How to Close Aboveground Pools for Winter

Protecting your investment! 

Our instructions include helpful advice from our experts based on years of experience as well as Aqua-Guard’s  preferred line-up of professional winterizing products and chemicals.

There are six important steps to winterizing your pool:

  1. Water Balance & Protection 
  2. Vacuum, Clean and Lower the Water Level 
  3. Remove Pool & Deck Accessories 
  4. Winterize the Equipment 
  5. Winterize the Aboveground Lines
  6. Install the Winter Cover

***Please read all instructions thoroughly before starting your Winterizing Procedures as certain conditions or circumstances may affect the order of which you perform your closing procedures. Please note that these instructions are to be used as a guideline. Always refer to manufacturer’s instructions and owner’s manuals for further details.

Please refer to the last page of these instructions for your Winter Supply Checklist

STEP 1: Water Balance & Protection

One Week before Pool Closing

Have your swimming pool water professionally tested at least one week prior to Closing. All chemistry adjustments should be made at this time before adding any of the Winterizing Chemicals. It is particularly important that the pH and Total Alkalinity are tested and any necessary adjustments are made. As well, the Chlorine/Bromine reading must be between 1.0-3.0 ppm at the time of closing. A second water test may be necessary if major chemistry changes are made after the first water test.

As the temperature of the pool water drops, the water becomes more corrosive.  Improperly balanced water may result in the liner becoming brittle and the formation of wrinkles in the liner.  Further damage could be the corrosion of any metal parts (face plate screws), and the staining of the pool surface.

Below is the ideal procedure for the addition of the Winterizer Kit. However, we know that life gets busy. Refer to the instructions on the Winterizer Kit page if you are looking to fast track this step.

Three Days before Closing the Pool

  1. Add the Meta-Sol from the Winterizer Kit It is used to coat metals and minerals in the water to prevent stain and scale formation both on the pool surface and in the filter media. Dilute the full bottle from the Winterizer Kit and distribute around the pool edges.

One Day before Closing the Pool

  1. Add the Oxy Out from the Winterizer Kit. This is a non-chlorine, non-bleaching, totally soluble Shock Treatment. Broadcast the whole container from the kit evenly over the pool surface.
  2. And lastly, add the 50% Concentrated Algaecide from the Winterizer Kit. It is a 50% concentration used to both kill and prevent all strains of algae growth. Dilute the whole bottle of the algaecide from the Kit and distribute around the pool edges.

STEP 2: Vacuum, Clean and Lower the Water Level

The physical cleaning of the pool begins with a thorough vacuum of the pool walls & floor, followed by backwashing the filter when the vacuum is complete. If the pool is very dirty, a preliminary vacuum may be needed to clean the pool before adding the contents of the Winterizer Kit.

Some pool owners will backwash the filter first and then perform their final vacuum on the ‘drain’ or ‘waste’ position, cleaning the pool and lowering the water level simultaneously.*

The final backwash should be completed using Filter Rinse to remove unwanted minerals and organic build-up from the filter sand. During the final backwash, pour Filter Rinse into the Skimmer while backwashing. If you have a Cartridge or Diatomaceous Filter, use Cartridge Cleaner to prepare these types of media for storage. These filter treatments are mandatory to prolong the efficiency and life of your media.

When the final vacuum has been completed, the water level must be dropped to Winterizing Level.

 – The Winterizing level for Aboveground Pools is 4″ below the Skimmer mouth.

*When performing the final vacuum, do note that when the water level drops below the Skimmer, some systems may begin to draw air and you could lose the prime on the pump. To prevent this air draw, run just enough water into the Skimmer with the garden hose, keeping a ‘water seal’.

STEP 3: Remove Pool & Deck Accessories

We recommend that your solar blanket be fully rinsed to remove chlorine and organic residue. Allow the solar blanket to dry and fold neatly for storage. If you store your solar blanket on the roller for the winter months, protect the blanket by wrapping it with a tarp or a Solar Blanket Cover to protect it from damaging UV rays of the sun. If you plan on storing your solar blanket in a shed, keep in mind that mice and other critters tend to find refuge over the winter by chewing their way into a few layers of the plastic. Consider storing the solar blanket up off of the shed floor.

  • Fully rinse solar blanket, dry off and fold neatly for storage. Store Cover indoors or in a shed if possible. 
  • Remove deck ladders and drop-in steps.

STEP 4: Winterizing the Equipment

Along with these basic instructions, always refer to your Equipment Owners Manuals for further details. Power to the pool equipment must be off in order to complete the following equipment winterization procedures. 

  • Pump and Filter If it is removable, undue unions and unplug pump. Turn it upside down to drain the water out and store the pump indoors. If you cannot remove the pump, you will have to winterize it in place. Remove the drain plugs from the Pump Housing to drain out any remaining water. Store the drain plug in the strainer basket and leave in the pump. Lubricate the lid O-ring with Jack’s Lube and re-install the lid. Do not wrap the motor in plastic as that will retain moisture and rust out the motor bearings. Ideally, shelter the pump and motor with a vented cover or box to protect it from the elements. Also, refer to your Owner’s Manual for any further instructions.
    There are different styles of filters on the market. Always refer to the Owner’s Manual for further details. 
  • On Cartridge Filters and Diatomaceous Earth Filters, bring indoors when possible. Also soak filter elements in a proper cleaning solution, such as Cartridge Cleaner, to prolong their life and efficiency. If the canister cannot be brought indoors, drain all water out of the canister and cover canister to protect it from the elements. 
  • Sand Filters can be left in place because they are too heavy to move.  There is a drain cap that must be removed to allow the water that is in the tank to drain out, and the sand to stay in.  Leave the drain cap off for the winter and store the cap in the pump strainer basket.  We suggest storing or placing all removable drain plugs, caps, pressure gauges, site glasses etc. from the filtration equipment into the pump basket and leaving these items inside the pump for the winter. The valve head itself, has been designed to withstand freezing temperatures and is best left on the filter. The process of removing the valve head could cause damage to the internal standpipe assembly so we recommend caution if the homeowner wishes to remove this and store indoors.  If the filter tank is outdoors, the valve head can be wrapped in plastic to protect it from the elements.
  • Chlorinator All Chlorinator canisters must be emptied of all water and chemicals before winterizing. For Off-Line Chlorinators: remove all feeder tubes to storage. For In-Line Chlorinators: undue the unions on the canister for removal from the filter. Due to fumes and gases from the chlorinator, replace the lid loosely as not to compress the o-ring or allow gases to build-up during the off-season. Store the Chlorinator outside and cover with plastic to protect it from the elements.
  • Gas Heaters (Please refer to your Owner’s Manual)
  • Chlorine Generators/ Automation Systems (Please refer to your Owner’s Manual)
  • Pool Lights (Please refer to your Owner’s Manual)

STEP 5: Winterize the Aboveground Lines

Aboveground Lines

  • Disconnect all hoses and pipes and store out of sunlight.
  • Remove the eyeball from the Return Fitting and Install a Winter Plug (keep in mind that some Return Eyeball Fittings have a collar that also needs to be removed to allow a threaded winterizing plug to be installed). Consider an return Eyeball Wrench to remove tight fittings safely.
  • Remove the Skimmer contents and leave the bottom of the Skimmer open.

Pool Closing time is also a good time to check the perimeter of the pool structure for any areas of steel components that are scratched. Often it can be a stone thrown by the lawn mower to scuff a small area of the coating off. If the protective coating from the pool wall or steel uprights is removed, it will expose the steel below which will rust over time. Protect these exposed areas with rust  protective paint to maintain your pool’s structure. Leaky skimmer and return fittings can also damage protective pool coatings which will eventually lead to corrosion if not supervised.

STEP 6: Install Winter Cover

Your pool cover rests upon and is supported by the pool water. Therefore, prior to cover installation, it is important to make sure that the pool is not leaking and that you have the appropriate sized winter cover.  Please contact your local pool professional if you are losing more than ¼” of water in a 24 hour period. 

Be sure that the cover will not be in direct contact with any sharp, rough or abrasive surfaces before installing. Lay the cover out across one end of the pool, black side down. With two people, carefully walk the cover over the pool surface letting the cover rest on the lowered water surface. Neatly pull the cover edges up and over the top rail all around the pool – straightening any puckering where necessary. (Alternatively, you could also lay the cover out on the ground and thread the cable through the grommets before installing).

Now, install Cover Cable. Insert one end of the cable through the first grommet in the edge of the cover, and weave through all the grommets, all around the edge of the pool cover. The cable must remain on the outside of the cover, except between each pair of grommets. When the two ends meet, install the Cover Cable Winch. Insert one end of the cable through the hole at the end of the winch and into the spindle. Insert the other end of the cable through the hole at the other end of the winch and into the same spindle. Pull both ends of the cable through as far as possible. Start turning the winch to tighten the cable. Adjust the cover as necessary.

For pools located in high-wind areas, Wall Bags are suggested to secure the cover to prevent wind whipping. Wind whipping can cause pin-holing in the cover and this is not covered under warranty. Pin-holing can be detected by standing beneath the cover and looking through to detect light. Wall Bags provide the extra ballast needed to help prevent this and they are gentle on the cover. These can be attached to the uprights of the pool and gently placed against the pool wall on top of the cover. Winter Cover Seal Wrap is a great alternative to helping to prevent wind damage. It is a UV resistant shrink wrap to completely prevent air from getting below the cover past the cable.

It is very important to watch the pool water level over the winter. As water accumulates on top of the cover, the water below the cover is displaced and forced upwards and out of the Skimmer. Should water have the opportunity to accumulate and freeze inside the Skimmer (this can happen even when left unplugged!), the ice mass inside of the Skimmer can not only cause the Skimmer itself to crack, but the wall to buckle. Use a submersible pump or cover siphon to safely drain water from the cover whenever possible.

It is very important to watch water levels in your aboveground pool over the winter! If water is able to accumulate too high, it could expand upwards against the top-rails of the pool forcing them off of the frame. Use a submersible pump or ccover siphon to safely drain water to normal winter levels whenever possible.

STEP 7: Closing Checklist during the Winter Months

Check water level underneath the pool cover to ensure that the pool is not losing water. Maintain the proper Winterizing Level until Spring when you can correct the problem. Water loss will not only compromise the integrity of the pool cover, but also the structure of the pool itself.

Pump water off the winter cover periodically to maintain a minimum amount. Water that is left to accumulate on the winter cover will displace the water that is under the cover. This displaced water will spill into the Skimmer and could lead to Skimmer damage. Accumulated water will also put undue stress on the winter cover and shorten its life-span. 

Clean off leaves and debris in the fall to leave you with less of a mess in the Spring. 

If the cover is continually being windblown, use Wall Bags as extra ballast to keep the pool cover in place. Aboveground pool owners can apply Winter Cover Sealer anytime over the winter months to prevent wind from getting up under the cover.

Before you get started….
Confirm your needs for the following items and check your home supply levels: