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Matt Gohlke/Pools

Four options available for winter pool care

What a late summer it was, with September starting out very hot and dry. But it has finally started cooling down — and we even received some rain! And although we don’t know what this winter will bring, we do know that we will soon have periods of cold weather.

This means that swimming pool owners will need to decide what to do with their pool during the off season. Depending on several variables (number of trees surrounding the pool, pool location, whether you heat the pool in the winter, etc.), there are basically four options for winter pool care:

Continue to operate the pool. This is the most popular, but not always the best, option. The advantage of not covering a swimming pool is that you get to visually enjoy the pool over the winter.

The disadvantage is you will still need to run the pump and chemically treat your pool, both of which cost money. In addition, if you have trees that drop leaves, you will have six to eight weeks in the fall when maintaining the pool will be a real hassle — it can be a daily chore to remove the leaves from the pool.

Once the leaves have fallen, pool care once again becomes manageable and pump run times can be reduced substantially.

If this is the option that you choose, be sure that the pump is running when the air temperature is freezing.

This will prevent freeze damage to the plumbing and the filtration system.

If you decide to continue operating your pool and you really enjoy swimming, you might consider having a pool heater installed. Pool heaters allow you to swim at least nine to 10 months out of the year, as opposed to approximately six to seven months without a heater.

When the weather is extremely cold, typically in January and February, even pool owners who have heaters usually surrender to the weather.

Cover your pool using a mesh cover. Due to the number of trees that the Denton area has, mesh covers have become popular in recent years. Mesh covers allow you to keep the leaves and other debris out of the pool while allowing the rainwater to pass through.

Since the rainwater does pass through, the pump will still need to run periodically and chemicals will also have to be added.

Other products that help with heavily treed yards are leaf nets, which are a much less expensive alternative to mesh covers, but work on the same principle. Leaf nets look similar to fishing nets.

They lay across the pool, anchored by water tubes, and catch the leaves as they fall.

Periodically the cover must be removed in order to remove the leaves from the top of the cover.

Another option is a safety fence. Although the primary purposes of a removable safety fence are to keep children away from the pool and keep pets or stray animals (such as mice, rats, frogs, snakes, crawfish, turtles, armadillos, beavers, and even an occasional skunk) out, they are also effective at keeping blowing leaves from entering the pool.

Cover the pool with a solid cover. This used to be a very popular option, but due to the mild winters we have been having, this method is being used far less often in recent years.

It is a good method to use if you do not want utility or chemical costs over the winter, as the filtration equipment is drained and turned off for the winter.

Ignore the pool. Obviously, this is the worst option, and can cause damage to the pool and creates the need for a massive cleanup in the spring.

Without any chemical treatment and allowing rain, leaves, and other contaminants to enter the pool, the pool will turn into a swamp and mosquito haven. In addition, freeze damage can potentially occur if the pump is not running during freezing temperatures.

North Texas area pool owners have used all of these winter pool care options, but the best method is the one that fits you and your pool.

Should you have any other questions about pool care, contact your pool professional.

MATT GOHLKE owns Gohlke Pools, which has earned national awards, certifications and recognition in the pool industry. He can be reached at 940-387-7521 or