How and When to Winterize Your Swimming Pool

swimming pool after winter storm

All good things must come to an end, and that means knowing how to winterize your pool when swimming season is over. Your safe swimming pool represents a significant investment in your home’s value, but more than that, it’s a fun place to relax with your loved ones, get in some low-impact exercise, and float away stress. Winterizing your pool protects that investment by preventing damage, lowering your upkeep costs over the winter months, and making it easier and cheaper to re-open your pool when spring rolls around. As your swimming pool experts, we do more than just protect your family with industry-leading safety equipment. We help you get more from the swimming pool you’ve worked so hard for. 

Temperatures Drop, Risk Factors Rise

swimming pool frozen over after a winter storm

You need to know how to winterize your pool because winter offers risk factors to your pool that it doesn’t face in the warmer months while also giving normal pool maintenance concerts a chance to become full-blown problems. Freezing temperatures can damage pool liners and plaster, while frozen water trapped in pipes expands, potentially leading to leaks and damaged equipment. While that’s bad enough, water that remains too warm while the pool isn’t in use can become a breeding ground for algae and bacteria, leading to health risks, offensive smells, and stains that leave your pool looking perpetually dirty. 

When You Should Be Winterizing Your Pool

While many people view Labor Day as the unofficial end of the swimming season, it may not be time to shut down for the winter quite yet. The first step to understanding how to winterize your pool is recognizing that there is no set date. Rather, you will want to keep an eye on your current weather conditions to pick the right time for your schedule. 

  • Before The Temperatures Start To Freeze Over Night – Winterization needs to happen before that first overnight freeze so you have the time to be sure your pool is safe before the dangerous freezing temperatures arrive. That first night that sees the mercury drop to below 32 degrees for a few hours shouldn’t damage your pool, but the repetitive temperature swing of fall days and nights and the hard freezes to come definitely will. When the weatherman starts talking about overnight freezes, it’s time to shut your pool for the season.
  • But Not Before Temperatures Are Low Enough – If Labor Day comes and goes, and the temperatures are still too high, you could be giving algae and bacteria the footholds they need to thrive. When we talk about how to winterize your pool, you’ll be temporarily taking circulation out of the pool maintenance equation and relying more heavily on chemicals. These contaminants proliferate in warm, still water, while warmer temperatures also cause your pool’s water to use up the chemicals used for pool winterization faster, leaving spring ripe for proliferation. Generally, you don’t want to winterize when the temperatures are still over 65 degrees, but 50 degrees is even better.
  • Other Considerations – Temperature isn’t the only concern for winterization, however. If you have a lot of landscaping, you may decide to winterize toward the higher end of the temperature spectrum to avoid a pool full of leaves. Scheduling enough time to do the job right is how to winterize your pool effectively, so you might have to wait a bit longer for your work schedule to coincide with an opportunity, pushing your winterization later in the season until 40-degree temperatures are common. The sweet spot of “not too high–not too low” is a guideline with plenty of wiggle room for everyone to make it work.

How To Winterize Your Pool Properly

Alright, let’s get down to the business of pool winterization. Follow these steps, and your pool will be safely closed the right way, making it all the easier to open it back up again come spring.

  1. Remove Accessories, Equipment, And Installations – Ladders, slides, inflatables, and other objects attached around your pool should be removed to prepare for winter pool cover installation. These objects can be cleaned and stored safely away for next year. While some people store these in their pool, this practice can introduce additional contaminants, and the caustic nature of pool chemicals can damage your accessories. 
  2. Clean Your Pool – Giving your pool a thorough cleaning before adjusting the chemistry is how to winterize your pool and save money on chemicals. Scrub the walls, vacuum the bottom of your pool, and make sure all skimmer baskets are clear of debris.
  3. Balance Your Water’s Chemistry – Now it’s time to make sure your water is ready to protect the pool and stay cleaner while the pool is dormant. Start with alkalinity before moving to pH and hardness. If your levels skew toward the higher side of the recommended levels, that’s fine, as these levels will drop over time, and pool winterization means no one should be entering the water anytime soon.
  4. Drain Your Pool To A Foot Below The Skimmer Covers – This keeps water out of the system, so a freeze doesn’t damage your pool equipment. There’s no need to drop your pool lower than this, and it could save you money. The properly winterized pool water can be cleaned, treated, and used when springtime comes. 
  5. Drain Your Lines And Other Equipment – Use a blower to expel water from your pool’s lines, then install plugs that block them off. You’ll also want to drain your pool’s equipment, such as filters and heaters, to protect them from freezing. As every pool is a little different, moving methodically through your pool’s devices and following the manufacturers’ instructions is how to be sure you’ve winterized all pool equipment that’s in jeopardy. 
  6. Extra Chemical Protection – While you have balanced your chemistry already, your pool is about to sit idle for months without its usual circulation or cleaning regiment. Adding a healthy dose of pool shock and algaecide gives it the extra protection it needs to fight off biological threats, while anti-scaling or staining chemicals can help prevent the minerals in your water from discoloring your pool walls. Some pool owners in colder areas might also decide to add pool antifreeze as an additional level of protection.
  7. Install Your Winter Pool Cover – Using a winter pool cover isn’t just how to winterize your pool. It’s how to help prevent accidental drownings from unsupervised swimming pool access. This thick cover provides a protective layer to help keep your pool’s heat in and the freezing temperatures out, but it also can support the weight of a child, pet, or full-grown adult who might otherwise fall into the dangerous, icy water. Anchored around the edge of the pool, your winter swimming pool cover holds them safely out of harm’s way until they can be safely helped away from the pool. Even though your pool may not be full, it can still be dangerous if left unprotected.
  8. Inspect And Clean Your Pool Fence – Pool winterization also presents a great opportunity to make sure your removable mesh pool fence is clean and in good repair. Usually, a light rinsing with a garden hose is sufficient to remove dust that may have accumulated on the fence, but a soft-bristle brush, light detergent, and some elbow grease can be used for heavier cleaning–like the soda spill your child “forgot” to clean up. Check to make sure the gate swings freely, latches correctly, and that all gaps around it remain small enough to prevent access. 

Make Sure Your Pool Is Ready For Winter

pool floats in a swimming pool covered in snow

Your local Lifeguard on Duty installer is ready to help you protect your pool with a custom winter pool cover quote tailored to your needs. We’ll take measurements, talk to you about your options, and give you a written estimate that helps you see how cost-effective proper pool winterization can be. Now that you know how to winterize your pool, get started by scheduling a free quote with Lifeguard on Duty today.

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