Above Ground Pool Winterizing Instructions
Don't Just Pull Out Your Pool Vacuum Cleaner – Truly Winterize Your In-Ground Pool!
Many owners would prefer to just have Brad Pitt clean their pool (that is how he was discovered!) However, most folks are not that lucky and so here are some thoughts on how to best address cold season needs for in-ground pools. While many of the steps are similar to closing an above- ground pool, there are some key differences listed below. As always, consult the owner's manual with additional questions.
The best place to start is by turning on some great, inspiring music and then fishing out of storage all the necessary equipment. This list includes the winter cover, pool chemicals, pool vacuum, air compressor, water tubes, plugs, etc. Once you have gathered your gear, begin by cleaning the filter. Sand filters can be backwashed as can a DE style filter. Once the DE filter is backwashed, clean the elements, and store. Cartridge filters should also be rinsed and elements removed. All filters should be stored in a dry area.
This next step is one of the most critical and one that varies from closing an above-ground pool – valves, pumps, lines, skimmers, and gauges should be drained and stored with like items for easy access in the spring. Using an air compressor, shop vac or a Blowout Gizzmo® to prevent freeze damage, all such lines should be completely void of moisture. Gizzmo screws or even rubber plugs should be used to insure a tight seal. If a Gizzmo plug is not used, there needs to be something placed in the skimmer to address water expansion. (a closed, plastic, empty bottle works well) In addition, some manufacturers suggest using a pool chemical, like an anti -freeze product, to protect in-ground lines.
At some point, the final cleaning must be done and done well. All debris and algae growth must be removed with a pool vacuum and the basin and water should be sparkling clean. Small parts, such as bolts, bumpers, fittings and so forth can be stored in the skimmer or even the pump baskets to avoid the frustration of replacement in the spring.
After a break for cold lemonade and an update on the college football scoreboard, it is time to address the chemical balance of the water. The alkalinity should fall between 100-150 ppm. The pH should appear in the range of 7.2 – 7.6. It is wise to keep the chlorine level higher, over the 3.0 mark, for winter. A shock style pool chemical is one of those recommended for winterization.
The last two main steps address the water level and the cover. A complete draining is not recommended because it puts too much pressure on the basin as the temperatures change; however, all underground pipes must be blown out in order to keep water levels higher. A good rule of thumb is to keep the level at, or just below, the skimmer. As for the winter cover, it must be thoroughly inspected for tears, rips, and holes. Repair kits are available in the case of small problems, but occasionally a new cover should replace an old, beat-up one. For those owners who employ a water tube type cover, all damaged tubes should be replaced, filled about ¾ of the way full and sealed. They need to be able to expand, so never overfill.
Be willing to sacrifice one full day to reap the benefits of a well-winterized pool and the rewards will be great come spring – even if Brad Pitt isn't available to share a cool drink on the deck!
Misty Waters writes numerous articles for Web sites on outdoor recreation/entertaining, event planning, and gardening. Her background also includes public speaking, consulting, and catering. For more of her useful articles on pools, please visit Pool Supplies, supplier of pool vacuums, pool pumps, and more.