by William Murphy
You will have to close your above-ground pool as part of properly caring for your investment. It is not a simple matter of draining and abandoning it for the winter season. Following a proper winterization process will protect your pool from freeze-related damage, as well as keeping it clean for the spring season.
With this article we will carefully guide you through the steps to properly closing your above ground pool for the winter season. Following these steps will save you a lot of work when you open the pool for the summer.
In the week prior to closing your pool, test the pH level, alkalinity, and chlorine levels. If you have a saltwater pool, check those levels too. The water balance will protect the pool from scale build-up and corrosion while it's closed. Balancing the chemistry will also protect the surface of the pool from staining. The winter chemicals will keep the water clear and blue for next season. You can purchase winterizing chemical kits specific for your make and model. We do not recommend using a floater as these contain strong oxidizers that will stick and/or stain the wall of your pool, especially if your liner is vinyl. We also do not recommend using chlorine or bromine tablets, as these can sink to the bottom and damage and the pool's surface.
Thoroughly clean the water and sides of the pool before closing it. Any debris can break down and change the chemical balance, and create build-up over the winter months. This will only make a bigger mess come spring, so save yourself some work and take care of it in the fall.
Make sure there are no leaks before you cover and close it for winter. Major structural damage and be incurred during the icy months, if leaks are undetected. If there are no visible tears or leaks, mark the liner at water level (with tape or other removable substance) and observe for 10 to 14 days after it has been closed for the season.
While you do this, ensure the liner is still attached to the pool wall and has no holes. If there are holes, repair immediately with a vinyl patch or repair kit, which you can find at any hardware or home improvement store. No need to remove the liner from the pool.
This includes looking at the frame, making sure all pieces fit together properly and that the pool wall has not shifted. Double check all screws and bolts; tighten any that have come loose.
You should also check for rust (not just before winter, but all season long). If you do find rust, clean it with a wire brush and then add a coat of enamel primer, and a coat of anti-rust enamel paint. It's best to catch those spots while they are small before they can cause bodily harm or damage to property.
Shock and winterizer. Run for at least one cycle of 4-6 hours allowing all water to pass through the filter. If you have a saltwater pool, you can find a closing chemical kit with non-chlorine product.
Remember that water expands when it freezes. This can cause damage to the entire system. You will have to drain the water from the pool until the water level is approximately 6" below the skimmer's opening. You can plug the return jet hole, but do not plug the skimmer drain hole at the base of the skimmer. Remove all hoses attached to the skimmer. Do not let water freeze in here. Leave the skimmer on the pool wall and make sure the skimmer lid is in place. Do not drain the pool entirely.
If you live in a colder climate where the temperatures regularly get down to -30 or -40 degrees, lower the water until it is about 18" deep and do not use a winter cover (or, ensure there is minimal accumulation of snow or ice atop the cover). Do not drain the pool entirely.
It is crucial that the water does not enter the skimmer during winter, so be sure the water level is maintained at at least 3" below the skimmer opening during winter. Should ice melt or more water accumulate, drain or siphon it out. Ensure the skimmer is left open so water may flow freely out of it. Don't let any water freeze in the skimmer!
Disconnect all hoses. Your manual will have closing instructions specific to your filter.
Once all these steps are complete, it is time to lay the winter cover over the pool. It will insulate and maintain temperatures while keeping out debris.
Take the pressure gauge inside for the winter, as its likely to have moisture inside it. You don't want this to freeze. Leave all plugs off the equipment. Further, refer to your manual for winterizing steps specific to your make and model.
After reading this article, you now know the best ways to winterize your above ground pool. By following the proper steps and using the right products, you can keep your pool in great condition all winter long. Don't forget to test your pH levels regularly and shocks your pool as needed. With a little bit of effort, you can enjoy your pool all year round!
About William Murphy
William has worked as a general contractor in the city of Fremont, CA for over three decades. During that time, he's written articles about architecture, construction, and environmental protection for various publications. He is an expert on green building and sustainable design. When he's not writing or working, William enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.