cold comfort: Swimming pools need six to eight hours of continuous daily filtration in winter to deal with debris in the pool.

Swimming pools may not ice up in South Africa, but the added load of blown-in debris can cause the water to turn green in winter. Be prepared by embarking on routine tasks and decide whether to cover your pool.

The open pool

In winter you need six to eight hours of continuous daily filtration, so change the time switch of your filtration system.

Continue to add one cup of dry chlorine to the water twice weekly until the end of May and correct the pH level weekly: 7.2-7.6 if yours is a marbelite pool, or 7.0-7.2 if it is fibreglass.

Backwash your pool once a month or when your automatic pool cleaner becomes sluggish. If you experience stormy weather, you may need to backwash more frequently. During mid-winter, add a cup of dry chlorine once a week, checking the pH.

The covered pool

The most common reason for covering a pool is to prevent leaves dropping into the water. Unless you clear the leaves from the water frequently, they will sink to the bottom and discolour the water.

Before you cover your pool, clean and vacuum thoroughly. Backwash the filter for five minutes; correct the pH to the lower end of the ideal range and that evening, shock treat with at least three cups of dry chlorine. Remove the automatic pool cleaner, dry it and store in a dry, clean place.

Once you have covered the pool, run the filter for six to eight hours a day, adding a cup of dry chlorine to the weir a week.

* More info at www.hth.co.za - Saturday Star