How to Prepare Your Pool Before Your Vacation (From a Weekend Away to a Whole Month!)

Written by Michael Dean
June 12, 2024

close up of swimming pool cover

One worry you may have as a pool owner is what to do with your pool when it’s time to go on a vacation. Swimming pools require a lot of care, so you know you’ll need to prep your pool before your vacation so that it doesn’t turn into a green, gross mess on your return.

In this article, I will cover how to prepare your pool before your vacation, whether you’re going for a weekend or an entire month! I’ll also cover what to do with your pool following the vacation. Ready? Let’s go!

Main Takeaways

  • How you prepare your pool before your vacation depends on how long you will be away.
  • If you are away for longer than a couple of days, you should invest in a pool timer to keep your pump on for at least 12 hours a day.
  • You should shock your pool before you leave for vacation – even double, triple, or quadruple shocking, depending on how long you are away.
  • Covering the pool can help keep your pool clean.

How to Prepare Your Pool Before Your Vacation

How you prepare your swimming pool before your vacation depends on how long your vacation will be. After all, there will be a difference depending on whether you go away for a couple of days or an entire month!

Weekend Vacation

A short two-day getaway is quite manageable. Here’s how you can prepare your pool for a quick weekend vacation.

Skim the Pool

Skim the surface of the water and remove any floating debris.

Clear Out the Skimmer Basket

Then, peek at your skimmer basket and clear out any debris in it. This is so that the basket does not get clogged in your absence, leading to a buildup of debris in your pool.

Balance Your Chemicals

Test your chemicals and balance anything out of the recommended range. This will help your sanitizer last longer.

Top Off Chlorine Levels

What you need to primarily look at are your chlorine levels. You’ll find that most experts recommend adding a higher dose of chlorine to compensate for your absence. Since it’s a weekend trip, topping your chlorine levels off on the slightly higher side, around 4 to 5 ppm, should do the trick.

Add Pool Stabilizer

Adding some type of stabilizer like cyanuric acid (also called pool conditioner) should help the chlorine last longer. CYA levels should lie between 30 and 50 ppm.

1-Week Vacation

A week-long vacation is also relatively easy to prepare for. Here’s a list of what to do.

Check If Everything Is Working

Before anything else, you first need to check if every aspect of your pool is working. The longer you’re away, the more important it is that you make sure everything is in excellent shape, such as your pump and filter. The last thing you want is for anything to break down while you’re away.

Clean the Pool

Make sure the skimmer baskets, filter, and pump are all clean and free from debris. If you can backwash your filter, do that, too. You should empty all skimmer and pump baskets and skim any floating debris with a net. If any debris has floated to the bottom, it’s a good idea to vacuum it all up before you head out.

Balance Your Chemicals

As you must know, making sure the chemical foundation of the water is stable and within the recommended range is essential. So, test the water and readjust anything that is unbalanced.

Shock the Pool

Since you’ll be away for a week, you need to raise the chlorine levels of your pool significantly. This means you’ll need to shock the pool. This is the most effective way of keeping the pool clean while you’re away.

Run the Pump and Filter

Keep the pump and filter on while you are on vacation. This is where a pool timer will come in handy. Set it so that your pump runs for around 12 hours a day. While you can get away with running the pump for 8 hours when you’re at home, I recommend 12 hours while you’re on vacation, as you cannot consistently check on your pool. Better safe than sorry!

Cover the Pool

Even the best filter won’t keep leaves and bugs away from your pool. The best defense against these unwanted intruders in your pool is a pool cover. Cover your pool while you’re away to save you a lot of time skimming and vacuuming your pool when you return. Your pump and filter will thank you for that extra help, too! A cover can also help reduce evaporation.

2-Week Vacation

A 2-week vacation is when things can start to get a bit hairy. Here’s what you need to do to prepare your pool beforehand.

Check All Pool Equipment

Check your pump and filter to ensure they are in optimal condition. You don’t want your filtration system to break down while you’re on vacation!

Clean the Pool Thoroughly

As you would with a shorter vacation, it is important that you thoroughly clean your pool. Brush the walls, add a flocculant to clump up any debris if needed, vacuum, and use a skimmer net to fish any larger debris from your pool. Clean out the skimmer and pump baskets as well.

Balance the Chemicals

Make sure your chemicals are balanced before your vacation.

Shock the Pool

I recommend double-shocking the pool when you go away on a 2-week long vacation. This is because, generally, you would shock the pool once a week.

Add Trichlor Tablets

In addition to shocking the pool with a double dose, throw a couple of trichlor tablets into the floater just before you leave to supplement the chlorine levels. Trichlor is slow-dissolving, contains cyanuric acid, and will go a long way in keeping the chlorine sustained over the time you’re away.

Set a Timer for the Pump

You will need to keep your pump running for at least 12 hours a day while you’re on vacation to avoid a green pool. Leaving the pump on for the entire duration can be wasteful, so consider investing in a timer.

Cover the Pool

Adding a pool cover during a two-week-long absence is essential. Storms, sunlight, wind, and even animals can severely mess up the chemistry of your pool.

Ask a Neighbor

In addition to all of this, if possible, have someone you trust, such as a neighbor or a relative, to come around once every few days and make sure everything is alright.

Month-Long Vacation

A month-long vacation is a bit of a tricky situation when it comes to your pool, but don’t worry. It is manageable as long as you follow the right steps to prepare your pool.

Clean and Check Everything

Just as you would for shorter vacations, follow these steps:

  • Clean out and empty your pool skimmer and pump baskets
  • Check that your pump and filter are functioning properly
  • Balance your pool chemicals
  • Clean the pool thoroughly by brushing, skimming, and vacuuming

Shock the Pool

Since this is a month-long vacation, you’re going to need to add 3 to 4 times the dosage that would be needed for a regular shock treatment. The goal is to sustain free chlorine levels for as long as possible.

Cover the Pool

Shielding the pool from debris with a heavy-duty cover is essential for a month-long vacation. 

Hire a House Sitter or Pool Professional

When you’re away for more than a couple of weeks, it makes sense to hire someone to look after your home and pool. If hiring a house sitter, make sure to find someone familiar with pools. If they aren’t, you may want to hire a professional to come to your house and check out your pool every few days.

They’ll need to empty the skimmer baskets, add chlorine, and balance your pool chemistry, especially your pH.

Post-Vacation Pool Checklist

After a relaxing vacation, it can be a bummer to return to pool chores, but it’s an unfortunate necessity. Here’s a checklist so that you know exactly what to do when you’re back.

  • Clean the pool: Remove your pool cover and inspect the state of your pool. Grab a skimmer and skim out any debris. Scrub the pool using a pool brush to dislodge any algae and dirt, then vacuum the pool. You should also empty the skimmer basket.
  • Adjust water chemistry: Test the pool water for pH, chlorine, and alkalinity levels. Remember, you need to aim for a pH level between 7.2 – 7.8, chlorine levels of 1 – 3 ppm (parts per million), and alkalinity levels between 80 – 120 ppm.
  • Check your water level: Your pool water level may have lowered during your vacation, so make sure the water is at the halfway point of the skimmer opening. If it isn’t, top it up.
  • Shock the pool: If needed, shock the pool to eliminate any lingering traces of algae or bacteria. Run the pump for at least 8 hours and test the water again before jumping back in.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I leave my pool pump running while on vacation?

Not indefinitely, unless you want a huge electricity bill, but I recommend using a timer to let the pool pump run for at least 12 hours a day. If you’re only gone for a couple of days, you may be able to get away with not running your pump until you get back.

What happens if I leave my pool pump off for a week?

The water will stagnate, which means your pool will turn dirty and green. I do not recommend leaving the pump off for more than a day or two if you can help it!

Should I shock my pool before I go on vacation?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, you might even need to double, triple, or quadruple shock your pool, depending on how long you’re away.

Enjoy a Stress-Free Vacation!

While pools require a lot of work and maintenance, as you can see, it is still possible to go on vacation and not have to worry about your pool at the back of your mind. If you worry or are away for longer than a couple of weeks, I highly recommend hiring a pool professional or someone you trust to take care of your pool while you are away. That extra help will ensure that your pool remains in good shape by the time you return.

If you have any further questions about pool maintenance, please let me know. I’ll be happy to help out!

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