How to close your above ground pool for the season
Some things come around far too quickly. Stretching out by the pool and seeing the world through tinted lenses and clear inflatables has just become the norm, but sadly, all good things must come to an end. The time to close your above-ground pool for the winter has come around once again. That is unless you live somewhere tropical where swimming on Christmas Day is a regular activity, which incidentally means I am extremely envious of you.
I am going to tell you why closing your pool is so important. I’ll also explain when you should do it, what you’ll need, and how to do it the right way. After reading this you will be able to save some serious time and money and be able to cannonball into next year’s pool season easier than ever before.
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Why close for the winter?
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that experiences mild winters, i.e. without frost, snow, or teeth-shatteringly cold temperatures, then you can probably leave your pool open. Just be aware that maintaining your pool over the winter will involve cleaning out debris, adding chemicals, running the pool pump, and using the greater circulation system. Even with a variable speed money-saving pump, this seems like an unnecessary cost if you aren’t actually going to be swimming.
If you decide to close your pool then you need to make sure you do it right. When you remove your pool cover on the first day of swimming season the last thing you want to see is a murky mixture of algae, grime, debris and mold that has been waiting for you for months. Closing your pool the right way will make it easier and cheaper when you open it up again in the spring.
Timing, timing, timing
This tip is a real winner and you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of this yourself. If the temperature is generally below 65 degrees where you are, leave your pool open until it drops below that point. Not only can you use and treat your pool as normal right until the time you need to bid each other farewell for a few months, but doing this will also help to keep your pool algae-free throughout the winter. It also means you’re not having to rush the closing process. As you will find out, it takes over a day to close your pool properly as pool shock can only be added when it is dark outside. If you experience a few warm days above 65 degrees during the winter, treat your water on those days to prevent algae. That way you will give yourself a headstart with the cleaning you will have to deal with later in the spring. Trust me, doing this work now, rather than leaving your pool untreated during the winter months, will be completely worth it later.
Get the right gear
Be prepared, the list of equipment you will need is long. But remember, you’ll be able to use it all again next year so there is no harm in stocking up. You will need:
– Above-ground pool winter cover
– Pool air pillow
– Above-ground pool skimmer cover
– Cover winch and cable
– Cover clips
– Expansion plugs
– Return line plugs
– Pool brush
– Pool vacuum or robotic cleaner
– Shop-Vac or air compressor
– Tools for removing pool accessories (e.g. ladders)
– Winter pool cover pump
Check those chemicals
Now that you’ve got all the right gear, it is time to check your chemical supply. Unless your chlorine is unstabilized, in which case you do not need the cyanuric acid, or issues with your pool freezing, in which case you do not need the antifreeze, you will need the chemicals listed below. The only item that is completely optional is pool enzymes.
– Water test strips
– Chlorine or your choice of sanitizer
– pH increaser
– pH decreaser
– Alkalinity increaser
– Calcium hardness increaser
– Pool shock
– Cyanuric acid
– Pool enzymes
– Pool-grade antifreeze
How to close your pool for the season in 10 steps
Now you have all the equipment, it’s time to get started on the real work. I am not going to pretend that it is an easy job, but I can assure you that closing your pool for the winter will be worth it come springtime. Once you know the process, you will get quicker at it every year. When it comes to pool maintenance, you probably know that you’re it in for the long haul. Let’s hope you’ve had enough protein to get started with Step 1!
Step 1: Pool cleaning needs muscle power
Time to say goodbye to anything mold or algae can live off. Firstly, using a net with a telescopic pole, give your pool a skim clean. Then, using a brush, scrape both the pool’s base and walls. Pay special attention to the spots more likely to get algae and mold growths. Brushing these areas will dislodge any microscopic spores that could later multiple if left alone. My top recommended brush is like no other brush on the market. It has a patented 360-degree brush head which is perfect for getting to those hard-to-reach spots. It was also developed by people with years of experience servicing pools who were tired of the aches and pain they were getting after brushing corners with regular brushes.
Next, you will need to vacuum the pool’s floor. Use a powerful model such as the Blue Torrent MyBot Robotic Cleaner, that can pick up dirt that has settled. Unlike a manual vacuum, using a robot cleaner won’t strain your back. You can let the vacuum do its job whilst you sit poolside for a while and relax with a cold can.
Step 2: Put your water to the test
If you skip this step, the word “stewing” will no longer just refer to what you do after an argument with your partner. Although pool covers will keep your pool covered and safe from the elements while it is closed, they are not foolproof. Also, your pool circulation system will not be running, so you will need to help your water now to get it through the winter.
Making sure that your sanitizer and other chemicals are properly balanced will protect your pool from corrosion, extreme clouding up, and murkiness that cost a lot to fix. If you like the sound of avoiding these costs, you will love Step 3 even more.
Step 3: Wave summer goodbye by adding winterizing chemicals
Balancing your pool’s chemical before closing it will definitely avoid the water becoming swampy. However, I am not talking about your usual weekly chemical maintenance. You can give your pool an extra boost with some added chemicals. Pool enzymes can be added to get rid of any organic contaminants that could be lingering in the water. Pool-grade antifreeze can also work wonders if you experience frozen pipes—just make sure it is not the toxic kind of antifreeze made for cars.
Algaecide was also on the list of chemicals, mainly for those who have an algae problem, but we will get to that in Step 4.
Step 4: Shock your pool now so there’s no reason to be shocked later
Time for a break – just what you needed. The next step is to shock your pool. Remember to do this at dusk or nighttime if not the sun will burn it off before it has started to work. Shock your pool tonight, let the pool pump run for around eight hours, and then you can get back to work tomorrow.
Did you find any algae blooms while brushing and vacuuming? If so, you can double or triple the amount of shock you add. The added dose will depend on the algae’s color, but always make sure to measure out the right amount for your pool size. This top-quality,quick-reacting pool shock comes in convenient, pre-measured bags (1lb) to make dosing simpler.
If your pool has a high risk of getting algae, add one or two doses of algaecide to your pool after the shock has finished its job. Despite its name, algaecide is actually better at preventing that killing algae. Fear not, that is why we have other boldly named products like pool shock.
Step 5: Take down those lines… and dry them out
The last thing you want is to have cracked pipes that need replacing completely. Whether or not frozen pipes in the winter is something you have to worry about, clearing and storing your pool lines will make setting them up again in the spring a lot easier.
Ready to do it? All you need to do is disconnect the lines, allow any lodged water to run out, then let the lines air dry outside. Drying is an important step unless you want to find mold on opening day. Once completely dry, store your pipes in a dry, shaded area. A word from the wise – unless you are going for the mad scientist look, don’t do this while your circulation system is on or connected to a power supply.
Step 6: Skimmer time
Let’s keep this as simple as possible. When pool experts talk about a “skimmer”, they are talking about the rectangular plate (the skimmer plate) that sits on the side of your pool and the basket (the skimmer basket) that connects to the skimmer plate and holds any debris. To get your skimmer ready for the winter you will need to empty out the basket. You don’t want any leaves, twigs, and who knows what else sitting in there until springtime.
You can decide whether you cover the skimmer plate or not. Personally, I recommend that you do otherwise you will need to drain your pool to below the skimmer line. That is not an easy task. Also, if the water freezes, it could cause permanent damage to the skimmer. If you choose not to cover your skimmer as your winters tend to be very mild, and you don’t mind draining some of your pool water, that is fine too.
Step 7: Give your pump and filter a helping hand
The summer might be vacation time for you, but your pump gets its rest during the winter. When your pump down, remove the filter and all drain plugs first. You’ll also need to remove the pump itself, the chlorinator, and all the hoses. Keep all the drain plugs in the pump basket so you can find them easily in the spring. Keep the pump, chlorinator, and hoses in a dry, shaded indoor area such as a garage.
You may already know that your filter is where all the gunk that is picked up from the water lives. You will want to drain the filters well before storing them inside to avoid any unpleasant odors.
If you have a sand filter then you should set your multiport valve to “winterize”. Remove the drain plug at the bottom and allow the filter to fully drain. If your valves have any extra features, like a sight glass or a bleeder valve, those will also need to be removed. If your filter is too heavy to bring indoors, it will be fine outside as long as all the drain plugs have been removed.
With cartridge filters, the cartridge needs to be removed and submerged in water with added pool filter cleaner. Thoroughly rinse out the filter, and allow it to dry, before storing it inside. You will need to leave the valves on your filter open throughout the winter.
For diatomaceous earth (DE) filters, all the water in the pump and filter needs to be drained out. Then the grids should be rinsed off with a hose to remove excess DE. As with cartridge filters, the valves on DE filters need to be left open.
Step 8: Take down those accessories (and more)
In order to make sure your pool is completely covered from any potential debris and protected from unnecessary damage, remove any accessories you have installed in your pool. Ladders, rails, and so on need to go. This is one of the reasons you should have a pool ladder with easy installation such as the Easy Pool Step Ladder for Above-Ground Pools. Now is a great time to give all your accessories a good clean and dry before you store them away safely until next spring. Make sure anything electronic is stored indoors over the winter.
If you have a saltwater pool you will also need to remove your saltwater chlorine generator. Drain it and store it away safely. Some generators have a “winter” setting which makes this process easier. Now you can turn off all the power and gas connected to this system as you won’t be needing them for a while. You will love how much lower your new power bills are!
Step 9: Drain part of your pool—or don’t
Didn’t invest in a skimmer cover and now you’re expecting a bitter winter? Of course, that is totally up to you. Lowering your water level will seriously help to prevent any damage caused by freezing, just make sure you don’t lower the water level so much that the walls of your pool are exposed and at risk of cracking. Keep your water just under the skimmer and you should be fine.
To lower the water level, all you need is a submersible pump. Keep an eye on it while it is working if not you’ll lose too much water. That would be extremely… draining.
Check with your local authorities to find out where your drained water should go. This is especially important since it has just been chemically treated. You don’t want fees and the guilt of environmental damage weighing on you.
Step 10: Install a winter pillow and cover
This is a long old process. Anyone else ready for a nap? Even your pool needs a rest and a pillow once a year. Don’t worry, you won’t need to rummage through your linen closet for old bedding. If you live in a cold region, you would benefit from placing a pool air pillow, or alternatively an ice compensator, under your winter pool cover. This will protect both the sides of the cover and the walls of your pool from any pressure damage from the ice and snow that will build on top of your pool. If your region isn’t cold, a pillow could still be helpful. It will make cleaning a lot easier in the spring as it keeps water and debris from collecting in the middle of your pool.
To install your pillow, all you need to do is inflate it and place it in the center of your pool. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist you can get a pillow that comes with built-in grommets which attach to the four corners of your pool, keeping it perfectly centered. Make sure the pillow is only inflated halfway if not it could pop mid-winter and you will have to deal with some extremely cold water to replace what is lost. To make your pillow even more resilient to winter conditions, seal the seams and valves with duct tape after inflation. We all need a few extra layers to help us get through the cold months of the year.
Now you can put your winter cover on. This will make sure your pool water is safe from debris and potential contaminants. It will also prevent the chemicals in your water from getting diluted by rain, snow, or any other winter elements. Most covers can even remove all gaps so you won’t have to worry about skimming out leaves. That said, you should still periodically check that the cover is still attached securely. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when securing it, avoiding the use of any heavy objects that could fall into – and damage – your pool.
If you didn’t choose to opt for a pillow this year, you will probably find that the center of your cover has a big puddle of water once it rains or snows. While this is completely normal, if you don’t do something about it the puddle will get so heavy that it sinks into your pool. Dirty water and debris will fall into your pool and ruin all the hard work you’ve just done to prepare it for next spring. I recommend using a long-lasting, sturdy cover pump like the Brute Force 1250 GPH Pool Cover Pump. One owner said it “saves so much time.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about.
Look forward to next year!
All the hard work is done. Another great pool season has come to an end. Bathing suits have returned to the black of the closet, floaties have been deflated, and we have something to look forward to next season. You’ve taken the time to close your pool the right way, so the first day of pool season next spring is going to be a real splash. Until then, it is time to enjoy gingerbread, snowmen, and cut-price energy bills!