Batten down: Winterize pools carefully

Valley Pool & Spa

 Q.  It's too cold to swim. Got any winter maintenance tips for my pool?

 A. A farmer from Madison properly maintained his 18 x 34 swimming pool– season in, season out. But because there was so much rain in the fall of 2004, he thought it would be fine not to winterize the pool the way he'd always done.

Come spring, when he pulled back the cover for the 2005 season, he found a disaster.

Instead of buying a proper cover to protect the pool over the winter, he had visited a local home improvement store for a couple of black covers and cinder blocks. Big mistake! One particularly bad night, a big wind lifted the cover, cinder blocks and all, and tossed the whole contraption into the pool, ripping the liner in several places.

Now what?

The moral of this story happens to be an expensive one. The pool owner thought he would save $60 by going the cheap route to cover his pool. In the end, he had to replace the entire expensive liner.

Pool owners should visit their local pool store for all the information and supplies they need for winter. Each year, the pool should be closed properly. Scrubbing the walls, vacuuming the bottom, adding the proper winterizing chemicals, and covering the pool with the correct protective top will help prevent a disaster when the snow flies and the wind howls.

Once the weather warms up, be sure to clean the cover carefully before storing it. All the debris must be removed so it can be used the following fall.

A local Charlottesville celebrity had an interesting problem when he uncovered his pool last spring. The maintenance crew found a dead deer on the bottom, and in the process of deteriorating, the carcass and fur had ruined the pool's liner. Another lesson for homeowners: lock down the hatches so no animals or other biodegradable debris can creep in.

J. Casey Brown of Valley Pool & Spa