How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool – A Step-by-Step Guide

By Cesar Riel

Above ground, pools have various benefits over in-ground pools. They are affordable, easy to install and maintain, have a DIY installation, and can be disassembled and taken to a new place. They are best for people who don’t own their properties and may need to change their residence after some time. One thing which all above-ground pool owners need to take care of is winterizing their pool. Winterizing helps protect the equipment from ice damage, keep the water neat and clean and help save your time and money when you want to de-winterize your pool for the next season. In this guide, we are going to discuss the winterizing process for above-ground swimming pools. This article will focus on winterizing:

  1. Above ground pool (traditional or chlorinated)
  2. Above ground pool with sand filter, and
  3. Above ground pool with saltwater

How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool

The following steps will walk you through the winterizing process. Make sure you read all the steps before getting to work and keep all the supplies ready.

Step 1: Testing the Water

The most crucial step before closing or winterizing your above-ground pool is to check the pool water’s chemical balance. Adjusting the chemical balance helps you avoid corrosion and scale buildup when the pool is not in use. You can use water testing strips or lab services for testing the nature of the water. These strips and kits are easily available at a pool supply store, or you can purchase them online. Once the tests have been performed, you may need to add certain chemicals to increase or decrease the pH, alkalinity, hardness, or chlorine content in the water. The estimated values of these components are given below.

  • pH: 7.3-7.8
  • Alkalinity: 85-125 parts per million (PPM)
  • Calcium Hardness: 180-240 PPM
  • Chlorine: 1-4 PPM

Step 2: Cleaning the Pool

The next step is to clean the pool. You have to remove debris, leaves, twigs, and any other suspended stuff at the pool’s base and surface. You can use pool nets to help you with this task. Once the debris has been removed, use a specialized above-ground pool vacuum cleaner to vacuum the pool. For areas where the vacuum won’t work, use a brush and commercial pool cleaning liquids to get rid of the dust and dirt attached to the walls. Clean the liner of the pool. If you let dirt sit on the liner, cleaning in the next season would be very tough. You will need a lot of strength and time to clean the liner. Liners are porous in design and need a lot of effort to clear the particles stuck in the pores.

Step 3: Checking for Leaks

Thoroughly inspect your pool and confirm that there are no leaks or punctures in it. If you find any leaks or punctures, get them sorted out. The best way to look after this is to contact your pool manufacturer, or you can do some research on your own and patch the leaks.

Step 4: Adding Winter Chemical Kit

Once you are done with the cleaning process, the next step is to add a winter chemical kit. Winter chemical kits contain chemicals that help control the water’s chemical nature and inhibit the growth of algae in the water. Either you can add separate chemicals or use a chemical kit. Make sure you run the pool pump for one complete cycle. A complete cycle will almost take 4-6 hours, depending on the pump’s power and pool size.

Step 5: Removing the Inline Fitting and Lowering the Water Level

The next step is to remove the inline fitting, located inside the pool. Insert a winterizing plug into the inline fitting you just removed. Now lower the water level 4-6 inches below the skimmer.

Step 6: Removing the Drain Plugs and Filter Hoses

The drain plugs must be removed while winterizing your pool. If not removed, they can suffer ice damage over the winter season. It is now time to remove the filter hoses from the skimmer fitting and the pool return fitting. Remember to take pictures of the setting so you don’t have trouble connecting them back in the next season. Please keep all the removed parts in their boxes in a safe place so you won’t lose them.

Step 7: Take Care of the Chlorinator

If you have a chlorinator with your swimming pool, it is now time to take care of it. Drain and flush all the water out from the chlorinator to keep it safe during the winter.

Step 8: Take Off the Removable Equipment

Most above-ground pools have removable equipment such as ladders, hoses, over-top skimmers, or any other equipment that is usually not the core component of the swimming pool. Remove them safely and take them to a place where the winter frost won’t hurt them. Most people store such things in basements or garages.

Step 9: Add an Air Pillow

Inflate air pillows according to the size of your pool. Consult the pool manufacturer for the exact number of pillows you need to add for winterizing. Make sure you tie the air pillows with a strong stationary object. If you have to use more than one pillow, tie them together using the hooks on them. Just a pro tip: don’t inflate the pillows more than ¾ of their capacity; keep it soft and moderately filled. Air pillows will not let the water freeze outward of the pillow so that the pool walls don’t get damaged.

Step 10: Add a Pool Winter Cover

The last step is to install a pool winter cover over your pool. You will need to use cable and hooks to secure the cover over the pool. The cover must rest directly on the top of the water, and the sides will cover the entire surface of the pool and extend over the walls.  Adding 1-2 inches of water over the pool cover will keep it safe from winter damage. Make sure you check which side goes over the pool before installing the pool cover. Depending upon your pool’s size and shape, you may need to place water tubes around the edges of the pool. Please don’t fill the tubes completely as the water in them may freeze, and the tubes can burst. Make sure you don’t use bricks, concrete blocks, or any other heavy object for holding the cover. Such things can damage the pool cover and the pool walls.

Step 11: Periodical Checking

It is best to check the chemical nature of the water periodically throughout a chilly winter season. You may also inspect the physical properties of water by lifting the cover slightly. If the chemical nature is significantly changed, you may need to consult a pool professional. You will also need to check the volume of water gathering on top of the pool cover. If there is too much water and the cover can’t hold it, use a cover pump or your pool drainage pump to get rid of it.

How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool with a Sand Filter

Installing a sand filter in place of a cartridge filter has its perks. A sand filter cannot only remove large particles such as hair, insects, leaves; it can also successfully deal with small particles such as algae, phosphates, and other pollutants. To keep your precious sand filter safe during winters, you need to winterize it. Let’s learn the winterizing process for above-ground pools with a sand filter.

Please note the all the other steps remain the same as discussed above. The extra steps are given below.

Step 1: Backwash the Sand Filter

The most important thing before closing a sand filter is to perform a backwash cycle. Most of the pumps come with clear instructions for the backwashing. You have to move the lever to the backwash position. If you don’t know how to do it, read the owner’s manual that came with the filter. Once the water is cleared, move the valve to the rinse position and let the pump run for 30-60 seconds.

Step 2: Move to Winterize Position

The next step is to move the valve to the winterize position. It will force the water out of the pump and drain. To completely remove the water from the filter tank, you will need to remove the drain cap at the filter tank’s bottom. The filtration sand in a sand filter lasts for 3-4 years, depending upon the water’s quality and quantity. If a sand replacement is not in your schedule, leave the sand in the filter. Otherwise, take it out and clean the tank. It is best to replace the sand before opening the pool at the beginning of the next spring or summer season.

Step 3: Remove the Hoses and Store the Filter

Detach the water hose

The last step is to remove all the hoses attached to the filter and keep them in a safe, dry place. It is best to keep them in the box in which the filter came. If you don’t have the original packing, you can use plastic bags or wrap the components in old sheets and keep them in a dry place where the temperature will not fall below the freezing point.

That’s it. You are done with wintering your sand filter system for above-ground pools.

How to Winterize Above Ground Pool with Saltwater?

Saltwater pools have their advantages over traditionally chlorinated swimming pools. They are gentle to your eyes and skin, you don’t need to handle and store large volumes of chlorine. Saltwater pools have softer water, which is pleasant to feel. However, saltwater pools also have some downsides. They are costly to build and install, may need professionals for minor maintenance tasks, and salt can damage water heaters, underwater lights and damage the pool’s liner. If you own an above-ground saltwater pool, you don’t need to worry about winterizing it. There are some additional steps you need to perform as compared to winterizing a traditional pool. They are listed below.

Testing the Salinity

Before you begin the closing process, you need to test for the salt content in the water. Some people add more salt in the winter season without testing the water. It is a mistake. Never add more salt to water without performing a proper test. You can use a digital saline meter or buy water testing strips. Testing strips are cheap as compared to a salt meter and are very accurate as well. Once you have the results, check them against the recommended level from your pool supplier. It is best to leave the salt content a bit low before the start of the winter season. Salt in the water has the affinity to react with contaminants and pollutants in the water and cause stains.

The ideal range for salinity is 2500-4000 parts per million. Consult your pool supplier for an exact figure.

Adding Saltwater Compatible Winterizing Kit

closing a pool for winter season with winterizing kit

When you are winterizing a saltwater pool, make sure you add a winterizing kit compatible with saltwater. If a non-compatible kit is added, it can mess with the water chemistry and cause some tough stains on your pool liner.

Winterizing the Salt Generator

The other additional thing is to winterize the salt generator. Turn off the power to the salt generator and disconnect the generator from the pool plumbing. To keep the lines properly spaced and sealed for the winter season, place a dummy cell between them. Once you have the generator in your hand, remove the scale deposits from it with a high-pressure water feed. Make sure you don’t use metal to scrap the deposits and don’t be tough on them as it will damage the cells and affect their working capacity. Once the cells are cleaned and scrapped, store them inside at a safe, dry place. If your cells are up for a replacement, do it before opening the pool next season.

All the other steps are the same as we discussed above in winterizing the above-ground pool section.

Some FAQs Regarding Winterizing Above Ground Pools

Can I dry my Above Ground Pool Completely?

This is a common question that a lot of people think about while winterizing their above-ground pools. The answer to this question is a bit conflicting. Some people believe that if an above-ground pool is completely drained, it may result in collapse and cause more damage than a frozen pool may. Therefore, lowering the water level and using a pool cover is a better option. Others suggest that draining the pool is a good option for areas where the temperature falls way below the freezing point. If you are completely draining the pool, make sure you check the local laws regarding the drainage of chemically treated water. To protect the pool liner, you can use talcum powder the liner to prevent the vinyl from sticking together. Roll the liner and place it along with the other parts in an area where the temperature will remain moderate and not fall below the freezing point.

My above-ground pool is hard plumbed. What should I do?

For people with hard plumbed above-ground pools, the best way to minimize frozen pipes is to force out water from them. You can use compressed air cans or air blowers to kick out the water in them. It will minimize the chances of water freezing in the pipes. If the pipes freeze during the winter season, wait for them to thaw naturally, and then open your pool.

I have a water heater for my above-ground pool. How to winterize it?

If you have a water heater with an above-ground swimming pool, use an air blower or compressed air cans to force the water out from it. You must drain the heater properly before shutting it down.

Final Words

Now that you know everything about winterizing your above-ground pool, opening them for the next swimming season will be a breeze. We suggest you follow all the steps explained above carefully and save yourself a lot of time and money in the next swimming season.

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