Preparing your pool for the winter is an important step in pool maintenance. Most of people ignore this step because they don’t realize the importance of the same. The process of winterization ensures that your pool is well-protected during the harsh winters and freezing climates so that you can re-open it in the spring or summer and find it in good condition. When you don’t winterize well, your pool is prone to damage, algae growth, and other debris deposits. It will take you a lot of time, effort, and money to clean out these deposits when you reopen your pool. Here are some of the most important points that you have to remember while winterizing your above-ground pool:
1. Have All The Accessories That You Need For Closing Your Pool Handy
When you have decided that the temperature has dropped to such an extent that you cannot use the pool anymore, you need to close it. Closing the pool doesn’t mean just pulling a huge cover over it.
There are various tools and accessories that you will need for the professional closing of your pool. Have a kit named Pool Closing Accessories and make sure that you include these items in it – elements to increase pH balance, calcium hardness, and alkalinity levels.
You should also include a pool shock element and algaecide to prevent your pool from algae growth and dust when it is not being used. Apart from these, some of the other mandatory items that should find a place in your winterizing kit are a highly durable winter cover, plumbing line plugs, cables, winches, clips, water bags, and a pool air pillow.
The air pillow will prove to be very helpful while holding the cover steadily over the pool, during the winters.
2. Thoroughly Clean Your Pool Before Winterizing
It is only natural that you would want your pool to remain clean while you are closing it down for the winter, so the first step toward doing so is to ensure that you thoroughly vacuum-clean your pool walls, surface, and floors before you proceed to prep it for closing down.
Scrub the walls and surfaces well to remove all traces of oils, dust, debris, and contaminants. Do a detailed skim of the surface of your pool so that you can screen contaminants easily. Once you are sure that your water is clean, you should proceed to test and remove it.
3. Test The Water Chemistry
It is very important to test the water chemistry in your pool to see if the contents in it are in the required range. Invest in a good water chemistry kit for this purpose.
If you have any doubts about this kit, contact your pool manufacturer, and they would be happy to help. Using this kit, test the alkalinity levels, chlorine content, pH balance, and calcium hardness level of your pool waters. Before proceeding to close down the pool, ensure that you maintain the water chemistry in these ranges:
- Water alkalinity should be anywhere between 100 and 150ppm
- pH balance should be around 7.4 to 7.6
- Chlorine content should be between 2 and 3ppm
- Calcium hardness range varies as per your pool size and kit specifications
As you can see, all of these elements have a lower and higher range of values. You should always aim to achieve a higher range limit because these will see a gradual decrease when the pool is not being used.
Since you are testing the water chemistry only to shut down the pool, it makes sense to aim for the higher values, because, they will slowly come down when the pool is closed and reach the lower range value, eventually.
4. Take Out The Excess Water From The Plumbing Lines
If you are living in an area where the winters are very harsh, you would want to protect the plumbing lines in your pool from ice expansion, wouldn’t you? Pool experts recommend you to protect the plumbing lines during the winterization process, even if your area experiences mild winters.
For this purpose, use a skimmer to blow all the excess water from the lines and plug them at the pool lines by using the expansion plugs. You could also use an anti-freeze element recommended by your manufacturer inside these plumbing lines to prevent damages that arise due to freezing.
5. What Do You Want To Do With Your Skimmer?
When winterizing your pool, you can choose to close your skimmer or leave it open. Regardless of the option you choose, you still have to remove your skimmer basket first, drain all the water out, allow it to dry thoroughly and then store in a safe and dry place for the time that your pool remains shut.
When you decide to close your skimmer, you will need to cover with a heavy-duty, durable cover that prevents it from getting clogged. Ensure that this cover is in the size of a huge plate that offers 100% protection to your skimmer.
When you decide to leave your skimmer open, you will need to monitor it closely throughout the winter to ensure that rainwater, if any, drains out easily from it. Never allow water, dust or debris to accumulate inside your skimmer, as it will result in the skimmer breaking down due to the weight and cracks.
When water freezes, the weight of the ice can cause the skimmer to develop cracks easily. For this very reason, we would never recommend leaving your skimmer open during the winter.
6. Close Down The Pump And Filter
The next step is to prep your pump and filter well so that you can remove them properly and put them away safely to be used during the reopening. Drain out the pump water completely and remove it from the pool along with all the plugs and hoses.
Store the plugs, wires, and hoses along with the pump in a cool and dry place indoors, so that they aren’t exposed to the harsh climate outside. Always remember to put away the pump and other accessories that you use with the pump in a single kit, so that you can find them easily during the spring or summer for reopening the pool.
Next, you will proceed to winterize your pool filters. In the case of sand filters, the first thing you need to do is set the filter’s multiport valve to “winterize” and remove out all the drain plugs. Remove all the adjoining valves and plugs completely before storing it in a dry place indoors or outdoors.
If you are using cartridge filters, drain the filter first and clean the cartridge thoroughly with a hose. Keep the valves open while you store away the cartridges indoors. In the case of DE filters, drain them completely and use a hose to clean the grids thoroughly so that excess DE is removed. Keep the valves of your DE filter open to complete its winterization process.
7. Clean The Pool Accessories As Well
When you are closing down your pool for the winters, you have to be sure that you don’t leave behind any accessories in there. If you have pool ladders, toys, handrails, steps, etc. should be removed.
When they remain in the pool, they get damaged during the harsh winters, and they start eating into your pool liners as well, thus puncturing them for good. When you reopen your pool, you will be shocked to find metal contents in your pool and many wear & tear issues, if you leave your accessories behind during winterization.
8. Check The Pool Water Level
Many people are of the misconception that they need to drain out water completely from their above-ground pools during winterization. In reality, it is not so! All you need to do is to decide if you are going to cover your skimmer or not and then decide on your pool water level accordingly before you shut it down for the winters.
If you don’t plan to use a durable plate to cover the pool skimmer, you need to drain water until it reaches just a level below the skimmer. If you have already invested in a good skimmer plate to provide 100% protection to your pool skimmer during the winters, you need to follow a simple step.
Drain the skimmer completely by removing all the hose and plugs before sealing it well with the skimmer plate. When you are using a skimmer plate, you do not absolutely have to drain the pool water to any level.
9. Having A Pool Air Pillow Is A Must
If you experience near-freezing climates during the winters, you should use a pool air pillow along with your pool cover so that your pool is well protected from the snow, ice, and rainwater that gets accumulated on the top of the cover. It’s quite a shame that not many people know the art of using this pool air pillow perfectly.
Here, we have explained to you some simple steps to follow while using the air pillow. Keeping an air pillow beneath the winter cover will protect your pool and your pool covers to a great extent. When you keep pillows at the center or the sides of the pool, the snow, rainwater, and ice that accumulates on the cover will increase the pressure on the cover and then these will start expanding inwards towards the air pillows.
In the absence of the pool, snow, ice and rainwater will start expanding outwards, which will result in unnecessary pressure on the pool walls, pool liners, and pool covers. An important trick to know while using a pool air pillow is its level of inflation. Never make the mistake of inflating an air pillow fully while placing in your pool. Inflate it to around 60 to 80% of its capacity, so that it has enough space in it to expand naturally later.
While many people don’t pay much attention to the location of the pillow, it is highly recommended to place it always at the center. This will not only result in even the spread of ice and snow throughout the cover but also the easy removal of debris, ice, rainwater, etc. from the pool cover.
10. Covering The Pool With A Winter Cover
The last step in winterization is to spread a highly-durable winter cover over your pool and air pillow. Ensure that you secure the cover well over the pools to be assured of 100% protection during the winters.
What good is a great pool cover if you don’t use it to close your pool properly? Use as many cables, winches, clips, plugs, and other related accessories as you want to hold the cover tightly over the pool. Watch your cover keenly throughout the winter season to monitor the accumulation of snow, ice, and rainwater on it.
When there are too many deposits on the cover, the cover may give in due to increased pressure. To avoid this, it is important to use a vacuum cleaner or hose to clean out the excess water build-up, when you notice the same. Ensure that you talk to your pool manufacturer right away if you have any questions regarding the winterization process. This process involves adding chemicals, changing the water chemistry, removing plugs and hoses. Therefore, never start doing these unless you are absolutely sure of the process.