It’s time for pool owners to start thinking about winterizing. Unless you live in one of North America’s warmest climates, you’ll likely be taking your last dip in the outdoor pool soon, if you haven’t already.

There is no one-size-fits-all procedure for swimming pool winterization. Your pool design, climate, location and accessories all affect the steps necessary to keep your pool clean and in good condition until the warm weather arrives next year. If you’re not sure what your pool needs to make it through the winter, a knowledgeable plumber can help you prepare for this off-season and learn what you need to know going forward.

There are, however, a few best practices that apply to most outdoor pools. If you’re going the DIY route and want to make sure you’ve thought of everything, be sure to pay attention to these steps:

Don’t drain the pool unless your specific pool design requires it. Draining and refilling a pool every season uses a tremendous amount of water that could just be re-treated at the start of the next season. Moreover, empty in-ground pools can suffer structural damage from the pressure of the soil against the outer walls, and rising groundwater can even make a pool float out of the ground.

Reduce the water level. Many pools will have a freeze line indicator that shows the proper water level for winterization. This is usually about six inches below the inlets.

Use an algaecide right from the start of the off-season, and check the directions to know if or when you’ll need to reuse it in the middle of winter. Preventing algae growth helps prevent staining and reduces the amount of time and chemical supplies you’ll need to use to get your pool ready for swimming in the spring.

Adjust the pH level one last time. In most climates, the appropriate pH level falls between 7.0 and 7.8, but you’ll want to consult with a local pool or plumbing professional to determine the ideal level for your pool.

Run your pool filter and vacuum thoroughly before shutting down for the season. Afterward, remove, clean and store external equipment like pumps and vacuums.

Completely drain all external lines. If you live in a cold climate, there may be a necessary procedure of pouring antifreeze into some lines to prevent cracking.

Keep the pool covered all season long, ideally with a high-quality, all-weather cover designed specifically to fit your pool. Throughout the season, keep the pool cover clear of leaves, tree branches, snow and other debris.

Shut off the circuit breaker to the pool equipment as your last step before saying goodbye to the pool until spring.

Shutting down your pool for the winter is a big job, and if you don’t do it correctly, the result could be costly damage. It’s worth getting it right the first time, so be sure to call in the pros if you’re not sure how to protect your pool.

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