Friday, 16 September 2011 2:55 PM
There is nothing better than splashing about in your very own water hole during the warm months of the summer, but come winter the top priority will be swimming pool maintenance.
After all, you want to be sure that your investment is in the best possible condition ready for when the good weather returns again in spring and by taking the correct steps and speaking to expert representatives from swimming pool companies as soon as possible you have a great chance of doing just that.
Generally speaking, the best time to cover up your outdoor water feature for the winter is early in the autumn when the leaves begin to fall from the trees.
As long as you get any repairs carried out and cover it up in good time, your pool will need very little maintenance over the next few months, so it is worth taking the following steps in order that you can save yourself the work and hassle later on.
Once the temperature during the day drops to between 16 and 21 degrees C, you should start thinking about shutting up your pool for the winter - and it will probably be too chilly for you to take a dip anyway.
If any leaves have dropped into the water thanks to a particularly gusty few days you should remove these.
To do this you can use a good old fashioned net, or you may wish to go a little more high-tech with a swimming pool vacuum or skimmer.
It might not seem like the most important task but if the leaves remain in the water you could increase the risk of algae growing, which you will then have to deal with when spring arrives and you pull back the covers to be greeted by a green and swamp-like feature.
Next, you should look for all of the equipment you require to close down your swimming pool, including the winter cover, return jets, skimmer plugs and a powerful vacuum.
Start by using the vac to drain the pool until it is below the skimmer level - if it features ceramic tiles - before plugging the return jets with their stoppers. However, it is not vital to drain out any water from the space and some people prefer not to do this as it can cause the cover to sag and need replacing sooner.
Next, clean out all the water and debris from your filter thoroughly, before disconnecting the pump and filter, making sure that the pump has also had all of the water drained from it.
You can leave this upside down somewhere so that all of the moisture comes out if you want to be sure.
The reason to ensure that all of the liquid is out of the pump and filter system is because when the really cold weather arrives and the mercury drops below freezing, the water left in these pipes and pumps will turn to ice. This will cause it to expand and crack the casing, which could lead to a leak that would need to be repaired.
However, as it will be shut up for the winter it may be sometime before you discover there is a leak - which could leave you facing an empty pool.
If you have not drained out the water to below the skimmer level, once you have vacuumed out the jet, skimmer and drain pipes you can cover up any exposed gaps and holes with heavy-duty tape so that no dirt or liquid will be able to get inside.
Before you put it away, check the filter over to see if it looks damaged or worn so you know whether it will need replacing in order to ensure you have clean water - you could also take it to a drainage specialist for an expert opinion.
Now you can put your filter and pump into storage until you need them again - along with any inflatable toys, removable diving boards or slides.
If your pool is lined with vinyl, you might wish to leave a couple of your larger Styrofoam floats in the water, to help reduce the chance of the surface freezing over.
The next step is to add any chemicals required to the water to help maintain it over the winter - and you should speak to an expert about what you will need and how this should be mixed, or hire someone to do it for you.
Next, pull the cover tightly over the surface, ensuring that there are no rips or tears in the material and that those that are there are repaired.
Make sure the cover is fixed securely and keep in mind that although the water is not exposed, pools can still pose a risk so you should not let small children play in this area unsupervised.
Once all this has been done, you can turn your attention to garden maintenance to get your outdoor space into tip-top condition for winter.