This is the time of year our customers start thinking about finding their snow brushes and shovels, which signals to get your pool ready for winter. As with all things, the more you understand the process, you can ensure better results. Closing your pool is no different: the better you close it, the easier it is to reopen next season.
First, make sure the pool is clean. Vacuum any debris off the bottom of the pool. You should have a good chlorine level with no visible algae, as well as having your Alkalinity and pH should be balanced.
Before you disconnect your filter, some winterizing chemicals need to be added. The kit we sell is referred to as a non-chlorine close. We prefer this as it is less harmful to your pool. (The gas produced by chlorine can cause harm to your liner and cover.)
Our kit has three different chemicals, and they come in two sizes – depending on the size of your pool. When using this kit, you will need to add each chemical separately. Choose one of the chemicals and add them to your pool. Let the pool run for one hour before adding the next one, also run for an hour. When you put in the last one, let the whole pool should run overnight. If you have a sand filter, be sure to backwash it before you disconnect the hoses.
Now that your pool is clean and has the proper chemicals, you are ready to remove the extra water. The amount of water you remove depends on whether you cover the skimmer and return openings. Our recommendation is to cover and cap both of those openings, doing so allows you to keep more water in the pool, giving it more stability during a rough winter. With this type of cover, I recommend draining your pool two inches below the skimmer opening. This should be enough to keep the expanding ice away from the top of the pool.
Illustration 1: Aquadoor
The Aqua door (above ground) is our preferred skimmer cover as it has proven itself to stay on during most winters. You will have to do a one-time change of the current inside trim plate. It also has a bonus if you lose the cover, it can be purchased separately.
The best way to cap the return jet is to use a threaded plug. You will need to remove three parts before you can thread in the plug. First UN-thread the outer ring, this should also remove the eyeball at the same time. The key pictured will help you to remove the main body if it did not already come out when you removed the eyeball. If the main body is still in place, the key fits into a slot that allows you to remove it. Now you are ready to put the plugin, it will thread right in and the key can be used to tighten it in. Note, this plug can also be used during pool season as a plug inside the skimmer when you are working on the filter and want to prevent water flow.
Illustration 2: Return Jet Assembly
Illustration 4: Return Jet Plug
Illustration 3: Key
Before your cover goes on, you have one more step. Their varying opinions regarding the use of air pillows: here is ours. By placing a pillow under the cover, you accomplish a few things. Firstly, the pillow acts as a pressure valve. Rather than the ice pushing towards the outer wall, it will push against the pillow instead, taking some stress off the wall. Second, it helps keep any accumulated debris closer to the wall, so it can be easily scooped out as needed. There are two ways to install the pillow, it can be tied to the sides of the pool or use a pillow pal which Velcros it to the bottom of the cover. When you fill the pillow, only fill it 2/3’s of the way, put some duct tape across the valve and have that side face up towards the cover.
Putting the cover on is pretty straightforward, be sure to remove your ladder before going to this step. The cover consists of three parts: the cover, the cable, and the cable winch. (If you have a larger pool, we recommend 2 people for this process.) Once you put the cover on run the cable through the eyelets, if you have too much cable it is OK to shorten it. You should leave yourself at least four extra feet, two at each end. Once you have the cable threaded, put the ends through the cable winch as pictured and turn the ratchet handle until the cable is tight.
Before you move on to the next step, walk around the pool and pull the cable at different spots to make sure that it is not hung up anywhere, then go back and tighten the winch again. Repeat this in about two weeks to be sure the cable is as tight as it can be. Put at least one inch of water on the cover to help hold it down. We DO NOT recommend the use of jugs hanging off the cover as they will very likely pull the grommets out of the cover, voiding your cover warranty. Instead, a cover sealer is a better option.
Your last step is the filter. This is just as important as the pool itself, as a cold winter can damage the filter, leading to an expensive repair. There are two major filter types: sand and cartridge. Each one is winterized differently. It would not be a bad idea to take a picture of the hook-up to be you disassemble anything. To avoid losing any important plugs or small parts, you can store them in the pump strainer basket.
A cartridge filter system can be completely drained of water and brought inside a shed or garage. Both the pump and cartridge cylinder have a drain plug at the bottom. The paper cartridge itself should be cleaned by hosing it off and soaking it overnight in a solution made for cartridge filters. This will help extend out the life of the cartridge. If you have an automatic chlorine system, it also has to be drained.
A sand filter is much too heavy to move, so it remains outside. However, the pump is still brought inside, like with the cartridge filter. The tank that holds the sand does need some additional steps. First, you want to remove the bottom drain cap and leave it off. Next, remove the top assembly by loosening the screws on the collar and remove any hoses that are connected to the assembly.
Once you have removed it, it can now be stored in a safe place for the winter. For this next step, you will need a gallon of non-toxic antifreeze. Pour ¾ of the gallon into the sand bed, with the other ¼ poured down the center pipe. Don’t worry if some of it comes out the bottom drain.
Note: If your pool is equipped with a center drain, the process is very simple. First, start by pounding a stake into the ground near the pool, leaving approximately the same height as your pool exposed. Disconnect the hose coming out of the ground and tie it securely on the stake so the top of it is above the water level of your pool.
You have now completed closing your pool. Be sure to check on it during the off-season and keep as much fallen debris as possible off the cover.
Additional Information for In-Ground Pools.
How to Winterize underground filter lines
If you have a Gas Heater, follow these steps
1- Turn any gas valves off. Most heaters have two, one located inside your home and the second on the heater itself.
2- Open the winterization ports (drain cocks) Every pool heater has winterizing ports, or drain cocks, in multiple locations on the heater. For the purposes of winterizing the heater, you want to remove every drain plug that you can find. To avoid losing any important plugs or small parts, you can store them in the pump strainer basket.
3- Blow water out of the heater system. Disconnect the lines connected to the heater You can use a shop vac to blow the water out of the heater lines in your pool.
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