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Learn how to care for salt water swimming pools in Ottawa winter weather.

Tips to Winterize Salt Water Swimming Pools in Ottawa

Like all backyard pools in Ottawa, salt water swimming pools need to be winterized to withstand the long, cold winter months. This means taking steps to protect your pool, including the water and pool equipment, from the harsh winter elements so it will be in good working condition come spring.

Consider these tips to winterize salt water swimming pools in Ottawa so you can prevent damage to your pool this winter.

Treat the Water

Saltwater pools have chlorine generators that create chlorine from salt—also known as an electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG). These ECGs generate hypochlorous acid so you don’t have to add chlorine to your pool. However, when the outside air temperature drops, these ECGs won’t work as well and may cause an imbalance in the water’s pH levels.

ECG sensors measure the water’s conductivity, alerting pool owners when salt is needed. But as the temperature drops so does the water’s conductivity. This will cause unnecessary alerts prompting owners to add too much salt to the water. And too much salt will make the water corrosive. So balancing the water upon closing is a must to avoid damaging your pool from the unbalanced water.

Manually Test Salt Levels

Since the cold weather decreases the water’s conductivity, rendering the ECG sensor inaccurate, you should use test strips to manually test the water’s salt levels. Add salt if the levels are low, and hold off on adding salt if they are too high. The ideal salt level is around 3,200 ppm.

Balance Chemicals

Test the water’s chemical levels, including pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, and add chemicals if necessary. The ideal levels should be:

  • 7.2 – 7.8 for pH;
  • 80 – 120 ppm for total alkalinity; and,
  • 200 – 400 ppm for calcium hardness.

Add an Anti-Scale and Anti-Stain Chemical

To prevent minerals from settling and staining the sides and bottom of your pool, add an anti-stain agent for saltwater systems to the water. Allow this agent to circulate for eight hours with the pump turned on.

Add Enzymes

Slow-acting enzymes will keep the water cleaner during the winter. These enzymes help remove contaminants leftover from bathers, bird droppings, and other outside sources.

Winterize the ECG

Refer to the ECG’s owner’s manual for winterizing instructions. Once you’ve unplugged the ECG, you may either have to drain all the water, or leave some water with a non-toxic antifreeze. If your ECG is easy to remove, you’re best storing it indoors for the winter.

Plug the Pool

To plug the pool and isolate the filtration system, screw a plate on the skimmer opening and a plug into the return fitting. This will keep the internal components protected from freezing and ice damage.

Cover the Pool

To support the pool cover, add a couple of air pillows to the water. Then fasten the cover on top of the pool, adding an inch or two of water to keep it weighed down.

Although pool winterization is similar for all pools, remember these tips specific for ECGs and saltwater systems. By winterizing your salt water swimming pool in Ottawa’s winters, you can rest easy knowing your pool is safe and protected from the harsh winter elements.