How to Winterize an Above Ground 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. Below we have put together some easy to follow steps to winterize an above ground pool.

What you’ll need:
pool water test kit

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
Pool Rover Junior

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.

cartridge filter

Clean pool 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 WinterPill

Add winter chemical kit

The ideal winter chemical kit contains chlorine shock or non-chlorine shock, and a winterizing 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.

pool filter pump combo

Lower water level

Drain your pool using a siphon pool pump or sump pump per your pool’s manufacturer instructions (which usually means down to 2” below your return jet). Some pool owner’s may opt to lower their pool water by setting the pool filter multi-port valve to waste and backwashing the water.

Winterize Skimmer and 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 may result in algae and/or freeze damage.

Remove pool accessories

Take all accessories out of your pool (ladders, floats, etc.), and properly clean, dry and store them for winter.

Step 8 Air pillow

Introduce an 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!

winter cover

Cover your 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 cover 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.

pool cover pump

Maintain your pool

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.

By following this guide to properly winterize an above ground pool, you should have a worry-free spring opening next season. Give us a call at 800.772.0467 if you have any questions, or if you need any recommendations on products to properly WINTERIZE your above ground pool!