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    Above Ground Pool Closing in 5 Easy Steps

    September 18, 2014

    above ground pool winterization

    Opening a pool is something everyone looks forward to, but closing the pool...not so much! The good news is if we take a few extra minutes and close an above ground pool correctly, opening the pool will be a breeze. The cleaner the pool is when you close, the easier it will be to get it up and running at opening time. Let's get started!

    A few weeks before closing my above ground pool, I make sure I have an air pillow, my cover is in good shape and I have my pool closing chemicals ready to go. I really like SPP's Ultimate Closing Kit - it keeps my pool clean until Memorial Day weekend, which is when it gets opened. This kit works especially well if you are using a mesh cover, which allows fine debris to settle through the mesh into the water below.

    2. Add Winter Chemicals & Clean the Pool

    Following the instructions that come with the kit, I put each chemical in one at a time and let the filter run for a couple hours between each chemical. I also skim and vacuum the pool, and I thoroughly brush the floors and walls. It's always a good idea to check and make sure you do not have any leaks while you're doing this. More on leaking pools later...

    3. Lower the Pool Water 3" Below the Skimmer

    For my pool, I always use my cover pump to lower my water to below the skimmer and the returns. It takes a few hours. Remove the eyeball fittings from the returns, and insert the winterizing plugs. This is pretty easy. Next, close up the skimmer. I have a metal plate that screws into the skimmer, blocking any water from getting into that area. Another option is a skimmer plug, that seals up the inside of the faceplate, almost like a Tupperware lid that snaps into place. If you have hoses connected to your pump, remove and store them indoors. If you have PVC pipes, drain or blow out the pipes, or you can add pool antifreeze as needed.

    4. Winterize Equipment

    The phrase "clean and dry" pretty much sums up this step. If you live in an area where the temperature dips below freezing, you will want to winterize your filter and heater. A lot of times, people think they do not have to do anything. However, when the temps drop, you are taking a big chance that water trapped in the pump or filter will freeze and expand, shattering or cracking your plumbing and equipment. This is something you do not want to take a chance on! We have a DE filter; we always drain the tank completely, wash out all the DE powder, and make sure the tank and the hoses are drained and dried well before storing the pump and filter inside for the winter. It only takes a little bit of water to be left in there to freeze. If you do store it indoors, dry your filter fully to kill off any microbes and prevent mildew.

    5. Cover the Pool

    Slide your pool cover over the pool and up over the air pillow, being careful not to snag the cover on any sharp edges. String the cable in/out all the way around the cover and work it into the winch/ratchet. Tighten it up so the cover doesn't blow around or come off the pool. I like to keep a little bit of water on my cover to prevent any wind from getting under the edges and causing it to flap around. I also use cover clips or cover seal, which installs over the edge of the pool and cover. These are great for securely holding the cover in place, especially if you live in a windy area.

    round air pillow for poolsAir Pillows: Make sure you have at least one air pillow in the pool, blown up to around 75% of its capacity. Larger above ground pools should use more than one air pillow. I usually inflate the air pillow a couple of days ahead of time. This way, if there is a leak, I can patch it before installing it. Use a shop vac to inflate it if you have one - it'll make the process go quickly! When you place your air pillow, do your best to keep it in the middle. It's helpful to tie two strings (one on each side of the pillow) and tie each string to opposite sides of the pool.

    Some people may say that an air pillow is not necessary. They say it just keeps the rain water and snow melt to the outside and makes it easier to drain the water off the pool. This is very true, but it's not the reason you should use an air pillow. Air pillows prevent a solid ice sheet from forming across your pool, which can cause big problems.

    When an above ground pool freezes, it starts around the edges of the pool and slowly keeps freezing to the center of the pool. When the whole pool top freezes, the ice keeps expanding. If there is nothing to absorb the pressure of the expansion, the pressure ends up pushing on the walls and causing damage. An air pillow keeps a large unfrozen spot in the center of the pool, helping to absorb that ice expansion.

    leaking pool waterLeaking Liners: The other major reason that a pool can collapse during winter is a problem caused by a leaky liner. IMPORTANT: If you think there may be a leak in your pool, make the repair or replace the liner before you close the pool. If there is a leak, and the water leaks out beneath a very heavy layer of surface ice, it's a recipe for disaster in your pool. This ice sheet can fall or tilt, ripping the liner to pieces! If you notice your pool cover sagging deeper and deeper during winter, add water as needed to keep water levels up where they need to be.

    Lots of Leaves: For those of you who have a lot of trees around the pool, the leaf net is by far the best invention ever made for a pool. I put off buying one for a long time, and that was the biggest mistake I ever made. The leaf net comes with a cable and ratchet also, so installation is easy. Just lay it over the pool cover, and the leaves fall on it. We have a lot of leaves in the fall, so every 3-4 weeks my husband and I each take one end and walk the length of the pool to pop the leaves off. It sure beats dredging wet leaves off of the pool cover!lil-giant-APCP

    Another great product I love is my automatic cover pump. It stays outside all winter, pumping excess water off the top of the pool cover when the water level reaches about 1/2 inch. It keeps the amount of water on the cover within a manageable range, so you don't have to worry about it.

    In a nutshell, the process is quite simple. Vacuum and brush the pool, add your winter chemicals, lower the water, plug the returns and skimmer, winterize your filter/pump, and cover the pool with an air pillow underneath.

    No one likes closing the pool. It means summer is over! If you close the pool correctly, opening the pool is no more than balancing the water and shocking the pool. You may not even have to vacuum. Close an above ground pool when it's as clean as possible, and you will find opening it next year to be faster, easier and cheaper!

    Debbie Farnan
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author
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