Pool Info: Hurricane Pool Preparation
Before the Hurricane
Do Not Empty Your Pool
People may ask, "Won't the pool overflow if we don't at least lower the water?" Yes it may, but no more so than if a patio or a plot of grass were there instead. Adequate drainage has most always been provided for in the design of the pool. Keeping the water in the pool provides the important weight to hold the pool in the ground. An empty pool is subject to "floating" or "popping" out of the ground due to "lift" pressure from excessive ground water caused by the heavy rains that accompany a hurricane.
Set up a small submersible pump before the hurricane hits, using a garden hose running from the pool edge to a point 2-3 feet lower. Leave the hose in place so that you can start the pump quickly if the pool begins to overflow. If power loss occurs, use the hose to set-up a siphon to a lower area.
Turn off Electric Power to Swimming Pool Equipment
To prepare a pool for a hurricane, circuit breakers at the main electrical panel should be turned off to prevent pump motors, lighting, chlorinators, and heaters from operating during the worst parts of the storm. Run the pumps and filters while it’s calm, but when heavy rain, wind and lightning arrive, shut off the circuit breakers for the duration of the hurricane.
Protect the Electric Pool Equipment
After the pump is shut off, wrap the pump motor, heater and electrical boxes with a waterproof plastic membrane (or plastic bag) and tie it or duct tape it securely in place to prevent sand and driving water from entering. If flooding is expected, it may be best to disconnect and store them in a dry place, especially the pump. If a pool pump is submerged in water, the motor will likely be ruined. Spend some time if necessary to clear the areas around the equipment pad of mulch, leaves, debris and soil, to ensure that water drains away rapidly from the equipment pad. Sand bags or mulch bags can be stacked around your equipment pad to block rising waters, with a cover pump used to pump out water that leaks into the area.
Remove all Loose Items From the Pool Area
Loose objects such as chairs, tables, toys and pool cleaning tools can become dangerous projectiles in hurricane force winds and should be stored inside of buildings. It's not advisable to place patio furniture into the pool except as a last resort. If it is necessary to do so, gently place these items into the pool to prevent possible damage to the interior finish and remove as soon as possible to avoid staining. Skimmer lids should be screwed in place to avoid becoming a Frisbee®. Inspect the fence for loose sections, and secure or remove any loose light posts or signs.
Protect the Screen Enclosure
If your pool has a screen enclosure (Hi, Florida!) some damage to the frame of a screen structure may be prevented if you provide "vents" for wind to flow through. Consider removing screen panels on opposite sides of the enclosure by pulling out the vinyl spine that retain the panels.
Add Extra Chlorine to the Pool
To prevent contamination from the anticipated debris and excessive storm water, good swimming pool hurricane preparation suggests that you add a "shock" dose of liquid or granular chlorine. Lower the pH first to around 7.2 for best results, and run the filter after shocking for several hours to circulate.
Do Not Cover The Pool
It would be instinct to run out and put on a pool cover to prepare a pool for a hurricane. DO NOT DO IT! Storms bring wind, and wind can cause falling branches and other flying debris that can damage pool covers. It's much easier to remove debris from the pool after the storm, than it would be to replace an expensive cover.
After The Hurricane
As Before the Storm, Do Not Empty the Pool
After a hurricane, an empty pool is subject to "floating" or "popping" out of the ground due to "lift" pressure from excessive ground water caused by heavy rains that may have accompanied the storm. If it appears necessary to drain the pool due to excessive debris, mud or damage, start by draining less than half the water, cleaning the pool and refilling. If a complete draining is required, wait until the ground is less saturated and any high water tables have receded.
Remove Debris From Pool First
Remove large objects by hand and use a "leaf rake" or "leaf bagger" to remove smaller debris from the pool. Do not attempt to use the pool's vacuum system for large debris that is likely to plug the plumbing. A Leaf Rake type of skimmer net is best for removing heavy leaf volume from the surface or floor. Bring a large trash can on the pool deck to empty the leaf net into while cleaning. It can take hours of scooping debris from the surface and floor, but must be done.
Check Electrical Equipment Before Restarting System
Remove waterproof plastic membrane from electrical devices and be sure they are dry before turning circuit breakers on again. If these devices have been exposed to water, they should be checked by a licensed professional. Then turn on electricity, prime the filter system, and check for normal operation. Backwash or Drain to Waste to lower water level in pool to mid-skimmer.
If your electrical power has not been restored, you can still manually clean the pool of debris using a Leaf Rake or garden hose powered pool vacuum. Test the water and add chemicals as needed, using a pool brush to circulate the water and help distribute the chemicals. Daily skimming and brushing, and a good chlorine and pH level will keep the pool from turning worse, until power can be restored to the pump.
Start the Filter Equipment
Start the filter pump and run the system for long hours each day, all day and night if possible. When the water has attained proper clarity then reset the time clock for a normal daily cycle. Backwash the filter as needed to maintain flow rates.
Balance the Pool Water Chemistry
Readjust the pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and conditioner levels and continue to check them carefully over several days. Heavy addition of soils or debris to the pool can cause dramatic changes to water chemistry, specifically adding high levels of phosphates to the pool. Balancing is important to help chlorine sanitize the water and to prevent staining.
Add Chlorine to Pool
To prevent contamination from the storm debris and excessive storm water after the storm, maintain high levels of chlorine, until water clarity is restored. If your pool was flooded and has turned the color of soil, a flocculant can be used to sink the heavy solids to the pool floor, for vacuuming. Heavy soil or debris will likely raise the phosphate level in the pool. Using a phosphate remover chemical is recommended for flooded and mudded in-ground pools.
Monitor the Pool Operation
It is important to monitor the overall operation of the entire system for several days after a hurricane to be sure everything is operating properly, and there are no electrical hazards, pool leaks or flooding dangers.