Preparing Your Pool for Autumn

Autumn tree leafs on a clean swimming pool

As much as we hate to think about it, the time is rapidly approaching to prepare your pool for the upcoming autumn season. Readying your pool for the beginning of winter takes some time in preparation, time in completing the task, and time later to put your “winter plan” into action.

It all boils down to attention to detail. But the time spent now is certainly worth it if you’d like to keep your pool in good condition and ready to use in the spring.

Unless it is one of those smallish, framed splash pools available at certain retail outlets that you can empty out, fold up and store away, please be warned that emptying your pool completely of water is perhaps one of the worst measures possible. Doing so comes with a whole host of risks. Simply put, JUST DON’T DO IT.

Autumn is the time when vegetation growth slows down or even stops completely. Leaves tend to start falling. It also isn’t raining as much as it did in summer, so the air is drier and is laden with dust. Your pool’s water, though it may look sparkling clean, contains sunscreen residue, dead skin cells and all sorts of dead goggas. Furthermore, as we know all too well, autumn in South Africa is usually accompanied by a lot of wind. So combining the existing pollution as a result of ongoing usage, the elements of falling leaves and other debris, a dust-laden atmosphere and high winds we get a recipe that could spell disaster for your swimming pool!

There is only one effective way to prevent your pool from being compromised in autumn and that is to put into place a good quality, properly fitted swimming pool cover. If dust, debris, leaves and other junk cannot get into your pool’s water, 99% of your preparation work is already done. It’s as simple as that! If you already have a pool cover and it has been in use for several years already, check that it is in good condition and doesn’t need repair or replacement.
Putting on a compromised pool cover will simply be a total waste of time and will moreover undo all the good work you will have put in to make sure all plumbing lines are clear and chemical balances are correct. Swimming pool covers have almost become THE pool accessory these days in South Africa; but as we have already seen they really do come into their own during autumn.
A most necessary first step to take in preparing your pool for autumn is to clean out the pump and plumbing lines. After all, what is the point of making sure that all the chemicals in the water are OK when there is still residue in the lines feeding off and returning water to the pool?

If your pH remains between 7.2 and 7.6, you are golden. Make sure the water’s alkalinity level is correct for the type of pool you have (gunite/plaster pools require between 80 ppm and 125 ppm, and between 125 ppm and 150 ppm for others like vinyl-lined pools.) And then there is the chlorine level. Chlorine binds any bacteria and micro-organisms in the water and eventually, the water can become murky. To counter this, shock your pool by using a product especially made for the job. We highly recommend a good “pool shock” at the end of your swimming season. As a final step, bring down the water level to about 150 millimetres below the level of your skimmer(s). Once all the foregoing steps have been done, fit the pool cover according to the manufacturer’s specifications and voila! You have finished your autumn preparations.

As a final word or two, not only does a pool cover have the ability to reduce a household’s electricity bill, but it can also halve autumn/winter filtration times. A pool cover also adds to the value of a property and is great for the safety of children and pets.

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