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Winterizing: not just for the north east

By Marcelle Dibrell

With Labor Day behind us, for many regions of the country, the swim season has come to an official end. Public swimming sessions are over. Kids are back in school. And, depending on where you live, temperatures are dropping, and many people are thinking about closing their pools.

There are many good reasons to go through a formal pool cleaning and closing every season. Winterizing pools correctly protects them from damage, gets the water in good condition for the months when it is shut down, and makes it easier and less expensive to re-open the following summer.

For areas that experience deep and prolonged freezes, it is an essential process undertaken to prevent burst underground plumbing and destroyed equipment. And after last year’s unprecedented Texas freeze and power outage, it’s a process that more areas of the country may be adopting this year and in the years to come.

For areas such as this, although occasional freezes are certainly not unheard of, simply running the pump through the worst of it will generally protect the plumbing and equipment from freeze damage.

But when the power failed for days on end, that was not an option, and very few pools emerged from February’s storm unscathed. Millions of dollars in damages were suffered by Texas residents. And with the concurrent equipment shortage, it took months before many of these pools were restored to anything resembling normalcy.

Totally unprepared for the state’s infrastructure failure, which left nearly 5 million people without power and upwards of 15 million without water, people’s pools were about the last thing on their minds, except for use in flushing toilets and bathing. But even before the lights finally came on, the impact on the Texas pool industry was immediate, and pool techs simply couldn’t keep up with the flood of phone calls asking for assistance.

Many service companies reported more than 90% of their customer base had equipment damage ranging from total equipment loss to very small leaks and everything in between.

Hindsight is 20/20. Had those Texas pools been winterized as is normally done in the Northeast and Midwest, millions of dollars could have been saved and months of heartache avoided. But no one could have predicted the collision of catastrophes and shortages that has characterized the last many months.

Now is another matter, however, and many more pool owners and operators across the country may opt to take measures to protect their assets before another perfect storm can arrive to wipe out their backyard investments.

And pool service techs may profit from the additional service calls of pool owners requesting a formal pool winterization.

According to this years’ Service Industry News’ Survey, service techs charge between $200 to $500 per call to winterize pools.

Generally speaking, winterizing pools is not difficult, but it is time consuming. It involves removing pool accessories, deep cleaning, adjusting water chemistry, lowering the water level, blowing out and plugging up the plumbing lines, draining and storing the equipment, and finally, covering the pool.

In this issue of Service Industry News, we will detail the normal steps and procedures undertaken in a formal swimming pool closing, with a special emphasis on water chemistry and balance.

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