In this guide, we’ll be looking at how to winterize a pool. This is important because as a pool owner, unless you’re lucky enough to live in a country of beautiful weather 365 days a year, you’ll need to know how to prepare your pool for each season, so you can keep your pool clean, safe and beautiful all year round.
Knowing how to winterize a pool helps you to keep your pool healthy so that when spring / summer comes around again, your pool is in great shape for the coming season – saving you effort, energy and even extra expense.
If you don’t winterize your pool properly, you could end up with having to spend not just a ton of time fixing all of the issues that have cropped up over the colder months, but potentially also some serious money having to fix your pool deck or equipment. However with some proper preparation, and learning how to winterize a pool properly, you can prevent any issues from occurring and ensure getting your pool ready for the summer season is simple, easy, and doesn’t hurt your wallet!
Failure to winterize your pool properly can result in cracks around your pool deck, algae that is horrific to get rid of the following pool season (and can get very expensive to remove) and traces of dirt, bacteria, and build-up of gunk around your equipment which can damage it and lead to costly repairs. So, here’s what you need to know to prepare your pool properly for winter and save yourself time, money, and stress!
How You Should Winterize it?
Balancing Your pH Levels
Before the winter season starts, you’re going to want to check your pH levels, and then keep those pH levels balanced throughout the entire winter season – which means checking at least weekly, even if you have a pool cover over your water. Ideally you’ll want to check daily, but at the very least once per week will suffice throughout the winter period. Ensuring your pH is balanced properly will prevent build up of chemicals, and ensure your equipment and pump / filter / circulation system is protected from any damage that could be caused by your water being too acidic or alkaline.
Water that is not properly balanced throughout the winter means when you lift your pool cover after the winter you’re going to be in for a nasty, and potentially expensive shock – algae spreads fast once it takes hold, and can be dangerous to kids and pets! So, keep on top of balancing your pH levels throughout the winter.
Clean Your Pool
It sounds obvious but giving your pool a really good clean before the winter season begins gives you a headstart on getting the pool ready and protected throughout the winter. It stops algae and other grime building up on the pool deck area, and ensures all your equipment is functioning as it should be, giving you the chance to spot any problems before the pool is ‘put away’ for the season, when any damage or problems could potentially due to the weather, lack of as much care and attention, etc.
So, grab your telescopic pole and get to work! Scrub and vacuum all of your pool areas, including the floor, walls, skimmers and skimmer baskets and any ‘dark’ areas such as steps, under branches, caves or grottos; and of course your entire pool deck areas including any pathways and fencing. Ensure any debris is got rid of, paying particular attention to loose leaves, overgrown branches or plant material, any litter that might be lying around. While you’re giving everything a good clean, make it a particular point to have a good look for any tiny cracks, particularly around any corners, pump areas, lights, under any ladders and again in any dark areas. These cracks are like magnets for dirt, grime, and algae, and can easily get bigger over the winter.
Cleaning your pool thoroughly will help your pool not get blocked and clogged by debris and prevent grime from building up which could potentially block your pump and filter system. Remember that even in winter your goal is to keep your circulation and pool water flowing!
Clean Your Pool Filter
The filter for your pool needs to be cleaned before winterizing your pool. This will help your filter operate properly and make it easier to open your pool come springtime.
Protect Against Algae
There is no doubt about it – the most deadly ‘pool killer’ is algae. It takes hold so quickly and basically destroys your pool, and will cost a ton of money to ensure that you can get rid of it for good. Remember – prevention is better than cure. So you might want to ‘flush’ your pool with a good algaecide, or at the least giving your pool a good ‘pool shock‘ treatment, before the winter. This ensures that any microscopic traces of algae are wiped out before they have chance to take hold during the winter, when you’re not as likely to be cleaning or keeping an eye on your pool quite as much as you do in the summer months.
Keep Your Pool Full
You’d think it might be easier to just empty your pool through the winter months, right? It saves all that cleaning and effort, and surely would prevent any problems from occurring? It’s easy to assume emptying your pool would be the best way to get ready for winter, but actually this is the most damaging thing you can do! Not only would you still need to clean your pool on a weekly basis at the minimum (yep, algae even grows if a little bit of rain lingers at the bottom of an empty pool, as well as in the cracks and surrounds) not having water in your pool can actually weaken your pool shape and structure, causing internal damage to the walls of your pool and then your equipment. This could lead to some particularly costly repairs when spring arrives!
So keep your water topped up, ensuring your water levels are normal (halfway up your skimmer) so that your pump and filter system work like normal.
Cover The Pool
Covering your pool provides greater protection against leaves and debris, and will help keep your water and pH levels at a proper level and balance.
That’s how you winterize a pool and get it ready for the cold season, but the work doesn’t stop there! If you want to save yourself time and money come the summertime, you’ll need to take care of your pool throughout the winter too – here’s how.
Get Rid Of The Green
Yes, we’re talking about the algae again here! Grab an algaecide pronto and go on the offensive!
On the last day of using your pool after the summer season, add your algaecide to the water and run the pump for 24 hours to enable it to fully circulate. Algae doesn’t breed as well in the winter as in the summertime, but it definitely can still take hold, so your job throughout the winter is to keep topping up the algaecide and use it on a regular basis to ensure your pool is clear and clean some summer.
Check Your System To Prevent Freezing
You’re going to want to check all of your pump, pool, heater, equipment, decking, pipers, skimmers and every other part of your pool I haven’t mentioned, including your chemical storage solutions and your pool cupboard / room (if you have one). This check needs to be truly detailed – missing one tiny crack or crevice will inevitably lead to the danger of spilt chemicals, or huge expensive repairs down the line.
However one of the most important parts to check is your circulation system – your filter, skimmers, pipes, and your pump, plus your heater if you have one. The reason for this is that freezing temperatures in winter can lead to any water still remaining in your system to expand as it turns into ice and then contracting again as the freezing day ends and the temperature warms a touch, and then it happens again, and again, and again all throughout those icy days. As you can imagine this can put a huge strain on your plumbing system and cause the cracks mentioned above, not to mention burst pipes and other similarly damaged equipment.
This is going to cause you a lot of money to fix, you won’t be able to DIY it (well, you possibly could but again this could cause even more money to be spent fixing any issues!) and it will cause you a ton of stress while you wait for your pool to be fixed.
The best way to prevent this is by undertaking the following preparation.
Drain the water from the pump, pool heater and filter. You also want to drain the water 4–6 inches below the pool skimmer.
Remember to also completely remove any water that has accumulated on top of your pool cover to keep it from freezing.
Now, to maintain, here’s what you do.
Keep checking your pool circulation. If you don’t have a pool cover, rainwater can cause your water levels to rise, enabling water to get back in through your system with you being blissfully unaware of all the damage that’s being caused to your equipment!
So if you don’t have a cover, make sure you check your pool after any rain that the level hasn’t risen a great deal and also keep an eye out for that algae!
On the last day of using your pool after the summer season, add your algaecide to the water and run the pump for 24 hours to enable it to fully circulate. Algae doesn’t breed as well in the winter as in the summertime, but it definitely can still take hold, so your job throughout the winter is to keep topping up the algaecide and use it on a regular basis to ensure your pool is clear and clean come the summertime.
Keep Your Pool Cover Clean
A pool cover is designed to keep your pool clean, right? But you also have to keep the cover clean if you want it to be able to work as it should! Not only does a cover protect your pool from dirt and grime and help maintain pH levels, but it can add a level of safety against stray wildlife, and wandering pets / children throughout the winter months.
Pool covers are also a magnet for leaves, debris and grime however – so make sure once every two weeks, and ideally once a week – you are removing the cover, removing the debris, and hosing it down.
Here’s what you need to know about using chlorine for your pool to be kept clean and safe over the winter season.
- You can still add chlorine to your pool in the winter! Keep it flowing in to allow your pool to kill off the algae, debris, and leaf grime, especially when the water isn’t flowing and circulating like normal. Be wary of adding too much chlorine though. If the chlorine level is too high over the winter, you can bleach the lining of your pool.
- Vacuum your pool before adding chlorine to lift up any sediment, sand, or unwanted nasties at the bottom of your pool. We like to do it monthly but you can do it less frequently throughout the winter – we just don’t like having a ton of work to do in the spring!
- Keep an eye out for you guessed it! ALGAE!!! I’m going to turn into algae if I keep talking about it but it’s so important to stay on top of especially during the winter months which is when everyone seems to forget how much of a pest this is to get rid of in the summer! And it’s even more likely to appear when your circulation isn’t flowing. Add chlorine and esure your decking area is thoroughly swept, and that hard to reach areas in your pool such as the steps are swept and cleaned in a similar fashion.
Pay Attention To Your Pool Water
It’s all about the water! If your autumn has been mild, maybe even relatively warm, it’s important to check for the growth of algae before the winter season begins. Check and add chlorine, and even shock the pool if you see any suspicious green or cloudy water to help ensure your water is treated, protected and balanced for the upcoming season.
However if you’ve had heavy rain during the autumn season and you use a mesh cover, much of the typical cleaning chemicals and products that you use may become diluted. Follow the steps above – clean thoroughly, check your pH levels and shock exactly like you would in the summertime. This will help your water be ready for the winter months.
Protect The Water
Using a specifically created winterizing product throughout the winter months will help your pool stay balanced, clean, and free from nasties and bacteria that might otherwise take root. The principles you follow to keep your pool clean and healthy in the summer also apply to the winter moths. If you can maintain proper pH sanitizer levels at all times, pool care becomes easier.
During winter, your pool water is not being maintained, cold water can degrade your chlorine and pool covers are breeding grounds for algae and bacteria. This is why many winterization products include algaecides that are stable (non destroyed by sunlight and / or rain / extreme weather conditions) that will ensure your water stays cleaner for longer.
Most algaecides will survive the winter and slow or stop algae growth; some of these products may even slow the growth of bacteria and other undesirables.
How To Winterize A Pool – Final Thoughts
So, that’s how to winterize a pool, and to take care of your water and pool deck throughout the off-season. One final thing to consider – getting ready for spring early!
By opening your pool as soon as the weather feels even slightly warmer, removing the cover, and carrying out the necessary cleaning steps to get ready for your pool opening, you’ll beat the algae before it starts to flourish in the warmer weather.
So make sure to open your pool early in order to keep your pool clean, safe and healthy – and to save you time, effort, and money.