COVID-19 Pool Shut Down Procedures – Drain or Maintain?

In Blog, Maintenance Tips by Guest Author

By: Tim Auerhahn, Chair

The Aquatic Council, LLC

How to safely operate or shut down your pool during a temporary closure. 

This week thousands of operators closed their doors to the general public in support of social distancing protocols issued by the CDC. If you’re wondering what to do with your pool, you’re not alone. Below, we detail the safest protocols for maintaining your pools or draining your pools during this difficult time. 

Drain or Maintain?

If you’re anticipating your facility reopening soon, maintaining your water may be your best bet. You’ll avoid the cost associated with filling, heating and chemically balancing thousands of gallons of water. You’ll also protect your equipment, allowing it to function per usual during your facility shut down period. 

If you believe you will be shut down for an extended period of time (months, not weeks) and/or your pool volume is smaller (hot tubs, splash pads, therapy pools) draining may be your best bet. You’ll save on chemical, utility and labor costs over the long run. 

Option 1 – Maintaining Your Pool During the Shutdown

1. Keep your pumps on. The water should continue to circulate.
2. Consider shutting off your heater or lowering the set point. 
3. Set your automated chemical controllers to factory presets. This places them in their safest operational mode with the shortest lockout sequences. 
4. Consider lowering your chemical set points on your controllers.
5. Ensure HVAC is set to maintain an ambient air temperature 2 degrees above water temperature. 
6. Check the building and pool systems once per day, preferably with two staff in the building at once.

Option 2 – Draining Your Pool During the Shutdown

1. Make sure your chlorine/bromine levels are low before starting the draining process. 
2. If you are draining completely, verify your hydrostatic relief valve is in working order. It’s under you drain covers and alleviates ground water pressure when the pool is empty.
3. Although it’s not winter, winterization instructions on pumps, motors, heaters, filters, and chemical controllers will be your best guide for protecting and storing your equipment during an extended shut down.
4. Make sure you keep your chemical probes submerged while not in use. Typically, distilled water is advised. 
5. Turn off power to support equipment, turn circuits off or remove fuses. 
6. Store all pool equipment appropriately. 
7. Double check security items like gates, fences, doors and windows. 
8. Continue to monitor your natatorium on a weekly basis. Don’t go in alone, buddy systems are always safer.