Maintaining your pool in the winter
By Jerome Allen
Here on Ibiza we are blessed with a wonderful climate that allows us to comfortably swim outdoors for about seven months of the year. Swimming helps to keep us cool in the summer, and it is also one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy. Those who have swimming pools in their homes have the luxury of enjoying these benefits in complete privacy. Of course your pool needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained during swimming season, but what about in the five months when it is too cold to swim? Proper pool maintenance is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer, so let’s have a look at what that entails.
“Proper pool maintenance is just as important in the winter”Maintaining your pool is based on two basic elements: regular cleaning and keeping the right chemical balance in the water.
Both aspects are necessary in all seasons, but the process is different in the winter. Keeping it clean means vacuuming the pool floor, washing the walls and maintaining the filtering system so that it works properly. In the summer this is fairly easy except for things like suntan lotion which can collect on the walls. However, in winter the rain, wind and storms can cause a lot of dust, dirt and leaves to fall into the pool. This makes cleaning difficult, so you might want to consider “hibernating” your pool by covering it completely for the non-swimming months. These protective covers are specially designed to keep out solar radiation, and to stop algae from developing in the water.
This brings us to the second aspect of pool maintenance which is keeping the water clean. For most pools this is done by adding the correct amount of chlorine to the water and making sure that the pH level is correct.
pH is a number that expresses the acidity or alkalinity of water, and it is based on a scale where 7 is completely neutral. Lower than 7 means the water is acidic, and higher than 7 indicates that it is more alkaline. In all seasons the pH and chlorine levels in your pool need to be regularly tested. The pH should be between 7 and 7.4 (neutral or slightly alkaline), and the chlorine between 1.0 and 1.5. In summer these levels can vary greatly because the high temperatures and strong sunlight evaporate the water and react with the chemicals, but this is not a problem in the winter.
“There are many advantages to keeping your pool covered”
As noted above, using a protective cover makes the off-season maintenance even easier by blocking solar radiation and inhibiting the growth of algae. All that needs to be done is regular checking of the chemical levels, a minimum amount of filtering, and adding a product that stops lime (cal) from forming. The pool should be just about ready for your first dips when the warm weather arrives. Another option is to install a special pool cover that allows you to swim all year-round. Normally this is a large ‘bubble’ that is inflated by fans to create a dome over the pool. If the water is heated you can enjoy your pool all winter. These covers are easily installed and simple to maintain. Awareness of using water responsibly is another good reason to keep your pool full and covered over the winter.
We live on an island where water is scarce, so emptying and re-filling your pool each year is a massive waste of this precious resource. Conserving the water in your pool is ecologically responsible, and it also saves you money.