For many parts of North America, predictable seasonal weather is a thing of the past. The forecast for today, the last day of September, calls for temperatures up to 10 degrees below normal in the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest, while a band from Texas up to New York is 10 degrees hotter. The word "unseasonable" has become a staple of the daily forecast.

And when it comes to closing down pools for the season, traditional methods must change with the times. Weather experts report that in some places, spring is coming earlier, summers are longer and winters are shorter. In these areas, warmer weather could stretch well into November.

Closing By The Temperature, Not The Calendar

In Northern areas pools are closed immediately after Labor Day and forgotten until just before Memorial Day. Closing and opening is done by the calendar. But in areas experiencing a very warm autumn, this system of "close it and forget it" could lead to more problems at opening.

Some pool pros are moving to a gradual close as opposed to a hard close of their pools. A gradual close means spreading out the closing over a longer period. It allows for the addition of chemicals like chlorine and algaecide throughout the fall into early winter. A gradual close goes by the temperature not the calendar. As long as temperatures are staying relatively warm and mild then the pools should be checked and serviced with chemicals as needed. Once the really cold and freezing weather begins then the pools are closed down until the temps rise again.

How To Close a Pool Cleanly

To close a pool 'clean' means more than just physically cleaning the pool. It means the pool professional needs to treat the water so it's in the best state possible before covering the pool for the winter, and that includes testing and treating the pool for phosphates.

For those pools that are kept open and operational throughout the winter, many service professionals are turning to a 'winter pill' that combines a clarifier to maintain sparkling clear water, a scale inhibitor to prevent scale build-up, and a stain inhibitor to prevent iron, copper and manganese stains. This all-in-one product type is often enzyme-enhanced to naturally destroy all organics to prevent water ring, improve filter performance and sanitizer efficiency. These all in one type of products can be added just before covering the pool to help keep the water clean and free of organics that cause water issues as the weather heats up.

What is Done 'In Season' Can Help Out in the 'Off Season'

Keeping pool water clean throughout the summer months will actually help pool professionals close pools at the end of the swimming seasons. Regular shocking throughout the summer with a chlorine free shock oxidizer reduces the potential for organically bound chloramines that can build up by the end of summer and make treating the water difficult at closing. Many pool professionals follow the shocking of the pool water with a dose of natural clarifier to ensure the water quality will be crystal clear throughout the swim season and even after the pool is closed.

As pool professionals, we need to work to ensure our clients are always happy with their swimming pool. Our ultimate goal is to make consumers feel their backyard investment is hassle-free. Implementing a year-round approach to clean, clear swimming pool water helps ensure consumers view their backyard investment in the most positive light. And we all know that keeping our customers happy is the ultimate goal!

Terry Arko has more than 30 years of experience in the swimming pool and spa industry, working in service, repair, retail sales, chemical manufacturing, customer service, sales and product development. He is also a Certified Pool Operator and CPO Instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Arko is currently the recreational product specialist for SeaKlear Pool and Spa Products, a subsidiary of Halosource Inc., a clean water technology company based in Bothell, Wash. He can be reached via e-mail at tarko@seaklear.com.

Terry Arko is AQUA Contributor of AQUA Magazine.