As you know, there is a lot of maintenance required to keep your pool in good shape. Just like winterizing your hot tub, is important to keep your pool from freeze damage. Knowing how to winterize a pool is highly important when preparing for the cold.

Whether you’re looking to winterize an above ground pool or in-ground pool, we’ve laid out all the steps for you to follow. Read on to learn more!

Why You Need to Winterize Your Pool

Pools and their parts are not cheap. That’s why it’s so important for you to take steps to maintain and protect your pool. One of the biggest dangers for pools is cold weather. Freezing water can damage your pool’s skimmers, pipes, pump and filter, leaving you with hefty repair bills.

Test, Balance and Clean Your Water

Whether you are getting ready to winterize your in-ground pool or above ground pool, you’ll want to start by testing your pool’s pH levels, calcium levels and alkalinity. Try doing this a few days before you begin the winterizing process. Make any necessary adjustments.

When you’re ready to start winterizing your pool, begin by giving your pool a thorough cleaning to ensure it is free of any debris or algae build up. Doing so can save you from hours of stress and clean-up once the weather is warmer and you’re ready to dive in again.

How to Winterize In-Ground Pools

Your in-ground pool has pipes and skimmers fixed underground that you’ll have to dry before cold weather hits. Keep in mind, however, that your pool may have unique features that require additional steps. If this is the case, it may be worth hiring a professional to assist you in your pool winterization efforts.

What’s key to remember is that your primary goal is to dry any part of your pool system (pipes, filters, skimmers, pumps, heaters) to save them from potential freeze damage. Below are some general tips on how to do this.

Gather Tools and Equipment

Before you winterize your pool, it’s a good idea to gather all the tools and equipment you’ll need. These include:

  • Winterizing chemical kit
  • Bucket
  • Plugs for return jets
  • Gizzmo or skimmer guard
  • Air compressor
  • Pool cover
  • Adjustable pliers or wrench
  • Screwdrivers

You can find pool-specific equipment at your local pool supply store.

Step One: Remove Pool Fixtures

You’re going to need to have a good cover over your pool for the winter. Ladders, rails and diving boards can get in the way of the cover. Remove any of these fixtures that obstruct your pool’s cover and store them away for the season. You’ll also need to remove the fittings on the return jets and the basket from the skimmer.

Step Two: Backwash and Drain the Filter

If you have a sand filter or diatomaceous earth (DE) filter, you will need to use its backwash function before draining to ensure all the water is out of the system. To do so, turn off the filter system and set the multiport valve, next to the filter, to the backwash position. Turn the filter back on and let it run for two minutes, or until you see clear water in the filter’s sight glass (the small glass bottle connected to the filter). Once the sight glass water is clear, shut the filter off. If your sand or DE filter has a “Winter” function, you can use it to perform a final drain of the multiport valve. Otherwise, set your filter back to its normal filtering setting.

Finally, don’t forget to drain your filter. This step applies to sand, DE and cartridge pool filters. There should be a plug towards the bottom of the filter that you can loosen to allow water to drain.

Step Three: Drain the Pool Pump and Filter

The next step to winterize your pool is to drain the pool pump and filter. Start by opening the pump basket and clearing out any debris. Now, open any plugs at the bottom of the pump. You may need a screwdriver to open the pump drain. Let the pump drain completely.

Step Four: Clear the Skimmer and Return Jet Lines

Connect an air compressor to the pump’s drain plug and turn it on. Head back to the pool and you should start seeing bubbles shooting out of the skimmer and/or return jets. This is a sign that water has been cleared from the lines and air is flowing through. Locate the part with the most air shooting through it and cap it off.

To clear the skimmer, use a gizzmo. This long plug will screw right into the bottom of your skimmer. Its flexible plastic will protect the skimmer by absorbing any displacement from ice freezing in it. To plug the return jets, twist in their rubber stops and tighten.

Step Five: Clear the Main Drain Line

If your pool has a main drain, you’ll also need to clear its line of any water. With the air compressor running, wait until you see bubbles shooting from the main drain at the bottom of the pool. Once bubbling, go back to the filter system and shut off the valve to the main drain.

Step Six: Disconnect the Pump and Filter<

Disconnecting the pool pump and filter is necessary to fully winterize a pool. Begin by loosening all unions connected to the pump and filter. If possible, find a warm place indoors to store both for the winter. Close off any open and exposed pipes with pipe caps or duct tape. Make sure the filter timer is turned off and remove the timer clips.

Step Seven: Put Winterizing Chemicals into the Pool

Not all winterization chemical kits are the same. Read over and follow the instructions of your kit.

Generally, pool winterization kits come with pool shock and algaecide. Mix the shock with pool water in a bucket until the shock is fully dissolved before evenly distributing into the pool. Liquid chemicals can typically be put right into the pool without pre-mixing.

Step Eight: Cover the Pool

Carefully place the cover over your pool. Make sure the cover is free from any rips and tears. If needed, use water bags to secure the cover into place. Be careful not to overfill the water tubes and allow plenty room for expanding water.

How to Winterize Above Ground Pools

It’s important to know how to winterize an above ground pool since the winter season can be long, unforgiving and freezing. As your energy company and neighbour, we are well aware of this! Fortunately, with no pipes and linings buried underground, winterizing an above ground pool is easier than winterizing an in-ground pool. You’ll be spared from having to blow water out of pipes.

Gather Tools and Equipment

Before beginning to winterize your pool, make sure you have the tools and equipment you need. This includes:

  • Return jet plug
  • Gizzmo, skimmer cap or plate
  • Winterizing chemical kit
  • Bucket
  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers or wrench

Step One: Backwash Filter (Optional)

At the filter system, set the multiport valve to backwash. Let water drain from the pool until the water lever is right below the skimmer. This step isn’t necessary if you are going to use a skimmer cover to protect the skimmer.

Step Two: Cap the Return Jet and Skimmer

Remove the eye from the return jet and plug it with a rubber stopper. Now, remove the skimmer basket and store for the winter. You can either cover the skimmer opening with a Tupperware-like cap or a metal plate. You can also just use a gizzmo to plug up the bottom of the skimmer.

Step Three: Disconnect Hoses

Unclamp the hoses that connect the skimmer and return jet to the filtration system. You may need a screwdriver, though some clamps can be removed by hand. Be prepared to get wet.

Step Four: Clean and Drain the Pool Pump

This is a crucial step to ensure you winterize your pool properly. Remember, any lingering water in your pool’s pipes or pump can expand in the freezing weather and cause permanent damage. Uncap the pump basket and clean it of any lingering debris. Disconnect the pump from the filter and open up any plugs. Let all the water drain and allow the pipe and pump to air dry.

Step Five: Drain the Filter

Locate the plug at the bottom of your pool filter. Open this and let the water drain from the filter. Disconnect any other hoses that are still connected to either the filter or pump and clear any remaining water. Store your pump, filter and hoses indoors for the duration of winter.

Step Six: Add Winterization Chemicals

Before putting the cover on, crack open your winterization chemical kit and put the chemicals into the pool. Make sure you dissolve the shock powder in a bucket of pool water before spreading it into the rest of the pool.

Step Seven: Air Pillow

The air pillow is a very important part of winterizing your above ground pool. Contrary to popular belief, the air pillow does not help divert water and snow away from your cover. Instead, the air pillow plays the key role of absorbing the displacement of freezing water so that the walls of your pool don’t have to.

Fill up the pillow with air and place it in the pool before covering. Many people tie their air pillow to the center of the pool, but this is not necessary. The freezing water will push against the air pillow instead of pushing against the walls of your pool and potentially cracking them.

Step Eight: Cover the Pool

Placing a cover on your pool can help protect your pool during the winter. Without a cover, leaves and branches may blow into your pool, potentially staining and scratching the liner. A properly fitted cover will also keep debris from collecting in your pool, so when warm weather arrives, you won’t have to spend too long skimming and cleaning the water before diving in.

If you don’t already have a cover, purchase one with a cable you can tighten around the edge of the pool for a snug fit. You may need a helping hand to hold the cover while you take the necessary steps to tighten it and make sure you cover the entire pool.

With proper winterization techniques, you can ensure you have a nice and functioning pool to return to in the warm months. As your energy provider and neighbour, we’re here to make sure you’re prepared for anything the cold season may bring. For more tips and information on how to save energy during winter, feel free to give us a call at 1.866.420.3174.