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Changing Weather Changes Pool Procedures

By Terry Arko

The world is changing, and so are its weather patterns. Predictable seasonal weather is a thing of the past. When it comes to closing down pools for the season, the traditional methods used in the past may need to change and adapt to these new weather patterns. Many weather experts report that spring is coming earlier, summers are stretching out longer and winters are becoming shorter. This means that in many areas of the country, warmer weather could stretch into late fall.

Changing the Approach to Pool Closing

For many in northern areas of the United States and Canada, Labor Day is the point of closing down and leaving the pool until the following Memorial Day. These two holidays have long dictated closing and opening, strictly by the calendar. However this system of "close it and forget it" could now lead to more problems occurring during the pool opening.

Many pool pros are now are moving to a gradual close as opposed to a hard close of pools. With a gradual close, you are spreading out the procedure of closing over a longer period and allowing for the addition of chemicals like chlorine and algaecide throughout the fall into early winter. A gradual close goes more by the temperature rather than by the calendar. As long as temperatures are staying relatively warm and mild, pools should be checked and serviced with chemicals as needed. Once the really cold (or in some cases freezing) weather begins, then the pool can officially be put to bed.

Closing the Pool 'Clean'

To close a pool 'clean' means more than just physically cleaning the pool. It means pool professional needs to treat the water so it's in the best state possible before covering the pool for the winter. One of the most important steps in this process is to test for and treat the pool for phosphates. Lowering the phosphates can make all the difference between opening a pool with algae problems or opening a pool that is still clear and blue in the spring. For the most effective lowering of phosphates, use a commercial strength phosphate remover. Another favorite step now frequently used by pool professionals includes using a 90-day algae prevention and remover in the early fall and again just before winter to help to keep the pool algae-free at opening.

For those pools that are kept open and operational throughout the winter, many service professionals are turning to a "winter pill" that combines a clarifier to maintain sparkling clear water, a scale inhibitor to prevent scale buildup and a stain inhibitor to prevent iron, copper and manganese stains. This all-in-one product type is often enzyme-enhanced to naturally destroy all organics to prevent water ring, improve filter performance and sanitizer efficiency. These all-in-one products can be added just before covering the pool to help keep the water clean and free of organics that cause water issues as the weather heats up.

What Is Done 'In Season' Can Help in the 'Off Season'

Keeping pool water clean throughout the summer months will actually help pool professionals close pools at the end of the swimming seasons. Regular shocking throughout the summer with a chlorine-free shock oxidizer reduces the potential for organically bound chloramines that can build up by the end of summer and make treating the water difficult at closing. Many pool professionals follow the shocking of the pool water with a dose of natural clarifier to ensure the water quality will be crystal clear throughout the swim season and even after the pool is closed.

Remember that closing the pool will also be easier at the end of the summer if you have kept the phosphate levels down and oils out of the water throughout the summer months. Many service pros tell their aquatic facility clients to use weekly treatments throughout the summer—such as the easy-to-use pods that are now on the market and can be simply tossed in the skimmer weekly to ensure that the pool water will be in better shape at closing time. This product has also become popular for service pros on their weekly cleaning routes.

As pool professionals, we need to work to ensure our clients are always happy with their swimming pool. Our ultimate goal is to make it as easy as possible for pool operators to maintain clean and clear pool and spa water. Implementing a year-round approach to clean, clear swimming pool water helps ensure our aquatic facility clients can focus on programming, increasing attendance and creating a better user experience, rather than worrying about their water!

Terry Arko has more than 30 years experience in the swimming pool and hot tub industry. He has worked in service, repair, retail sales and chemical manufacturing. He has experience in customer service, sales and product development. His expertise is in the area of swimming pool and hot tub water chemistry. Terry is both a Certified Pool Operator (CPO) and CPO course instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). He has authored more than 100 published articles on water chemistry. Terry is a popular speaker at many industry trade show events. He currently works with SeaKlear Recreational Water a division of Halosource Inc., a company in Bothell, Wash., that creates technologies to make all water better. This includes drinking, environmental and recreational water. Learn more at www.seaklear.com.