Winterizing above ground pools is an important process that will ensure your pool is closed down properly for the winter season. As water sits stagnant over the winter months before and after the water freezers it can fall out of chemical balance. The water can harbour organisms like algae blooms that can lead to stubborn stains and other issues. The good news is there are a few simple steps you can take, and a few things you can add to the water at the end of the pool season that will keep everything clean and ready to be reopened in the spring.
If you are closing a pool for the first time it might be a bit confusing at first but it's important whether you have a salt water pool or a regular chemical chlorine pool. Whether you are shutting down your pool for a few months or extended periods of time this guide can be used to get any pool ready for weeks and months of no chemistry balancing or water circulation. The easiest way to close a pool is to use a winterizing chemical kit that has everything you need including a shock, clarifier and anti-stain which we're going to go over in detail.
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 pool closing steps completed. It might take a bit of time to get everything in order the first time you close your pool but it will become a lot more simple after you're gone through and done it once.
A week or two prior to closing your pool 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. The ideal ranges for above ground pools are as follows but you shouldn't need much adjusting if you have kept your pool healthy all season long. Visit our pool maintenance page for more information.
After you have balanced and double checked that your water is ready for the winter closing 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 even with the strongest cleaning brush. If you find that you need a bit more than a brush there are excellent biodegradable pool cleaners available or you can use a pool vacuum.
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 the freezing point. A quality 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.
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. Never completely drain your pool because it will make an above ground pool completely as it will leave it more susceptible to damage during the winter. Check local bylaws about where pool water should be drained, you may need to connect a drainage hose that can reach to wherever the water needs to be drained.
After the pool water is sorted out it's time to take care of the hardware that keeps your pool running smoothly all year long. The main power supply should be turned off before disconnecting any plumbing from the pool pump, skimmer and salt water system. All valves should be removed to allow for complete draining and left open to allow for air circulation and evaporation so you don't have any water left that could potentially cause damage.
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. If you have a cartridge filter, remove and clean the cartridges and the same goes if you have a DE filter. If you are using a sand pool filter you should run a sand filter backwash and clean out the filter sand.
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 and removing the cell inside. The winter is a good time to clean the salt cell and gets you in the habit every time you carry out your pool closing routine.
This step can be done at any time but it should not be skipped if you want to prolong the life of your pool accessories. All pool components including anything attached to your pool that can potentially be damaged by extreme weather should be removed. Items that should be stored inside include ladders or steps, diving board and toys. It's also a good idea to give everything you're storing away for the winter a good clean to prevent staining.
When winterizing above ground pools that experience freezing temperatures this step shouldn't be skipped. Placing a winter pool cover air pillow that floats on the water in the center of your pool will distribute the stress caused by the freezing water and prevent any damage from the expansion process. An air pillow is a great idea for pool owners that experience freezing temperatures and a necessity in areas temperatures below 14 F (-10c).
A good quality cover that fits your pools 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.
An alternative that will protect your pool all winter long is a winterizing pill that floats under the cover all winter long. This option is for pool owners that live in climates that don't get below freezing but still shut down during the cold winter months. The patented chemical delivery system provides 6 months of treatment that's slow released all winter long. The all-in-one formula is safe for all surfaces and will treat pools up to 30,000 gallons water volume.
As with all pool closing routines the key is to get it completed before the weather turns. If you put it off or forget to do it, you can end up with a lot of headaches the following year when you open your pool. Hopefully the tips and advice from our experts help make the process a lot easier so the next time you prepare your pool for the off season it's a simple routine.
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