Questions about keeping pool open this winter

Wake9909

Silver Supporter
Mar 28, 2020
32
Broken Arrow, OK
Hi!! This is our first year with our inground saltwater pool. The build was completed in mid-March. Our pool looks amazing. We take care of it ourselves and are happy we’ve done such a good job maintaining it throughout the spring and summer. We plan to keep it open all winter. I’m curious as to what maintenance is required throughout the winter? Is it pretty much just keep doing what we’ve been doing all spring/summer?

We have a variable speed pump and have been running it 24/7 at 2500 rpm since the pool has been completed. It doesn’t seem like it’s increased our electric bill too much, and it’s given us peace of mind that our pool is functioning well, chlorine levels are being maintained with our salt generator and skimming has been keeping everything clean. That being said, is it ok to continue running the pump 24/7 during the winter? And, if so, should we decrease the rpm to a lower level?

I realize the salt generator doesn’t function when the water temp gets below 55 degrees, and that we’ll need to turn it off and add our own chlorine to supplement at that point. From what I’ve been reading here, putting pucks in the skimmers are bad because they also contain CYA and will jack that level up too high. Do they make those pucks that do not contain cya, or should we just use liquid bleach? If bleach, what specific kind/concentration of bleach should we use?

I read somewhere in these forums that winter pH should be maintained a little higher, around 7.8-8.0? Is that correct? Just curious about the rationale for that?

Our pool and hot tub are attached, so I realize that when running the pump (circulating the pool), the water will still be overflowing the spa spillway, but is it ok to still run the bubblers throughout the winter, or should we turn those off to prevent aeration contributing to a higher pH (we’re currently always working to drive our pH back down).

Thank you in advance for any help/guidance you can give. TFP/pool math has been an amazingly helpful resource for us as we’re trying to navigate our way through our first year of inground pool ownership.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,962
Evans, Georgia
Hiya..... I use liquid chlorine in the winter. When you dose the pool it lasts a L-O-N-G time. Like maybe 1 gallon per month? The sun is lower in the sky so you're not burning off chlorine there, its coleder and you're not swimming.... few contaminates to worry about. I can't think of anything else I ever need to add at that time of year.

My pH does tend to stay stable (usually 7.8).

If ever we get a freeze predicted we just run the pump overnight to keep the water moving.

Maddie
 
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Wake9909

Silver Supporter
Mar 28, 2020
32
Broken Arrow, OK
Hiya..... I use liquid chlorine in the winter. When you dose the pool it lasts a L-O-N-G time. Like maybe 1 gallon per month? The sun is lower in the sky so you're not burning off chlorine there, its coleder and you're not swimming.... few contaminates to worry about. I can't think of anything else I ever need to add at that time of year.

My pH does tend to stay stable (usually 7.8).

If ever we get a freeze predicted we just run the pump overnight to keep the water moving.

Maddie
Thank you so much! So, you don’t run your pump at all except when a freeze is predicted? I hope our pH stays stable this winter (I’m not counting on it). They’ve told us since our pool has new plaster, we’ll be fighting to keep our pH down for the better part of a year. We are currently pretty much adding about a quart every other day or so.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
14,962
Evans, Georgia
Oh no, we do run our pump daily, about 6 hours overnight to keep the surface skimmed and I'm too lazy to change the settings lower which would be perfectly acceptable also. But during freezes we extend the pump run time to 12 hours- like midnight to noon. By then most days have warmed up again until mid night time.

I have an autocover, but we open it to at least every other day or just when I want to see the pool.

Yes, new plaster curing does make pH adjustments a frequent event. That should calm down. What's your TA now?

Maddie
 
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cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
4,542
Fletcher, OK
You "may" have to worry about freezing conditions but as you know in OK you never know what the weather will be :) I would say you could turn your pump down to about 700 to 1500 rpm, just enough to keep the water circulating and moving and it should be good even if we get a cold cyclone again and it drops to -15 for a couple weeks... if that does happen you could turn the RPM up to really move the water around, you could also put a 16 mil thick solar cover on and it will stay warmer... once the water is below 50 degrees it will use very little chlorine, I usually take mine to SLAM level and check it once a month and add if needed... I do close without a cover from Dec to Mar but I have an above ground so it gets colder being out of the ground :)
 
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Wake9909

Silver Supporter
Mar 28, 2020
32
Broken Arrow, OK
Oh no, we do run our pump daily, about 6 hours overnight to keep the surface skimmed and I'm too lazy to change the settings lower which would be perfectly acceptable also. But during freezes we extend the pump run time to 12 hours- like midnight to noon. By then most days have warmed up again until mid night time.

I have an autocover, but we open it to at least every other day or just when I want to see the pool.

Yes, new plaster curing does make pH adjustments a frequent event. That should calm down. What's your TA now?

Maddie
Just checked all our chemistry today...TA was 60. We tend to like to run it on the lower end of normal because having it higher further contributes to our rising pH. 🙄
 
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BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
373
Katy, Texas
Your Intelliflo pump has a freeze protection feature you can enable. By default, when enabled it turns on the pump, as I recall, when the temp drops to 38 degrees and shuts it off when it rises to 43 degrees. I have the Intelliconnect box for control and settings, but I'm pretty sure all those settings are on the pump itself. I don't know where it gets the outside temp, though. I'm told that with Intelliconnect, it uses Accuweather.com for local temps, same as Honeywell does with its thermostats, but I'm not sure. Check your manual or call Pentair tech support to be sure. We're in a pretty mild climate here. I've adjusted our freeze protection to come on at 37 degrees and shut off at 40. I did hear it turn on a couple times last winter, so I know it works.
 
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markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,696
Atlanta Ga
My pool will go for 4 months and hold FC and stay clear in Atl. Our winters are so unpredictable seems like I spend more time worrying about freezing the chemicals 🧐
 
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mwemaxxowner

Well-known member
Apr 15, 2020
179
Pageland SC
I plan to "close" my pool this same way. We don't have freezing temperatures. We have a heavy green custom made canvas type cover that I'm considering not putting on this year. It's really aggravating to put on and take off, and I like being able to see the water. This year when we uncovered, it was a swampy green mess. Had I been able to see it, I would have noticed the change and cleared it up before it got so bad.

My plan is just to cover it with a floating solar cover. I have my Warrior SE to help keep it clean now, for junk that falls past the solar cover.

So we maintain similar chlorine levels as we do in summer?
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,696
Atlanta Ga
I plan to "close" my pool this same way. We don't have freezing temperatures. We have a heavy green custom made canvas type cover that I'm considering not putting on this year. It's really aggravating to put on and take off, and I like being able to see the water. This year when we uncovered, it was a swampy green mess. Had I been able to see it, I would have noticed the change and cleared it up before it got so bad.

My plan is just to cover it with a floating solar cover. I have my Warrior SE to help keep it clean now, for junk that falls past the solar cover.

So we maintain similar chlorine levels as we do in summer?
I agree, our pool connects to the house and I hated looking at a nasty pool cover :)
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
368
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Hi neighbor! I'm also in BA. My pool was finished in late January of this year. Not sure what automation you have, but in the Intellicenter, and I'm sure all of the others, there is a freeze protection mode that you can enable on any of your features, such as your bubblers. I got to see this first hand last year. We got our coldest weather right after the pool was filled. So it would ensure that the pump was running, and it would also kick on the features that were enabled. The PB didn't turn on the deck jets and they were hard set to OFF on the valve actuator to keep them empty during freezing, so as not to create a mist and freeze over the deck.

I have been contemplating just leaving everything opened up this winter, but I think I am going to go ahead and winterize all of the features, bubblers, scuppers, and deck jets, and just leave the pool and spa going.

As far as chemistry, just use liquid bleach and MA to keep those numbers in check. As others have said, consumption of bleach will not be high and PH should be a little more stable. Use the PVC sampling method to get water from below the surface, so you don't have to freeze your arm taking a sample.

--Jeff
 
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Wake9909

Silver Supporter
Mar 28, 2020
32
Broken Arrow, OK
Hi neighbor! I'm also in BA. My pool was finished in late January of this year. Not sure what automation you have, but in the Intellicenter, and I'm sure all of the others, there is a freeze protection mode that you can enable on any of your features, such as your bubblers. I got to see this first hand last year. We got our coldest weather right after the pool was filled. So it would ensure that the pump was running, and it would also kick on the features that were enabled. The PB didn't turn on the deck jets and they were hard set to OFF on the valve actuator to keep them empty during freezing, so as not to create a mist and freeze over the deck.

I have been contemplating just leaving everything opened up this winter, but I think I am going to go ahead and winterize all of the features, bubblers, scuppers, and deck jets, and just leave the pool and spa going.

As far as chemistry, just use liquid bleach and MA to keep those numbers in check. As others have said, consumption of bleach will not be high and PH should be a little more stable. Use the PVC sampling method to get water from below the surface, so you don't have to freeze your arm taking a sample.

--Jeff
Hi, Neighbor! What exactly is the “PVC sampling method?” I was wondering how I was going to get samples this winter without freezing my arm off! Also, does it matter if the bleach is concentrated or not? I know ppl have recommended not using “splash free” bleach, but is concentrated, unscented, ok? It seems to be the only kind I can find these days anyway. I do plan to run my pump 24/7. I asked my PB about it and they suggest keeping my RPMs at 1500 all winter. I’m good with that. We have a variable speed pump and it doesn’t cost that much to run. Running my pump 24/7, wouldn’t that mean my bubblers should be ok and not freeze, or is freeze protection separate for them? I don’t have deck jets...just 2 bubblers and hot tub spillway. Thoughts? Thank you!
 

Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
368
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Come winter, you might appreciate this tip. A tube of PVC to grab your pool water from down below without getting more than your fingers wet. The trick is to cover the top with your thumb before submerging, and only let go at depth, so you only collect the deeper water. I go twice, once to rinse both the tube and the sample container, then collect the sample the second time. Caps with drilled holes on each end make it work a bit better than a pipe alone. The length of the pipe I cut holds just the amount I need for a suite of tests. Less stooping, too, for these ol' bones.

sample pipe 1.jpg
sample pipe 2.jpg
See Dirks comments and pictures above. I just have a piece of 1/2" PVC, 5' long, no caps. I cap the top with my thumb, submerge it about halfway or better, remove the thumb, water rushes up into PVC, recap with thumb, pull out of pool and drop the water into my plastic 32 oz. measuring cup. Usually nets me about 150-200mL of water to perform my tests with.

I've used the concentrated great value bleach from wal-mart with no issues. Just want to make sure you use the correct % chlorine in the pool math app, when entering the additions. You are right on with avoiding the ones that have any additives, or are called splashless. Lowe's has had basic bleach for a while. I've not bought any because of the SWCG. I'll probably look there this winter.

Regarding the bubblers, do they run all the time whenever the pump is running? If so, that would keep them from freezing. If not, you'll want to make sure that they are turned on if the temps are going to drop. How do you turn on your spa? Do you have automation for that, or do you manually turn valves?

--Jeff
 
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Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,687
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Is there a certain temperature after which we don't need to chlorine dose? Or is it best to maintain the same levels we are now through the winter also?
I dose all winter long, my water gets in the 40s, I'm in CA. I listen to my pool. If it's using chlorine, even if only by the sun, I figure that it's safer to keep FC up. I only need to dose about once a week, or about 8-12 times (non-SWG season). That's feels like cheap insurance. That covers the occasional near-summer-like days we often get even in winter... YMMV. Hopefully others from SC can weigh in.
 

Wake9909

Silver Supporter
Mar 28, 2020
32
Broken Arrow, OK
See Dirks comments and pictures above. I just have a piece of 1/2" PVC, 5' long, no caps. I cap the top with my thumb, submerge it about halfway or better, remove the thumb, water rushes up into PVC, recap with thumb, pull out of pool and drop the water into my plastic 32 oz. measuring cup. Usually nets me about 150-200mL of water to perform my tests with.

I've used the concentrated great value bleach from wal-mart with no issues. Just want to make sure you use the correct % chlorine in the pool math app, when entering the additions. You are right on with avoiding the ones that have any additives, or are called splashless. Lowe's has had basic bleach for a while. I've not bought any because of the SWCG. I'll probably look there this winter.

Regarding the bubblers, do they run all the time whenever the pump is running? If so, that would keep them from freezing. If not, you'll want to make sure that they are turned on if the temps are going to drop. How do you turn on your spa? Do you have automation for that, or do you manually turn valves?

--Jeff
Thank you for the PVC idea. Great idea! I’m going to do that. I may even use that method in the summer, too, since it looks easier and more ergonomic on my body!

Our spa is attached to our pool. It is controlled by automation...all of it is, actually. I really didn’t want to run our bubblers 24/7 if we didn’t have to. Since our pool is only 6 months old, we are constantly trying to drive the pH back down. The further aeration from the bubblers just increases that problem, I understand. I guess I just assumed if the pump was running 24/7 the bubblers would be exempt from freezing. 🤷🏼‍♀️
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,696
Atlanta Ga
Is there a certain temperature after which we don't need to chlorine dose? Or is it best to maintain the same levels we are now through the winter also?
I honestly never add chemicals in the winter..In the past I put 3 or 4 tablets in a floater and toss it in the pool and turn the pump off..Stays crystal clear
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,687
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
I may even use that method in the summer, too, since it looks easier and more ergonomic on my body!
That's what I do! Concrete deck + old knees = :cry:

I don't have or know bubblers. What makes the bubbles? Or is it just a nozzle facing upwards that ripples the water?

If bubbles, is there some way to turn off the bubbles, so just water is coming out of the jets, and not air?

And if you can do that, or there aren't actually any bubbles, I would probably try to fashion something that would route the current outwards, horizontally, to minimize the ripple on the surface. It might be as simple as placing a paver on top of them. You'd minimize the upward current, but allow just enough flow to keep the water in the pipes moving (it doesn't take much at all to keep water from freezing). Just spitballing, as I have no idea if that could work like that.

Or maybe it's just a matter of turning their control valve way down low. The less they ripple the surface, the less they'll impact your pH.
 
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Turbo1Ton

Gold Supporter
Dec 26, 2019
368
NE Oklahoma
Pool Size
14500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Thank you for the PVC idea. Great idea! I’m going to do that. I may even use that method in the summer, too, since it looks easier and more ergonomic on my body!

Our spa is attached to our pool. It is controlled by automation...all of it is, actually. I really didn’t want to run our bubblers 24/7 if we didn’t have to. Since our pool is only 6 months old, we are constantly trying to drive the pH back down. The further aeration from the bubblers just increases that problem, I understand. I guess I just assumed if the pump was running 24/7 the bubblers would be exempt from freezing. 🤷🏼‍♀️
If you have automation, I'm betting your PB configured all of the features to have freeze protection enabled. Based on your equipment, I'm guessing you have some version of Pentair automation. In the case of the spa, if it goes into freeze protection mode, it will cycle between the spa and the pool every 15 minutes, I believe. And the bubblers will likely turn on when temps drop, to prevent freezing in the lines. The bubblers themselves won't freeze, but the piping at your equipment pad is really what that is protecting.

Dirk - The bubblers are just a jet of water that shoots up just under the surface to create a small fountain like feature. (A&A Manufacturing Bubble Jet Fountain - Gray # 564025)

--Jeff
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
7,687
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Thanks Jeff. If the automation isn't cycling the bubblers, can they be turned way down, just enough to move water through the pipes, but not enough to break the water surface? Then they'd cycle when the pool does.