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How to Winterize Your Pool

January 14, 2021

Winterizing is an essential part of pool ownership, especially if you live in a region that gets snow or freezing temperatures. By closing down for the season, you’re prolonging the life of your pool and accessories and creating a safer space for all. The following are some tips for effective winterization.

What to Know About Winterizing Your Pool

Winterizing your pool is an important task to prevent the risks of an open and untreated pool over winter. These risks include:

  • Freezing temperatures may cause tanks and underground pipes connected to your pool to freeze or crack.
  • Ice and cold can damage and prematurely age pool liners.
  • Untreated water can harbor bacteria, algae or calcium, creating buildup that will clog your system and leave water hazardous.
  • Excessive debris — including leaves, branches, dirt and bugs — in your pool may scratch and tear your lining or get caught in pumps and filters.
  • Leaving your pool exposed makes it easier for children and animals to fall in.
  • Exposed water can act as an open invitation for wildlife to take up residence in your pool for the season.
  • If you don’t winterize your pool, you will face a more costly, time-consuming reopening process next year.

Now that you know why it’s necessary, there are some important things to know before you begin prepping your pool for colder weather:

1. When to Winterize Your Pool

Begin winterizing your pool when the temperature falls and stays below 65 degrees. Waiting until you have steady, 50-degree days is ideal. The warmer the water is, the more likely it is to promote algae growth during the treatment process and over the season. If algae starts to grow before you add a cover, you’re trapping that growth inside for months, which can render your water dirty and challenging to clean in the spring.

Cooler days are also more comfortable to work in, making the winterization process go smoothly and more comfortably. Just be careful not to wait too long — freezing water will complicate the process.

2. The Importance of Testing and Cleaning Water

Closing your pool requires more than a quality pool cover. You first need to test and treat the water to ensure it’s at the correct pH, alkalinity and calcium levels. Otherwise, imbalanced water could create damaging buildup while in storage.

To test and clean your water, follow these instructions:

  • To test pH level: Your pool water pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6 before adding a cover. Use pH adjusters to raise or lower the level as needed.
  • To test alkalinity: A stable alkalinity level is necessary to keep your pH level balanced. Aim for somewhere between 80 parts per million (ppm) and 120 ppm. Use commercial alkaline products to adjust the level as needed.
  • To test calcium levels: Calcium determines whether your pool water is hard or soft. Excessive calcium can cause cloudy water and buildup, while water that’s too soft can be corrosive. The correct water calcium level depends on what your pool is made of. For example, most inground pools made of concrete need to be between 220 ppm and 275 ppm, while aboveground or non-stone pools should be lower, at 175 ppm to 225 ppm. If calcium levels are too high, add some fresh water to balance it out. If they’re too low, you need to add a calcium-increasing agent.

Once your pool is at all the necessary levels, add a dosage of off-season algaecide rated for pool use. This will help prevent new algae from growing. Consider applying pool shock, which will quickly raise your chlorine level if it’s too low.

3. Necessary Tools and Equipment

Some winterization tools and equipment depend on whether you have an inground or aboveground pool, but others are necessary no matter what type of pool you own. Make sure you have the following items ready to go:

  • A pool cover with anchors: A safety cover for your inground pool is the most crucial part of your winterization project because it protects your water from debris and helps prevent animals and children from entering. An aboveground pool will require a winter cover. Covers may come with some kind of anchoring system to secure them in place.
  • An assistant: While not always necessary, having an assistant on hand can help you winterize your pool more quickly.
  • Cleaning supplies: Gather all cleaning supplies you’ll need for the inside and outside of your pool, including a skimmer, vacuum, brushes and sponges.
  • Winter closing kit: Check with your local pool servicer or retailer for a complete pool winterization kit, which saves you time by bundling all the important pH, alkalinity and calcium tests and treatments together.

How to Winterize an Aboveground Pool

To winterize your aboveground pool, follow these steps:

  1. Inspect the outside and inside of your pool and repair any holes or tears in the walls and lining. Be extra vigilant for leaks.
  2. Use a skimmer and vacuum to remove large and small debris from the water. Remove any floatation devices and accessories.
  3. Drain water to about 6 inches below the skimmer. Do not drain your pool completely, or your walls, liner and components will be left exposed to the elements.
  4. Disconnect all pumps, close outlets and store your filter and skimmer basket somewhere dry.
  5. Close inlet and outlet plunger valves.
  6. Test the pH, alkalinity and calcium levels in the water and adjust as needed.
  7. Add chlorinated pool shock, if necessary.
  8. Clean the pool ladder and store it away, if detachable.
  9. Lay your winter cover over the top of the pool and air pillow, if applicable.

Aboveground swimming pools can only accommodate so much weight and pressure. Choosing the wrong cover could cause your walls to buckle or collapse. For this reason, select a winter cover designed specifically for aboveground pools.

How to Winterize an Inground Pool

With enough cleaning supplies and preparation, winterizing your inground pool is simple:

  1. Turn off the heater, if applicable.
  2. Thoroughly inspect your pool for any damages and make necessary repairs.
  3. Clean your pool and remove all debris and pool accessories from the water.
  4. Close the water filtration system.
  5. Drain water so that it is no more than 6 inches below the skimmer level. Never drain your pool completely, or the weight of your cover will not be supported.
  6. Clear your pool lines, so there is no water sitting inside during the winter months. If you’re not sure how, contact a professional.
  7. Test the pH, alkalinity and calcium levels of the water. Adjust as needed.
  8. Add pool shock to adjust the chlorine level, if necessary.
  9. Wipe down all pool accessories, including ladders and diving boards. Remove and store anything detachable.
  10. Install your safety cover with the help of an assistant.

Swimming pool safety covers, like the triple-stitched mesh and solid covers from WaterWarden, are the best protection for an inground pool. Safety covers help keep children and animals at bay while protecting the water from debris and sunlight.

Choose WaterWarden Safety Covers for Superior Protection

WaterWarden has the safety covers you need to successfully winterize and protect your swimming pool. Compared to winter covers, which only protect your pool from snow and weather, safety covers offer additional protection for children and pets. Although nothing replaces the protection of adult supervision, you can use a safety cover all year long to act as a second defense against accidental drownings. By choosing a safety cover this winter, you’re investing in the safety of both your pool and your loved ones.

Winter is on its way. Learn more about our dedication to creating safe swimming environments and get your WaterWarden safety cover today.