A Complete Guide to Winterizing an Above-Ground Pool Before Winter Arrives

Pool season may be over, but you don’t have to take those last lazy days in the sun for granted. Get tips on properly winterizing an above ground pool before winter months arrive.

Winter is coming… and your pool is at risk of cracking, and there are a few easy steps we can do to make sure it stays safe this winter. Winterizing your pool will help prolong its life span, and for us, that’s worth the work.

It would be best to take a few extra minutes each day before lazy summer days are over to help protect your investment. Also, your kids would be devastated if they came back from their Thanksgiving break and their favorite backyard hang-out wasn’t there anymore because you had taken no precautions. It’s going to take some time, but it will be worthwhile.

Pool season may be over, but you don’t have to take those last lazy days in the sun for granted. Get tips on properly winterizing an Above Ground Pool before winter months arrive. 

Here’s Why It’s Important to Winterizing an Above Ground Pool Before Winter

If you’re lucky enough to be based somewhere without harsh winters, you may not consider what a pool needs to weather a strong winter, and you might not close it at all. But if you live in the cold parts of the planet where winter comes with frost, snow, and extreme cold, winterizing your pool from the harsh season is something you need to do.

It’s essential to condition your pool for the winter season. Otherwise, you can have a frozen pool when you’re ready to use it. And, if the water freezes, the metal in your pipes and equipment will typically contract or buckle and cause physical damage such as leaks.

Winterizing your pool reduces the risk of contamination and damage to sensitive components caused by the cold. Doing this will spare you frustration, time, and money.

Winterizing Your Above Ground Pool at the Right Time

Depending on where you are from, you need to close the pool before the temperature drops below freezing. However, it would help if you also made sure that the pool’s temperature cools off before closing the pool. There are two issues if you close your pool when the water is still warm.

  • The warmer your water’s pool, the faster it is for winterizing chemicals to be used. 
  • There’s a huge chance for algae manifestation if you cover your pool while the water is too warm.

Some professionals suggest waiting at least until the pool’s water drops under 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celcius) to winterize your pool. However, if you’re patient enough to stick around until your pool drops to below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius), then you will have few problems in the long run.

Materials Needed to Close an Above Ground Pool

Right now, you’re probably thinking that winterizing a pool is a daunting task. That’s just because you don’t know what to do or what materials are needed to complete this tedious process. This might be a long list, but don’t overthink it too much. You can use these kinds of stuff in the winter and summer months to keep up with your regular pool maintenance.

Keep in mind that these tools still depend on the climate of the region you live in. You may or may not use all of it. It entirely depends on the environment – and also the altitude of your place. Here’s the full list:


  • Chlorine
  • pH increaser
  • pH decreaser
  • Alkalinity increaser
  • Calcium hardness increaser
  • Cyanuric acid
  • Metal sequestrant
  • Algaecide
  • Non-chlorine shock

Pool Accessories:

  • Above ground pool skimmer cover
  • Expansion plugs
  • Above ground pool winter cover
  • Cover winch and cable
  • Cover clips
  • Water bags
  • Pool air pillow
  • Swimming pool antifreeze
  • Pool brush
  • Algae brush
  • Pool vacuum
  • Rubber plugs or Gizmos
  • Air compressor or shop vac
Above ground pool skimmer cover

What Is the Best Way to Winterize an Above Ground Pool?

Even though these guidelines are seemingly common sense, they are very important if you want your pool to last throughout the entire fall and winter months. You don’t want your pump, filter, or heaters burned up in mid-October because you didn’t take precautions in advance of this time of year.

Balance the Water

You need to make sure that your pool is balanced before you winterize it. If not, there is a chance for algae formation and for chemicals to be used faster. There are two ways of balancing the water, adding chemicals or draining the pool. It’s essential if you are going with the drain option that all debris and leaves and other particles are removed from the pool before draining it, so it doesn’t start clogging in your pump or filters while it is drained down.

Balancing the water of your above-ground pool should be done at least a day before you close and start winterizing your pool.

Here’s an outline of the chemical ranges that you should look for

  • pH – 7.2 – 7.8
  • Alkalinity – 80 – 12- ppm
  • Free Chlorine – 3 ppm
  • Total Chlorine – <0.7 ppm
  • Combined Chlorine – 0.3 – 0.5 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness – 250 – 600 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid – 50 – 60 ppm

Note: *ppm* parts per million

Winterizing Chemicals

Winterizing chemicals are used to sanitize the pool floor and walls and maintain the water’s chemistry. Winterizing chemical kits, also known as non-chlorine shock or a chlorine-free closing kit, are available in the market.

These are pre-packaged chemical kits that contain everything you need for winterizing– pool shock, stain and scale preventer, a long-lasting algaecide, and a slow-release float of oxidizing chemicals – all in one simple package. Just follow the instructions on the box label, and you’re ready to go.

Note: You can simply sprinkle certain winterizing chemical products in the pool’s deep end. Others demand that you start the pump for a minimum of one hour. Just ensure that you read the instructions carefully.

Closing the Pool in a Clean State

Start by using a skimmer net to clean debris, like leaves, twigs, and other natural elements, from the surface and bottom of the pool. Then, start by vacuuming the pool, just follow the instructions manual of your particular pool cleaner, and you’re good to go. 

Next, deliberately clean the surface of your pool, particularly the pool’s bottom and sides. All that dirt and debris that will be there will be even more challenging to clean if you don’t do it now. 

Some areas will not get cleaned by the vacuum, so it’s best to get that brush and scrub and manually clean the surfaces (ladders, steps, floors, tiles, walls, coves). You can ask your manufacturer for a recommendation of what cleaning solution is good for your pool. 

Remember, now’s the time to clean your pool. If you allow the cleaning to sit for more months, it will be an even tougher cleaning job when spring comes.

Closing the Pool in a Clean State

Remove and Store Pool Equipment

Depending on the temperature of where you are based, you may want to remove pool parts if the temperature gets too freezing. Start by disassembling bigger accessories like ladders, steps, and floating chemical dispensers. 

Once the big components are out of the way, start removing small components of your pool. Clean and completely dry these accessories and parts, then store them in a safe and dry place. 

Drain and Plug the Pipes

To drain and plug the pipes for winterization, there are a few steps that you should follow. You will need to close the valves on the pool and cut off any water supply to the pool. Next, you need to drain the pool of water by opening up one valve at a time. Make sure that when you open a valve or allow drainage, somebody is standing by with a bucket to catch any excess water. Here are other recommendations.

  • Close or put the lid of the inlet and outlet valve
  •  Pack the hoses that connect straight to the pump and filter.
  •  Store your skimmer basket in a safe and dry location
  •  Clean and remove dirt from the pump, filter housing, and hoses
  • Throw away old filter cartridge
  •  It may be cheap to buy filter cartridge’s now, so you have something to use for spring. 
  •  Store the pump and other materials indoors. 

Turn Off the Gas and Power Supply Of the Pool Heaters

If you don’t want to risk damaging the heater, the best thing that you can do is shut off the power supply and gas supply. You wouldn’t want to stop and turn off your pool heater while staying in a dangerous situation. It’s always safest to assume safety first.

The most effective way to do this is by shutting off all of your power sources that could provide electricity. After turning off these outlets and cutting the power and gas lines, seal up any leaks by taping plastic over them or making sure they are not near any holes.

Power Supply Of the Pool Heaters

Protect Your Above Ground Pool

Cover your pool with a robust and heavy-duty winter cover if you have one. This is the most effective way to protect your pool against toxic chemicals, leaves, dirt, and debris from entering it. Ensure that the pool cover is fastened to the frame of your pool with ties or straps. 

Don’t use hard and heavy objects like blocks, bricks, stones, etc., to weigh down the cover. These objects can easily fall and damage your pool’s vinyl liner, floor, and walls. 

If your above-ground pool has a walk-around deck, you could place water bags on top of the cover around the edge of the pool. 

Inflate and Install a Pool Air Pillow

Air pillows are a great way to winterize your pool. They offer protection for the pool during the colder months. With an air pillow, you can rest assured that your liner or walls will not get damaged. Inflatable air pillows are typically very easy to install, and they don’t take much time. They are more affordable than other types of covers as well. Pool air pillow protects the cover and walls of your pool from freezing and thawing by absorbing the pressure. It serves as a relief valve when your pool water freezes, reducing pressure on your pool walls.

Pool Air Pillow

To ensure your air pillow absorbs the forming ice due to cold weather, it has to be soft. This means you should only inflate the air pillow to about 60% of its capacity to give room for compression. It would help if you tried placing duct tape on top of the air valve to guarantee that it doesn’t deflate throughout winter. You may also want to assure that your air pillow remains in place, so you must use the grommets and attach strings to them. Make sure to tie them loosely because tying them too tight can break the string, letting your pillow float freely in the pool. 


To winterize your pool, it is necessary to plan ahead. The best way to do this is by doing your research well. Knowing the best time for you to turn on your pool heater and close up your pool cover will reduce the amount of stress you might feel during the winter months. It may also help reduce the chance of a potential tragedy if something goes wrong with one or both parts of your pool system.

For me, winterizing my pool means preparing for the coldest season of the year. This is important because of how challenging it is to work during winter. The cold weather can make it hard for people to work on their pool heater and access running water.

I feel like there’s nothing better than being able to enjoy a nice warm swim in your pool amid winter with your family and friends too. It would be best if you took precautions this coming winter so you can create a safe environment for everyone involved.

Read these interesting articles geared toward pool owners and pool lovers.

Find more ideas for Above Ground Pool covers before winter arrives.

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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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