How to Winterize Above Ground Pools

by admin on September 13, 2012

Closing and winterizing above ground swimming pools may seem like a challenge, but Doheny’s makes it easy! Doheny’s is here to help simplify the DIY process and turn you into a pool professional, as doing the work yourself could save you $150-$450 depending upon your location.  Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast has all of your pool winterizing supplies and we ship direct to your door, in some cases the very next day!

What is winterizing a swimming pool?

Winterizing is a crucial step in prolonging the life and quality of your above ground swimming pool. If you live in a region where it snows or freezes, then it’s a must-do for your swimming pool. The main purpose of winterizing above ground pools is to protect pool water from freezing and damaging your pool equipment. Water freezes and expands, which could cause major issues with your pool’s liner, plumbing and filtration system. It is still important to winterize your pool when it is not in use in warmer climates to prevent massive algae and sediment buildup. Plus, covering your pool helps prevent accidents from occurring. Special steps and precautions are necessary to take since above ground pools differ from in-ground pools.

What types of swimming pools need to be winterized?

Inflatable pools and spas can be drained, folded and stored for the winter. In-ground and above ground pools need to be filled with water and winterized. DO NOT drain these pools completely and leave the pool sitting! Above ground pools with vinyl liners are susceptible to damage when they do not contain water. The vinyl can shrink and you would have to purchase an entirely new pool liner, which can be costly to replace and install. Plus, an above ground pool without water is much lighter and the chance of it being blown over by the wind is much higher.

What do I need?

  • Pool water chemistry tester
  • Pool rake or leaf skimmer
  • Pool cleaning brush
  • Pool maintenance chemicals (chlorine or bromine)
  • Above ground winter pool cover
  • Cable and ratchet kit (winter pool covers from come with a kit for free!)
  • Doheny’s Pool Closing Winterizing Chemical Kit
  • Doheny’s skimmer plug
  • Seal Wrap for added protection from the wind.
  • Pool cover clips
  • Pool cover pump

Winterizing steps:

1) Check your winter supplies: Take inventory of all swimming pool winterizing chemicals and check that they have been properly stored over the summer. Dispose of any containers that are unsealed, have expired or have been stored in direct sunlight. Keep all pool chemicals in a dark and secure location away from pets and children. Inspect your winter pool cover for rips and tears. If you don’t have one, then you will need to purchase one. Be sure to order all necessary equipment and pool winterizing chemicals from Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast! Our free shipping gets all of your pool winterizing chemical supplies to you lightning fast!

2) Clean the entire pool area: Sweep the surrounding area to remove all dirt, leaves and branches from the deck or patio. Also, prune all bushes, flowers and overhead trees to eliminate future contamination before covering your swimming pool. You want to prevent debris from entering the pool and causing algae buildup once it is buttoned-down for the winter.

3) Secure the pool area: Check all fencing and gates to protect the pool from unwanted guests and intruders during the winter months. This is especially important if you have small children in the neighborhood. Make sure that there are no sharp objects, cracked tiles or slippery surfaces which may cause injury. Keep a first aid kit and other lifesaving devices nearby in case of an emergency. Be sure to check Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast for lifesaving devices and pool safety equipment.

4) Inspect your pool equipment: Look for any cracks or leaks in your above ground pool’s vinyl liner and casing. You may be able to patch or repair small cracks in your vinyl liner or swimming pool yourself; however, larger cracks and damage warrant calling a professional. If you need to repair your pool liner, then make sure to try Doheny’s vinyl liner repair kit and add years of life to your pool liner. Also inspect your pool filter, pool pump, gauges, fittings, and other items before storing for the winter. Making repairs before the season ends can help prevent further damage from your above ground pool and its equipment.

5) Clean off your winter pool cover after summer storage: Remove all leaves, debris and dirt from the winter pool cover before installation. Use Natural Chemistry Cover Cleaner for hard-to-remove stains on your pool cover. Note that above ground pool covers differ from in-ground pool covers. If you don’t have a winter pool cover, then pick one up at Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast and have it shipped directly to your door!

Now on to your pool:
1) Clean and brush your pool. Use a pool rake or leaf skimmer to remove all leaves and debris from inside of the swimming pool. If you don’t have an automatic pool cleaner, then clean your swimming pool’s floor and walls with a pool brush or manual above ground pool vacuum before closing to prevent algae growth and discoloration of your pool liner.

2) Maintain all water chemical levels 24 hours before adding additional winterizing chemical kit. It is important to properly balance all pool chemicals before you start to winterize your pool water. Testing your pool water and maintaining pH and alkalinity levels should be done at least 24 hours before proceeding with the winterizing process.

3) Open your Doheny’s Pool Closing Kit and pour the entire bottle of algaecide into the pool. Make sure that the algaecide is evenly distributed throughout the water.

4) Pour the entire bottle of Doheny’s Metal Out from the Winterizing Kit into your swimming pool. Make sure that it distributes evenly as well.

5) Wait 15 minutes for the Algaecide and the Metal Out to distribute before sprinkling and emptying the contents of Doheny’s Chlorine Free Oxidizing Shock into the water. Sprinkle the shock treatment around the perimeter of your swimming pool.

6) Run your pool pump for at least one hour after dispersing chemicals. Allowing your pool pump to circulate the pool water will help the effectiveness of the winterizing chemicals after your above ground pool is covered.

7) Make sure that your pool water is clean and debris free before covering your pool. The last thing you want is to cover the pool if additional leaves and debris has fallen into your pool. Remember, organic matter is what causes algae formation so keeping dirt and leaves out of the pool will help keep it free of bacteria.

8) Drain your pool water to under your skimmer or 2” below your pool’s return. You want to prevent your skimmer system from getting water inside and cracking over the winter. Using a skimmer plug is extremely beneficial if you do not want to drain your pool water.

9) Disconnect your plumbing hoses and drain your pump, filter and pool heater of all water according to the equipment manufacturer’s instructions. Draining your plumbing and equipment will prevent damage from water from freezing and expanding inside of its components.

10) Cover your pool equipment. Covering your pool equipment will help prolong its lifespan by protecting it from snow, ice and debris. Pool heater and heat pump covers are available at Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast.

11) Assemble the Floating Slow-Dissolving Winter Oxidizing Tablet Dispenser in Doheny’s Winterizing Kit. Punch holes in ALL the dimples located on both sides of the floating dispenser. Slide the foam collar onto the dispenser and place in the pool with the smallest diameter down. This allows water to flow through the perforated dimples. Do NOT throw the winter oxidizing tablet dispenser into the pool.

12) Protect your swimming pool’s skimmer system. Add Skim-Insure to your skimmer system to protect it from freezing and cracking. Check out Doheny’s YouTube video for more information and instructions on how to install Skim-Insure.

13) Uninstall all above ground pool accessories: Remove pool steps, ladders and lighting equipment that were installed for the summer. Safely store them where they won’t get damaged or broken over the winter.

14) Put a heavy duty air pillow in the center of your pool before covering. Pool air pillows help reduce the accumulation of water, snow and ice throughout the winter by raising the pool cover; therefore, less stress is put on the winter cover. Reference Doheny’s YouTube video on how to install a pool pillow.

15) Install your swimming pool’s winter cover. Doheny’s winter pool covers come with installation instructions as well as a FREE cable and ratchet kit! Read your pool cover’s instructions for information on how to properly install your cover. Watch Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast’s YouTube video for a visual demonstration on how to install an above ground pool cover. Also reference our supplemental YouTube video on how to use a cable and ratchet kit to secure your above ground pool cover.

16) Secure your above ground pool cover with cover clips. Above ground pool cover clips help your winter cover withstand wind and heavy rainfall. Doheny’s YouTube channel has a video on how to install winter pool cover clips.

17) Wrap your above ground swimming pool with Seal Wrap. Seal Wrap is an ingenious invention! Wrapping your above ground pool secures it for the entire season. This is a perfect product for those with swimming pools in hurricane zones, too. Visit Doheny’s YouTube video on how to wrap your above ground pool.

18) Drain excess water and snow off of your pool cover throughout the winter. It is important to maintain your hard work now that your pool has been winterized and covered. Remove all snow and standing water from the top of your pool cover with a pool cover pump periodically throughout the winter. This will prevent unnecessary pressure and weight on top of your pool cover. Reference Doheny’s YouTube video on how to use a pool cover pump. Handheld cover pumps are also available from Doheny’s Pool Supplies Fast.

Additional Above Ground Swimming Pool Winterizing Tips:

1) Do NOT cover your pool before testing and adjusting your pool water’s chemistry. The last thing that you want is a pool filled with algae when you uncover your pool in the spring.

2) Toss in a Doheny’s Winterball (also known as a winter pill) under your pool cover. These can be used in addition to pool closing kits. Winter pills help your pool water stay clean and cloudless all winter long. Plus, they will not stain your above ground pool’s liner!

3) Do NOT throw loose bromine or chlorine tablets into your pool. They will bleach, stain and potentially ruin your swimming pool’s liner.

4) If you don’t wrap your pool, then use wall bags. Place wall bags over the sides of your above ground pool or on top of your pool cover to weigh it down so that heavy wind does not blow the cover off. Fill the wall bags 3/4 full with water and attach to your above ground pool.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous September 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

nice list..really helpful.


Mortisha Brown September 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

You did a great job of coming up with a very informative blog. I live in Vancouver and it’s one of my problems everytime winter season is approaching. Now I know what exactly I’m going to do. I will also tell this to my friends who also has above ground swimming pools.


los angeles pool contractor September 27, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Thanks , I’ve recently been searching for information about this subject for a while and yours is the best I’ve discovered till now.


Xochitl Wichterman October 5, 2012 at 6:51 am

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


pool filters cleaning October 11, 2012 at 3:49 am

An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people do not talk about such subjects. Obviously winterizing an above ground swimming pool like a big challenge. But I am sure all the information provided by you could be very helpful for pool owners. Because winterizing is essential to protect protect pool water from freezing and damaging. Thanks for share such type of information with us.


Suzie September 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm

We just purchased a new home and the woman who owned the home before us left the above ground closed for two years. I am pretty sure she did not have it covered, I think the listing agent may have just thrown a cover on it to make it looki better. So anyway, when we had the pool company come out to clean it, they took the cover off and there was probably 700 lbs of nasty we leaves. They sent someone out to start and it took all day just to take out half of the leaves. The liner is filthy, although everyone I have talked to, has told me that it will come clean. We decided to order a new liner. In order to match the liner the pool guys cut a swatch out of it. The owner of the pool company forgot to order it and there was just a whole lot of stories and we just decided to move on and deal with it all next spring. From what I have been reading the pool should be filled before winterizing. Because of the cut in the liner we cannot fill all the way. I am also assuming that I do not have to use all the chemicals and test the Ph seeing that the whole pool is quite disgusting :( Oh and we have no idea if the pump or filter even work. I plan was to get the pool cleaned actually open it for a few weeks and then close it. It would have been clean. So that isnt happening. Help. What to do…oh and also we just renovated our new home and have very little money left…lol. We went wary overboard on some things but we love what we got…We figured we would save some money by just leaving the pool as it is and covering it until next year. Any suggestions, comments, anyone thinking sucker…i was so in love wtih the pool because it has a great deck right off the kitchen door wall. It looks like an in ground pool until you go down in the yard. Pretty cool.. does anyone think this pool can withstand the weather the way it is?


Jamone September 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm

After you have started adding the winterizing elements can you still go in the pool if you need to? My wife is worried that something may burn off if I do.



Brandy September 27, 2013 at 9:20 am

I live in Alabama & we usually don’t have extremely cold winters but u never know… I have above ground 15ft round 4 ft deep metal frame pool… Should I drain water completely and cover 4 winter or leave water n it? I wuz concerned about water freezing n expanding n busting liner…any suggestions? This is my first yr with above ground pool… Help!!


roseanne morano June 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

how do i clean the sand in my sand filter


Bob Marquis August 16, 2015 at 6:50 am

We have an inground fiberglass pool. Live in northern most Maine.  Had tty he pool since 1986. What can we add when we winterize to prevent stains during the wintrr?

Thanks, Bob


Char September 7, 2015 at 11:08 am

Si, you said do not put the chlorine float thing with Styrofoam into the pool. . What am I supposed to do with it?


Gay September 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Can I leave my swimming pool steps out all winter?


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