Winterizing Above Ground Pools

If you have questions about winterizing above ground pools we can help and it's probably a lot easier than you think.  When the weather cools off it's time to think about closing your pool and there are a few important steps that all pool owners should follow to make sure that the pool is as ready as possible when it's time to open it in the spring.   

winterizing above ground pool

It might seem a bit overwhelming or confusing if it’s your first time closing your pool but but it's important whether you have a salt water pool or a regualar chlorine pool.  The steps are generally the same as winterizing or closing an inground pool but it will be a lot easier because of the smaller size and simple hardware.   

If you live in a climate that drops below freezing in the winter the main concern is removing water from any plumbing that will be exposed to freezing temperatures.  This includes separating and removing hardware like the filter, pump or salt system.  If you don’t experience freezing temperatures during the winter months your goal will be to achieve a winter ready chemical balance so the water remains somewhat healthy while sitting stagnant.

Whether you live in the United States, Canada or Australia there will likely be a time when you want to shut down your pool for a few months or extended periods of time.  This guide can be used to get any above ground pool ready for weeks or months of no water circulation. 

salt water pool maintenance guide

Winterizing Above Ground Pool Step by Step

Above ground pool closing and winterizing can be done by any handy pool owner by following these steps and working through each one carefully.  If you have given yourself a couple of weeks before you experience cold or freezing temperatures you have plenty of time to get your winterizing above ground pool steps completed.  

1.  Final Balancing

A week or two prior to closing your pool you need to make sure that you balance the water chemistry as best as possible.  The more balanced you get your pool water the more effectively the winterizing chemicals will work to keep your pool water stable.  If you want more information about chemical balancing be sure to visit our salt water pool maintenance page.  

The ideal ranges for a salt water above ground pool are as follows but you shouldn't need much adjusting if you have kept your pool healthy all season long.  If you don't have a salt water test kit you can take a sample of your water to a local pool company or even hire a pool service company to close your pool for a nominal cost. 

  • Salinity: 2500-4500 ppm
  • pH: 7.2-7.8 ppm
  • Free Chlorine: 2-4 ppm
  • Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
  • Cayanuric Acid: 50-80 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 200-400 ppm

2.  Final Cleaning

After you have balanced or double checked that your water is ready to the winter it's the perfect time to give your pool a good clean.  If you leave grime or residue on a vinyl liner while the water is sitting stagnant it is likely to stain and be very difficult to remove.  If you find that you need a bit more than a brush there are excellent biodegradable cleaners available. 

If you have an above ground pool vacuum it will make this step a lot easier but good old elbow grease will suffice if you have the time and patience. 

3.  Chemical Balancing

This is probably the most important step when winterizing above ground pools because of the tendency of water to turn unhealthy over the winter especially if you have temperatures that fluctuate around freezing.  A pool winterizing chemical kit will have the key components including an algaecide, sequestering agent and oxidizer.  

If you don't add these chemicals you run the risk of your water turning ugly quickly when conditions become ideal for algae or other micro organisms to flourish and grow uninhibited.

4.  Lower Water Level

After you have your pool balanced and winter chemicals added you should drain your pool water level to approximately 6 inches below the skimmer line and return jets. It's recommended that you never completely drain your pool completely because it will make your pool more susceptible to damage during the winter.  

5.  Hardware Preparation

If you have a cartridge filter removed and clean the cartridges and the same goes if you have a D.E. filters.  If you are using a sand pool filter you should run a backwash to clean out the filter sand and if necessary do a complete rinse of the sand.

The main power supply should be turned off and disconnect any plumbing from the pump, filter, skimmer and salt water system. All valves should be removed to allow for complete draining.  Any plumbing or valves that have been removed should be left open to allow for air circulation and evaporation so you don't have any water left that could potentially cause damage to your devices. 

You may need to use an industrial blower or shop vacuum to forcefully blow out the water that won't empty from the plumbing.  All plumbing should be refastened after allowing the water to evaporate completely and anywhere that is open to the elements should be plugged with an expandable rubber plug or similar.  This will help prevent damage and also prevent anything from living in your plumbing over the winter. 

6.  Salt Cell Preparation

If you have a salt water pool system you should set the chlorine generator to the “winter” setting if available.  If your chlorine generator doesn't have this feature you will need to remove the cell or system and store inside over the winter.  Most chlorine generators have a removable electrolytic cell that can be removed by unscrewing the end caps.  

It's a good time to give the cell a clean and gets you in the habit every time you carry out your winterizing above ground pool steps.  If you would like more detailed instructions and information about cells be sure to visit our salt water pool cell page.  

7.  Remove and Store Accessories

This step can be done at any time but it should not be skipped.  All accessories including anything that is attached to your pool that can potentially be damaged by extreme weather should be removed.  Items that should be stored inside include pool accessories, ladders, toys, etc.  It's also a good idea to give everything a good clean before storing it to prevent staining.

8.  Air Pillow

When winterizing above ground pools this step is often forgotten or skipped but you should place an air pillow that floats on the water in the center of your pool.  The air pillow distributes the stress caused by the freezing water which prevents damage to the structure of the pool.  An air pillow is a good idea for pool owners that experience freezing temperatures and a necessity in areas that experience temperature below 14 F (-10c).

9.  Winter Cover

A good quality cover that fits your pool's dimensions as close as possible should be installed and tied down securely.  You may find that cover clips are necessary to prevent the cover from coming off in areas that experience strong winds and extreme temperatures.  A good above ground pool cover will ensure that all the hard work you put into cleaning the water pays off by not allowing any dirt or debris to get in your pool.

We hope this guide to winterizing above ground pools helps you achieve a clean, fully functioning pool in the spring.  Always refer to the manual provided with your equipment for detailed instructions that can be different and specific to your pool system or hardware. 

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