If you’re a pool owner, you know it’s important to clean your pool regularly. But with all the time and money that goes into maintaining your above-ground or inground pool, it can be tough to remember all the steps needed for a proper close-up. This guide will take you through everything from cleaning out debris and algae to lowering water levels and adding winter covers so that next year you’ll have a sparkling clean pool ready for use again!
Things You’ll Need
- A clean pool.
- A pool test kit.
- A water hose.
- A pool brush.
- A pool vacuum.
- Leaf rake (optional).
- Pool cover and winter cover (if you don’t have a winter cover yet then get one now!).
- Winter shock treatment (optional, but recommended).
- Algaecide (optional).
Step 1: Clean the Pool
The first step to closing a pool is to clean it. Use a pool brush and vacuum to scrub the walls and floor of the pool, then wash it with fresh, clean water. You’ll want to start by vacuuming up any debris on top of the water’s surface, then use your brush or net to remove dirt collected at the bottom of your pool. Your goal here is simply to get all of that junk out so that when you start filling up again next year, it won’t be there anymore!
Next, rinse off all of your equipment in a bucket full of water—you don’t want any residue from cleaning chemicals left behind on them when they are put away for winter storage. Use regular tap water for this part because those cleaners can cause serious damage if left inside for too long
Step 2: Test Water
The second step is to test the water. You’ll want to test pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness (or GH). The pH should be between 7.2 and 7.8; alkalinity should fall between 150 and 300 ppm; and calcium hardness should be around 100-150 ppm.
You’ll need a pool testing kit for this part of the process.
Step 3: Balance the PH
Now that you’ve completed steps 1 and 2, it’s time to balance the PH level. The pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline your pool water is. A balanced pool has a pH between 7.2 and 7.8—anything lower than 7 can lead to algae growth, and anything higher than 8 may irritate swimmers’ eyes or skin. To keep your water in check, use a test kit to determine what kind of adjustments are needed based on the results you get (we’ll talk about this in more detail later).
Once you’ve determined what kind of adjustments need to be made, there are several ways you can go about making them:
- Add acid according to manufacturer instructions on whatever product they recommend using while sparingly monitoring PH levels throughout the process.
- Treat with borax.
- Treat with soda ash.
- Use calcium hypochlorite tablets for granular chlorine pools or calcium chloride for saltwater pools.
Step 4: Adjust the Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness
If you have a salt water chlorinator for your pool, you will need to adjust the calcium hardness and alkalinity levels at this time. Calcium hardness is measured in ppm (parts per million), while alkalinity is measured in ppm of bicarbonate. Both should be between 100 and 300 ppm for most pools. Anywhere from 75 to 125 ppm for a very soft water pool; 150 to 200 ppm for moderately hard waters; and 250 to 350 ppms for those with extremely hard water.
Calcium hardness: Use muriatic acid (or a commercial product) until the level reaches 150-200 ppms (to bring it up). Do not add more than 1 quart of muriatic acid at this time. The goal here is simply to raise the level closer towards its target range, so any excess won’t hurt anything but could cause trouble if left unchecked over time.
Alkalinity: To lower alkalinity levels add baking soda until they reach 80-100ppm (one pound will raise them by about 1ppm).
Step 5: Treat for Stains, Algae, and Metals
If your pool has a decorative metal coping or other metal components, you’ll have to treat for stains caused by metals such as copper, iron and aluminum. To do this, you’ll use a sequestering agent that binds to the metals and prevents them from staining the pool’s surface.
You can buy sequestering agents at most pool supply stores or online. Follow the directions on the label when mixing it with water to apply over your metal surfaces.
Step 6: Make Sure Chlorine Is at the Correct Level and Add a Winter Shock Treatment
It’s important to keep your pool water at a healthy level of chlorine all year round, but it’s especially vital during the winter.
Chlorine helps kill dangerous microorganisms that can grow in your pool if it’s not properly maintained, so you’ll want to make sure your water is treated with an appropriate amount of chlorine at all times.
A good rule of thumb is that you should add 1-2 drops per gallon of water every time you’re out there cleaning up leaves or brushing off snow from your coverings (more often if there are more contaminants floating around).
Step 7: Add an Algaecide (If Desired)
If your pool has a problem with algae, you may want to add an algaecide. Algae are a natural part of a swimming pool environment and can be harmful to swimmers in several ways: they can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems, as well as eye irritation and allergic reactions.
Algae also cause the water to appear green or yellow. If there’s too much algae in your pool, it will need to be removed by brushing or vacuuming before you close it for winter.
Step 8: Drain Your Filter and Pump to Prepare Them for Winter Storage
The next step is to drain your pool filter and pump. If you have a suction-side skimmer, make sure that it is unplugged and empty before removing any hoses. If you have a pressure-side system, use a garden hose to drain the water into an acceptable location (such as a bucket) until there’s no more coming out of the return line or hose bibb. Remove all hoses from the pump and disconnect any electrical plugs if applicable.
Remove any plants or chemicals that need to be cleaned up after draining by hand or with a vacuum cleaner attachment on your pool pump. You can also use a leaf rake to remove debris from around the deck area—just be careful not to damage your liner during this process!
Step 9: Lower the Water Level
This step is only necessary if you have an above ground pool or a spa. If your pool is fully drained, skip to the next section.
This is also the stage where you’ll want to remove any loose debris from your pump and skimmer baskets before winterizing them. To remove water from an above ground pool, use a garden hose with a vacuum head (or just stick your face in it) and suck out as much water as possible. Then use a pump or siphon pump to drain out what’s left of the water until it reaches at least 3 inches below the skimmer line on all sides of your pool deck (if there’s an overflow tube).
Step 10: Add a Winter Cover to Prevent Evaporation and Debris From Falling In
A winter cover is a necessity if you want to enjoy the pool when it’s covered for the winter. A cover will keep water from evaporating and debris from falling in, which makes it easier to maintain throughout the winter. It also helps protect your pool from damage that could be caused by snow or ice accumulation on its surface, as well as insulates your water so that it doesn’t freeze very quickly.
While the summer months are the best time to enjoy your above ground pool, keeping it in good working order is important year round. Winterizing your above ground pool at the end of each season will help ensure that its water doesn’t freeze over during colder months, preventing debris from falling into it and keeping you safe when using it again next spring.
By following these steps, you can properly close your pool for the winter and protect it from the elements. But winter pool care doesn’t end there. To keep your pool in good condition throughout the winter months, here are a few additional tips:
Check the pool cover regularly. Throughout the winter, be sure to inspect the pool cover regularly to ensure that it is tight and secure. Look for any holes or tears, and repair or replace the cover as needed.
Remove snow and ice. If snow or ice accumulates on the cover, be sure to remove it promptly. This will help prevent the cover from becoming damaged, and it will also help prevent water from accumulating on top of the cover, which can cause it to sag or even collapse.
Keep an eye on the water level. As the weather gets colder, the water in your pool may evaporate. Be sure to check the water level periodically, and add water as needed to keep it at the proper level. This will help prevent the pool from becoming damaged by freezing temperatures.
Monitor the chemicals. Even though the pool isn’t being used, it’s still important to monitor the chemical levels. Test the water periodically and adjust the chemicals as needed to keep the water balanced.
By following these tips, you can keep your pool in good condition throughout the winter and ensure that it’s ready to go when the weather warms up again. Winter pool care may require a little extra effort, but it’s worth it to protect your investment and ensure that you can enjoy your pool for many seasons to come.
To help you stay organized and on track, here’s a winter pool closing checklist to follow:
- Clean and balance the water.
- Drain the pool.
- Add winterizing chemicals.
- Install a winter cover.
- Check the pool cover regularly.
- Remove snow and ice from the cover.
- Monitor the water level.
- Test and adjust the chemicals as needed.
By following this checklist, you can ensure that you don’t miss any important steps when closing your pool for the winter. And with proper winter pool care, your pool will be ready for another season of fun and enjoyment when the weather warms up again.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pool and equipment, and use caution when handling chemicals and heavy equipment.
What chemicals do I need to use to close my pool for the winter?
The specific chemicals you will need to use to close your pool for the winter will depend on the type of pool and the condition of the water. In general, you will need to use a winterizing chemical, such as a winter shock or algaecide, to prevent algae growth and staining.
You may also need to use pH and chlorine balancing chemicals to ensure the water is properly treated and ready for winter. It is important to consult with a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pool to determine the exact chemicals you will need to use.
How do I drain my swimming pool for the winter?
The process for draining your swimming pool for the winter depends on the type of pool and the climate in which it is located. It is important to consult with a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pool to determine the exact steps for draining the water.
In general, you will need to turn off the pump and filter and disconnect any hoses or pipes. Depending on the conditions, you may need to use a submersible pump or siphon to remove the water from the pool, either partially or completely.
Can I leave my pool pump running during the winter?
It is generally not recommended to leave your pool pump running during the winter, as doing so can cause damage to the pump or other parts of the pool. In most cases, it is best to turn off the pump and filter and disconnect any hoses or pipes before closing the pool for the winter.
If you are still deciding whether to leave your pump running, it is best to consult with a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific pool.
How do I protect my pool cover from tears and damage during the winter?
To protect your pool cover from tears and damage during the winter, you can take several steps, such as:
- Choose a high-quality cover that is designed to withstand the winter weather.
- Clear any debris, such as leaves and twigs, from the area around the pool before covering it.
- Use a cover pump to remove any water that may collect on top of the cover.
- Securing the cover with water bags, covers clips, or other methods to prevent it from being blown off or damaged by wind or snow.
- Check the cover regularly throughout the winter to ensure it is still in good condition and provides adequate pool protection
How far down do you drain your above ground pool for winter?
It’s generally recommended to drain your above-ground pool to the skimmer level when winterizing it. This helps to prevent any water from accumulating in the pool, which could cause the pool to become unstable or even collapse.
The exact amount of water to be drained will depend on the size and design of your pool, so it’s always a good idea to consult the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s recommendations for specific guidance on how to winterize your pool properly.
What month should I close my pool?
The best time to close your pool will depend on a few factors, including the climate you live in and the type of pool you have. In general, it’s recommended to close above ground pools in the fall, when the water temperature starts to drop and the pool is no longer in regular use. In ground pools may be closed a little later in the year, typically in late fall or early winter.