The cold winter months are no excuse to let up on pool maintenance. Even if you extend the season with a pool heater, you need to make sure you keep the proper chemical balance. If you don’t, it will cost you more in products and time in the spring, and could lead to staining or damage.
In order to properly maintain your pool during this time, you should reduce the pump operation time from 9:00 am to dark. In addition to this, you should test the pool water at home at least once a week. For more in-depth analysis, bring a water sample to your local Pinch a Penny store about once a month. Here are our recommendations for water balance during the winter months:
• Chlorine- Use enough tablets and a low setting on the chlorinator to keep a reading of 2 to 4 ppm. This will provide a consistent amount of chlorine.
• pH- Maintain your pH at around 7.4. Very high pH will promote the buildup of scale, while low pH is corrosive on the finish of most pool surfaces and equipment. Neither is good!
• Alkalinity- To help buffer your pH, keep the alkalinity normal, in the 80-120 ppm range.
• Calcium Hardness- It is still important to protect your pool surfaces and finishes in the Winter. When the calcium is too low, it can attack pool plaster resulting in staining and etching. Too high and it will lead to deposits and stains. Maintain a minimum of 200ppm.
• Conditioner/Stabilizer- Maintain at least 40 ppm to reduce UV degradation of your chlorine. The winter sun is not as strong as the summer sun, so you can operate at the lower end of the range.
When the temperature gets below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit your cell will most likely shut itself off automatically. During the winter months, the amount of chlorine needed from your salt cell to keep the pool clean is reduced. This is due to the fact that it is difficult for bacteria to grow in cold temperatures. If you wish to manually turn off the cell, keep a tablet or two of chlorine in a floating chlorinator to keep the level consistent.
Though the growth rate of algae slows down as water gets colder, we recommend keeping the free chlorine level between 2-4 ppm, as mentioned above. In some areas it's possible to see steady temperatures above 60 degrees in January or even February, giving algae a chance to grow. Don’t risk it. Maintain your free chlorine levels and add a dose of All In One Algaecide weekly.
You should keep it running for around four hours every day to help keep your pool balanced and looking great, even if you are not swimming. This is assuming you don’t have a cover or leaf net on your pool.
If you have additional questions or are looking to close your pool for the season with a winterizing kit, call your local Pinch A Penny!