Winterizing And Spring Opening


Winterizing Your Pool

The main purpose in winterizing your inground swimming pool is to protect it from damage due to freezing water. Another is to keep it as clean as possible for the next season. Closing your swim pool properly can save you a lot of work when it comes time to open the swimming pool for the summer.


  • The first step in the winterization procedure is to make sure your water chemistry is balanced. You should make sure that your pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness are all balanced. By balancing your water chemistry you are protecting the surface of the pool from staining and etching.
  • Adding a winterizing chemical kit to your water will help keep it blue and clear for the next season. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the kit.
  • Do not use a floater that contains a strong oxidizer (chlorine or bromine) as the floater will stick against the wall and stain and/or bleach your wall, especially a vinyl liner. For the same reasons DO NOT throw chlorine or bromine tablets into the pool. They will sink to the bottom and damage your pool’s surface.
  • When water freezes, it expands. This can cause great damage to your pool, pool plumbing, and its filter system. If you are closing up your pool for the winter, you should always take precautions to protect from freeze damage no matter where you live. You can never be sure that it will not drop below freezing, even in the Sun Belt.
  • The next step is to lower the water below the mouth of your skimmer(s). This will get the water out of the throat of the skimmer which can be easily damaged if water were to freeze there.
  • Another option for vinyl liner pools is to put an Aquador over the mouth of the skimmer. This is a plastic dam which holds out the water from the skimmer, allowing you to leave the water level up for the winter. This will help in supporting your cover and also help keep the liner from “floating” if the winter is your rainy season. Sorry, they have not invented a similar device for concrete pools yet.
  • Blow out the water from your plumbing lines. You can do this using a shop vac. Use the discharge of the shop vac to blow water out of each line from the filter system. As the water is purged from each line, you will need to put a plug in the lines at the pool end. Some fittings will allow for a threaded plug, which is best. Be sure to use a plug with a rubber gasket or “O” ring to make a seal, or the water may fill the line back up. If your fittings are not threaded, then use a rubber freeze plug.
  • In the skimmer(s) you should use a Gizzmo to seal the line. This device is a hollow tube which will collapse if water should get into the skimmer and freeze. Be sure to put Teflon tape on the threads of the Gizzmo to make a seal and to ease removal in the spring. It is usually impractical to put a plug in the main drain if you have one, but its extreme depth will normally protect it from freezing.
  • You should cover your pool to keep out the debris. The type of cover you use will depend upon several factors.
  • The final step? You must drain all the water from your filter equipment.
    • The filter should have a plug at the bottom that will allow it to drain.
    • Be sure to open the air relief valve on top if you have one.
    • Put the multiport valve in the closed or “winterize” position and remove the pressure gauge.
    • Drain the pump. There may be two plugs to remove here.
    • After draining the pump, turn it on for a brief second to get the water out of the veins of the impeller. Do not run the pump more than a second or two because you can burn out the seal very quickly.
    • You should have let the chemicals (chlorine/bromine tablets) run out of your feeder so that no chemicals are left in it. Leaving chemicals in your feeder over the winter can cause damage to it and other equipment.
    • You will now be able to drain your chemical feeder and automatic cleaner pump, heater, and any other filter equipment that has water in it.
    • If you put all the plugs that you have removed into the pump strainer basket, they will be easily found in the spring.
    • It is a good idea to take the pressure gauge inside for the winter because water collects in its tube which can freeze and cause breakage.
    • Do not put the plugs back on the equipment. If equipment should get water in it, the plugs will prevent proper drainage.



Spring Pool Openings

Here is a list of things you can do yourself to help lower the cost of opening your pool in the Spring:

  • Remove, clean, fold and store winter pool cover.
  • Test water balance; adjust calcium, Alkalinity and pH levels
  • Replace winter stored items; ladders, auto cleaner, baskets, plugs, gauges, etc.
  • Inspect and test electrical service to pumps, lights, heaters, etc.
  • Lube valves and o-rings. Wrap threaded plugs with new thread sealant.
  • Flood lines, prime-up pump, start-up motor and adjust valves for proper flow.
  • Brush tiles and scrub skimmers with phosphate-free cleanser.
  • Blow off, then hose off, your pool deck.
  • Skim pool surface. Vacuum pool to waste if algae is present.
  • Super chlorinate to breakpoint levels with liquid or granular chlorine.
  • Brush pool walls and steps. Re-check chemical levels in 12-24 hrs, adjust as needed.
  • Backwash filter when pressure gauge rises 8-10 lbs, or flow diminishes considerably.


Snowbelt Regions: Remove the pool cover

Solid Pool Covers:

Use a small cover pump to remove rain and snow melt. As the water is being pumped, “tighten up” the cover by pulling on its edges, so the water gathers into one easily pumped area. Another tip is to use a leaf blower underneath the cover, which inflates the cover slightly, while pushing the water into one area. A “bag type” leaf net and your pool brush on the pole can be used to remove leaves and debris from the cover. After water and debris is removed, drain water bags (or remove whatever is being used to hold down sides of cover). Water bags can be folded or rolled after being hosed clean. Remove cover quickly by fan-folding it into 3ft to 5ft folds on one end of the pool. Take cover to open area where it can be unfolded and hosed clean. A sloping yard or driveway makes this easier. When the pool cover is clean, allow to dry or use blower to hasten drying. NOTE: leaving it spread out over grass for too long on a hot day may harm your grass. Fan fold (accordian-style) cover to facilitate its installation in the fall. Roll tightly and wrap with rope or twine to prevent it from unrolling during storage. Place in a dry, rodent free location for its summer storage.

 Mesh Pool Covers:

Use a broom, brush, leaf net, hose and/or blower to remove leaves and debris from top and edges of your mesh pool cover. Remove springs from the anchors with the removal tool. If you can’t find your cover tool, in a pinch you can use a 3/4″ pipe to lever springs from anchors. Use 1/4″ hex key (Allen wrench) to carefully put anchors into the down position, flush with the deck. It’s good practice to clean with a hose and lubricate with a light oil, like WD-40. After putting anchors down, fan fold the mesh cover (accordion-style) to facilitate its reinstallation in the fall. Use hose, broom or blower to clean off cover as you make each fold. Fold it seam to seam, then roll like a sleeping bag and stuff it into the storage bag. Place on chair to dry for a few hours before moving it INDOORS for summer storage. If storing outdoors, hang up off the ground, and use moth balls to repel rodents from nesting in the cover during the summer. Rodents typically chew small holes in the mesh fabric during nesting, so it’s best to keep them away.

2. Remove expansion plugs (Freeze Plugs) from skimmers and wall returns.

Put freeze plugs in a Ziploc bag and place near cover for use next fall. Discard any that are dry-rotted and/or cracked. If you use the Hayward SP1022C threaded plug with o-ring,

3. Reassemble filter, pump, heater, etc.

Install drain plugs into pump, filter, heater, chlorinator, etc. Use thread sealant such as Teflon tape on all threaded plugs, connections. Do not over-tighten! If an above-ground pool, reattach hoses removed at closing. Reinstall the pump and skimmer baskets, pressure gauges. If your filter is a D.E. or Cartridge type pool filter, make sure that the center clamp band is tight and properly positioned. (It was probably removed in the fall to have the filters pulled out and cleaned with a hose, so make sure it was re-installed correctly before starting pump).

Place filter valve to the filter position and open air bleeder (beneath pressure gauge, usually). Open all incoming valves (before pump) and all return side valves (after filter). Lubricate valves and o-rings as needed. Fill pump basket with water from pool or hose. Replace pump lid tightly. Look for leaks out of pump. Double check that all valves and pressure relief orifices are open. Slide valves (push-pull valves) should be in the down position on most DE filters and in the up position for Pac-Fab sand filters. Multiport valves should be on the filter position. {Or…the method I use is to start the pump with the valve in the Drain to Waste position, and when water begins to run out the waste line, shut off the pump. Place valve into the Recirculate position and run pump until water flows into the pool. Shut off pump, switch the valve to the Filter position to complete the process.}

4. Turn on power to pump & start system

Watch the pressure on the filter gauge closely with your hand on power switch! Turn off (quickly!) if pressure rises well above normal range; or above 30 psi. Recheck that all return side valves are open. If no pressure builds up at all, and pump is not pumping, shut off power after 1 minute. Repeat priming process mentioned before. If pump still won’t prime up, try closing main drain valve, if you have one, and starting off the skimmer(s) alone. If pump still won’t catch prime after 5 or so attempts, check incoming pipes for air leaks. Repair as needed. After starting the filter, add 1 lb of DE powder per 5 sq. ft of filter area into the skimmer (only if you have a DE filter, of course). Do this quickly, within 2 minutes of starting filter. If you have a cartridge filte, you should replace cartridge element every 2-5 years. Sand filters should have their sand changed every 5-7 years.

Once the system is started, adjust valves and return fittings for proper flow. Check for leaks around pump and filter; repair as needed. Note start-up pressure on filter gauge, it’s helpful to write this on the tank with a marker, or mark the gauge itself. When psi is 10lbs above this (clean) number, backwash the filter. Empty pump basket also at this time, or earlier if you notice a drop in filter pressure. If you have a pool heater, follow pilot lighting and test firing instructions, usually printed on back of front heater door. Operate to test and adjust all other equipment.

5. Equipment inspection, Safety inspection

Spring opening time is ideal for annual preventative maintenance steps such as cleaning, lubricating, inspecting and replacing components in all of your system equipment. Check again for pressure leaks which may result in pipes or equipment blowing apart. Note water level and watch the pool for leakage during the following few days. Consult your owner’s manual and give everything a good inspection. Solar blankets should be kept off the pool until the chlorine and pH levels have stabilized.

Look for and correct hazardous electrical conditions, such as broken conduit or connectors, lack of proper grounding or bonding, wires exposed to weather, etc. Inspect pool for tripping and slipping hazards. Check all points of access to the pool, gates and doors leading to the pool should be locked and alarmed. Other layers of protection, such as pool covers, pool alarms, or physical barriers to the pool that do not block visibility of the pool, should be considered. Rescue equipment and a working phone are also encouraged. Most important of all for pool safety would be adequate supervision of swimmers.

6. Clean the pool

Skim pool, vacuum pool, brush pool, in that order. Leaf rake (bag) types skim nets are best, also useful for scooping large amounts of leaves or debris from pool floor. If pool is especially silty or has lots of algae, Vacuum the Pool to Waste. This means to bypass the filter, and vacuum dirt from floors/walls out the backwash line. This prevents constant clogging/cleaning of filter. To do this, you may need to fill pool to the very top, so you can waste 1-3″. Place the multiport filter valve on drain to waste position (usually 2pm, if viewed as a clock face) If you have a push-pull filter valve, or a cartridge type filter there is no easy way to vacuum to waste, except for cutting the pipe coming out of the pump and then reconnecting afterwards. After skimming and vacuuming the pool carefully, use a Pool Brush on the pool thoroughly.

7. Check and Balance Water Chemistry

Use a good quality pool water test kit. Replace test kit reagents every spring (annually). Follow pool water test instructions carefully to obtain accurate results.

Alkalinity first. If below the range of 80 – 120 ppm, add Total Alkalinity Increaser (Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Alkalinity levels 10 ppm. Calcium Hardness level should be 180 – 220 ppm. Add Calcium Hardness Increaser (Calcium Chloride) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Calcium levels 5 ppm. Test pH level after water has circulated 8 hrs. pH level should be 7.4 – 7.6, add pH Increaser (soda ash or sodium carbonate) if the water is acidic/ corrosive (below 7.4). Add pH Decreaser (muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate) if water is basic/ scaling (above 7.6). A good pool test kit will allow you to perform an acid demand or base demand test to determine exact amounts of acid or base needed (demanded). A clarifier may be used to help filter efficacy. After balanced chemicals have been circulated for 8 hrs, shock or super-chlorinate the pool. Add granular Shock Treatment (Calcium Hypochorite) to pool at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gallons, or use Clorox Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) at a rate of 5 gals per 10,000 gallons/pool water. Cyanuric Acid levels should be tested if chlorine is used (outdoor pools only). Add CYA (Conditioner or Stabilizer) to raise if Cyanuric Acid levels are below 30 – 50 ppm.

Always read instructions on packaging for proper handling, treatments and application of the pool chemicals. Distribute them broadly and never mix chemicals. Brushing pool after adding chemicals is helpful to distribution and dilution. Re-test water daily and readjust if needed. Backwash filter after 24 hrs. If algae is still present, re-shock pool, or add a “kill” dosage of a quality pool algaecide. Your pool is ready for use when chlorine level drops below 3.0 ppm, and water is clear. It may be a good move to have an annual check-up to your pool by a pool professional, which is why many people use pool companies to open the pool. If there is a pool store nearby, you should at least take a water sample in to be tested by another test kit.

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