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When the warm days are drawing to an end, there are quite a few things people intend to do. For a handful of people, one of those things is getting their pools ready for the upcoming chilly winter months.
If you see long winters with temperatures dropping below 0°C, winterizing your above ground pools is probably one of the best things that you could do for yourself as a pool owner.
How to Winterize Your Above Ground Pool
Closing your pool will ensure that you’re protecting the pool equipment from ice damage while keeping your water clean. Therefore, even though a little complicated, learning how to winterize above ground pools is extremely important.
Essentials for Winterizing Your Pool:
Before we dive into the steps, let’s take a look at the gear you will need.
- Pool brush
- Pool vacuum
- Pool cover
- Pool cleaning chemicals
- Cover winch and cable
1. Remove all pool equipment and accessories
First things first, remove all the equipment or accessories that might be present around your pool. For instance, diving boards, ladders, floats or return fittings are not going to be used during the winter months. Hence, detach them and store them away so they don’t get damaged.
2. Clean your pool
Well, this is kind of obvious. Once you’ve gotten rid of the add-ons, clean your pool. Any debris, for example, leaves, can be removed with the help of a pool net. Your cleaning doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there. Even though time-consuming, ensure that you get rid of any algae spores. Imagine how terrible it might feel if you neglect the algae spores, go through all other steps of winterizing your pool and come back in spring to find full algae blooms!
3. Balance your water’s chemistry
Because you won’t be completely draining your pool (more on this later), it’s important to test the pool’s chemistry level. You’re going to be using some other pool chemicals. In order for those to work as expected, you have to test and rebalance the alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness. Also, balancing the water’s chemical composition will protect your pool liner from damage.
Here are the normal levels that you should aim for:
- pH: 7.2-7.4
- Alkalinity: 80 -120 ppm
- Calcium hardness: 180-220 ppm
4. Shock your pool
You don’t have to literally shock your pool. ‘Shocking a pool’ is simply the industry term for super-chlorinating or oxidizing your pool. Pool water is chlorinated to get rid of harmful microorganisms. However, there might be some bacteria or viruses that require extra chlorination or oxidizing. You have two options: chlorinated shock or non-chlorinated shock. Your choice depends on the type of pool you have. Non-chlorinated shocks are more suitable for vinyl pools. That being said, chlorinated pools are more effective at getting rid of the algae. Here are a few things to remember while shocking the pool:
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions to know the correct amount of shock to use.
- Dilute the shock in a 5-gallon bucket of water. This will help to avert bleaching.
- If you opt for chlorine shock, make sure to shock the pool at night since UV rays can destroy the active ingredients found in chlorine.
5. Drain and plug your pipes
Water is the only element that expands on cooling below 4 degrees Celsius. Every other element like metal will contract when the temperatures fall. Hence, if there’s water left behind in your pipes and lines, it will expand, freeze and turn into ice while the pipe is becoming narrower. This can lead to cracks in your pool lines. And since this is something all of us would like to avoid, it’s a smart idea to not just drain but also plug your pipes. Here’s what you can do:
- Blow the water out of your pipes using a wet/dry vacuum and then simply, plug the pipes with expansion plugs; or
- Use a swimming pool antifreeze, which is different than the regular antifreeze you use for your car, in the pipes as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Seal the return pipeline with a winter pool plug.
6. Remove the Pump and Filter system
This is precious equipment. If there’s any sort of malfunction, you won’t be able to enjoy your swimming pool without replacing this equipment. And that can be quite costly. Hence, make sure to detach, clean and store away both the pump and the filter system. It’s quite easy to do it as well. Simply disconnect the hoses and the wall outlets.
7. Reduce the water level
As mentioned above, you must not drain an above ground pool completely. Water expands when cooled below 4 degrees. So, when the swimming pool is full and the water expands, that would mean extra pressure on the pool skimmer which would end up cracking. But if you drain the water completely, there will be additional strain on the pool wall, liner, and cover when snow and rainwater start collecting on top. Hence, simply reduce the water level so that the water ends below the skimmer.
8. Install air pillows
Another cheap and ingenious way of keeping the pressure off of your pool is to place an air-filled pillow under the winter cover. The air pillows will create a gap between the water and the cover thereby reducing the immediate pressure on the pool cover as well as the pool walls and liner. Inflate the air pillows up to 70-80% of their capacity and place it in the center.
9. Install your winter cover
Finally, install the winter cover. Now, this is the bit where you might require additional hands since the cover can be quite large and heavy. A major portion of this is just common sense. Ensure that the cover overlaps all sides of the pool and is laid out evenly.
Use cable and thread it through the grommets to secure the cover around the pool. And you can always find the manufacturer’s instructions on how to attach the cable to the winch and secure it.
That’s how simple it is to winterize your pool. It may seem time-consuming but if you really follow these steps, you’re the person who reaps the benefits when spring comes!