An outdoor pool can be a welcome addition in the summer months, but it takes a lot of upkeep, and this counts double when closing an outdoor pool. Many homeowners are less aware of the steps for closing their pool than they are of the steps for maintaining it. Winterizing your above ground pool is a critical step in keeping it running, however, and you should not neglect it. Protecting an above ground pool during winter extends its lifespan and reduces the ultimate cost of maintenance. Pool repairs and replacement (whether they are needed due to corrosion, weathering, damage, or other factors) can be expensive, which is why your focus should be on preventive maintenance. The experts at Appliances Connection have pooled together to create this guide to closing your above ground pool for winter.
When Should I Close My Pool?
There is a sweet spot when it comes to closing your pool for the winter. If you close it too early, you risk allowing algae and other contaminants to build up in the warm water (despite any winter protection chemicals you may have added to it). This just causes more work for you in the springtime, and if your pool has mechanical elements, it may damage them as well. If you close your pool too late, the water risks freezing, which also causes damage to its structure. There is no single correct date to close your pool, since a lot depends on what the climate is like where you live and what type of pool you have.
In general, once the high temperature is regularly 65° F (18° C) or lower, it's time to close your pool for the winter. In most climates, this equates to September or October. If you live someplace that's very warm, you can probably go a while longer. If your winter has a warm spell, you can take the opportunity to check on your pool's chemistry and make sure it remains well-balanced.
Why It's Important to Properly Close Your Pool
Winterizing your pool protects you and your family from algae and bacteria that can grow during the months your pool isn't in use. Lowering the water level also reduces the risk that freezes pose to your pool's delicate equipment. Even a surface freeze can tear through the liner of some above ground pools. And finally, properly closing your pool for winter prevents damage to your home's water lines. (Any homeowner is likely aware of how expensive an urgent plumbing repair can be!)
Steps to Prepare Your Pool
No matter whether your pool is made of plastic, wood, fiberglass, or another material entirely, the steps of preparing your pool for winter are going to be the same.
1. Remove toys and accessories, and clean the pool
This one is self-explanatory. You wouldn't put your car into long-term storage without cleaning it first, and the principle is the same for your pool. In addition to removing obvious clutter, remember to remove the ladder or steps, the skimmer basket, and any cleaning accessories. Remove any dirt and algae from these items, and place them into storage for the winter months.
2. Deep clean your pool
The more dirt, leaves, and debris there are inside your pool, the more likely algae and bacteria will be to grow inside it over the winter. Use your skim nets to remove as much as you can from the water's surface, and your pool vacuum to take dirt and debris from below the water. Run a test on your pool's water now, and add chemicals as necessary before you continue the process of closing it for winter.
Norm Abrams of This Old House recommends that the pH of your water should be between 7.4 and 7.6, while its alkalinity should be as close to 125 parts per million as you can manage. If your pool uses chlorine, remember to test that as well. Meanwhile, if you have hard water, make sure to test the calcium level of your water.
3. Add the winterizing chemicals
The exact process of this stage will vary depending on the exact winterizing chemicals you use. Most hardware stores and pool manufacturers sell winterization kits that have all the chemicals you need — if you go with one of these, follow the directions on the label exactly and make sure you pick the right size kit for your pool. In most cases, you add these chemicals the day before you close your pool for the winter.
4. Lower the pool's water level
If your pool has a set of winterizing plugs for the skimmer and the return, use them at this point. Otherwise, it's a good idea to invest in one. Regardless, you should reduce the water level in your pool to just below the bottom edge of the skimmer. Again, there's a balance to be struck here: while you don't want to waste water by reducing it too much, you also don't want your equipment to freeze.
5. Prepare the filter
Disconnect any filter hoses, and drain the pool filter. Leave any ball valves open. Once it's drained and cleaned, store it indoors: this is one piece of pool equipment that can't handle a deep freeze. Depending on the type of pool filter you have, you may have to soak it in a filter cleaning solution for 24 hours.
6. Set up the ice equalizer equipment
In most cases, if you have an above ground pool, you should have a set of ice equalizer pillows that reduce the stress that builds up on your pool's walls when the water begins to freeze. A lot of the time, your pool cover's warranty will be void if you neglect this, so place your pillows now. Make sure to tie them down if they can be secured. Keep in mind that the ice equalizer pillows will most likely pop during the winter, so this is an annual expense that comes with having a pool.
7. Cover your pool
Nearly all above ground pools come with matching covers. If you don't have one, or if yours is torn, you need to buy one before winter comes. Secure it with clips, or with cable and a locking winch. If you live someplace with high wind, use a winter cover seal as well.
If your pool was not adequately prepped last year and was damaged, or if your old one is simply on the way out, Appliances Connection has an assortment of brand-new above ground pools in various sizes to accommodate your outdoor space. We also carry a large selection of toys and inflatables for swimmers to socialize and relax in the pool.
Do I need to take all water out of an above ground pool for the winter?
You do not have to remove all the water from your pool in order to winterize it, but make sure that the water level is at least below the skimmer. Also consider the risk of algae and bacteria growing in the water, and make sure to take steps to prevent it.
Does an above ground pool freeze solid?
Your pool may end up frozen solid, depending on the climate you live in. It usually takes a few days for an above ground pool to completely freeze up. There is also usually some liquid water in the center of your pool, since it's rare for a pool to completely freeze.
Should I drain my above ground pool and start over?
In general, you should completely drain your above ground pool at least once every three to five years. The more you use it, the more often it will need to be drained and refilled.