As any coach will tell you, the offseason is just as important as game day. The preparation and work put forth between seasons makes all the difference in pool care, too. While it’s tempting to neglect the pool for three quarters of the year, doing so is asking for trouble, and shortens the lifespan of the best investment in your home.
Good pool care starts at the end of summer, not the beginning. Follow these three simple rules all winter long to protect your pool and ensure that every June is the start of a beautiful swimming season.
1. Cover It
This may sound obvious. However, while very few people refuse to cover their pool at all during the offseason, many do so inadequately. Loose covers, covers made of subpar material, and improperly secured covers are all recipes for disaster and detriments to the life of your pool.
If a pool is a good investment in a home, then a pool cover is nothing to skimp on. Be sure to install a sturdy, impermeable (except in the case of high-quality mesh covers) cover that can handle the three W’s: Wind, Weather and Weight. A cheap tarp is a one-way ticket to damaging your pool and its lining.
2. Cover the Cover
We know that protecting the pool during the off season is crucial. We know that the most important tool in that endeavor is the pool cover. Far too often, however, pool owners are lax in their protection and maintenance of the cover, essentially defeating its purpose and exposing the pool to the very dangers the cover was meant to defend against.
Snow needs to be taken off the cover whenever it accumulates. The best way to handle this is with a snow-blower, but the brush attachment on a skimmer pole works fine too. If snow and ice are allowed to accumulate on a pool cover for an extended time, the resulting weight will almost surely damage the cover and its anchors. It could even pull the whole cover into the water, depending on how well it’s secured. This is not something you want to have to deal with in the middle of January.
Rain accumulation must also be addressed vigilantly. If you’re using a high-quality mesh cover, this won’t be an issue since the permeable material allows water through while keeping other debris out. Any other kind of cover, though, can suffer from the weight of rainwater. Use a motorized pump as soon as water accumulation reaches an inch or two; don’t wait until there’s a foot of water in the middle of the cover to start pumping. If the weight of rainwater pulls any part of the cover below the edge of the pool, the rainwater and all its debris will flow right in. Not pretty.
3. Secure the Perimeter
Lastly, keep any and all unwelcome visitors away from the pool area during the offseason. Many states require fencing around pool areas; even if your state doesn’t, you should have it anyway. A strong, durable fence with a locking gate is an absolute must both for your pool’s sake and for the safety of children, pets and wild animals. The last thing you need is a neighborhood dog or toddler wandering onto the pool cover, unaware of the peril. Consider installing a simple and inexpensive alarm on the gate to alert anyone nearby to the presence of someone or something in the pool area.
By adhering to these three simple principles of offseason maintenance to protect your pool, you will extend the life of your pool, and make each season’s opening much easier and more rewarding.