Closing Your Pool: Isn’t it fun?
Today was the day that I both dread and look forward to each year: the day I close the pool. It’s not a set date on the calendar; rather, it’s whenever I get a free day (or two) and the weather cooperates.
How do you close a pool?
Closing the pool is a wet, dirty, and thankless job. Sure, I could hire someone, but I would have to do a vast majority of the work myself anyway, unless I really wanted to shell out some major bucks ($400-600). After hiring someone to open the pool for the first year, I learned that I’m just as competent and capable as they are to perform the opening and closing duties. I just needed to watch what they did and do some reading. Also, I asked a lot of questions at the pool store.
To give you non-pool-owners an idea of what’s involved with closing our pool, here’s what I have to do (roughly and not necessarily in this order):
- Clean the pool: You can’t have any leaves in the pool or else they’ll rot and stain the plaster
- Put in chemicals: You can’t just wait to put the winterizing chemicals in at the last minute, but that’s what I did today. This year, we’ve been VERY fortunate to not need many chemicals, and that includes for closing too. Personally, I think it’s the new thermal pool cover keeping in the chlorine and no rain to alter the pH.
- Put on the winter cover: We have a very heavy spring-supported pool cover that supports tons of snow and ice through the winter. It takes 4 people to put this on without dropping it into the pool, and Nick and his wife helped us put it on (thanks!).
- Dismantle the pool pump and filter: You can’t leave water in these units during the winter as it will grow moldy and probably freeze and ruin the equipment. Also, you can’t completely drain them until the pool level is down below the skimmer and you can suction out the lines (see next bullets).
- Drain the pool: Not everyone needs to do this, but we have tiles on the top of the side walls that would crack if the water freezes. I need to drain about 8 inches now so that I don’t need to drain it again during the winter after an unexpected melt. I actually do this while I’m doing everything else, but I need the water below the skimmer line for the next step. I use a small sump-pump which drains maybe an inch per hour (give or take).
- Vacuum & plug the water lines: I really don’t like this step because I never know whether I’ve gotten all the water out. I hook up a shopvac to the end of the pipe (e.g. in the skimmer or the return lines into the pool) and flip it on. I wait until I hear a certain noise (from experience) and then I know I probably won’t get any more water out. It’s a little dance I have to do to make sure I open and close the other ends or openings in the lines so I can get enough suction. I use adjustable rubber stoppers to plug the lines inside the pool
- Put antifreeze in the lines: I use pool-grade antifreeze, and I only put it in the places where I can pour it, such as the skimmer and filter. It prevents any remaining water from freezing and breaking the PVC during the winter.
- Hose off the cartridge filters/reassemble filter & pump: These are large cylinders, much like the paper filters in your bagless vacuums, but they’re not paper. You can reuse them each year, and if you damage one, expect to spend about $70-90 for a new one. My filter has 4 and they require lots of soaking and hosing to get all the dead plant, bug, people and other matter out from the folds. Then I have to put them back in the filter and put it all back together.
- Clean, fold and store the thermal cover: Ugh, I hate this part. The thermal cover is a giant sheet of bubble-wrap that keeps heat in your pool and also magnifies the sun’s rays to transfer heat. It’s also a great place for leaves and particles to hide (between the plastic bubbles). It’s very large and cumbersome (not as bad as the winter cover though), and requires a good deal of cleaning and proper drying. However, leave it sit on your lawn too long and all the grass will die underneath it.
- Remove and store the railing & pool vac: Taking off the railing (see picture above) is pretty easy, as is storing the “Ray Vac”. The Ray Vac looks like a string ray with a long tail hooked to the side of the pool. It uses the pool pump’s action to meander through the pool and clean up debris. This year, I needed to use it to clean out the leaves all the way until I had to shut off the pump.
So how long does this all take?
Depending on the chemical needs, it could run 1-3 days to close a pool. After the first time or two, you’ll get into a pattern and know what to expect. This year, I spent a solid 7 hours closing the pool, not counting the trip to the pool shop for the water testing. I started at 11am, took a 1 hour nap while the cartridge filters soaked and the pool drained, then continued until 6pm.
As a side note, I did as the guys at the pool shop how much it would cost to tear out the pool. It would be about $15,000-20,000. Hmm. Still tempting. That’s the only reason I like closing the pool though…because I don’t have to deal with it until next April/May.
So there you have it. That’s what it takes for me to close the pool each year. This year, I closed it pretty late due to the hot weather (we actually swam last weekend), but the temps changed so quickly and so many leaves were falling that I couldn’t wait another week. Pools are a pain, but if you’re not the one maintaining it, then it’s a lot of fun 🙁 (yeah, I’m pointing at you Stacie).
Baz L says
If you’d asked me last year, when I decided to buy a house, a pool would be a requirement. I love swimming (at least I think I do).
Even when I was apartment hunting, I was down to two apartments and I picked the one with the bigger pool. 9 months (but no baby) down the road, I’ve been in the thing a total of 5 times.
Given this AND after reading all your posts on pools, I think I can scratch that off my list.
Clever Dude says
I just hope that none of my readers are potential buyers of our house when we choose to sell though.
I love swimming too, I’d never want a pool. It’d just become a green blob with my maintenance skills. Maybe one of those small perpetual motion pools.
Hmm… green blob… Ever think about filling it with Jello? 🙂 Jumping in would be quite an experience.
Wow! I had no idea there was that much work involved in a pool. Makes me glad I live in an apartment complex for now so I do not have to deal with this.
The main thing is that I cannot swim so getting a pool when I do buy a house is not going to be a priority for me.
Get some rest dude.
What’s nice about living in SC: you never have to close your pool.
Clever Dudette says
Don’t forget that there ARE many benefits to having your own pool—although you have a day’s work in the closing of it, it’s nice to be able to swim when and for long you want and not have to worry about who will see you in that swimsuit or whether you’ll have to contend with a busy pool day…
I try to stay on the positive end of the spectrum when it comes to being a pool owner (but CD’s right–I am not much help in closing other than helping with the pool cover and making him a yummy dinner when he’s done).
Mrs. Micah says
When I was little, I thought I wanted a pool. Now I value the yard space more. But if you’re the sort of person who likes to swim and uses it…that makes sense.
Clever Dude says
Unfortunately, neither of us were/are avid swimmers. We bought the house because of location, size and price (couldn’t get this location and a new home for the price we paid), and we just accepted the pool. I don’t think it raised the asking price of the house too much.
It’s a nice-to-have feature, and people appear amazed or envious when we mention we have a pool. However, we don’t go around gloating about it since it’s not like we paid to install it or anything (and since I hate maintaining it).
Why would it take $20k to remove the pool? Isn’t it just a matter of emptying it, hitting all the concrete with a jackhammer, piling it into a thin layer at the bottom and filling it in with dirt? Sounds like a fun DIY project.
Clever Dude says
BtC: There’s actually quite a bit of work involved with dismantling an in-ground pool. One is permits as well as documentation for the next owner that there’s a giant pile of concrete under the yard. Also, in our case, we’d have to find a way for the machinery to get back to our yard. I’m sure it would involve removing sections of our privacy fence.
Finding and transporting fill dirt, the machinery, and the people is pretty pricey. I haven’t called out for estimates on this, but I’m sure I wouldn’t find anything under 10k, but I could be wrong. Oh, and I have to pay for disposal too.You can’t just bury ALL the concrete, since there’s also the surrounding patio.
Kyle @ Rather-Be-Shopping says
I plan on coming back and reading this post every summer when it is over 100 degrees and I am wishing I had a big ol’ pool in my backyard!
What do you do with an unused SWIMMING POOL?
Its 9ft deep, there is a tree that keeps shedding leaves onto the pool. This in return makes the filter work harder, electric bill goes higher, more chemicals are required to keep the water clean. Its Rarely used & maintaining cost is too much..what are our options?
*Can’t empty it, we were told, it would crack in the Florida heat and make the cost of fixing that would be ridiculous.
*Trimming the old tree would be $3,000 or more, NO guarantee of the fix of the problem.
*Getting it Screened would cost $10,000 and fix the problem for good.
Please help with any other suggestions