Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Pool is Closed

There is a pool in my back yard ... an idea hatched at my ex's father's cottage one sunny Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1998. This seemed like an interesting idea at the time, and I went along with it with few reservations.

Of course, one must own a pool before one realizes how much they cost and how much time they take. I have refined my approach to pool maintenance over the years and it does not take that much time any more. With the exception of this year's incredible green explosion, I have had crystal clear water for years now.

But there is always the pool closing to remind me of the dark side of pool ownership. I used to pay people to open and close for me, but they wanted $250 each time (that's $500 per year) because of the time the cover took, so I started doing that myself.

I like to wait quite late in the year to close my pool because I find that early closings breed too much algae. I realize that pool companies simply float a pile of chemicals on the water to help with that, but I just prefer to hammer it once with concentrated chlorine and then close it up. The low temperatures keep the water clear until spring.

So this past weekend I approached the pool closing with my usual resistance. I decided on Sunday afternoon to drain the pool and then perform the remainder of the tasks next weekend. But the weather forecast did not look very good, so I chose instead to take a half day off yesterday and finish the job while we had warm temperatures. I've closed the pool with snow falling before ... and it is *not* fun.

I began by gathering the stuff I need to close.

This includes two huge jugs of RV anti-freeze, which is the non-toxic stuff. Two lengths of hose are used to hang in the pool from the pump intake in the skimmer so that I can drain below the skimmer. Note: you cannot fully drain a pool or the liner will pop right out and may be destroyed. I also grabbed the Gizmo, a device that prevents the skimmer from cracking as water freezes inside, and the 3 foot foam, which goes into the pool drain to prevent that pipe from cracking, since you cannot empty it of water. The foam goes deep enough to remain below the frost line. And of course a couple of plugs for the outlets to prevent water from getting back in as the snow fills the pool over the winter.

The first step is to drain the pool ... which I do with a few minutes of backwasdh (to clean the filter sand) and rinse followed by emptying the water through the waste setting. This goes through a hose into my front yard.

I use the cleaning head to weight the hose lengths down and keep the pipe open ... works perfectly.

As the water receeds, I notice some strange blue staining along the edge. I think that this is the chemical blanket that keeps the water form evaporating too fast ... but I don't really know.

Of course, to put the hoses into the pump intake in the skimmer, I first had to remove the leaf basket ... and I find that there are more leaves in there than anticipated. I imagine that the filtration was running rather poorly the last month or so.

So now I just let the water run to the back yard ... this takes several hours, as I am pumping about 15,000 litres to the front yard. So I go for a walk to record the remnants of the garden in November ...

My neighbour has a lovely crab apples tree next to our fence.

My Serviceberry bush has a few pretty branches left ...

And of course my other neighbour has a monstrous Blue Spruce hanging into my yard. I love these things ...

A view of the pool from the far end of the yard ...

And I am done for the day. The next day, I pick up where I left off.

First thing to do is to unscrew the cap from the bottom of the filter to allow it to drain.

And then open the chlorinator (on the left) and the pump. I vacuum the chlorinator with the shop vac (a 4.5 horse unit with a blower port.)

I also open the two drains on the pump (out of sight.) Then I set the filter on its winter setting, which eases strain on the gasket that seals the top and allows the handle to move between settings.

Around the back of the filter head I remove the glass window from its mount (left hand hole) and the pressure guage.

Here's a view of the pump with the drain plugs removed.

Npw tp othe heater ... there are three drain plugs for the heat exchanger. I need to open those and then blow them out with the shop vac from its blower port..

Other side ...

I notice a few moments later that there is a spider crawling up the filter against the water current. Very strange ... he fell back at least 5 times while I watched.

After blowing both sets of drains with the shop vac and then pouring one of the jugs of anti-freeze into the intake and outflow pipes from the pump end, I attack the skimmer.

The length of foam goes into the left hole, which connects to the main drain of the pool. The Gizmo is screwed into the right hand hole to protect the skimmer. The teflon pipe / thread tape us used to ensure a decent seal.

And after ...

I need to seal the outlets in order to keep the anti-freeze in and the water out. This keeps the pipes in perfect shape for next year (this is my 12th closing so I know this works well.)

I loosely reconnect all piping in order to keep animals out. You don;t want them in the pipes, dead. Jack hammering out the pipes would be hugely expensive.

And finally the baggy with all the little drain plugs etc is put back into the pool kit and it is stored.

Another swimming year is over ... to be resumed next June.

Note: A few years ago, I stopped using a cover after discussing with my boss how he closes his pool. This is vastly less effort each spring and fall and the water actually starts out cleaner, since the cover creates a lot of algae in the spring and that inevitably spills into the pool.


crazy football mom said...

So that's what you've been up to...been quiet lately, I thot. Good that you got the pool closed, sounds like a lot of work, but you know what you're doing. When I win the Lottery and install a pool, I could use some advice re: opening/closing. Or wait, I'd just pay someone to do it cuz I'd be rich! Never mind :-)

Kim Letkeman said...

Thanks Gaye for reminding me that I should mention the cost of having someone do it for you. $500 per year to open and close if you have a cover. I eventually stopped using a cover, but not before I had saved at least $1500 over several years ... that paid for the new heater and pump a few years ago.