BEFORE THE STORM
It’s easy to jump to the assumption that you should drain your pool in the event of a hurricane, but draining is actually a major no-no. The strong winds that occur during tropical storms can cause hydrostatic pressure beneath your in-ground pool, potentially causing it to pop out of the ground. The water acts as an anchor to weigh it down, and also protects your pool’s finish against damage from flying debris. If you do decide to drain your pool at all prior to a hurricane, lower it by no more than one to two feet.
You can add extra chlorine (or “shock”) to the pool to help fight any potential pollutants that might contaminate the water during the storm. Keep in mind this means you will not be able to use the pool for about 24 hours afterward — this is important if you are worried about being able to swim in your pool to cool down if power is out or if you need to use the pool to refresh if water supply is temporarily cut off — reference your own chemicals and supplies for safety details.
Another instinct pool owners have while preparing for tropical storms is to cover the pool to prevent debris from flying into it, but again, resist! Strong winds can actually cause a pool cover to fly up and potentially away. (Imagine the damage one of those can do while caught in high winds!) Even if they stay where they’re supposed to, covers also face damage from sharp flying debris like tree branches and roof shingles. Water can also gather on top and collapse it. While leaving the pool uncovered may seem counter-intuitive, think of how expensive it would be to replace your cover – and repair any damage caused by it flying off!
Turn off the electric breaker system to your pool to avoid electrical surge damage. This includes all the mechanical systems in your pool as well as any lighting. Filter damage is the most common pool damage that occurs during hurricanes, so it’s important to protect it. If the filter is going to be at risk for complete water submersion, remove the pump and secure it in a safe, dry location inside. Some also opt to merely cover the pump with watertight plastic and rope to prevent water damage.
Patio and Yard Preparation
General yard and tree upkeep throughout the year can help you be prepared in the event of a hurricane. Keep large trees around your home trimmed and be especially wary of weak and low-hanging branches. Remove Spanish moss and keep limbs less than five feet long to reduce the risk of them becoming weak and breaking in strong gusts of wind or heavy rainfall. Have branches close to utility lines trimmed by a professional, or contact your utility company to have the tree trimmed. Gravel has been known to shred vinyl house lining, so consider replacing gravel and rock walkways with shredded bark or wood chips.
If your pool is in a lanai, your structure is also at risk for damage. Remove screening panels and doors to create a vent for the wind to escape. If very strong winds are a guarantee and you suspect wind damage is inevitable, you can also cut “X” shapes into multiple screens to reduce the wind resistance. Insurance won’t cover the slashes, but re-screening is significantly less expensive than replacing the entire framework.
Remove all loose items from the pool area, including furniture and plants. If possible, bring gas and charcoal grills indoors, but never use them once they’re inside. For heavier, bulkier outdoor objects, anchor them to something solid and secure with rope or chains. Never store propane tanks in your home or garage. Instead, chain them in an upright position to a secure object away from your home. Some choose to toss things like lawn furniture into the pool to prevent it from flying around in strong winds, but because it could cause damage to your pool’s finish and you risk chemical damage to your furniture (especially if you super-chlorinate the pool water), it is not always your best option.
AFTER THE STORM
When the storm has cleared, check your surroundings before inspecting for pool damage. If you chose to submerge items in the pool, remove them as soon as possible. Don’t use your pool water for drinking or sanitation as it may be contaminated or still super-chlorinated. Inspect your pool’s plumbing, pumps and filters for cracks and leaks. Check water and chemical levels, and set your valves to the circulation position before turning on the pumps. Then turn the power back on to the outlets.
Don’t reconnect the power until debris is removed and you are sure there is no damage to the electrical system. You may want to consider giving us a call before you turn the system back on, especially if you suspect electrical damage.
Source: In The Swim