As I was enjoying the cool morning temperatures recently on the first day of fall (September 23rd), it brought back some thoughts about how brutally hot this record-breaking summer was and how glad that I am that it is finally over. I graduated from Denton High School in 1980, and I remember the heat of the summer of 1980 and I really did not believe that it would be broken in my lifetime. I think that I even remember that there were t-shirts (“I survived the summer of 1980!”) to acknowledge it. It made me think about weather forecasting and if there was any way that we could have seen summer this coming. Did anyone predict it? I looked back at my Farmers’ Almanac 2011, they had forecast this summer to be “hot with average rainfall”. It sounds like they got it half right—we had the heat but we did not have average rainfall.
Much like this summer’s prediction, we really do not know what this coming winter will bring, but the Farmers Almanac 2012 says:
Winter temperatures will be milder than normal, on average, with much-below-normal rainfall. The coldest periods will occur in early and mid-December, early January, and early February. Snowfall will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in mid-December and early January.
Whether or not you agree with this forecast, there is little or no argument that swimming pool use is not a year round event in North Texas. There will soon come a time when pool owners will need to decide what to do with their swimming pool this winter. Depending on several variables (number of trees surrounding the pool, pool location, whether you heat the pool in the winter, etc.), there are four options for winter pool care, which are:
- Continue to operate the pool – For the past 15-20 years, this has been the most popular option. One of the main reasons why is that pools have become more aesthetic and many pools are now the focal point of the backyard. The advantage of not covering a swimming pool is that you get to visually enjoy the pool over the winter. The disadvantage is you will still need to run the pump and chemically treat your pool, both of which cost money. In addition, if you have trees which drop leaves, you will have 6-8 weeks in the fall when maintaining the pool will be a job – it can be a daily chore to remove the leaves from the pool. Once the leaves have fallen, pool care once again becomes manageable and pump run time can be cut back substantially. If this is the option that you choose, be sure that the pump is running when the air temperature is freezing. This will prevent freeze damage to the plumbing and the filtration system. If you decide to continue operating your pool and you really enjoy swimming, you might consider having a pool heater installed. Pool heaters allow you to swim at least 9-10 months out of the year, as opposed to approximately 6-7 months without a heater. When the weather is extremely cold, typically in January and February, even pool owners that have heaters usually surrender to the weather.
- Cover your pool using a mesh cover – Due to the number of trees (especially oak trees) that the Denton area has, mesh covers have become increasingly popular in recent years. Mesh covers allow water to get through but catch the leaves. Basically it allows you to keep the leaves and other debris out of the pool, but since the cover allows the rainwater to pass through, you will still need to run the pump periodically and also add chemicals as needed. A properly installed mesh cover (which resembles a trampoline-look over your pool) sometimes even allows you to blow the leaves off of the cover.
- Cover your pool with a solid cover – While a very popular option in the past, due to the mild winters we have been having, this method is being used far less often in recent years. It is a good method to use if you do not want utility or chemical costs over the winter, as the filtration equipment is drained and turned off for the winter.
- Drain the equipment and do not cover the pool – This is the worst option. Draining the filtration equipment does protect the pool from freeze damage, but without any chemical treatment and allowing rain, leaves, and other contaminants to enter the pool, the pool turns into a swamp. The debris, if not cleaned out, can cause staining on the pool surface. In addition, this method usually calls for a big clean up in the spring.
Denton area pool owners have used all of these winter pool care options, but the best method is the one that fits you and your pool. Should you have any other questions about winter pool care, give us a call at (940)384-7665 and we will be glad to discuss it with you.