Unfortunately, all good seasons have to come to an end, which means it’s time to close your pool for the year. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you close your above ground pool properly, opening it next spring will be easier, so you can cannonball as soon as the weather allows.
When to Close Your Pool
In Michigan, late October and early November are not too late to close your pool. As long as your water’s moving, it’s not going to freeze, so you’ll be okay grabbing every last second of pool use you can.
Before You Begin
There are a couple of things you need to do before closing your pool.
Check for Leaks
Even a small pinhole leak will drain your entire pool over the winter. A simple way to check for leaks is mark the water line with a piece of tape. Keep track of it for a few days. If you’re losing water, a good first place to check for leaks is under your steps or ladder. Pebbles can get in there and occasionally get pushed through. Otherwise, check the bottom of the pool for dark spots.
Test the Water Balance
Water balance is as important over the winter as it is during the summer. If your water balance is off, the acidity can be extremely rough on your liner. Your pool liner will last a long time if you take care of it, so make sure your water is in perfect balance before it sits unused during the winter.
Check the Water Temperature
Make sure your water temperature is in the low 60s before you close the pool. At those temperatures, algae becomes a lot less active and less aggressive. When you close your pool, the water should be clean and clear. If you close the pool green, you’ll open the pool green — you don’t want that.
Vacuum the Pool and Remove Debris
A little dirt in the bottom of the pool isn’t going to hurt you, but make sure you get any leaves, sticks, debris, and other big stuff like that out of there before winter. If you leave a leaf on the bottom of the pool, it’ll leave an imprint, and that’s probably not a design element you’re going for.
7 Steps to Close an Above-Ground Pool
Now that you’ve prepped the pool and made sure everything is good, it’s time to start the process of closing your pool.
1. Add Chemicals
We recommend three BioGuard products: Arctic Blue Algicide, Arctic Blue Shock and Pool Closing Complete.
Start with the Shock by scattering it over the entire top of the pool. You do not want to dump it straight down into the pool,because it will settle and bleach the liner. After scattering the Shock, you’ll want to give it time to work (pro tip: shortly after is a good time to vacuum the pool).
Next, add the Algicide. Do this right at the water level.
Finally, put in the Pool Closing Complete. This helps keep the water line down, the water clear, and uses corrosion inhibitors to keep oils and greases away.
Let everything work for at least 30 to 45 minutes so it mixes into the pool.
2. Prep the Air Pillow
As water freezes, it expands. This expansion can damage your above ground pool wall, cover, and liner. An air pillow protects your above ground pool against damage by absorbing and offsetting some of this expansion. We recommend using the Pool Pillow Pal with any air pillow.
To prepare an air pillow: Lay your pool cover black-side down, color-side up. Fold your pool cover in half (the black side should be on top), and find the center (measure if your cover is really large). Peel the backing off one of the Pillow Pal patches and stick it on the center of your cover.
Next, fill up your air pillow until your fingers can barely touch when pressing on the top and bottom. Any less air is too little and any more is too much. Three good ways to fill an air pillow: an air compressor, a hair dryer on cold, or have your kids blow it up manually. With your air pillow valve-side up, apply the second patch to the center of the pillow.
3. Add Aquador and Return Plugs
Start by putting a little lube, such as Lube Tube, on your finger and running it around the lip of the skimmer. You don’t need a lot. A little thin bead is plenty, especially since you don’t actually have to do this, but it does make it easier and quicker.
Place the aquador over the skimmer and use your hand to snap it in place. The colder it gets, the harder it is to do this, but as long as the water is still in the low 60s, you’ll be fine. If you’ve lost your aquador cover, don’t worry — we sell replacements.
Next, unscrew the eyeball return. Apply a little lube on the plug and thread it back in where the return just was. You want to get it nice and tight to make sure you have a good seal.
4. Set Up Your Cover Locs
Cover Loc Jr. pieces should be applied three per top rail, and the full-size Cover Loc covers an entire top rail itself. Place the corresponding pieces directly below. Lean them up against the side of the pool or set them on the ground. This way you’re not running around wondering where you put all the parts when it’s time to use them.
5. Add Your Winter Cover
Making sure the black side is down (toward the water) and the colored side is up, get your winter cover up on the edge of one side of your pool. Now, apply the air pillow to the cover, connecting one patch to the other. Then, and ideally with help, pull the cover over the entire pool, making sure to leave the skimmer uncovered to prevent damage.
You’ll have “extra” pool cover. Make sure most of it is in the pool rather than hanging on the outside.
For first-time pool closers, string your cover cable after the cover is on the pool. Trust us: it’s much easier and more effective this way.
When everything is arranged and ready, it’s time to put the corresponding Cover Loc pieces on the cover. Simply push the Cover Loc on and snap it into place.
Once all the Cover Locs are in place, tighten the cable using the ratchet. Make a pass around the pool, tucking any loose cover under the cable to help protect against the wind.
6. Add Water Tubes
To make things easier, put the empty water tubes on top of the pool cover, on the inside edge, then fill them a little more than halfway. Then take a rope and tie it around the water tube, about a foot from the top of the tube. Tie the other end of the rope to the cable. Use another rope to tie the bottom end of the water tube to the cable. This prevents the tube from rolling and moving with the wind. Repeat with all the water tubes all the way around the pool, so that they form a ring.
7. Disconnect Equipment
You have to take all the lines off your pool, including your return. Just loosen your clamps and disconnect everything. Make sure all the water is out, then take everything inside—a shed or garage is fine, you just don’t want it out in the elements.
Next, remove the plug to drain your filter. Check your basket and clean it if necessary. Remove your filter and clean it (watch our video on cleaning your pool filter).
Now, your pool is all set for winter and should be in good shape come spring.