How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool
by Rob Cox, September 15, 2010
How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool
It's that time of year again, time to button up the pool, put it away, close 'er down. If you live in the Snowbelt, anything above the blue line - there are certain procedures that must be done to avoid damage to the pump and filter equipment, to protect the pool liner and keep the water fresh and clean.
The procedure can be condensed to four specific areas, the Four C's, as I call it. Clean, Chemical, Cover and Close it. Each of these steps should be done in the proper order, to prevent duplication of efforts.
Sure you can call a pool service company to come out and close the pool for you, or you can obtain the winter pool supplies needed to Chemical and Cover it, and do the labor yourself! Save time and money this year by following these simple steps on how to close and winterize your own above ground swimming pool.
1. Balance your Water. pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels. Raise or Lower as needed to the proper levels of pH: 7.2-7.4, TA: 80-120ppm, Ca: 180-220. In addition, we want to close the pool with the water as sanitary as possible. Remove any algae growth and shock the pool, following instructions to ensure proper dosage.
2. Clean the pool very well. Any organic debris that remains in the pool, whether large leaves or very small algae, will consume the algaecide and other chemicals added to keep your pool water fresh. Before covering the pool, do one last skim of the surface. Remove any pool cleaner and in the pool ladders or steps. If you have large amounts of leaves to clean out of the pool, look at our large selection of leaf rakes.
Add your winter chemicals to keep the water fresh. If you use a floater, be careful to not use chlorine tablets. These can sit up against a wall, or sink to the bottom and bleach the vinyl liner. There are many above ground pool winter chemical kits to choose from, they are sized according to pool gallonage. Use our handy pool calculator to figure out your pool gallonage if unsure.
3. Lower the water level in the pool. Drain the pool to below the skimmer opening. The water needs to remain in the pool, to keep the liner flexible and to provide support against the walls. Lowering the water more than 12" from the top rail could cause problems. If your return fitting is at this level, you can remove the hose from the filter and allow the pool to drain to this level, otherwise, allow the pool to drain to 2-3" below the skimmer face plate and then use a threaded plug, like the SP1022C plug to close off the return on the pool side, or you can use expandable plugs on either side.
Use a skimmer plug or a Gizzmo to plug the hole in the bottom of the skimmer, or if equipment is removed, you could leave it unplugged, so if the water spills into the skimmer, it will simply drain out onto the ground. But if you plug the skimmer, use a bottle that has some antifreeze in it, or small pebbles in the bottom - to float in the skimmer body, and absorb any ice expansion during winter. Many above ground pool owners use an Aquador, which is like Tupperware for your skimmer. Replace the existing skimmer faceplate with the Aquador faceplate and you can snap on the aquador to seal up the skimmer. No pool draining required!
4. Cover the pool tightly. Use cover clips or cover seal to keep high winds from getting up under the cover and blowing it off the side (big problem). Make sure to patch any holes in the cover, so that rain/snowmelt won't mix with your pool water. Using an air pillow under the solid cover will lift up the cover in the middle, to help keep the rain from puddling, and also serves as an ice equalizer, to keep the ice sheet in the pool from freezing too solidly across the pool.
Keeping the cover tight and clean during the winter is a regular chore. Make sure to check on the cover during the winter. Remove debris that may clog your cover pump or puncture the cover. In lieu of electric pool cover pumps, you can use gravity or siphon pumps to remove the rain water and snow melt. Maintaining the cover as dry as possible is recommended to prevent water contamination.
If your aboveground pool has a complete surround deck, you may find it easier to use water bags or aquabloks to secure the cover to the deck, instead of the normal cable/winch arrangement for fitting the above ground pool cover.
5. Remove the Pump and Filter system and store them indoors if possible. Drain pump and filter completely. If you have a DE or Cartridge type pool filter, remove the elements and hose very thoroughly, allow to dry before installing back into the filter tank. Place in an area where it won't need to be disturbed during the winter, and far away from your garage parking spot! If you have a chlorinator, make sure that all tablets are removed during the winter. Pool heaters or other equipment? Look for the drain plugs on sides and bottom, make sure all water is drained.
That's pretty much all there is to it! Each pool may have small differences to the above information. If you wish to document your pool closing for others to see, send me several pictures of your processes, along with brief descriptions, and we'll tell the world!