Living in the Gulf Coast region brings about some challenges for swimming pool owners in regard to weather. Not only do we get frequent storms dipping down from the north, bringing tornadoes in the summer and freezing temperatures in the winter across this part of Texas. But more importantly, we are a prime target for Hurricanes and Tropical Storms along the Gulf of Mexico, as witnessed recently with Hurricane Harvey.
This week, we take a look at what to do to prepare your pool for a storm, and what to look for after a storm passes to get your pool chemistry back in shape.
Pool Preparation Before a Storm
Hard Freeze - Let’s start with a hard freeze warning. I want to preface this by saying, I personally know people that live much farther north than we do and they don’t usually have a problem with pool equipment pipes freezing as long as you leave the pump running while the temperature remains below 32F degrees.
- Run main circulation pump and any secondary water feature pumps, no need to run the booster pump.
- No need to run your heater. It won’t hurt but is not necessary.
- Most automation systems have “Freeze Protection” which will automatically kick the main circulation pump on once the temperature drops to a certain level. These are generally set to around 37 Degrees from the factory. May need to be programmed to turn on any secondary water feature pumps. This will not work properly if you have a faulty air sensor that is not reading the correct temperature.
- Remove your pool cleaner - Polaris, Maytronics, Etc. and store it somewhere out of the freezing weather such as your garage.
- For additional coverage you can wrap smaller pipes with foam, cover pipes with heavy blankets if you start to see freezing in the pool.
Flood or Heavy Rains
Just because your pool water is clear after a storm doesn’t mean that your chemistry is correct. It is very important to get your water back in balance immediately to prevent damage to your pool surface and pool equipment.
Rain is acidic and will lower your pH and Alkalinity. If the pH drops too low, the water in your pool will become acidic (low pH generally makes the water look really clear), and will start to deteriorate your pool surface and eat up your pool equipment. In severe cases, the copper heat exchanger in your heater will go out and result in a very expensive repair or replacement, costing thousands of dollars.
- Heavy rains will deplete many of the chemistry levels in your pool. Generally your alkalinity will drop significantly.
- It is a good idea to have Alkalinity, Muriatic Acid, Chlorine (or Salt), and Shock on hand to be able to test your water and treat your pool immediately after the rain stops.
- Keep in mind we aren’t just dealing with rain from the sky but also runoff from your roof, patio, landscaping, etc. which can also carry a wide variety of contaminants that will affect your water chemistry in many different ways.
- Monitor your water level, if there is enough rain your pool could overflow. If you have a “Waste” or “Backwash” line you can drain a little water off as the pool gets full.
- Be careful not to drain the pool below the skimmer openings, this could result in the pump catching air and burning up the motor.
Tropical Storms - Hurricanes - High Winds
When a big storm such as a Tropical Storm or Hurricane is on track to hit, there are several things you can do to prepare your pool area.
- Give your pool a good shock treatment 1 to 2 days before the storm hits. You can bring the chlorine level up pretty high to prolong the pool being depleted of chlorine. Run the pool for about 24hrs after the shock treatment to allow the treatment to make its way throughout the entire pool.
- Secure all patio furniture and other items that could be blown around by the wind. You don’t want anyone to get hurt or any property to get damaged by something that is picked up and thrown by heavy winds.
- Remove your pool cleaner and store in your garage or shed.
- A few hours before the storm hits turn off your pool equipment at the breaker. This will help prevent damage to electrical components such as automation systems, heater electronics, and pump motors. If your pump motor gets submerged with water and is trying to run it will go out and need to be replaced.
- In the event that your pool is going to overflow you can turn the power on to the equipment and run the pump in “waste” or “backwash” just long enough to bring the water down a few inches. This only applies if there is a break in the storm and it is safe to go outside. If your pump is submerged just leave the equipment off and the pool will have to overflow. Please DO NOT put yourself at risk to work on your pool.
Pool Water After a Storm
- It is a good idea to clean or backwash your filter after a heavy rain, flood, or major storm. This will help prevent your pool from turning cloudy or green.
- Clean out the debris in all of your baskets.
- Use a net or vacuum to get all debris out of the pool. You want to get the debris out of your pool as soon as possible. The longer debris sits in the pool the more likely you are to get stains and have unbalanced water chemistry. Don’t wait for your pool cleaner robot to pick the debris up.
- After the debris has been cleared brush down the walls and the top of any steps and benches.
Complete the previous steps as quickly as possible and then test your water chemistry. Make any necessary adjustments to your pH and Alkalinity. Once the pH and Alkalinity are adjusted you can then shock your pool. The shock treatment will spike the chlorine level and oxidize your water. Let the pool run for 24hrs and monitor your filter pressure. After 24hrs, re-test your chemistry and make any final adjustments.
Here’s just a few of the pool chemicals you might need to pick up after a heavy rain:
- Chlorine or Salt
- Muriatic Acid
- Calcium Increaser (Generally after a major storm such as a Hurricane)
- Cyanuric Acid (Generally after a major storm such as a Hurricane)
- Phosphate Remover (Only necessary if the phosphate level has increased as a result of the storm)
- Algaecide (If your pool has started showing signs of Yellow, Green, or Black Algae)
If This is All Too Much, Just Give The Pool Boys a Call
Hopefully this gives you a basic guide on what to do when a storm is approaching to secure your pool, or prevent damage during a storm. If dealing with Pool Chemistry and Filter Cleans are a bit too much, give The Pool Boys a call at 832-473-5715 and we’ll be happy to help. If you have an issue with your equipment that requires a service call, contact us to get on the schedule asap.
The Pool Boys