10 Steps To Winterizing Your Above Ground Pool
Winter weather can be brutal on your swimming pool but with the proper equipment and preparation, you can minimize your risk of contamination and damage to sensitive components and ensure your above ground pool will last for years to come.
Collect Your Pool Closing Equipment
Before you winterize your above ground pool, make sure you have the necessary supplies:
- Winterizing chemical kit OR
- Winterizing chemicals:
- Clarifying enzyme supplement
- Expansion plugs
- Return line plugs
- Above ground pool winter cover
- Cover winch and cable
- Cover clips
- Pool air pillow
- Gizzmo Skimmer Expansion Plug
Clean Your Pool Thoroughly Right Before Closing
Vacuum the entire pool, brush down the walls, and skim the surface. Cleaning your pool right before you close it for the winter will save you from some potentially gross surprises when you open your pool next spring. A clean pool makes it much easier to properly balance your water and ensures nothing for algae or mold to feed on over the winter.
Test and Adjust Your Water
Understanding your water chemistry is vital if you want to keep your pool in good condition. So, take the time to test your pool water before closing.
Testing your pool water yourself is easy with test strips or a water testing kit. You can also bring your water sample into your local Great Backyard and our water technicians will test it for the most accurate results.
Your Chemical Goals Are:
- pH between 7.4 and 7.6
- Alkalinity between 100 ppm and 150 ppm
- Calcium hardness is between 175 ppm to 225 ppm
- Chlorine is between 1 ppm and 3 ppm
Add Winterizing Chemicals
If you’re not comfortable tweaking your pool chemicals yourself a winterizing chemical kit for your above ground pools is an excellent option.
Adjust the Alkalinity
There are a couple of ways to adjust your alkalinity. You can increase it by adding a base, such an alkalinity increaser or sodium bicarbonate to your pool water. Lower it by adding muriatic acid. Remember your goal is between 100 ppm and 150 ppm
*Always adjust alkalinity before pH.
Make Sure the pH is Perfect
Add sodium carbonate (soda ash) or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to lower the acidity. If your water’s too basic, add a pH increaser to bring it into proper balance.
Your goal is for a pH in the range of 7.4 to 7.6. And as with alkalinity, a higher level is better when you are winterizing.
Fine Tune Calcium Hardness
Improperly balanced calcium levels can cause some serious damage to your pool. If the water is too hard calcium deposits build up in your pool and plumbing, possibly clogging and blocking the flow of water in and out of the pool, which can damage your pool equipment. (An indication that your calcium hardness levels are too high is cloudy water)
When pool water becomes too soft (i.e. its calcium hardness drops below 150 ppm) it becomes corrosive. If you don't manually add calcium or magnesium back into the pool, the water will begin to take what it needs from any part of your pool or pool equipment that contains them such as the metal frame. Once damage from soft water occurs, there’s no way to undo it so it’s imperative not to let your pools calcium hardness dip too far below 150ppm.
If your water is too hard, you can just drain some water and dilute your pool water with fresh water that is not hard. Don’t forget to test your freshwater source. If you do not want to or can’t drain your pool you can ad floc to clump any excess calcium, then manually vacuum out the clumps. Be sure to turn off your pump before adding any flocculant to your pool water if you don’t want to have to replace the filter medium.
*You cannot ad floc if you have a cartridge filter
If your water is too soft you can boost the level by adding a calcium hardness increaser .
The ideal calcium hardness range is 175 ppm to 225 ppm
Shock Your Pool Before You Close
Shocking your pool kills any bacteria that might linger in your pool during the winter. We recommend adding pool shock a few days before you close the pool. Consult the directions for each to make sure you’re adding the right amount for your pool’s capacity.
Add Winter Algaecide
Adding a little Winter Algaecide is completely optional but it will help keep algae from invading over the winter. If you’ve struggled with a green, murky pool at opening in the past, or want to avoid one in the future, winter algaecide can help immensely.
Disconnect and Store Pool Lines
Disconnect the hoses to and from the pump and filter and allow all the water to run out. Make sure they dry completely before storing for the winter to prevent mold build up.
Protect Your Skimmer
Remove the skimmer basket and store it somewhere safe and dry for the winter. Make sure the bottom of the skimmer is unobstructed and do not plug it up. Keep an eye on your skimmer during the winter to make sure water can drain out if it rains.
Prep Your Filter and Pump
- Perform a backwash until the water is running clear from the nozzle
- Move the valve to the “rinse” position and let it run for 30 seconds
- Place the valve to the “winterize” setting on the top mount valve
- Completely drain all the water from the filter tank
- Disconnect all the hoses from the filter
- Store your sand filter, pump, hoses, and drain cap in a dry, safe place until the pool is ready to be used again
If your pool is hard plumbed, use an air compressor or shop to blow water out of the system by forcing air down the skimmer and through the plumbing.
- Set your multiport valve to “Winterize”
- Remove the drain plug at the bottom to allow the filter to drain completely
- Bring your filter indoors for winter storage
- Drain Filter
- Rinse off the cartridge with a hose
- Leave the valves open
- Store the cartridge indoors for the winter
Lower the Pool Water (If Necessary)
Drain the water level below the skimmer and returns.
Important: Never drain an above ground pool completely when winterizing. This can cause your pool to collapse and your vinyl liner can dry out, shortening its life considerably.
Install Pool Pillows
If you live in extremely cold climates, placing a pool air pillow under the cover protects the sides of the cover and the walls of your pool from damage. However, even if you don’t live in a cold climate but you close and cover your pool, you can use an air pillow to keep water and debris off to the side of the pool for an easy spring clean-up.
Only inflate your air pillow to around 50% or 60% of its capacity. This will prevent it popping after the first freeze.
Install the Pool Cover
Spread out your winter cover and place it over your pool. You might want to get a friend to help you. Use a cable and winch, or a combination of winter cover clips and a cable to secure your winter cover.
Be sure to keep your cover as dry as possible during the off season. We recommend buying an above ground pool cover pump to help remove excess water and keep your pool cover in the best shape possible.