Closing an Inground Swimming Pool? How to Winterize a Pool for an Easy Spring Opening.
How to winterize an inground swimming pool
Closing an inground swimming pool is a lot more challenging than opening an inground swimming pool. The challenge is removing all the water properly from the pool equipment and plumbing as well as winterizing it for the freezing temperatures that are on the way. If you winterize you pool properly in the fall, a spring opening will be a snap, and you will be the envy of you neighborhood pool owners.
I took a step by step approach with many pictures so I could just about walk you through the process as easy as possible without actually being there to help you. As I closed my pool this fall, I took very detailed pictures to help me animate the procedure so you won't run into any problems. If you have any problems or questions, just shoot me a comment and I will answer it ASAP, because at this time of the year, time is of the essence.
Step 1: Preparing your pool for winter
First and foremost, your pool needs to be totally clean and the PH, Alkalinity, Hardness, and Chlorine levels need to be set to their ideal levels. This is the most important step, because if you close a dirty pool, it will only get worst throughout the winter. So clean it, set it, and forget it!
Recommended pool winterizing kits
Step 2: Buy a winterizing kit
When you purchase a winterizing kit, buy one that will winterize the amount of water you have in your pool, if you buy a kit that is to small it, will be wasted money, so know your pools water capacity and buy the right kit. I had to buy 2 kits this year because the company I buy my winterizing kits from stopped selling the large kits for 25,000 gal pools. Also, purchase a disposable floating chlorine dispenser that will float around your pool when the pool isn't frozen, it will keep the water clear, and it helps kill any algae that wants to grow on the warm spring days.
Step 3: Start adding the winterizing kit
It's best to follow the instructions on the winterizing kit, that's why they're there. You need to add the PhosFree to your pool water first to remove any Phosphates in the water, by removing the Phosphates in your pool water, you will stop the growth of algae throughout the winter. Add the PhosFree a week before closing your pool, just poor it into the filter and let it do its thing. I recommend starting the process one weekend before closing your pool.
Step 4: Add the rest of the winterizing kit
Start by adding the bottle of metal free to the pool water, just sprinkle it across the top of the water, do not add it to the filter. The metal free will remove any damaging metals in the pool water, this will prevent any stains or water discoloration in the off season.
At this point your pool water should be clean, free of metals and free of phosphates, the chlorine level should be almost perfect and your PH, Alkalinity, and Hardness levels should be at the ideal levels. Now it's time to drain the pool.
Step 5: Lowering the pool water
According to some winterizing kits, you should lower your water level about 18 inches from the top of the skimmer. An easy way to determine if the water is low enough is to lower it to the bottom of the return jets/ lines. When you lower the water level below the return lines, it allows the water to drain from them as well, so lower the water to just below the return lines (see the pictures for details).
Use the pool pump to lower the water level, turn the diverter handle to backwash, then turn the inlet lever to draw water from the bottom drain of the pool and not the skimmer. This will allow you to lower the pool water well below the skimmer without sucking air into the filter. While the pool water is draining, start removing the jet nozzles on the inlet lines, skimmer basket, ladder and handrails. If you have a safety cover, start pulling up the anchors on the pool deck and start unwrapping the pool cover that you have in storage.
Once the water is below the return lines, you can shut off the pump. But before you shut the pump off for the winter, you need to suck the remaining water from the skimmer. The best way I found to suck the remaining water from the skimmer is to use the pump one last time. When you're ready to stop pumping water from the bottom and the water level is where you want it, turn the lever on the inlet pipes to skimmer until you hear the pump suck air, then turn off the pump, but leave the inlet lever on skimmer.
Now is a good time to add antifreeze to the skimmer , the water level should be low enough in the skimmer so that when you look down into the skimmer you cannot see any water in the pipe, if there is no water in the pipe, add your pool antifreeze, about 1 quart to 1 half gallon. Install the gizmo with Teflon tape wrapped around the threads and then add about 1 quart to 1 half gallon of antifreeze to the skimmer housing so that it surrounds the gizmo.
The gizmo is installed for 2 reasons, one is to stop water form reentering the skimmer lines during the winter and two, it is air filled, so that if water does enter the skimmer and freezes, the ice will expand and crush the gizmo and not split or crack your skimmer housing. Once the gizmo is installed and the antifreeze is all set, take the skimmer cover and wrap in it in a plastic bag, just take a plastic bag and put the skimmer cover in it, then wrap it so that the top of the cover is wrapped tight and the remaining part of the bag is on the underside of the cover. Next, install the skimmer cover on the skimmer (See pictures) this plastic bag will help keep out rainwater during the off season.
Clean Your Pool Steps Before You Close Your Pool
Swimming Pool Antifreeze
Step 6: Blow out the lines with compressed air
Blowing out the lines sounds daunting but it's quite simple. On the bottom of the basket housing at your pool pump, there is a little plug, remove the plug, and install an air line nozzle so you can attach an air line easily (see pictures for more detail). Drain the basket housing of water, drain the pool pump from the bottom drain and unscrew the vent at the top of the pump to allow air to enter the top of the pump and let the water drain faster out if the filter.
Once the pump and the filter basket housing is drained, reinstall the drain cap on the filter, the vent cap and install the air line fitting to the bottom of the basket housing. Clean out any leftover chlorine in the self chlorinator. Set the diverter handle to filter and add compressed air to the filter at the air line fitting. Watch the water drain from the return lines, when the water stops coming out of the return lines shut off the compressed air and cap the lines with special caps designed to keep water out during the off season. These caps have rubber o-rings but I like to use Teflon tap on the threads for added protection, I also add Teflon tape to the threads of the gizmo for added protection.
CAUTION! TURN OFF THE POWER TO THE POOL PUMP AS SOON AS YOU'RE done DRAINING THE POOL TO AVOID ACCIDENTAL CYCLEING OF THE POOL PUMP WITH NO WATER, IT WILL OVER HEAT AND MELT YOU'RE PUMP, RESLUTING IN UNNECESSARY REPAIR COSTS!
Step 7: Add pool antifreeze to the pool pump
The pump and filter should be drained by now and the pump basket housing should only have a little water in it, if you think there is still too much water in the basket housing, just scoop it out with a plastic cup. Add about 1 half gallon of pool antifreeze to the pump basket housing and reinstall the cover. Add pool antifreeze to the self chlorinator, about 1 half gallon, then reinstall the cover. You should only need about 2-3 gallons of pool antifreeze to close the pool unless it's a huge pool; I am basing the capacities on a 23000 gallon pool.
Place the handle of the diverter valve in a neutral position between filter and waste, or something like that, just don't leave the lever in one of the designated positions because there is still water in the diverter, when you put the handle in a neutral position it will allow the water to freeze and expand without cracking something internally on the diverter valve (See picture)
After the pool pump has been winterized, remove the drain cap from the bottom of the sand filter or DE filter just to finish draining the water from inside the tank. The filter is saturated with water and I like to let it drain thoroughly so I will leave the drain cap off for 24 hours. If you have a filter cartridge, remove the cartridge and power wash it then store it for the winter.
Step 8: Installing the pool safety cover
By now you should have all the pool cover anchor's popped up the cover should be ready to install. A safety cover has and up side and a down side. When installing your safety cover, you will notice that the down side has hard plastic belts stitched into the cover to protect the cover from rubbing on the concrete during windy days, it also allows the cover to stretch without damage when snow and ice build up on top of the cover.
The cover is made to stretch like a trampoline, there are springs where the cover attaches to the anchors, so when the snow and ice build up on top of the safety cover, it will stretch to the top of the water. After the ice and snow melt in the spring, it will spring back up and the debris will dry and blow off.
Start the safety cover installation by rolling out the cover on the pool deck or your lawn, find the end of the cover that goes over the stairs, and place the cover near the edge of the pool so you can slide the cover over the pool easily. Slide the spring covers over each spring as you attach them to the anchors, otherwise they may fall off into the water when installing the cover. Start by attaching the two springs on each end in the center of the cover, the long way. (See pictures)
Use the metal pole that came with the pool cover to install the springs onto the anchors. If the cover has no spring installation tool, you can use a 3/4 metal pipe. Slide the tool into the loop end of the spring, put the pipe over the anchor, move the pipe straight up and down over the anchor and use your foot to slide the spring onto the anchor.
Once the cover is supported in the center the long way, find the center springs in the center the short way and attach them as well. Installing the cover doesn't have to be done perfectly, it just prevents the cover from filling up with water, making the install easy. From there, just install the remaining spring covers and attach the remaining springs to their appropriate anchors. Be sure that the straps that attach the cover to the springs are lying flat on the concrete and not twisted, it looks better and there is a hard plastic strip stitched into the strap to prevent premature wear.
I use to remove the pool light for fear of it cracking from the ice pushing against it but now I leave it in. I have left in the pool for over 6 years and have never had a problem. It is personal preference, but if you want to remove the pool light, there is one screw at the top of the light, and the bottom of the light slides into a holder. Just remove the top screw and tilt the top of the light out, the bottom of the light will slide out of the holder. The pool light wire should be long enough to store the light inside of the diving board, which is normal practice of the pool companies if the light is removed.
Installing the safety cover spring onto the anchor
Pool Safety Covers and Accessories
Your Pool is ready for winter
So that's it! Store you ladder, hand rails and pool accessories for the winter, I use a bucket to store all the baskets, nozzles and whatever else that goes to the pool all in one place so when spring comes you can find everything easily. If you think I may have left out a step or you have a question, just ask and I will get back to you asap. Most people won't attempt closing an inground swimming pool for fear that they might do something wrong. Once you close a pool once, it will become easier each year and it will save you around $200- $300. Plus you will have peace of mind that it's done right. I had my pool closed once by a local pool company and my pool was dark green in the spring, it took me two week to clear it up and a lot of chemicals, needless to say I have done it myself since then.
Other pool articles written by Eddie Carrara
- I Had the Worst Pool Algae This Spring
The pool algae this spring was the worst I had ever seen, I even used a winterizing kit, and it was still dark green, with black algae. The chemicals and pool filter were a losing battle, and the algae were winning.
- How to Change the Sand in a Pool Filter
If you want to change the sand in a pool filter, here are the step by step, easy to understand instructions. I'll show you how easy it really is.
- How to Open an Inground Swimming Pool
What is my secret to clear pool water when opening my inground pool in the spring? When the cover comes off, the pool water is crystal clear and all the debris has settled to the bottom. Most pool owners ask “How is this possible?” The most...