop even lower as the water gets colder)! Then again, that's a couple of meals per month at my house (which explains why I'm giving the economic pros/cons of closing or not more weight than the convenience pros/cons*).

    *One exception to the economic > convenience rule above is that, as I mentioned before, I vowed not to get another traditional "water bag" style cover again when I threw away the one we inherited after the hassle of opening this year. If I close, I'm probably going with a Loop-Loc solid cover. This may be a frivolous contradiction to my miserly thoughts above, but I can live with that accusation.
    ~18,000 gal (16x32)
    Hayward sand filter
    Circupool RJ45 SWG
    Hayward Max-Flo XL SP2305X7 pump (0.75 HP)

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Just go the other way, go several ppms too high and then you can go to testing once a week. That is what I've been doing, and it is pretty worry free!
    Dedicated TFPer since 2012 with recommended test kit
    Above ground, 30 foot round pool, 21,000 gallons
    Hayward 150 sq foot cartridge filter, 1HP Waterway pump
    Raypak 400K BTU NG Heater!
    Installed in 2006? (just a guess, pool came with house I purchased in June 2012)

  20. Back To Top    #20
    iam4iam's Avatar
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    Re: To close or not to close........

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls234
    Just go the other way, go several ppms too high and then you can go to testing once a week. That is what I've been doing, and it is pretty worry free!
    That's good logic, but it depletes faster at higher concentration, which may be why my depletion rate is close to yours even though I don't have a solar cover. I'm left-braining it too much, I know.
    ~18,000 gal (16x32)
    Hayward sand filter
    Circupool RJ45 SWG
    Hayward Max-Flo XL SP2305X7 pump (0.75 HP)

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