Heads up, this contains mostly useless info, but if other peoples' misery entertains you, prepare for a great story!
So I decided to close my in ground free form 16x32 today. As a side note, the pool came with the house which I acquired less than a year ago with no documentation whatsoever so it's been a bit of a learning process.
Starting at 9am - I get the cover out of the garage and spread it out in the yard. It's filthy... we lazily didn't scrub it after opening... Some of you guys saw the filthy cesspool I opened to.
head to leslies since I decided I wanted their gizzmos and plugs. I buy 1 3/4 plug, 2 plugs from the bin labeled 1.25-1.5" (#10) and 2 2" (even bigger) plugs. The idea is to gizzmo the skimmers, plug the returns (1.5", and plug the 2 outlets inside the filter housing. I then head to wally world for 5 gal RV antifreeze and the wife calls with a whole list... great
Start the draining process. I figured this would go quickly but as it turns out it takes a long time (hour+) to drain thousands of gallons of water. I wait around watching the water drain.
Wife has to head out for a while so I have her help me put the cover over the pool. Then we pull it back a bit so I can still finish blowing out the lines.
I get home and realize I was being stupid. I am bringing the pump and filter housing into the house! I need to get 2 1.5" plugs so I go to leslies and buy 2 more #10's for the unions. I'll have to return those 2" plugs tomorrow.
I get home and see water pooling on the cover. HOLES! Not only are there holes but in some spots on the cover water was just seeping through period. This cover was obviously shot. Luckily the wife was still home so we pull it back off and throw it in the yard. I head out first to leslies. 16x32 covers are $75, $125, and $160 respectively for lowest to highest quality. Waters edge, my local mom and pop who I called said $88 for the 16x36 they have. Leslies was out of stock on the cheapest one so the midgrade for $125 was my only option. As it turns out waters edge $88 cover IS the mid-grade quality. Waters edge also has black double tube water tubes for less than the single blue tubes at leslies per 8 foot tube. Leslies really is a bunch of con-artists. I really don't understand why that place is in business. So I get my cover and tubes and head home. The cover is 16x36 instead of 16x32 but I figured I could use the extra length.
Wife is gone so I work on blowing out the lines. I hook my air compressor up through my home-made home-plumbing pressure tester adapter to the garden hose port.
While I'm starting to hook things up I realize I'm going to have to find my 3/4" pvc plugs for the ports of my pool control system. So I hunt for those and can only find 2. Well **** I need 3.
So I start to blow out the lines. I figured I would do the outputs first. So I open what I *thought* was the 2 way valve for my one return. There is some gurgling and then my main drain starts blowing bubbles. WHAT THE @!?!@?!?!??! I have a RETURN that goes into the main drain! THAT is how my main drain blew bubbles in the spring! I assume that it is setup that way to prevent you from getting stuck on the main drain but I dunno. That's a strange configuration! So I try the other valve which I thought was my other return and as it turns out this is BOTH returns. Argh.. Well ok!
Then I realize that it probably makes the most sense to blow out the suction side first. So I start to work on the skimmer. I installed the gizzmo and turned on the air. It gurgled and blew a bunch of water out but I realized the air compressor just isn't going to cut it. That kind of surprises me since it's a BIG air compressor but the volume just isn't there. So I go grab the shop vac. The shop vac was currently setup for dry dirt so I took the air filter out and emptied the bucket which was filled with nasty **** and I got dust everywhere. Ugh. So I convert the vacuum to wet use and shove the vacuum hose into the gizzmo top port and start sucking out the water. Now THAT worked well. I emptied out the skimmer too with it while I was at it. I cleared both skimmer lines and then added 1 gal antifreeze to each. Capped the gizzmos and closed the valves and we're done. Some point during this process I decided I can remove the pump so I do so and then I realize I need the pump in place in order to use the air compressor to blow the main drain suction line! So I reinstall the pump and connect the unions. The I blow out the main drain, close the valve, quickly remove the pump and go to put in my 1.5" plug. ERRRR it doesn't fit! My stupid thought process was that for some reason union connectors have a smaller port. Well ****!
So I go to leslies and buy 2 of the smaller plugs, #9
I get home, finish the main drain, plug the union. Sweet. Now we're in business. I focus back on the output side and realize those #10 plugs won't fit in the returns either. I realize that the #10 plug is just too big. I don't know who labels their bins but 1.5" is the size of the smallest portion of the plug but that's not the usable size.
So I go back to Leslies and buy the 2 #9 plugs for the returns. By this point the staff there are starting to giggle a bit. I grumpily buy the plugs and go home. My wallet is starting to get stuffed from the numerous receipts.
So I get home and I turn on the air supply to the returns and get to work plugging them. Except the #9 plugs I just got keep popping out. So I try try try again. I try over and over again. I get pliers and try to wrench them in. I do whatever I can. What the heck I JUST put #9 plugs in my 1.5" unions why won't they fit in my 1.5" returns. So I get on my swimsuit... I'm going in. My legs are freezing in the 60 degree water and I'm just not making any progress. Then I feel into the return and realize there is an inner kind of flange protrusion that makes the return smaller than 1.5" So I wrestle for a while figuring maybe I can make the plug bigger. Eventually I resign myself to the fact that I need a smaller plug...
So I go back and buy #8. The sun is starting to set and I finally get the plugs installed. I then blow out the main drain return and close the valve. So I was going to pour antifreeze into the returns through a little plastic bendy tube but that really didn't work out very well at all. Oh well I guess the returns aren't getting antifreeze.
So I finally decide to put the new cover on and finish up. We stretch the cover out over and it fits in the short direction (the 16 way that was only adequate) but not the 32 way DESPITE BUYING A MUCH LARGER COVER! I lined it up the best I could and started to fill water bags which is messy horrible work. I get some of the bags filled but the bugs are eating me. I walk past my wife who says "what's wrong with your face" as it turns out, I have a GIANT quarter sized mosquito bite on my FACE! The mosquitos are INSANE. So I decide alright, I better just wrap it up for tonight so I put the air compressor and vacuum away and I decide to wind up my discharge hose. I get to about the middle of the discharge hose and... what is this? It's a big clump of DE and dirt and nasty ****. I drained my filter by using backwash and apparently it put a TON of **** into my discharge hose! A lot of it made it to the end but I'll obviously have to flush the discharge hose out again...
So that's my saga. I have a mostly covered pool with only the skimmer lines having antifreeze and 1/4 of the water bags filled. I have boxes and random **** strewn through my back yard and I'm tired.
The moral of the story is, DO NOT underestimate the evil pool!
I hope you enjoyed my little story
UPDATE: Oh yeah, and I didn't need the 2" plugs I got for the multiport valve because once I had the pump disconnected, and then I disconnected the DE filter, the whole multiport assembly just slumped and I realized that is connected to a union and I can just bring the *entire* multiport assembly inside! This of course also meant that I didn't need the 3/4" plugs that I made a specific lowes stop for either.
I don't want to scare anyone away from closing their own pool... I just want to offer that **** happens And you have to just roll with it.