When the days start getting shorter and the mercury begins to drop, it’s a clear indication that the season of poolside barbecues and splashing around in the sun-drenched waters is drawing to a close. It’s time to prepare your above ground pool for the rigors of winter. Proper winterization not only protects your investment but also ensures a smooth and hassle-free pool opening when summer rolls around again.
Understanding the Importance of Winterization
The process of winterizing an above ground pool is more than just a seasonal chore. It’s a crucial step to protect the pool’s structural integrity, maintain the quality of the water, and prevent potential damage due to freezing temperatures. If left unattended, ice can form and expand, causing severe damage to the pool walls and plumbing system. A well-executed winterization plan can save you significant time, effort, and resources in the long run.
Commencing the Winterization Process: Cleaning
The first step in the winterization process is to give your pool a thorough cleaning. Remove all leaves, bugs, and debris from the pool using a skimmer. Then, vacuum the pool floor to get rid of any dirt or sediment. This step ensures that your pool water remains as clean as possible during the winter months, reducing the risk of algae growth and staining.
Balancing the Water Chemistry
After cleaning, balance the water chemistry. The pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6, alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and calcium hardness between 175 and 225 ppm. These balanced levels help prevent scaling and corrosion, and they also maximize the efficiency of your pool sanitizer.
Moving Forward: The Equipment
Pool Equipment Preparation
Having cleaned your pool and balanced the water chemistry, it’s now time to turn your attention to the pool equipment. Start by removing the skimmer baskets, wall fittings, cleaners, solar blankets, ladders, and any other accessories from the pool. Clean, dry, and store them in a safe place for the winter.
Next, lower the water level in the pool. In an above ground pool, the water level should be lowered to approximately 4-6 inches below the skimmer. However, it’s important not to drain the pool entirely, as the weight of the water helps to support the pool walls against the pressure of the surrounding soil.
To protect the plumbing from freeze damage, you’ll need to drain all the water from your pump, filter, and heater. If your filter has a multiport valve, set it to the ‘winterize’ position. Then, use a shop vac to blow any remaining water out of the pipes. Finally, plug the return lines and skimmers to prevent water from getting into the pipes and causing freeze damage.
The Final Stage: Covering the Pool
Choosing the Right Pool Cover
The last step of the winterization process is to cover the pool. An above ground winter pool cover is designed to protect your pool from the harsh winter weather and keep out leaves, debris, and sunlight. When choosing a cover, ensure it is the right size for your pool and is sturdy enough to withstand the weight of snow and ice.
Securing the Pool Cover
Once you’ve chosen the right cover, secure it over your pool. Use a cable and a winch to tighten the cover around the pool. Then, install cover clips around the edge of the pool to prevent the cover from blowing off in the wind. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, you might consider using an air pillow under the cover. This will help distribute the weight of the snow and iceacross the cover, preventing damage.
The Aftercare: Regular Checks
After you’ve successfully winterized your pool, conduct regular checks during the winter months. Keep an eye on the cover to ensure it’s secure and remove any accumulated water or snow, as excessive weight can damage the cover.
The effort you put into winterizing your above ground pool will pay off when the warm weather returns. Come summer, you’ll find that opening your pool is a much simpler task, requiring less cleaning and chemical balancing. Allowing you to dive straight into the cool, refreshing water and make the most of the swimming season.