How to Winterize Your Pool

Swimming pool in a backyard

Written by KS

September 9, 2021

Having a pool in your very own backyard is a blessing.  Especially with the summer many of us have been having.  However, eventually the time will come when it will need to be closed for the season.  Whether you hire someone or winterize it yourself, it’s necessary to avoid problems come next summer.  Because a carefully managed pool, that’s also properly cleaned with correctly balanced water, is faster and smoother to re-open than one that’s been closed incorrectly.  So if you want instructions on how to winterize your pool, continue reading the steps below.

How to Winterize Your Pool

The general consensus is to wait to close and winterize your pool until the temperature stays ~65 degrees.  One reason is the pool chemicals might not last until spring if the water is too warm.  Because the warmer the water the faster the chemicals get used up.  And the other reason is if you cover your pool when the water is too warm, you have a higher chance of algae growth.  But if you can wait until the temp drops to ~50 degrees, your pool will stand better odds of not having any algae issues.  And that’s because algae growth doesn’t completely stop until around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Supplies and Tools to Winterize Your Pool

Pool Chemicals

Instructions for How to Winterize Your Pool

1.  Give Your Pool a Thorough Cleaning

About a week before you actually plan on closing your pool, go ahead and get out all the gear to clean it.  Pool vacuum, brush, net, the whole nine yards.  Don’t forget to backwash the filter.  Or neglect to clean the filter media.  And don’t leave anything organic in the water.  Because, if you do, it’ll eat up the chlorine.  Which will mean more work for you in the spring.  Or someone else, if you hire out.

2.  Test and Adjust The Chemicals

Before closing your pool, you need to test the water.  And if something’s off, balance the chemicals.  The best method for testing the water is by taking a sample to your local pool store.  Then they can tell you what your pool needs.

3.  Shock Your Pool

Swimming Pool Shock

Add the kind of shock that matches your pool construction.  For example, there’s types of chlorine that will eat vinyl liners.  Also, it’s generally recommended to do this step a few days before closing your pool.  And that’s so high chlorine levels don’t destroy the algaecide you’ll be adding.  Then run your pump for 8 hours for even circulation.

4.  To Prevent Algae, Add Some Algaecide

Read the back of the label for proper directions.  Also, the best time to add algaecide is when the chlorine levels have returned to normal.  Some sites recommend just adding both shock and algaecide at the same time.  Or waiting 4 hours before putting in the algaecide, without first testing the water chlorine levels.  But if the levels aren’t normal, or both are added simultaneously, they’ll cancel each other out.

5.  Lower The Water Level

Where people live typically determines how much water to drain from their pools.  But generally below the skimmer is the most accepted level.  And that’s to protect both the skimmer and return jet(s) from freezing and expanding during the winter.

How to Close Your Pool

If you’ve made it this far, you’re doing great!  Although now we’re getting to the hard part.  Which is very labor intensive.  And here in Oklahoma, where we see freezing temps at times, it’s absolutely essential that you get all of the water out of the pipes.  Or they’ll bust.  However another option is using pool antifreeze.  This is useful if you’re not sure whether or not the pipes are completely dry.  Although this is only an option if you have an in-ground pool.

6.  Remove Skimmer Baskets And Eyelets

The skimmer baskets and eyelets or return fittings need to be removed in order to access the returns and pipes.  Then store the eyelets in the skimmer baskets.

7.  Turn Off The Equipment

pool filter

Shut off the power to equipment, turn off gas to the heater (if you have one), and kill the breakers to your pool.  You don’t want the pump coming on when there’s no water.

8.  Backwash The Filter Again

You also need to get rid of the water from the filter.  So, after blowing water out of the pipes and plugging the return(s) and skimmer(s), (but before unplugging the drain plugs), while the blower is still on, return to the equipment.  If you have a sand or DE filter, put the filter in backwash mode.

With both DE and cartridge filters, you need to remove, clean, and store the filter elements.  And never use a power washer on your filter; it will degrade the filter elements.  Instead use a garden hose.  Or, if your filter is especially yucky, clean it with filter cleaner according to your manufacturer’s directions.  Then store the filter elements.

9.  Remove Water From The Pipes

Before taking the drain plugs out of the equipment, hook up the blower to a skimmer.  Then turn the blower on and let it run.  And for a while.  While it’s blowing (air out of the pipes), reach a hand into your pool and place plug(s) into the return(s).  Or you can get someone to help you with this.  And usually these plugs are winterizing plugs to withstand freezing temperatures.

With an above-ground pool you want to clear and store the lines.  Just disconnect the lines, allowing all the water to run out.  Then let them completely dry, away from direct sun.  If you don’t let them dry before storing them, then they could get mold.

10.  Drain The Chlorinator

Be careful when doing this step.  Wear gloves so you don’t get burned.  And be mindful not to breathe in any chlorine gas.  Remove all the chlorine from chlorinator, and rinse only with water.  If you fail to get all the chlorine out, it’ll cause problems.  Like the plastic (from chlorinator) could swell and degrade, causing you to buy a new one.  In addition, since chlorine particles can off-gas, don’t replace the top when storing.  Additionally, store in a dry, open area.

11.  Unscrew The Drain Plugs

Once all the water goes out the backwash, meaning all the water has left the pump, filter, and heater (if you have one), then it’s time to unscrew the drain plugs.  A lot of sites choose to do this step before blowing out the lines.  However we utilize gravity, allowing it to help us get all of the water from the pipes and filter.

At the pump, undo skimmer valves, while THE MAIN DRAIN REMAINS CLOSED.  Also, position the backwash valve to WINTER, or in the middle of 2 settings.  This is to prevent the O-ring from freezing.

12.  Consider Using Ice Guards

Rather than using winterizing plugs, you could substitute with ice guards.  An ice guard absorbs ice expansion in the skimmer when the pool freezes during winter.  Then again, you could use a bottle of water.  Or 12 oz bottle of soda, filled with water.  The idea is to have something weighted.

Final Instructions for Closing Your Pool

13.  Finish Securing Filter

Take out the remaining plugs from the filter system and store safely.

14.  Store Equipment

Swimming pool float in swimming pool

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Take down all the pool accessories and clean them.  Then store them in a shed, garage, or similar until next spring and summer.

15.  Cover Your Pool

We’re finally on the last step!  And I bet you’re excited; I know I am.  Ok, there are 3 main kinds of pool covers.  While mesh pool covers allow small debris, sunlight, and water to pass through, solid covers offer total obstruction.  In addition, an automatic cover is . . . automatic.  And they’re used year round.  Also, they aren’t made for above-ground pools.

Unless you have the last type of pool cover, automatic, this step is usually the hardest or most labor intensive.  Especially if you’re on your own.  And if you have an above-ground pool, you need a pool pillow, which compensates for snow and ice on the cover.  In addition, it’s advised to inflate it to ~50% of its capacity so it doesn’t bust with the first snow.  So you use the pool pillow and cover together with an above-ground pool.

Now that I’ve given you the instructions on how to winterize your pool, you might just decide to hire someone else.  Which is totally understandable, because it is a lot of work.  And it has to be precise.

Not only do we have years of experience in designing and building pools, but we spent 2 to 3 years maintaining pools in OkC, Norman, and surrounding cities.  Not to mention opening and closing swimming pools.  So we could help with yours, if you wanted.  Or we could help you find someone else instead.

So please feel free to call Daystar Handyman.  Or leave a comment.  Thanks for reading!

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