Winterizing A Pool, Step-By-Step

The end of summer signifies the start of the year’s coldest months that accompany freezing temperatures and endless snow. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you should stop maintaining your above-ground pool. Winterizing your above-ground pool helps protect against cold, snow, and ice associated with hibernal months. In addition, these actions ensure you’ll have clean, healthy water, and functioning equipment when you reopen the pool in spring.

As the owner of an above-ground swimming pool, you know you have a responsibility to prepare it for winter, and you want to get it right. Although time-consuming and somewhat costly in the short run, properly winterizing your pool helps prevent issues such as cracked hoses, broken pumps, and busted filters that can cost you significantly more in the long run. With that in mind, this post provides a step-by-step guide to follow when winterizing your above-ground swimming pool for winter.

Why You Need to Winterize an Above Ground Pool

In a nutshell, winterizing your pool means preparing it against the effects of freezing temperatures, keeping it in good working condition until spring. If you’re lucky enough to live in mild winter regions, you might think, “what do I have to worry about?” And if you live in an area that stays above 65 degrees all winter long, you might be right. However, it is recommended that those who live in areas where the temperature dips below 65 degrees prepare their pool for winter, and it is especially imperative for those who reside in a climate that experiences severe frost, deep cold, and snow.

Typically, your pool is wide open during the sunny days of summer, attracting insects, occasionally lost critters, and leaves. This isn’t of significant concern since you do regular maintenance to keep your above-ground pool clean. But who wants to head outside in the dead of winter to skim the pool of debris when it isn’t even used? Beyond that inconvenience,  winterizing your pool is also important for the longevity of your pool.

Suppose you leave your pool uncovered or not properly covered during winter, you could find yourself coming back to cracked equipment, burst pipes, structural damage, stains, or algae blooms. All of these are a pool owner’s nightmare and will make for a difficult time cleaning, rebalancing the water, and repairing freezing damage. Winterizing lowers the risk of pool water pollution and prevents damage to sensitive components in your above-ground pool. This saves you time, frustration, and money, besides keeping your water clean and healthy.

When to Close the Pool

Location is critical when determining the appropriate time to winterize your above-ground pool. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below 65°F during winter and stays there, wait until it goes below this temperature to close the pool.

Typically, algae, require heat to flourish. Meaning keeping water temperatures cool helps prevent algae infestation in your pool. Besides, leaving your pool open until it reaches 65°F gives you adequate time to test, clean, and balance your water before winterizing it.

If you live in a region with temperatures above 65°F for some days during winter, you can use this period to balance and test the water quality before temperatures dip. It is an effective way to keep your water clear, clean, and healthy until you open it in spring.

Deep Clean

The first step to winterizing your above-ground pool is cleaning it before adding winterizing chemicals. Although you have regularly cleaned your pool during summer, this is the time for thorough cleaning using different cleaning agents and tools, like a biodegradable pool cleaner for scrubbing, a vacuum cleaner, brush, and a telescoping skimming net.

Scrub the waterline to remove buildup that can stain your liner before closing, and use the skimmer to clean debris, like twigs and seed pods, from the pool. Then, run a vacuum along the sides and bottom of your pool. Ensure the pool’s floor, steps, walls, and coves undergo rigorous cleaning before winterizing, including the liner.

Balance Your Water

Before closing the pool, it is essential to test and balance your water pH (7.2 – 7.6), calcium hardness (175 – 250 ppm), alkalinity (80 – 120 ppm), and chlorine level (1 – 3 ppm). Balancing the water chemistry about a week before closing the pool ensures your water will remain fit for swimming when spring comes. Adjust the chemical balance, where necessary, to protect your pool against corrosion and scale buildup.

If you’re experiencing challenges balancing water, consult a professional to guide you through. It is important to follow proper guidelines to achieve the required water chemistry because the concentration may decline over the closed period. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for additional tips.

Add Winterizing Chemicals

Ideal winterizing chemicals for an above-ground pool include chlorine shock or non-chlorine shock and a winterizing algaecide agent. Some chemical kits come with a metal control agent, mainly used by those using a heater or well water in their pools. Winterizing chemicals play a critical role in balancing your pool’s water chemistry, protecting the pool liner and other components, and discouraging algae infiltration. Adding appropriate winterizing chemicals also helps prevent a green, murky pool come the following season.

Add Pump Protector

After adding winterizing chemicals, let the pump run for at least one cycle before backwashing or manually cleaning the filter. At the same time, be sure to clean the skimmer and pump basket to keep these in good condition for your next season. Such practices protect the pump from corrosion while lubricating interior valves and seals, preventing drying and cracking due to winterizing agents.

Protect Your Return and Skimmer

If you live in a region with heavy precipitation during winter, ensure you protect your pool’s return and skimmer. Remember, reducing the water is not mandatory, and can even increase the risk of causing damage to the return and skimmers. Instead, disconnect and replace the return fitting ball with a winter return plug to protect the pool. Sizes vary, so you’ll want to double check that you get the correct skimmer plug ideal for your pool.

Prepare Your Filter For Hibernation

The method you choose to winterize your above-ground swimming pool depends on the type of filter you have. Specific filters would require unique approaches when preparing them for hibernation.

  • Sand: Set the multiport to “winterize” and disconnect the drain plug at the bottom, letting the filter drain entirely. Detach the bleeder valve and sight glass as well, and store them where you can easily retrieve when spring arrives. Take your filter indoors for storage. Suppose the sand’s weight makes it difficult, you can leave it outdoors but with all drain plugs removed to prevent cracking of the filter tank during freezing and condensation.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.): Drain the D.E. and rinse the grids with a hose to eliminate reimaging D.E. Ensure to leave the valves open.
  • Cartridge: Drain and rinse the cartridge with a hose and leave valves open. Store the cartridge indoors for winter.

Clear the Pool

Above-ground equipment and attachments require attention when wintering your pool for the next season. Remove the ladder, lighting, matting, and other elements from your pool before closing it for winter. Leaving them might result in damage to both the pool and these important parts. Besides, they may pierce the liner or encourage corrosion which degrades the water or damages the gear.

Set Up Ice Equalizer Pillow

Also referred to as an ice compensator, an ice equalizer pillow protects the sides of your pool’s walls and covers against damage. This means understanding the function of the inflatable, since the pool pillow compensates for the pressure of the snow and ice on the cover. First, inflate the air pillow about 50-60% of its capacity, letting the pillow compress without popping immediately after the first significant snowfall. Next, place the pillow air in the center of the pool and secure it to each side of the pool.

Cover the Pool

Finally, put the cover on the pool to safeguard it against polluting elements as well as prevent debris from entering the pool. The cover should be extended adequately to avert excess water from pooling and possibly destroying it. If you live in a windy region, utilize winter cover seals to secure the cover and prevent the wind from going underneath it. You can add a leaf catcher if your above-ground pool is situated around or near trees.

Ongoing Winter Pool Care Tips

Even with your pool winterized and covered during winter, it is important to keep an eye on it throughout the cold season. Follow these winter pool care tips and subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more tips to help avoid unexpected problems:

  • Remove any debris like leaves and branches from the cover
  • Drain surplus water on top of the cover before freezing
  • Remove a substantial amount of snow from the cover regularly since this can cause stress on the surface, resulting in tears.
  • Check your pool’s equipment like filter gauge, pool pump, and heater to ensure every element is protected against freezing temperatures.
  • Monitor the water level and add water if it goes below the mark to protect your pump.

Start Gathering the Best Pool Tools for Next Swim Season!

Winter’s freezing temperatures can damage your pool and lead to unhealthy, dirty water without taking the proper winterizing steps. However, with clean and balanced water as well as protected pool equipment and attachments, you’ll be able to enjoy your pool for summers to come. 

At ProTuff Products, we can help you get more insights into winterizing your above-ground and obtain the best pool tools and supplies for your next swimming season. If you’re a new pool owner, check out our Pool Owner’s Guide to Pool Maintenance. For more information, contact us to learn more today!

Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance are very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at [email protected] with any specific questions you may have.

How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool: Step-by-Step Walkthrough