Read our year-round pool maintenance tips on how to stabilize leaks, balancing PH levels, heater safety, and storm preparations 

In the Jacksonville, FL area we don't close pools for the winter. Temperatures typically don't reach freezing very often and when they do it's important to run your pump during below freezing weather, typically when temps reach 34 degrees fahrenheit. The water in the pool is warm enough to keep the pump, filter and plumbing from being damaged during cold weather. It's also important to maintain the pools chemical balance to prevent costly damage to the pool surfaces and equipment.
Stabilizer helps maintain the chlorine level in your pool. If you don't maintain an adequate level your salt system works harder to keep your pool sanitized. This increases the ph increase introduced by salt systems and also increases the wear and tear on the salt cell.
Sometimes it's difficult to determine if low water levels are due to evaporation or a leak. You can discover leaks in your pool by conducting a simple bucket test. Fill a plastic bucket three-quarters full of water. On the inside of the bucket, mark the water line. Place the bucket in the pool, then mark the water line on the outside of the container. (If the bucket has a handle, remove it to allow for better stability while floating.) Let it float for two or three days. If the water inside and outside the bucket has gone down the same amount, your pool is losing water due to evaporation. However, if the pool water level has gone down more than the water inside the bucket, your pool has a leak. That's your cue to call a professional to have it patched.
Organic contaminants like ammonia or nitrogen build up in a pool over time. Massive amounts of such contaminants can interact with a pool's chlorine to form chloramines, which give off that potent chlorine smell that many people associate with pools. To get rid of this harsh odor, it's necessary to superchlorinate -- or shock -- pool water back to normal chlorine levels. While it may seem counterintuitive, adding a large amount of chlorine to a pool can make the undesired odor go away. Some pools should be shocked once a week, while others can go a significantly longer time. Follow manufacturers' instructions before superchlorinating your pool to get the best results.
Pool water should be tested regularly to make sure it's clean and healthy. The pH scale is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity that runs from 0 to 14. A reading between 7.2 and 7.8 is ideal; this range is safe for swimmers and helps sanitizers work at top efficiency.

You can monitor your pool's pH level with a testing kit. There are many kinds of testing kits available; however, most homeowner versions are either reagent kits or test-strips. Reagent kits aren't too difficult to use. You take a sample of pool water, then add liquids or tablets to it. The water changes color, indicating its chemical balance. Test-strips work differently. When you submerge them in the pool for a few seconds, dyes they contain cause them to change color. Next, match up the strip to a color chart to determine the pool's pH level. Use this information to gauge what kind and how much of the chemicals your pool needs.

A lot of water will be lost throughout the swimming season largely because of evaporation and normal wear and tear, such as swimming, splashing and exiting the pool. When you remove debris with your skimmer throughout the week, that's also a good time to check the water level. Ensure it doesn't fall below the level of the skimmer - typically the middle of the water line tile is a good target, otherwise the pump could be damaged. If the water is low, use a garden hose to bring it up to safe levels.

Unless you are a licensed contractor experienced in pool draining in the Jacksonville, FL area it's highly unadvisable to drain your pool. As a general rule, it's best to leave water in a pool throughout the winter because the weight of the water counteracts with forces from the ground pressing up against the pool from below which can cause the pool to ``pop`` out of the ground.

Pool heaters typically require the least maintenance of all pool equipment. Gas heaters can work fine without being serviced for a couple years, and electric ones can last even longer. Consult your manufacturer's manual for specific care instructions. Sometimes, calcium scale build up inside the tubes of a heater and restrict flow, preventing the water from heating adequately. If this happens, recruit the help of a professional because the heater may need to be disassembled and have its tubes cleaned out with a wire brush or acid.
In the event of a hurricane or major storm event in the greater Jacksonville, FL area it's best to not drain water from the pool. If you drain water from the pool and the water table rises faster than the rain fills the pool you can potentially cause the pool to ``pop`` out of the ground. This happened in a number of cases in Orlando during Hurricane Irma. Before the storm you should turn off the power to the pool equipment at the main breaker panel. If you suspect that rising water has immersed your pump, heater or other pool equipment you should leave the power off and contact a qualified, licensed professional to evaluate potential damage to your system.