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Winter Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance Checklist

The cold, wet winter weather can cause a number of challenges for property owners. For example, if you own a hot tub, swimming pool, or a beautiful backyard filled with amenities, it’s essential to determine what needs to be done to protect these items when that winter weather hits.

In some cases, you may be able to keep these areas open and functional with a few simple steps. Other times, it’s critical to protect items properly to minimize wintertime damage.

Here’s a look at a few of the specific hot tub maintenance activities you may need to tackle this fall and winter.

Hot Tub Maintenance – Preparing a Hot Tub for Winter

Your hot tub may be one of your favorite places to be as the fall weather starts to crisp, but the cold temperatures can cause significant damage to a hot tub if it’s not prepared properly.

The plumbing lines running to your hot tub are specifically vulnerable to damage in cold weather. That’s what makes winterizing your hot tub important. If you don’t do so, these plumbing lines could be at risk for damage over time.

What you do, though, depends on whether you plan to use the spa in the colder weather or just want to put it away for the season.

Keep your spa running

You may be able to use your hot tub or spa during the winter months. If that’s your goal, consider these tips to minimize risk to the hot tub at this time of year.

  • Cover it: It’s critical to have a hot tub cover that’s made to fit the size and shape of your hot tub. It’s the best tool to protect the hot tub from the elements. Don’t allow more than a couple of inches of snow on the cover, either. If snow builds up, don’t use a shovel to remove it, as that can damage the cover itself.
  • Thermal blanket: You may benefit from the use of a thermal blanket. This blanket sits on the water under the cover, which helps provide a bit more protection and helps maintain the water’s temperature.
  • Adjust the temperature: During the winter months, it’s a good idea to adjust your spa’s temperature to between 97 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, try to maintain this over throughout the season.
  • Keep water levels balanced: Be sure to keep the water level properly level during the winter, as a drop in water level could put the other components at risk.
  • Water filters: During the winter months, be sure to keep the water filters (and the water, too) clean. Winter is not the season to fall behind in maintaining your spa or hot tub.
  • Monitor for frozen pipes: It’s one of the biggest risks to your hot tub. To prevent this, be sure the freeze protection system is turned on (most hot tubs feature this).

Shut the hot tub down for the winter

It’s common for owners to shut down their hot tub, especially if they live in very cold areas where the risk of freezing lines is higher. If you plan to shut your hot tub down, follow these steps:

  • Neutralize: Before you drain the water from the spa, be sure the chemical levels are properly. You want them to drop as much as possible, especially the sanitizer and chlorine levels. This drop typically happens if you wait a few days of not using the water.
  • Turn off the power: Be sure to turn the power off at the breaker for the hot tub. If you do not do this, you put your hot tub at risk due to the wet weather.
  • Drain the water: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when possible, but draining in many cases involves attaching a garden hose to the drain opening. This is a lot of water – probably around 400 gallons. You want to be sure it’s drained properly based on local regulations if any are present.
  • Filters: Next, remove the filters from the hot tub. It’s a good idea to clean them thoroughly before storing them for the winter. You can allow them to sit in a chemical soak for 24 hours to remove some of the dirt in them. If they don’t come clean, that could be an indication you need to replace them when you start the hot tub back up.
  • Clear the lines: Removing the water from the lines helps minimize the risk of freezing. If done well, the hot tub isn’t exposed to significant risk. To drain them, use a shop vac on the blow setting. Place the host into every drain and every jet, filter cavity, and other areas. Blow each one for at least 30 seconds. Blowing these helps move any water out of the hot tub.
  • Clean the hot tub: Use the manufacturer’s recommended clothes and sponges to clean the interior shell of the hot tub. Pay close attention to the area around the jets, but get into all of the edges well.
  • Cover the hot tub: It is typically a good idea to cover the hot tub after all the cleaning is done. Be sure you purchase a hot tub cover that fits snuggly to help keep debris and water out of the hot tub.

Winterizing a Swimming Pool

While many people hire a professional to handle the winterizing of their swimming pool, that’s not always necessary.

What is essential is spending some time cleaning, maintaining, and winterizing the pool so that you don’t end up with problems down the road. In addition, winterizing helps to prevent damage to both the pool and the equipment within it.

This process has some differences based on the type of pool you have (a saltwater pool, for example, may require different steps). However, here are the steps most pool owners need to follow to break down their pool for the season.

  • Clean it first: Remove the filter and clean it now. Use a high-quality filter cleaner to pull out as much debris as possible. You want to remove all risk of debris building up.
  • Remove extra pieces: If you have a ladder, drop-in steps, or other added equipment, take it down now. Be sure to properly clean and sanitize these before you store them away. Likewise, it is possible to leave a diving board or a slide in place, as long as you’ve thoroughly cleaned them (and you’ll cover them).
  • Vacuum it out: Once you have all of the equipment out, you can start by vacuuming the pool. Be sure all of the dirt and debris are removed.
  • Treat the pool: Before you can drain the pool, you’ll need to treat it so that the water and filtration receive the proper care. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the use of clarifiers and to adjust pH levels.
  • Drain the water: The next step is to drain the water, which you can do with the suction line control valve. It’s best to only do this with a designated vacuum line or the main drain. If you have a lock-in cover for it, drain at least 15 inches below that. Otherwise, it should be 18 inches below the top rails.
  • Minimize the risk of freezing: To do this, you’ll want to look at all plumbing lines, filters and pumps, lights, and the heater. Then, remove water from all areas using an air blower, similar to what’s described above with spas. The goal is to get all of the water out of every area possible.
  • Install a cover: Finally, place the cover over the pool and ensure it has a snug fit. That will help ensure everything stays out of the pool throughout the winter months.

Closing Down Other Areas of the Backyard

Look around your backyard to determine what else needs to be done to winter-proof your space. Here are some recommendations.

Preparing your lawn and garden for snow

Minimize damage to your lawn and garden with a few simple steps:

  • Remove all leaves and clean up all flower beds.
  • Run the lawnmower one last time, picking up all debris along the water.
  • Slow down the watering. Most often, you want to eliminate watering the law.
  • Place markers along the edge of the drive to know where the snow is.

Tucking away the BBQ

Depending on the type of grill or BBQ you have, you’ll need to take steps to protect it from the damage of freezing weather. Here are some steps:

  • Clean the grill inside and out well.
  • Next, remove all coals or materials from the grill.
  • Be sure to disconnect any fuel lines for it. Then, be sure to tuck these away to prevent damage.
  • Finally, place a cover over the grill to help prevent damage from winter weather.

Along with these tasks, be sure to clean up and put away any patio furniture you have. It’s always a good idea to clean away any debris from a firepit, and remove debris from your garden, too. Each of these steps helps to prevent damage to your home and your investments.

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