Perhaps one of the most overlooked steps in getting your swimming pool ready for the season is addressing the area surrounding your pool. Things to consider:
Clean up plant debris from the pool deck, patio, nearby planting beds—virtually anything that has the potential for producing debris in your pool.
Prune trees and hedges that have grown in recent months and might hang over your pool. Some plants shed their flowers in the summer, which can end up in your pool. Try planting mess-free shrubs, trees, or vines.
Consider yourself lucky if you have dried debris on your cover. This can be removed by sweeping it, followed by a quick spray of the hose or pressure washer (really quickly or not at all in drought-stricken regions). The real cleaning will happen after you remove the cover.
For solid winter covers, fan-fold the cover into 3-to-5-foot folds.
For mesh covers, remove springs or fasteners from anchors with a removal tool or Allen wrench. Loosely fan-fold the cover accordion style.
Cleaning and Storage
After removing the cover, take it to a driveway or other hardscaped area, preferably on a slant or slope for easier drainage. Thoroughly sweep and hose off the cover and use cleaner or treatment if it’s recommended by the manufacturer of the cover. Allow it to dry completely before storing. Tightly roll or fan-fold the cover and wrap with rope or use strapping to keep it tight. Store the pool cover indoors or in a garage—away from insects, rodents, and moisture.
Check the filter and pump: Make sure to inspect the filter and pump for possible damaged or worn parts and buy a replacement.
Lighting fixtures: To prevent lights from cracking in areas where it freezes, underwater light fixtures are often removed from their housings, with the wires still connected. Coil the wire into the niche and reattach the light fixture.
Check for cracks: Fiberglass or concrete pools should be examined for cracks in the pool and on the tile. Also, look for chips in the plaster and indentations on the deck and coping. Since this pool-opening job is DIY, you can apply your expertise to any minor repairs that need to be made. It's also a good time to remove calcium scale and stains from the tile with a household tile cleaner or baking soda and a tile brush. For tougher stains, use a pumice stone.
You can monitor your pool's pH level with a testing kit. There are many kinds of testing kits available; however, most homeowner versions are either reagent kits or test-strips. Reagent kits aren't too difficult to use. You take a sample of pool water, then add liquids or tablets to it. The water changes color, indicating its chemical balance. Test-strips work differently. When you submerge them in the pool for a few seconds, dyes they contain cause them to change color. Next, match up the strip to a color chart to determine the pool's pH level. Use this information to gauge what kind and how much of the chemicals your pool needs.
Check manufacturers' instructions that came with the new parts or equipment, or look for the information on the company website.
If you drain your pool to perform maintenance or once the swimming season has passed, be careful to not let the pool sit empty too long. As a general rule, it's best to leave water in a pool throughout the winter because the weight of the water counteracts with forces from the ground pressing up against the pool from below.
With the circulation system operating, inspect the pool for leaks, cracks, and split hoses. If you discover any damage, shut off the power and contact your local pool service.