Winter is in full swing and the windy and cold days are upon us. Even though your pool may be the last thing on your mind over the holiday season, winter pool maintenance is very important. Leaves blown into your pool water can clog your skimmer, introduce algae into your pool water and create an unattractive nuisance for swimmers. Regular pool service is recommended to ensure your water remains clean and clear. Be prepared for heavy rain this winter and avoid mud damage when ever possible. If you have backed up pipes or a hill near your pool that could have mud run off, placing a few sandbags or tube sandbags can save you thousands of dollars. This is also the time of year to turn off your solar pool heaters and run your freeze protection. Freeze protection turns on your pool equipment when the temperature is a few degrees above freezing to protect your plumbing and system. In the case of a freeze, you should run your pool equipment from midnight to 8 am (for a variable speed pump). For a single-speed pump, I would recommend running from 3am to 7am. Running at this time lessens the chances of pipes breaking due to freeze, historically that chance is the highest in the 3rd week of December, however we have seen freeze warnings as late as April is recent years. If your pool is automated by a computer system, it is set to turn on when the temperature reaches 38 degrees. It is important to remember not to run the system during the day, or else you may end up with a steep electricity bill. I recommend setting the computer system to run midnight to 8 am to avoid any confusion and excess use.