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Final Tips for Closing Your Pool

While some lucky pool owners enjoy pool season year-round, others have already closed or are closing their pools right now. A few days ago, I flew to my home state, Maine. As the plane descended, I noticed the tops of the trees had already started to turn beautiful colors. When I stepped outside, I was relieved I had remembered to bring a jacket.  The sharp nip of autumn greeted me. While I was growing up, we always closed the pool over Labor Day weekend. I don’t think many people are swimming there now. Other parts of the country are probably a little bit behind New England in their closing schedules. So, for those of us who are a little bit behind, here some final tips on closing our pools.

CLEAN THE FILTER
Remove the filter hoses. Spray the cartridge filter elements and D.E. (diatomaceous earth) grids with Filter Cleaner, then rinse them clean with a garden hose. For D.E. filters, drain the filter tanks and leave the backwash valve open. If you have a sand filter, clean it by backwashing.
Important: Don't acid wash a D.E. filter at pool closing time. Wait until spring, when you can conveniently run pool water through the system to rinse it out. Simply rinsing off the acid and putting away the filter will give the acid all winter to attack the filter components.
Open the drain at the bottom of the filter to let out any water in the filter outlet; be sure to open the air relief valve on top if you have one. Put the multiport valve in the closed or "winter" position—blow the water out of it if necessary—and remove the pressure gauge. Stow the drain plug with the other removed items you're stashed in the pump basket.

YOUR FINAL FREEZE INSURANCE: THE FLOTATION DEVICE
Before you put on the cover, you'll want to install a flotation device in the center of the pool. This device needn't be anything fancy—it can be a "pillow" sold at your local pool retailer or a truck innertube. The float balances the rainwater and ice sure to form on your pool's cover over the winter. Even more important, it eases pressure on the pool walls by allowing winter's ice to push in on the flotation device, not outward on the walls.

LAST STEP: THE WINTER COVER
The winter cover is important for both the pool and the people around it. It's stronger than a summer cover, both to withstand the weight of snow and ice, and to protect people or pets from accidentally falling through the cover into the water. If your cover has any rips, fix them. If they're beyond repair, replace the cover. Stretch the cover over the pool, black side down. If any sharp points are protruding from beneath, cushion them with cardboard or rags. Then stretch the cover very tightly across the pool (this can be a 2-3 person job). Run a strong wire through the holes around the perimeter of the cover, and snug it up using a wrench so the cover stays down in winter's winds and rains.

TIME FOR STORAGE
Remove rope and floats from pool and put with the rest of the supplies. Store any dive board and ladders in the shed or garage, with your pump and filter. Store your dive bolts or ladder bumpers in the pump basket. If you have a sand filter, just leave it outside.

YOU'RE DONE
Your pool is ready for winter's worst. Your investment is protected. And your spring pool opening should be an easy step to another season of swimming enjoyment!  Although some may dread the cold, growing up in New England taught me embracing the seasonal changes makes it more enjoyable. So, pour yourself some hot cider or cocoa and enjoy the fall beauty.