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Do you really need to drain your pool before a hurricane?
Many people call us and ask about preparing your pool for a hurricane. The most common question is weather or not to drain your pool. The short answer is no. Almost all pools are built with a drain channel or is sloped in such a way as to divert water away from your house. You can visually see these drains as a strip or a couple of round or square areas placed strategically around your pool deck. Although, If your deck has poor standing water areas or is sloped improperly so that the overflow water might flood your home then you should drain your pool 8"-10". If you are definitely prone to flooding then tarp and sandbag the doors and low lying areas of your home by your pool.
Turn your pool equipment off.
Turn everything off at the BREAKER. If you have a digital pool controller DO NOT JUST TURN YOUR PUMP OFF WITH THE REMOTE BUTTON. You need to protect your controller by killing power at the breaker. Brown outs and power surges can wreak havoc on pump motors, pool controllers, salt systems and anything electronic. Most breakers are located out near the pool equipment or on the side of the house near the pool equipment. In older homes you may have a breaker in the garage.
Check your Solar Panels BEFORE the hurricane arrives.
Do not go up on your roof during the hurricane. Yes I am surprised I have to say this too. If you have solar panels double check the straps that hold them down on the roof. Make sure they are tight and adjust them if necessary. Apply roof patch sealant over the lag bolts and any other areas that are drilled into your roof. Roof fasteners and penetrations are flashed to ensure a leak-free roof for decades but It's good practice to reseal your solar panel hardware every year anyways.
Also, check your homeowners policy to see if it covers your solar panels. If it doesn't you may want to ask about including them, usually for a very minor increase in premiums.
Stack and move patio furniture near the house. Flip stacks of chase lounge chairs upside down to give less surface area to the wind. Tie them down if you cannot move them under cover like in the garage. As a last resort you can throw them into the pool. Understand that rust stains could be left behind as many patio sets have metal of one sort or another on them.
Here is a tip to make debris cleanup easier for un-screened pools:
If you have a tarp large enough to cover your pool, spread it out and weigh it down on the pool deck. After the storm passes, you and a friend can "peel over"the tarp to one side so that all the debris is dumped on your deck/yard and not in your pool. It will be heavy depending on how much rainwater is collected so go slow. A small sump pump can pump out the water on top of the tarp.
***This tip does not work with solar covers because they are usually cut to fit and most if not all of the debris will still end up in your pool.***
Lastly, you should have some extra tablets, granular and/or liquid chlorine on hand to be on the safe side. This can buy you an extra week or two before the pool starts to develop algae if the power is off for a long time. If you have a salt system and there is no power you're not producing chlorine so use liquid or granular. Leaves and heavy debris increase your pools pH. Having some muriatic acid on hand is also helpful.
After the hurricane passes:
DO NOT IMMEDIATELY TURN ON YOUR PUMP ONCE POWER IS RESTORED.
- Check the area around your pool motor(s) Clean out any debris that may have been deposited around the motor.
- To be safe, it may be best to leave your pool pump of for 24-48 hours to dry out. Especially if you don't know how high the water came up around it.
- Only turn the equipment back on if you have good power for a long time. After hurricanes, the power comes on and off many times as the power company is fully restoring power to area. These brownouts can harm your equipment especially digital pool controllers and variable speed pumps. The variable speed pumps do have better over and under current protection but let's not tempt fate with $1000 pumps shall we?
- Visually inspect your pool for heavy debris. Use a leaf rake or net to scoop out debris BEFORE vacuuming pool. Pay special attention to twigs and rocks. This WILL clog your plumbing. We get so many calls after storms because people clog their skimmer or vacuum lines. If you are able to vacuum to waste (pump to yard) like a DE filter or a waste line with a blue discharge hose, do that. If you have a DE filter backwash your filter with whatever water is left that needs to be lowered.
- Adjust your chemicals. If you have a salt system you may have to add 2 or 3 bags of salt depending on how much salt parts per million your pool is diluted down to.
MAJOR HURRICANE DAMAGE
- If your solar panels ripped off the roof, set your solar system to bypass the solar collectors. This may be an automatic valve or manual depending on your system. You may have to call a pool service company or plumber to "loop" the lines until you are able to get your roof and or panels repaired.
- If your screen enclosure frame is damaged check your homeowners policy to see if you can make a claim. Most insurance companies do not cover screen enclosures. Take a sawzall and cut away any bent beams if it is a loss. The sheet metal screws on the enclosure will rust on your surface if left too long. Cleaning up rust isn't such a big deal but it's just one less thing to keep off your list.
- Massive water runoff into pool with dirty water from the yard will require 24/7 filtration, seriously high chlorine and phosphate remover treatment(s). DO NOT VACUUM UNTIL YOU CAN SEE THE BOTTOM. Net and brush the pool daily to get heavy debris out so when you can see the bottom you know your plumbing is safe.
Pool Service Cleaning Companies in high demand
Most pool companies in the Orlando area are small to medium in size (1-5 trucks.) Almost all will be taking care of their weekly service customers first before adding additional workload from one time hurricane clean-ups. Work piling up is just like waiting in line for water or gas before the storm except clean up services are not essential for survival. Please be patient with cleanup companies even if they promise you a certain day. We have no way of knowing workload until we get to jobs. I have made a lot of pool business owner friends being in the business here in Central Florida for 25 years and I can tell you that we are all in the same boat. Nobody is sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. Leave a message if you do not get an answer right way and we will get your clean-up scheduled.
Here is a link to a Facebook live video I did explaining some of this.