How To Properly Winterize Your Above Ground Pool
Your Step By Step Informational Guide
Being able to properly winterize your above ground pool helps to ensure that you will have clean and sanitary water come opening time in the spring as well as having functional equipment. Below we will have a step by step guide that will give you the rundown when it comes to properly winterizing your above ground pool. Enjoy!
- First you need to both test and balance your pools chemicals
- Next you’ll need to make sure you thoroughly clean your pool and pool skimmer
- Properly clean out your pool filter
- Add in your winter time chemical kit
- Lower the water level to the appropriate amount
- Winterize your pool skimmer and all other pool equipment
- Take out all pool accessories and add-ons that could shift or break
- Insert your air pillow into the pool
- Cover the pool with a winter pool cover
- Keep an eye on it throughout the winter and maintain it properly
1. First you need to both test and balance your pools chemicals
So, you’re about to close up your pool for the season. About a week out from doing so you’re going to what to check and balance the levels in your pool. You can do this through the use of a chemistry test set. There are certain levels you’ll want to achieve. You’ll want to test and level the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness of your pool. These levels will vary and those should be provided from your manufacturer but generally speaking you’ll want to shoot for these levels when winterizing your pool:
- pH between 7.2 – 7.8
- Alkalinity between 80 – 120 ppm (parts per million)
- Chlorine between 2 – 3 ppm (parts per million)
- Calcium Hardness should be adjusted according to the chemistry test kits recommendation
2. Next you’ll need to make sure you thoroughly clean your pool and pool skimmer
Now that you have your balancing chemicals in the water you can begin the process of cleaning your pool liner, primarily the waterline. You’ll want to make sure you use a biodegradable pool cleaner to do this and you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly clean your pool liner to prevent any possibility of staining. Once the waterline has been thoroughly cleaned you can point your attention towards the skimmer. You’ll want to make sure to take it apart as far as you feel comfortable with and clean out any debris and black residue.
Now you can completely remove your pool cover. This cover will be stored and replaced with a winter pool cover. But before you can store this summer cover for the winter you’ll first need to clean the cover of any residual pool chemicals or organic buildup. You can use soap and water for this with a strong bristle brush or you can opt to use a pool cover chemical remover, it’s your choice. Once the cover has been cleaned and thoroughly rinsed it can be left in the sun to help it completely dry out before storage, this is vital to prevent mold.
You’ll now have the ability to give your pool one final vacuum for the season to clean up any leftover debris that may have made its way into the pool. This is also a great opportunity to hit the pool liner again to ensure you get everything while also having the ability to vacuum it up while doing that as well. Make sure you give your pool liner a good scrub, you need to really score the lining in order to remove any particles that could potentially lead to liner staining and algae growth.
3. Properly clean out your pool filter
This is a rather easy and straightforward thing to do. If you’re using a cartridge filter for your pool you can remove the cartridge and soak it in filter cleaner. If you’re using a sand or DE filter you’ll want to backwash the filters, back washing them for a little extra time won’t hurt either, you’ll be lowering the water level in a few steps so the loss of water is no biggie. You’ll also want to refer to you owner’s manual in regard to cleaning out the buildup in your filter tank, each make and model is a little different.
4. Add in your winter time chemical kit
Now that we’ve completed all of the previous steps we can now add in the winter chemicals. These chemicals ensure that the pool maintains its clarity and remains clean throughout the winter without periodically adding chemicals. Ideally you’ll want to find winter chemicals that contains non chlorine shock, chlorine shock and winterizing algaecide. If you find that you’re using a pool heater or you are using well water for your water source you’ll want to make sure that your winter chemicals also include a metal control because well water and heat can make the metals within the water fluctuate and they need to be maintained during the winter months.
One thing that you’ll want to make sure of is not add in the algaecide and chlorine shock at the same time. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that the chlorine shock will negatively affect the effectiveness of the algaecide and prevent it from working properly.
5. Lower the water level to the appropriate amount
Now it’s time to lower the water level of the pool. You can drain your pool to the appropriate level with a pool pump or sump pump to make the process easier. Drain the pool to the appropriate height according to the manufacturer’s recommendations but generally speaking its recommend you lower the water level 2 inches below the height of the return jets. This insures the expansion of the ice (if in this type of climate) won’t cause damage to them and the water will be able to run out of the system using the height of the jets as their lowest point or resistance. Another way some pool owner may opt to lower their pool level is by allowing the pool filter to backwash the unwanted water. This also helps to clean out the filter in the process which can be beneficial if you’re taking care of this step and step 3 at the same time. Two birds, one stone type of deal.
6. Winterize your pool skimmer and all other pool equipment
When it comes to winterizing your pools skimmer you want to completely gut the skimmer. Begin by removing all interior parts of the skimmer including the VAC plate and basket. Once you’ve finished cleaning the skimmer you can begin the deconstruction and removal of your jets. You want to un-thread the eyeballs of the jets. With these eyeballs taken out and any water behind them removed you can then plug them with rubber plugs. To find out which size rubber plugs you need you can locate this information in the owner’s manual. One thing to keep in mind with these plugs is that if you have a female fitting then you’ll need to use a threaded plug, if not you’ll have to use a plug that is more like a bung. All you home brewers know what I’m talking about. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that if you have lights in your jets you’ll want to make sure that when pulling out the eyeball of the jet you also pull out the light.
Next you can begin the disconnection and tear down of your filter and skimmer. You can then winterize your pool pump, heater if applicable and finally the filter. Each of these will need to be winterized according to the manufacturer standards and you can achieve the standards by simply following the owner manual instructions. Make sure you remove all the water in every line. We cannot stress this enough. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that most manufacturers do not require you to cover your external pool equipment during the winter. If you so choose to cover your exterior pool equipment you need to make sure that the pool equipment has the ability to breathe. If you do not allow the pool equipment the ability to breathe it can easily begin to build up condensation which can inevitably lead to the creation of algae and in the worst-case scenario freeze damage.
7. Take out all pool accessories and add-ons that could shift or break
This is a relatively easy and straightforward step. You’ll want to take out all pool accessories which include things such as ladders, buoys, floats and anything else you may have in your pool. You want to make sure that you thoroughly and properly clean these accessories and store them away in a safe and dry location for the winter.
8. Insert your air pillow into the pool
One of the purposes of an air pillow is to absorb the pressure and expansion of freezing water. The purpose of this is to keep pressure on the cover as the water freezes to help prevent the cover from freezing onto the surface of the pool. While this can sometimes fail due to heavy snowfall often times it does a very good job of preventing the pool cover from totally freezing to the water. The key to these air pillows is to have them centered in the pool to help evenly distribute the weight. One thing to keep in mind when inflating the air pillow is not inflated it to full capacity. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that the pressure of the ice may cause the air pillow to explode under the pressure. So fill up the air pillow approximately 3/4 to 7/8 full.
9. Cover the pool with a winter pool cover
Now that your chemicals of balanced, water level has been lowered, pumps and jets have been cleaned and flushed, lines of been drained and your air pillow is centered on the top of the remaining water it is now time to dawn your winter pool cover. Once the winter cover is on you want to make sure you fully secure it. This can be done my running a winterizing cover wrap around the pool. The purpose of this is to both cover and secure the winter pool cover. This winterizing cover wrap helps to prevent the winter cover from flapping open or coming up as well as ensuring that the pool is completely covered 100%. If your pool is surrounded by a deck then you may want to place sandbags or gallon jugs full of sand around the edge of your pool to help hold down the cover and prevent it from becoming uncovered.
One thing you want to take into consideration is the fact that if you use weights that are too heavy it can easily cause damage to your cover. The key is to use weights that are heavy enough to keep and hold the cover down but light enough that if a big gust of wind comes they will have give to them allowing the cover to move or shift instead of becoming ripped.
10. Keep an eye on it throughout the winter and maintain it properly
Finally, you’re in the home stretch. Now that your pool has been completely winterized and sealed up you can take a breather. But now is not the time to fully relax. You’ll need to periodically keep an eye on your pool to ensure no damages occur. You’ll want to keep an eye on the water accumulation on top of the cover. If too much water accumulates you’ll need to remove it through the use of either a cover pump or whatever pump you use to drain the pool. You’ll need to do this to rid the cover of excess weight which can easily lead to damage thus negating all the hard work you did during previous months.