Tips from Pool Builders to Help You Make the Most of Your Pool All Year-Round
The summertime is known for fun in the sun, eating ice cream, and most of all, swimming in a backyard pool. But why not get the most out of your investment and keep your pool open during the winter season? If you want to keep your pool open, but you live in an area with cold winters, speak with professional pool builders to see if this option will work for you.
There are a few precautionary measures you’ll have to take in order to keep your pool protected from the cold winter weather. Freezing temperatures can damage your pool, especially filtration systems if you don’t take these extra steps.
So, if you’re looking forward to swimming all year-round, follow our tips to protect your pool.
Keeping Your Pool Open vs. Closing for the Season
Before you decide to keep your pool open for the winter, it’s important to weigh the costs and benefits and consider what goes into keeping your pool open year-round.
Here are some of the most important pros and cons for keeping your pool open and for closing your pool for the off-season.
Pros of Keeping Your Pool Open
- You can enjoy your pool year-round;
- You don’t have to spend time or money on pool closing;
- There’s no need to buy a winter pool cover;
- You’ll spend less money on the chemicals in spring—compared to spending money on chemicals needed for pool opening; and
- You can be one of the first pool owners to enjoy their pool come spring.
Cons of Keeping Your Pool Open Year-Round
- The risk of pipes and equipment freezing and becoming damaged if the proper precautions aren’t taken, especially in the event of a power outage;
- Regular pool maintenance is required—cleaning, balancing chemicals, etc.—even throughout the winter; and
- More maintenance and operating costs.
Pros of Closing Your Pool
- You don’t have to worry about winter damage to your pool;
- You can enjoy a break from regular pool maintenance duties; and
- You will save on operating costs throughout the winter—such as for hydro and pool chemicals.
Cons of Pool Closing
- You don’t get to enjoy your pool year-round;
- You will have to spend money on a winter pool cover; and
- You’ll have to spend time, energy, and money on pool closing and opening.
Install A Pool Heater
If you do decide to keep your pool open year-round, you must install a pool heater. A pool heater will warm the water to a comfortable swimming temperature and protect your pool from freezing. So even if it’s cold and snowing, you can still enjoy a warm, heated pool outside.
Pool heaters also keep your water warm enough so it won’t freeze and damage your pool lines and equipment. You might want to keep your pool heater on at all times to prevent costly damage. Or, to keep energy costs down, you can use solar blankets when you’re not running the heater.
Pool Heater Basics
To keep your pool warm and safe throughout the winter, make sure you use a pool heater that is designed to heat your pool size and type such as in-ground or above-ground pool heaters. A general rule of thumb for pool heaters is the larger your pool, the larger your heater should be.
Your heater should also be able to work in below-freezing temperatures, so look for heaters that can operate in your typical winter conditions.
Also, consider a heater power source that best suits your backyard and budget. There are various types of heaters to choose from, each varying in upfront and operating costs.
How Much Does it Cost to Run a Pool Heater?
While you might try to save money by only running your pool heater during off-peak times, heaters use more energy and take more time to heat pools after they have been shut off for a while.
Let’s take a look at the various types of pool heaters and pool heating accessories available:
Natural Gas Pool Heaters
These popular pool heaters heat pools quickly and require a natural gas line from your home. The cost to run a natural gas heater will depend on the size of your heater and the cost of natural gas from your utility supplier.
For example, the average natural gas heater is usually rated between 300,000 and 400,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units, the most common unit of measurement for North American natural gas needs), though depending on your location and pool size, you can go as low as 100,000 or higher than 400,000.
Natural gas heaters burn around 100,000 BTUs per hour, or about 1 therm (another common unit of measurement). Thus, if the cost of gas is $1.10 per therm, then it would cost between $3.30 and $4.40 per hour to run a natural gas pool heater.
Propane Pool Heaters
Like natural gas heaters, propane pool heaters heat pools quickly. And the cost to run these heaters depends on their size and the cost of propane.
Propane heaters use around one gallon of propane for every 100,000 BTUs per hour. So if propane costs $2.00 per gallon and you use a 300,000 to 400,000-BTU heater, it will cost you between $6.00 and $8.00 per hour to run a propane pool heater.
Solar Pool Heaters
Since solar pool heaters use energy from the sun to heat pools, they don’t cost anything to run. They may have a larger upfront cost ranging from $60 to $400 depending on the size of your pool. But they are energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and will save you on heating costs in the long run.
Another solar option for heating your pool is solar heating panels. These panels can be installed next to your pool, on your home’s roof, or nearby on a rack. And they will heat your pool using solar energy instead of relying on gas, propane, or hydroelectricity.
Use Solar Blankets & Covers
Solar covers and blankets are excellent, energy-efficient ways to keep your pool water from freezing in the winter, especially when your pool heater is off. Solar covers and blankets trap heat from the sun to warm your pool water. The water may still be cold with a solar blanket or cover, but at least it won’t freeze.
Solar covers and blankets also prevent heated water from evaporating out of your pool. While a solar cover is a physical cover that you can reuse, a solar blanket is a chemical that you add to your pool water. This chemical creates an invisible barrier to trap the sun’s heat.
Run Your Pump
Make sure to run your pool pump every day to prevent the water from freezing. Moving water is less likely to freeze compared to still water. Running your pump will keep your pool equipment protected from freezing and damage as well.
Consider using a smart pump or a variable-speed pump that runs at scheduled times, so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn your pump on and off.
Install A Freeze-Protection Monitor
This system monitors the outside temperature and will run your pool pump when the weather gets too cold. By automatically turning on your pump when needed, you can keep your pool protected from freezing damage even when you’re not at home.
You can also schedule times for your pump to turn on each day with the freeze-protection system, so you don’t have to go outside and brave the cold.
In Case of a Power Outage
Severe winter storms are notorious for wreaking havoc on our power lines, causing power outages that last for hours and sometimes even days. In the event of a power outage, you must protect your pool immediately since the pump and heater will not function during the outage.
If you don’t have a backup generator to keep your pool pump and heater working in the event of a power outage, follow these steps the moment your power goes off to prevent your pool from damage in the cold:
- Loosen the drain plugs on your pump, filter, and heater;
- Turn off the breaker on your pool;
- Close the pool line valves;
- Open the filter air bleeder; and
- When the power is restored, replace the plugs, prime and turn on the pump, and check for leaks and damage.
Regularly Clean & Test Your Pool
As you would in the summer, make sure to clean and test your pool water on a regular basis. Clean debris from your pool water to prevent debris from clogging your pipes and equipment. And test the water’s pH and chlorine levels to keep them balanced. Balanced water will prevent bacteria and algae growth in your pool.
It’s imperative that extra precaution is taken if you’re considering using your pool during winter. The last thing you want is to compromise your pool, risking damage from freezing and leading to costly repairs in the spring. But if you’re really keen on swimming in the winter and are willing to take these extra steps, speak with your local pool builders about keeping your pool open year-round.
Bert Minor has been a part of the landscaping business for nearly twenty years and has gained an excellent reputation as an innovative and creative designer. In fact, several of his designs and projects have been featured in industry supplier magazines. An active and contributing member of the industry, Bert sat on various boards including the Ottawa Chapter of Landscape Ontario and the Landscape Ontario Provincial Construction Committee. Bert also contributed technical articles published in the Canadian National Landscape Association magazine. With a relentless pursuit of knowledge, Bert has attained several industry certificates in landscape design, landscape construction and with the PHTCC—Pool and Hot Tub Council Canada. Prior to joining the landscaping industry, Bert spent several years in management in the services sector primarily in a customer advocate role. His honesty and integrity and his ability to build and develop strong relationships with clients reflects that.