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How to Winterize an Above Ground Swimming Pool

Properly preparing your above ground pool for the winter months ensures that you’ll have clean, healthy water and functioning equipment when you open it in the spring. In this blog, we’ll give you quick lists of what the materials you’ll need as well as what steps to take to get the job done. These steps can be done over the course of a full week, or a weekend.  
What you’ll need: What to do:
  1. Test and balance chemical levels 
  2. Clean pool and skimmer 
  3. Clear filter 
  4. Add winter chemical kit 
  5. Lower water level 
  6. Winterize skimmer, return jets and pool equipment 
  7. Remove pool accessories 
  8. Introduce air pillow 
  9. Cover pool
  10. Maintain
Step #1
Test and balance your chemical levels
Test and balance your chemical levels. One week prior to closing your pool, test the levels of pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness using a water chemistry test kit. The proper levels for winter will vary depending on the manufacturer’s guide in the winterizing chemical kit you use, but, generally, your levels should be:
  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8
  • Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: follow winter kit instructions
  • Chlorine: 2- 3 ppm
Step #2
Clean pool and skimmer
Clean pool and skimmer. As your chemicals adjust, use a biodegradable pool cleaner to scrub the waterline and remove buildup that could stain your liner. Clean the inside of the skimmer, ridding it of any black residue, and scrub and rinse the entirety of your pool: top rail, uprights, etc.
If you have a traditional solar cover, we recommend using Natural Chemistry Cover Free to remove any residual chemicals or organic buildup before letting it air dry and storing it for the winter.
Give your pool one last vacuum for the season, with both your automatic cleaner or hand vacuum,and no matter what, always use a pool brush to scrub down your vinyl liner.  Liners are porous, and require a good, hard scouring to remove particles that could promote staining and/or algae growth.
Step #3
Clear filter
Clear filter. For cartridge filters, soak the cartridge in a filter cleaner.  For sand or DE filters, backwash your filter.  Clean out the build-up in the filter tank, as advised in the filter manual.
Step #4
Add winter chemical kit
Add winter chemical kit. The ideal winter chemical kit contains chlorine or non-chlorine shock, and a wintertime algaecide.  If you have a heater or use well water, it is a good idea to use a kit that also comes with a metal control.
Tip:  Don’t add algaecide and chlorine shock at the same time, as chlorine can break down the algaecide and prevent it from working properly.
Step #5
Lower water level
5. Lower water level. Drain your pool using a siphon pool pump, per your pool’s manufacturer instructions (which usually means down to 2” below your return jet).
Step #6
Winterize pool equipment
Winterize skimmer, return jets and pool equipment. Gut your skimmer, removing all interior parts, including vac plate, basket, etc. Pull the eyeball out of your return jet(s) by unthreading the ring and eyeball. Replace the eyeball with a rubber plug (usually #9 or #10). If the fitting is female, use a threaded plug.  If you have a light built into your return jet, when you pull out the eyeball, take the light out as well.
Disconnect the hoses from your filter and skimmer.  Winterize your pump, filter and heater by following manufacturer instructions to make sure all water is out of the lines.  If you have a chlorinator, run down the chlorine, and drain the water, per manufacturer instructions.
Sand filters have a winterizing valve which is used to let the filter breathe. Most manufacturers do not require their equipment be covered for winter.
Tip: Should you choose to cover your equipment, don’t make it air tight; pool equipment needs to breathe! If your tarp or cover is air tight, it could promote build-up of condensation, which could result in algae and/or freeze damage.
Step #7
Remove pool accessories
7. Remove pool accessories. Take all accessories out of your pool (ladders, floats, etc.), and properly clean, dry and store them for winter.

Step #8
Introduce air pillow
Introduce air pillow. An air pillow will absorb the pressure of freezing water, and though it will not keep rain or snow off your cover, having the air pillow in the center of the pool should evenly distribute the weight of water, thus creating less stress on your pool cover.
Tip:Only inflate the air pillow to ¾ full because if inflated all the way, the pressure from a freezing pool may pop it!
Step #9
Cover pool
Cover pool. With your pool now chemically balanced and clean, your equipment and accessories properly disconnected and stored and the air pillow in place, it is time to cover your pool with either a winter pool cover or safety cover.
If you use a winter cover, run winterizing shrink wrap around your pool after the cover is secured. This not only seals your pool, but prevents the cover from flapping or coming off.
If you have a pool with a deck, place water bags filled ¾ full around the edge of your pool to hold down your cover.  The water inside will freeze and act as a weight.
Tip: If you use weights that are too heavy, such as concrete blocks, it may result in damage to your winter cover or your pool.
Step #10
Maintain. Now, with your pool properly buttoned-up for winter, all you need to do is pay attention to the amount of water that accumulates on the cover. If too much water accumulates on your cover, use a cover pump or the same siphon pump you used to drain your pool, and rid your cover of its excess winter weight.
Give us a call if you have any questions on this process, or if you need any recommendations on products to properly winterize your above ground pool!
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