Ask the General: Where do I start with Winter Pool Maintenance?

winter pool maintenance

Dear General-

Given that the stores here in the Midwest have giant bags of Halloween candy for sale in every aisle and Christmas trees in the window, I have to imagine that I’m supposed to be closing my pool. However, they’re predicting a mild winter this year! Can’t I just take my chances on the weather and keep it open a bit longer?

-In Denial in Danville


Dear Denial-

I’ve been around the block a few times, and here’s what I’ve learned. You can’t fool Mother Nature. Here in the Midwest, it’s 87℉ one day and 43℉ the next. Meanwhile, it’s snowing in North Dakota with hurricanes in Florida and tornado warnings all across the southern states. So let’s just say it isn’t exactly pool weather. We can’t control any of that, but what we can do is protect our investment, regardless of where we live, to make sure our pools weather the winter and are swim-ready in the spring. So let’s take a look at the best winter pool maintenance strategies, regardless of where you live.

  • Moderate Climates: If you’re a lucky duck who lives in the Sun Belt or anywhere you’re able to swim outside year-round, you just have to keep up your regular routine. I’m talking about water chemistry, backwashing your filters and keeping your pool and cover clean. Because you don’t have the cyclical maintenance that those of us in the cooler climes do, you need to create an annual checklist for yourself to inspect the systems and safety of your pool. Consider having a pool maintenance pro near you visit on a regular basis over the winter months if you tend to swim less when the temps dip down, so your pool maintenance doesn’t fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category.
  • Semi-Cold Climates: This is where it gets tricky. You’ve left your pool open in previous years and it’s been fine, but no two winters are alike. They say that as long as water is running, the piping probably won’t freeze. That’s like saying, “If you speed down a deserted road, there probably won’t be a cop to give you a ticket.” You’re just taking a calculated risk. I’ve seen smaller lines freeze and crack on pool equipment over the years. The only way to be 100 percent sure your pool will weather the winter is to have it properly closed. Check with your local pool maintenance pro and see what other people in your area are doing. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
  • Cold Climates: If you’ve read my prior pool maintenance posts about how to avoid pool maintenance mistakes, you understand the importance of correctly closing your pool. Hear my words: It’s mid-October. If you haven’t closed your pool yet, now is the time. You should start preparing to close your pool in early fall and have it fully winterized before trick-or-treat time rolls around.

And here’s a cautionary tale for you: I once had a customer who decided he would leave his pool open all winter. I told him straight up that he was asking for trouble. He said he could afford to run the heater all winter and the forecast called for a mild winter, so he was going to take a chance. December was okay (even though he couldn’t see the pool water for all the steam coming off of it). But January was another story. An ice storm took the power out while he was out of town and everything started to freeze including about a half-inch of his pool water. Guess who got an emergency phone call when he got back? We had to break through ice to winterize that pool. It was the most brutal pool closing I ever did. Fortunately, his pool survived, but the moral of the story is this: The General is always right. I’m kidding. Obviously, the moral is to winterize your pool correctly, every fall, whether you’re in denial or not. It’s just not worth the risk. Winter pool maintenance is important.

winter pool maintenanceOnce your pool is winterized, it’s very easy to take care of until you reopen it in spring. Depending on where you live and what your pool maintenance pro recommends, you might need a mid-winter boost of chlorine, especially if the weather stays mild. Other than that, just replace any leaky water tubes on your winter cover (if you don’t have an automatic safety cover), keep water and debris off the cover as best you can, and take a peek out the window every once in a while to make sure all is well. Enjoy the holiday season, spend some time with the family and ask Santa to bring you some new pool toys. Spring will be here before you know it.

Now, with my pool closed and the winter pool maintenance taken care of, it’s time to relax and watch some college football. Who’s got the popcorn?

Until next time –

The General


Who is The General?

The man, the myth, the legend….we just call him The General. His organized, systematic approach to pool installations over the years had his crew members calling him “The General” and it stuck. The General has over 30 years’ experience in the pool and spa industry, working for one of Pool and Spa News’ “Top 50 Pool Builders.”

Over that time, he designed, sold, project-managed and installed over a thousand inground swimming pools. As a pool owner himself, he’s the perfect authority to give you the inside scoop, with amazing tips and tricks to make pool ownership a breeze!

About Thursday Pools

Thursday Pools designs and manufactures durable and elegantly crafted fiberglass pools. We are ISO 9001 certified, which means that fiberglass pool shells are made with the highest standards and from the best quality material available. We are also ISO 14001 certified, which means we are committed to environmental stewardship.

Our one-piece, inground fiberglass swimming pool manufacturing facility is based out of Fortville, Indiana. At Thursday Pools, we aspire to be the world’s most respected fiberglass pool manufacturer and to help our customers create a lifetime of memories with their family and friends. Our innovations, commitment to quality and beautiful designs set us apart. Thursday Pools is the creator of the beach entry (or zero entry) fiberglass pool (Patent US 10,358,837 and 10,472,839). View our exclusive designs for the Grace Beach Entry design and the Sandal Beach Entry Design.

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