Think you can ignore your pool in winter if it looks blue? Think again.
When it comes to swimming pool maintenance, “the biggest mistake pool owners make, particularly in Gauteng, is to really neglect their pools in winter,” says Philip Hughes, general manager at Zodiac Pool Care. Although it’s extremely tempting to leave your swimming pool alone in winter because it’s cold, there’s no rain and the pool looks nice and blue, this is likely to cause you headaches come the start of spring, he warns.
When the weather is very cold, the water in your swimming pool is very cold and this inhibits the growth of bacteria and other nasties that would otherwise turn your crystal-clear pool into pea soup. But appearances are deceptive. Just because the pool is blue, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the water is healthy – or even fit to swim in. This is particularly true on the Highveld, where dry, cold winters mean that there is little climatic interference (like rain or thunderstorms) to turn your pool green during the winter months.
GOOD TO KNOW
Keep your water level at the desired level, because a swimming pool relies on being full to keep its shape – a water level that is too low increases the risk of surface cracks.
The good news is that swimming pool maintenance during winter can be performed at a much lower frequency than during the busy summer months. Instead of running the pump for 12 hours a day, the pump can probably be run for eight hours a day, advises Hughes, and you’ll probably only need to add chlorine two to three times a week rather than the daily application in summer. Ideally, you’ll want to keep the residual chlorine level in your pool at 1 – 3 parts per million. This is quite a wide band, but pool owners must keep the swimming pool maintained within that range throughout the year. “It’s necessary to keep the water chlorinated in some way throughout winter. Without a residual build-up of either chlorine, stabilisers, or whichever pool chemicals are required throughout winter, when swimming season starts in September, the pool will quickly turn green. If the pool is not being chlorinated in some way, either through added chlorine or through a salt chlorinator, it’s not healthy water and you definitely wouldn’t want to swim in that water,” cautions Hughes.
“The most critical thing is that you need to maintain certain chemical levels in your pool. Your pH levels should be between 7.2 – 7.4 or 7.0 – 7.2, depending on the surface,” he explains, while also maintaining residual chlorine. This requirement doesn’t change whether it’s the middle of winter or the middle of summer, but the frequency and quantity of chemicals that you add to the pool will differ, depending on the season, weather and bather load. There’s also no reason to stop testing your water just because it’s winter – keeping the pH balance of the swimming pool correct is the foundation of a healthy pool.
GOOD TO KNOW
Any swimming pool maintenance that is aboveground (think filter or pump) is fairly straightforward for the competent DIY enthusiast, but when the problem is underground (piping or the filtration system), it’s best to err on the side of caution and call in the experts, recommends Hughes.
GET IN TOUCH
To find a Zodiac service centre near you, visit www.zodiac.co.za. Tell us what you do to keep your pool in tip-top condition during the winter by posting your comments and pictures on our Facebook page.