Pool damage from Hurricane Irma, or any storm? Here’s what to do

Hurricane Irma barreled through Florida over the weekend and is now making its way as a tropical storm through parts of the southeast. The powerful Category 5 hurricane left a path of destruction in its wake from the Caribbean to Florida.

Here are tips for protecting your pool before a hurricane, and how to get back up and running after.

Preparing a pool for a hurricane or storm:

-Don't drain the water from your pool. Leave the water level alone. Draining it, so it doesn't overflow, is pointless. If you drain it more than a few feet below normal and the ground gets saturated, the pool's shell could pop out of the ground (even with concrete pools). Water provides weight to hold the sides and bottom in place.

-Turn off the power to the pump motor, lights and other equipment at the circuit box. Disconnect the gas from the heater; if possible, have your gas supplier or pool service disconnect it to be safe.

-Consider removing diving boards or slides if you fear they won't be secure in high winds. If you decide to remove them, try to have a professional do it.

-If the motor is exposed and you live in a flood-prone area, remove the pump and store it indoors. Otherwise, try to wrap it up with a waterproof cover and tie securely.

-Remove automatic pool cleaners, pool blankets and covers, and take them inside.

-Super-chlorinate or double the chemicals you normally add to reduce contamination and infestation by insects.

Bowed palm trees lean  before a sand-filled swimming pool in the Baie Nettle area of Marigot, on September 10, 2017 on Saint-Martin island, devastated by Hurricane Irma.  
People on the islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barts turn to the colossal task of rebuilding after Hurricane Irma laid waste to their infrastructure and shattered their lives. 

Credit: AFP Contributor

Credit: AFP Contributor

-Stock up on chemicals to "shock" pool after storm.

-Don't throw patio furniture in the pool to keep it out of the wind; pool chemicals will harm the furniture and can mar the pool finish.

After the storm has passed:

-Call the gas company or a pool company to reattach your gas line to the pool heater.

-Don't reconnect electrical equipment until you've removed debris from the pool with a net, and power has been restored. Make sure electrical equipment is dry. Do this as quickly as possible before bacteria starts to grow.

-Don't use your vacuum because debris will clog it and the pump.

-Then, if the area around the pool is dry, start the pump.

-When draining the pool tothe  proper level, remove cartridge filter or bypass the filter system.

-Super-chlorinate again. Remove any vegetative debris before treating the water. Add 5 gallons of chlorine (based on a 15,000-gallon pool) and start pump after inspecting electrical equipment to be sure it's dry.

-Reset timers, if necessary.

-Closely watch the pump system through complete cycles for any problems.

-Wait 24 hours to see whether the water clears and turns blue. If it does, test water and follow instructions. If water is darker or black, pool may need to be drained, or partially drained, treated and refilled. Call a professional for this step.

-Balance pool chemicals and monitor for a few days.

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