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How to Winterize a Swimming Pool

In this article, FamilyPoolFun's own Jay Backer covers all you need to know about preparing your pool for winter.

Jay Backer In climates where there's little risk of freezing, closing down a pool for winter is not important, but in areas where freezing temperatures are the norm, winterizing pools is absolutely essential. Many people dread the process of closing their pool, but it doesn't have to be painful. Follow these 10 simple steps to make winterizing your pool fast and pain-free!

  • Step 1 - Adjust Chemical Levels

    Before closing any pool, make sure the water is chemically balanced using a simple water test kit. Chemically balanced water protects from corrosion and scale buildup that often occurs over the winter. The chemical levels in your pool should be as close as possible to these measurements:

    Check out our season supply chemical kits for everything you need to treat your water in one simple package.

  • Step 2 - Remove or cover all deck equipment

    Remove or cover umbrellas and deck furniture. Always remove all ladders from the pool. Use a pool storage box or garden shed to stow away floats and toys to protect them from harsh winter elements and keep them in tip-top shape for next year. It's surprising how hard winter can be on chairs and loungers. Taking the time to properly store these items now can save lots of money later.

  • Step 3 - Clean the pool

    Brush down the sides and floor of the pool, making sure there are no signs of algae growth. If you notice algae anywhere, do not close the pool. Clear the water with a quality algaecide and vacuum any dead algae before proceeding. Also be sure to vacuum any loose dirt and debris to prevent staining.

  • Step 4 - Add winterizing chemicals

    Start with a top quality winterizing chemical kit. Apply chemicals from the deep end of the pool first, moving toward the shallow end, spreading them evenly across the surface.

  • Step 5 - Clean all pool equipment

    Clean the filter, skimmer and pump basket. Be sure to empty the chlorinator. Clean and store cartridge filter elements and D.E. grids. If a strong blast with a water hose isn't enough to loosen the grime on the filter or grid, use a filter cleaner to help break down any oil, minerals or scale that have built up over the summer. Finally, if you use a sand filter instead, backwash it one last time for the year.

  • Step 6 - Lower the water level

    Above Ground Pools
    Insert a freeze guard in the skimmer or block the skimmer with a skimmer guard and plug the return line. Alternatively, lower the water below these levels.

    In Ground Pools
    Lower the water in the pool below the returns (where the water jets into the pool) and the skimmer.

    Quick Tip

    NEVER COMPLETELY DRAIN AN ABOVE GROUND POOL! This may cause the pool to collapse.

  • Step 7 - Drain the pump and filter plumbing

    Above Ground Pools
    Remove and store any detachable, flexible hoses, and remove all drain plugs from the pump, filter tank and any other equipment. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for specific equipment. It's a good idea to place all drain plugs in the pump basket so they'll be easier to find come spring.

    In Ground Pools
    If the pool is hard plumbed, use an air compressor or Shop Vac (attached to the blower side of the vacuum) to blow water out of the system by forcing air down the skimmer and through the plumbing.

    Cap off return lines by using threaded plugs, or use expandable rubber plugs if the returns are not threaded. Add a non-toxic pool antifreeze by pouring it through the skimmer. Use one gallon of antifreeze per 10 feet of distance from the pump to the pool. Never use automotive antifreeze! Remove and store all drain plugs from the pump, filter tank and any other pool equipment.

  • Step 8 - Add an air pillow

    While not absolutely necessary, air pillows are a good idea in colder climates where ice can damage the pool wall. The pillow helps absorb the pressure of expanding ice, allowing it to push into the pillow instead of the wall. Inflate the pillow with a shop vac, position it in the center of the pool and tie it off to the pool wall on two sides.

  • Step 9 - Install the winter cover

    Now it's time to cover the pool. Install the winter cover black side down. Choose from our complete selection of Blue Wave Arctic Armor winter covers.

    Above Ground Pools without Decks
    Place the cover over the pool, then thread the cable through the grommets in the cover and tighten using the winch provided. All Arctic Armor pool covers come with a cable and winch, but if you have an older cover or purchased one without a cable, see our replacement cable and winch. In high wind areas, consider other ways of supporting your winter cover, including cover locks, winter cover seal or wall bags.

    In Ground Pools and Above Ground pools with decks:
    Place water tubes end to end around the edge of the pool to secure the cover over the pool. We carry tubes of all sizes to fit any area around the pool. Fill the water tubes 3/4 full of water. Be sure not to overfill the tubes because water expands when freezing and it could burst the water tubes. Never use bricks, concrete blocks or other objects to secure the cover since they can damage both the cover and the pool.

  • Step 10 - Use a cover pump

    Consider using a cover pump to keep excess rain water from accumulating on the cover. This is very important because too much water on top of the cover can cause it to rip or pull it into the pool, leading to a very messy cleanup come spring.

Winterizing your pool doesn't have to be a chore. Following these simple steps will protect your pool all winter long and make it much faster and easier to open in the spring. And as always, we'll be here for all your pool needs when it's time to swim again!