Pool owners usually love their pool and what it does for their family. Pools give you fun, exercise, and a place to be together without having to take expensive vacations or spend your days bored out of your minds. But when fall and winter roll around, most pool owners face the worst part of owning a swimming pool – the winterizing process. Luckily, closing down your pool for the winter isn’t really that difficult to do if you know what to expect. A solid half-day is the most it should take in most cases, from the moment you begin to the moment when the winter pool cover is in place and you walk away for the season. Here’s a quick rundown on the process. First of all, you need to make sure that your pool’s chemical levels are perfectly balanced. While the obvious reason is to help prevent algae growth and unsanitary conditions, but a properly balanced pool also prevents scale buildup, corrosion, and more. This helps protect pumps, filters, and swimming pool walls. Aim for a pH of 7.2 to 7.6 and a chlorine level of one to three parts per million. Additionally, alkalinity should be around eighty to one hundred and twenty parts per million while calcium hardness should be between one seventy five and two hundred and fifty ppm. Once you get the levels balanced where they need to be you’ll be ready to start the next stage of the process. Clean the sides of the pool and the floor. Use your pool vacuum and your skimmer to remove all dirt and debris so the pool is perfectly clean. This is important because leaving debris in the pool can cause staining and encourage bacteria growth. Once you’ve cleaned the pool thoroughly, remove any and all deck equipment. This includes ladders, handrails, and anything else that actually goes into the pool. Next add the winterizing chemicals to the pool. There are specific chemicals that need to be introduced to the water that will maintain water quality while the pool isn’t being used, so be sure to purchase the right winterization chemicals and use them when you’re closing down the pool for the year. Now clean out your filter, skimmer, and pump basket. These components aren’t going to get a lot of TLC over the coming months so it’s important to get them in the best shape possible prior to shut down. Remove any chlorine products from your chlorinator and remove any cartridge filter elements. Also backwash your sand filter if that’s the type of filter you have. Essentially you want to get your filtration system and pump back to the point they were in when you installed them. Next, either lower the pool water to the point just below the skimmer and returns or insert a Gizmo into the skimmer, then plug your return line. This eliminates damage that freezing temperatures can cause to your expensive equipment. It’s important that you don’t completely drain an above ground pool because it will trigger collapse in many cases. Next, finish preparing the different components of the pool. Remove any detachable hoses and remove any drain plugs from pumps and filters. If there are specific instructions for winterization shutdown, follow them. For those with hard lined plumbing, be sure to blow all water out of the system. This is usually done with a shop vac or air compressor that is then used to blow air down the skimmer. This blows all water out of the plumbing. Again, this safeguards against any damage that freezing temperatures can cause. Water left in the plumbing that freezes could do hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage. Next, add your air pillow. These go underneath a winter pool cover and will add an extra layer of protection to your pool. Fill it with a compressor or shop vac and then attach it to two anchors around the pool wall. This is an optional step that not everyone takes. Air pillows are usually used in areas where freezing temperatures are common since they’ll help protect pool walls against dangerous freezes. Not everyone uses them, but if you live in a cold winter location they’re probably a good idea. Now you’re ready to add the winter pool cover. Follow installation instructions closely when you do. In most cases the black side of the cover goes down. Anchor the pool cover accordingly – for in ground pools you’ll use water tubes or in some cases sand bags to help weigh down the edges of the winter pool cover. Safety pool covers utilize a series of straps and anchor points to give them the strength they need to support weight. And above ground pools use a cable system in most cases. Some cheaper models may use drawstrings or other types of closures, but a cable and winch system is much better. You can also add clamps to help secure the pool cover. Finally, place a cover pump or a siphon drain in the center of your winter pool cover. This prevents standing water from rains or snows from becoming a problem. Rips and tears can occur when too much weight builds up in the center of a cover, or the cover could be pulled down into the pool. Few things are as troublesome as trying to fish a heavy winter pool cover out of a swimming pool in the dead of winter. If you’ll keep these basic steps in mind when you shut down your swimming pool you’ll have a worry free winter and a hassle free spring set up. It may take a bit of time, but it’s well worth it for the results you get.