You never know what you’ll find in your pool after a hurricane.
“I’ve seen large tree branches, scooters, shopping carts, a motorcycle. About the only thing I haven’t seen is a car, although I did find a car door,” said David Jimenez of Mike O’Brien’s Pool Store in Davie.
Fishing out debris is a post-storm headache, but there’s plenty that pool owners can do to lessen the chance of storm damage. First, don’t panic and let out the water. The water will act as a buffer to protect the sides and bottom from damage from flying objects during a storm.
“Keep the pool full,” said Sam Romans, manager at Twin Lakes Pool & Spa in Cooper City. “Rain water is not going to flood your pool,” he said. Jimenez said most pools have spillovers connected to a drainage system. Experts see a far greater chance of the exposed pool tiles or vinyl lining being damaged by storm-blown grit and sand than an overfull pool causing flooding. If you feel compelled to drain some water, Romans said keep it to “a couple of inches at most.”
If you have a hot tub, there’s no controversy about water levels. “Leave it full,” said Frank Carmona of the All Florida Pool & Spa Center in North Miami Beach. “You’re talking about 4,000 pounds of water,” Carmona said. That’s a lot of weight to keep the hot tub stationery in a storm.
One to two days before a storm is expected, shock the pool and run the pump for 24 hours, Romans said. For a hot tub, shock it and run the pump for an hour, Carmona said.
“After you shock it, disconnect it,” Romans said. For hot tubs and pools, the power should be turned off at the switch in the breaker box.
At this point, it’s time to cover the hot tub. “There are a lot of people, who say, ‘Oh, take the cover off,’” Carmona said. But, as Romans noted, “A cover is cheaper to repair than the spa.” Make sure it is tightly snapped and put some concrete blocks or other heavy objects on top to weigh it down or secure it with one or two hurricane straps, sold at spa supply stores for $35 a piece.
Anything loose around the pool, including the child safety fence, needs to be brought indoors. “Do not put the furniture in the pool,” Romans said. It will be moving around and can damage the pool and the harsh pool chemicals might damage the furniture.
If you have room, disconnect the pump motor and bring it inside. Otherwise, wrap it securely with plastic and tape or rope that can withstand high winds.
After the storm, Romans recommends getting out any large debris before restoring power. You can use a pool rake or net to scoop out smaller debris. A Leaf-Master is handy to remove dirt and leaves from the bottom. “You don’t need power, just running water,” Romans said. The circular device attaches to a telescoping pool pole and a water hose and has a large mesh bag to hold debris. Water pressure creates suction to catch the leaves as you roll it over the pool floor.
If the electricity is out, “walk around the pool and pour in liquid chlorine,” Romans suggested. “If you can take a brush and brush the sides of the pool, it will make the water circulate and spread the chlorine. “If you add shock in powder form it will go to the bottom and just sit there,” he said.
Once power is reconnected and debris removed, run the pump to get the water circulating and then check the chemical balance. “If pool is way off, you may need to add chemicals,” Romans said.
If the pump got wet, let it dry out for 24 hours before reconnecting. If the pump was under water, the pool siding got damaged or heaven forbid, there’s a car in the water, it’s time to call in the pros.