Above-ground pool covered in snow

The winter season, with its powerful gusts of wind, rain, and snow, may catch your pool by surprise. As the leaves begin to fall and the temperature drops, you need to start thinking about winterizing your pool. Proper winterization prevents the weather from brewing a nasty mess come spring when you want to cool off with a swim. You are probably familiar with the maintenance of a pool when it is in use, but navigating chemical, temperature, and water level adjustments when winterizing your pool can be confusing. We have done the work for you by identifying the steps and important factors to guide you through this process.

Why You Should Winterize Your Pool

Preparing your pool for winter won’t only keep it looking its best but will save you time and money. Pools exposed to the elements lead to algae growth, scale build-up, and corrosion. Spending time winterizing your pool may sound counterintuitive when you still have to clean and prepare your pool for regular use, but not winterizing your pool can come back to haunt you. Investing some time preparing your above-ground pool for the winter season can save you days of cleaning, headaches, and costly damage come spring.

When to Winterize an Above-Ground Pool

The best time to begin the process of winterizing your pool is when temperatures regularly fall below 61° F or 16° C. Depending on where you live, this can be as early as September or as late as December for those in warmer US states. You will need to let some chemicals work their magic over a few days and drain your pool equipment, so make sure you winterize your pool at least a week before your first freeze.

Materials for Winterizing Your Pool

At first glance, the list of supplies may seem long but keep in mind that you will most likely own most of the tools and chemicals listed. This list will serve as a friendly reminder of any supplies you’re missing or running low on.

  • Pool brush
  • Pool vacuum
  • Leaf skimmer
  • Algae brush
  • Shop-vac
  • Pool antifreeze
  • Pool Gizzmo
  • Skimmer Plug
  • Non-chlorine shock
  • pH increaser & pH decreaser
  • Chlorine
  • Calcium hardness increaser
  • Algaecide

Steps to Winterize Above-Ground Pools

1. Test and Balance the Water

Ensuring your pool’s water is correctly balanced before closing it for the winter will keep it protected and clean throughout winter. Test your pool water and make adjustments to stay within the ranges below. You can use any test strips, test kits or take a sample to your local pool supply store. Regardless of your method, take your water sample at a depth of 4”- 6” for the best results.

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6
  • Alkalinity: 80 – 120 PPM
  • Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 PPM

*PPM = Parts Per Million

2. Shock the Pool

Once the water in your pool has been completely balanced, add a non-chlorine pool shock to eliminate any remaining contaminants that can lead to stains and algae growth during the winter. Ensure you add the pool shock at least five days before you intend to close your pool for the winter. Follow the manufactures directions for the amount and method of application.

3. Clean the Pool

If overlooked, any remaining debris can undo the hard work of balancing and cleaning the pool water. Use your brush, pool vacuum, and leaf skimmer to loosen and clean any physical build-up. Go over the walls and floor and try to eliminate any small debris. Diligently cleaning your pool before you close it down will result in pristine water when you open it back up.

4. Remove Accessories

Start by removing your skimmer basket, pool alarms, ladders, automatic pool cleaners, and return fittings. Take a few minutes to fully dry each piece before storing them away for the winter. This will prevent any water stains or damage under freezing temperatures.

5. Lower the Water Level

To preserve your skimmer, most pool owners will lower the water level a few inches below their skimmer opening. You can let the water run out of the return line hose by carefully disconnecting it from the filter.

If you want to make your life a little easier, consider investing in a skimmer plug. This device goes over your skimmer opening, locking in place, and preventing water from entering. Once the plug is in place, you can drain the skimmer pipe and disconnect the hose that leads to the pump.

6. Install a Pool Gizzmo

Gizzmos plug the pipe to keep water out and absorb ice expansion inside the skimmer. They come in a couple of sizes, most commonly 9” and 16”. You will want to install one if you live in an area with any chance of freezing. Skipping this step can lead to cracking your skimmer housing unit, so they are a worthwhile investment.

7. Drain All Equipment

Your next step is to ensure all filtering, heating, pumping, and chlorinating units are entirely water-free to prevent damage. You can use an air compressor to blow the air out or a shop vac to suck up any remaining water. Once the pipes have been thoroughly dried, install plugs with O-rings to prevent any water from reentering. Ensure all pumps, filters, heaters, and chlorinators are plugged as well.

8. Add Winterizing Chemicals

To keep your pool clean and algae-free, you will need to get a pool winterizing kit. You can buy the chemicals separately, but you will most likely end up spending more than you need to. Skipping this step may not be detrimental to your pool’s health, but it will result in a tremendous amount of work when it’s opened again in spring. Taking a few cautionary steps now will save you time and money.

Once you’ve chosen the winterizing kit that fits your needs, follow the manufactures directions and remain worry-free all winter long.

9. Cover the Pool

Now that the hard work is done, it’s time to get your above-ground pool covered and closed for the winter. Select a durable pool cover built of weather-resistant polyester for average-sized pools. Most covers will come in various colors and qualities, so you can find one to fit your style and budget. You may have to opt for a custom-sized cover for larger pools to get the proper fit.

Before you put your cover on and close your pool for the winter, use your leaf skimmer to take out any debris that may have fallen in since you last cleaned the pool.

Round above-ground pool with a Khaki pool cover on it

Want more winterization tips? Check out these winter prep guides:

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