Winter water care Winter water care

With a little extra love during the colder months, your pool can be pristine come summer.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, you’ve got summer sorted! But what do you do with your oasis when winter sets in? The wildly different temperatures and weather conditions mean that pools and spas require a substantially different, but equally important, approach. Excess rain, for example – which we tend to see more of in winter – can dilute pool chemicals at a fast rate, affecting the pH level and causing the build-up of algae and other pathogens. We spoke to Chris Samartzis, CEO of Master Pool Builders Association Australia, to find out how to take care of our pools and spas during the colder months.

Pump it up

While it might be tempting to switch off the filtration system and ignore your pool all winter to save money, this is a false economy, Samartzis explains. “You will more than likely damage expensive filtration and pump systems, and [incur] greater costs that are associated with water balance and sanitisation.”

Next minute, you’ll have a dirty, green, algaeinfested pool, which is a health hazard and will cost you more in the long run to bring back to a useable condition. “However, you can reduce the cycle or the amount of time [the pump and filter] operate, as chlorine levels drop at a slower pace during cloudy winter months,” shares Samartzis.

Also essential? Keeping on top of chlorine and pH levels, which are “by far the two most important factors that help keep your pool safe to swim in,” says Samartzis. “You want your pH and chlorine levels to be balanced so the pool remains sanitised for long periods of time.”

The ideal pH level for a pool, says Samartzis, is between 7.2 and 7.6. Anything under seven indicates acidity, while anything over eight is too alkaline. Unfortunately, checking this will require you to plunge your arm elbow-deep into the watery depths for a sample, but it’s worth the icy dip. Any issues can quickly be cleared up by adding the right treatment to the water – and if you don’t feel confident testing the water yourself, take a sample into your nearest pool store for assistance.

Don’t forget to clean the skimmer baskets and the pump’s lint basket of leaves to ensure the filtration system works efficiently. Oh, and that pool filter? Yep, you’ll need to continue regularly cleaning that, too.

Going green?

‘I want algae build-up!’ – said no-one ever. But in the right conditions, these organisms can turn your water from blue to green in a matter of just hours, so be sure to remove any algae as soon as you spot it in your pool or spa.

“When there is an algal bloom, most of the sanitiser in your pool is used trying to control and kill the algae, leaving no residual to keep pool water clean and healthy,” says Samartzis, who advises maintaining your pool’s free available chlorine at a constant level of two to three parts per million (PPM) throughout winter to stave off the green monster. Brushing the walls and floor, then vacuuming the whole pool will also help prevent algae from forming.

At the end of the day, “keeping your pool or spa clean over winter is essential to having it operating at its optimal capacity,” says Samartzis. If you keep your filter and pump running, and check the water levels and chlorine/pH levels as needed, and clean regularly, you should be ready to plunge back in when summer returns. Happy swimming!


Chris Samartzis’ pro tips

Chris Samartzis’ pro tips

The pool’s filter should operate three to four hours each day during winter. If you’re using a timer, adjust it to suit and remember, you can save money by switching the filter on during off-peak periods.

Roll out the pool cover to help keep leaves and other material out of the water (which means less cleaning for you and less food for algae). Pool covers and blankets also help minimise chemical evaporation, saving you time and money (though if you’re using a salt chlorinator and a pool blanket, reduce the output of the chlorinator to one to two PPM).

If you have a heating system installed such as solar, check if it has a winter mode (hint: most do) and use if it’s an option.


Originally published in The Costco Connection, May/Jun 2023. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.