Regardless of whether your home is located where warm, sunny days happen all year-round or where you experience the dramatic shifts each season brings, you'll need to consider doing some minor pool prep as we near those winter months. Even in Southern California's typically sunny San Diego, homeowners experience lows hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, per U.S. Climate Data. Of course, that's warmer than most U.S. locales during winter, but it's still not ideal weather for swimming in the pool without a few adjustments. Here's how people in different areas should prepare their pools for the cooler season:
Northern California, Pacific Northwest and Colorado
Homeowners in these locales will need to start winterizing their pools well before breaking out the winter coats and boots. Many property owners make Labor Day their last weekend for poolside fun, but it's up to your personal preference. You'll first want to consider whether or not you're going to invest in keeping the pool heated all winter long or let is sit until Spring arrives. Either way, this step needs to occur before freezing temperatures set in.
Leslies Poolmart advised taking the first winterizing steps one week before officially closing the pool by adding a phosphate remover to the water. This will reduce the amount of algae that grows as the pool sits unused. You'll also want to balance the water chemistry 7 days before closing. To do this, ensure the pH level is 7.2 to 7.6, the alkalinity is 80 to 120 parts per million and the calcium hardness is 180 to 220 ppm, according to House Logic.
In the days before officially shutting down the pool, homeowners should give it a thorough cleaning. That means vacuuming and skimming debris, clearing out the filter and wiping down the pumps and hoses.
Next, drain the pool so the water is about 4 to 6 inches below the skimmer. INYOpools.com emphasized the importance of leaving a sufficient amount of water in the pool during the winter months. Water in the soil expands when frozen, and the weight of the water in the pool keeps the pool from detaching from the ground when this happens.
Finally, cover the pool, and be sure it's sealed shut. This prevents debris - and even backyard critters - from getting in the water during the winter months.
For those in cities like San Diego or Los Angeles where it's pretty warm all year, winterizing your pool doesn't necessary mean you have to close it down. The reason those in colder climates are recommended to close down the pool is because the water freezers, which could cause burst pipes or damage the pool's structure. Residents in Southern California usually only have to worry about uncomfortably cold pool temperatures, and that can be fixed with a few tricks.
For one, a heater can keep the water warm enough to swim in even when the temperature drops to the low 60's. However, running the heater all year requires an extensive amount of energy. To practice conservation while still enjoying the backyard, consider running the pump heater only during the day. As the AquaCal explained, these devices use air for fuel, and chilly nights make this less effective.
There are also alternatives to pump heaters that don't use electricity at all. For instance, you might invest in a solar cover, which works like any other pool cover but is designed to trap in heat. Leave that on for the day while you're at work, and you'll come home to warm water.
AquaCal also noted that shielding the pool from the wind can reduce evaporation and conserve heat. Pool enclosures and sun rooms that are built over the water feature can trap the warmth and make the pool enjoyable even on rainy days.
Southern California pool owners still have the option to close the pool during winter. This requires going through all the closing steps mentioned for the colder climate locations, with one key difference: water level. Leslies Poolmart advised filling the pool to the point where it's almost overflowing in warmer locales.