Winterizing your pool may seem like a tedious chore but not only does it save your pool from the damaging effects of snow and frozen water, it saves time and effort next spring, by keeping your water clean & clear.
1. Water Chemistry
The first step before closing the pool is to balance the water chemistry about a week before you are ready to close. Test your pool water and ensure that the chemical levels are within the range of:
Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 ppm
2. Shock the Pool
After balancing the water chemistry, and several days in advance of closing the pool, add a diluted granular chlorine, or non-chlorine pool shock to your pool water to remove any contaminants, that could create “adverse water conditions” during winter. The usual treatment is one bag (or pound) per 10,000 gals of pool water, but check the label to be sure.
3. Clean the Pool
On the day of the pool closing be ready to clean your pool with your pool vacuum, brush, skimmer net to remove any dirt and debris or algae in the pool.
It’s important to close the pool in a spotless condition. Any debris left in the pool will use up your winterizing pool chemicals, so do your best job to clean the pool thoroughly before covering and closing it for the winter. It makes your spring opening easier, too.
4. Remove Accessory Items
Remove your skimmer basket, return fittings, solar blankets, pool alarms, ladders or steps, and pool cleaners. Dry and stow them safely for the winter months – indoors or protected from the elements.
5. Lower Water Level
Now it is time to lower the water level below the mouth of your skimmer to prevent damage that may be caused by frozen water. Lower the water level to about 3” below the skimmer. Removing too much water could cause your pool cover to fall in, or your pool liner may relax and wrinkle.
You can let the water run out of the return line hose by disconnecting it from the filter, or if you have a low water suction line, in addition to the skimmer, close or plug the skimmer, and use the LWS line to backwash the pool filter, and lower the water past the skimmer level.
To save water, you can instead use an Aquador. Just snap on the plastic skimmer cover and you can keep the water at normal levels. Drain the pipe, or disconnect the hose connecting to the pump.
6. Drain & Plug the Pipes
For the return line, back to the pool: If you have filter hoses, use a winter pool plug on the return line – on the inside of the pool, and disconnect the hose, draining it dry. If you have hard PVC pipes that cannot be removed, use air to blow the water from the pipes, and add pool antifreeze for extra protection.
For the skimmer, remove and drain the hose connected to the pump. If you have hard PVC pipes, drain or blow water out. Use a winter skimmer Plug to keep water out of the pipe during winter. PVC pool pipe cracks easily when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, so be sure that you get all of the water out, or add antifreeze if you’re not sure.
The Gizmo is a combination skimmer plug and skimmer protector. It plugs the pipe to keep water out, but also absorbs ice expansion inside the skimmer. Skimmers can fill up during the winter, from too much water on the cover or from rain or snow melt getting inside the skimmer.
Ice expands and can easily crack a skimmer housing. The Gizmo absorbs the expansion, protecting the sidewalls of your skimmer. Many aboveground pools need only 1 skimmer gizmo and one return plug to plug up their pool, but larger pools can need more than one of each.
7. Drain the equipment
Next step is to drain all the pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment and blow out all water from plumbing lines, otherwise the water will freeze and cause cracks in the equipment. Then seal the lines with plugs so there is no way for the pool water to fill the lines back up.
Pumps have 1 or 2 drain plugs.
Filters have 1 cap or plug near the bottom.
Gas Heaters have drain plugs on each side.
Solar pool heaters should have a union or a drain cap that can be removed to drain the water or blow air through the solar panels.
Heat Pumps can be without drain plugs. Such pool heat pumps can be drained by loosening the union connectors and tipping the unit.
Chlorinators or Purifiers have 1 drain plug.
For Gas pool heaters, depending on the style, you may have to turn off the pilot and drain the pressure switch loop. Be sure to shut off the gas supply to gas-fired pool heaters.
You can protect pool heaters and heat pumps with a Pool Heater Cover to prevent damage caused by snow, dirt, debris and animals.
For D.E. pool filters and cartridges, a final cleaning of the year is needed while closing the pool. Remove your filter grids or filter cartridge and hose thoroughly. Soak in Filter Cleaner to have them at their cleanest before replacing into the filter for dry winter storage.
Now is also a good time to lubricate any soft rubber o-rings or threaded metal parts to your equipment. Use a Teflon based lube for rubber o-rings on your pool filter tank, pump lid, slide valve, unions, or plugs – basically any rubber o-ring on your pool equipment.
9. Winter Closing Chemicals
In addition to maintaining good water balance during the winter, adding winter algaecides and chemical floaters ensure that your pool water remains clean and clear during winter. Not having sufficient winter pool chemicals can lead to a long and costly spring clean-up.
You can buy a pool winterizing kit to make the process more convenient – just follow the instructions on the packaging. Buy the winter kit that matches your pool size.
10. Cover your Pool
Last but not the least; cover your pool with a tight fitting pool cover to ensure that debris and leaves cannot get into your pool. Pool Covers come in a variety of materials and sizes; order by pool size for a snug fit.
In addition to the winch & cable to secure your pool cover, there are many winter cover accessories like Wall Bags, Cover Seal and Cover Clips that help to hold down a cover in high winds.
Air pillows are used in colder parts of the US, to break up the ice sheet that forms in the pool under the cover. This prevents damage to the pool walls from a solid sheet of ice expanding outward.
One more winter pool cover accessory is worth mentioning. You’ll need some means to remove the rain water and snow melt from the cover, either with an electrical or gravity fed pool cover pump.
That’s it ~ 10 little steps to closing your aboveground pool. Your pool may be slightly different. If you have questions about how to close it, or what products are needed, you can call our pool winterization experts anytime at 1-800-288-7946!
InTheSwim Staff Blogger