MGK Pool Service

How To Winterize Above Ground Pool

We close a lot of above ground pools. We are going to give you detailed instructions below, but if you don’t have the time or resources, give us a call and we will be happy to do it for you (978) 710-8667.

How to Winterize Above Ground Pool

The only reason we winterize above ground pools for the off season, is to prevent damage to the pool, pool equipment (Filter & Pump), and to keep it clean until the spring. You will find these directions easier if you have a helper.

Overview: Drain water from pool, filter and pump, put plug in return hole (where water skimmer winter coverthreaded winter plug
returns to the pool), install skimmer face plate (optional), remove hoses, add algaecide, put in an air pillow and install a cover. keep water from building up on cover.

Preparing Your Pool For The Winter

Pool Closing Supplies & Tools Needed


I typically use a 5/16 socket on a cordless drill to quickly remove hose clamps, but a medium flat head screw driver will work fine. A large size pair of channel-locks maybe needed to remove filter plug, or return jet. A pair of pliers, or previous tools mentioned should be adequate for removing pump plug.

NOTE* Always be-careful around the pool liner with tools. Avoid resting tools on the top rail, or on the deck next to the pool.


  • Pool cover
  • Air pillow or two
  • Twine
  • Algaecide
  • Cable & Crank for cover (usually comes included with new covers)
  • Tarp and Bungee cord (for filter and pump) optional

Clean The Pool

A lot of pool winterizing instructions will tell you to get your water balanced first. I will assume you have been doing this all year and don’t require any additional preparation. I wont even tell you to get the leaves out, but it will be easier now than after they breakdown over the winter into particles that have to be filtered.

Grab a skimmer or a leaf net and get out what you can.

Lower The Pool Water (Overly Detailed Instructions)

Before I give you a couple ways to lower the water without a pump, let me just say that this is a good time to replace water. To keep your pool a safe place to swim, water replacement should be part of your regular maintenance. By draining the pool in the fall and refilling it in the spring you accomplish this quite nicely.

Without getting into a heady conversation, lets just say there are usually healthy things called chloramines that can build up, thus becoming unhealthy, the only way the excess chloramines can be removed, is with water replacement.

I recommend lowering the water 2 inches below the pool return on any size above ground pool.

You can siphon or drain your pool

Here is one way to lower the water by draining: Remove the return hose from the pool, and hook up the hose you use for vacuuming, to allow most of the water to safely drain away from the pool. You can prevent water from coming out of the hose you removed by: keeping the end of the hose higher than the pool water, plugging the skimmer hole, or by shutting off the valve in the skimmer line (if applicable). Or you can just let it drain also, as long as water does not build up around the pool wall.

You never want water to flow or build up around your pool wall, as it will undermine your pool sand bottom.

Another simple way to lower the water slowly over time, is to siphon it out with a garden hose, or your pool vacuum hose. Place either hose one foot under the pool surface, and suck really hard on the other end for 4-5 seconds, for a long hose, or 2 seconds on a short hose, then throw the end down. As long as the draining end is lower then the end in the pool, it will siphon.

Never completely drain an above ground pool, always leave at least a foot of water to prevent damaging your pool liner. For winterizing, 1-2 inches below the pool return will suffice.

While the pool is draining, pull the filter plug and open the vent screw. remove any plugs in your pump and chlorinator.

Winterizing Above Ground Filters

Sand filters are the easiest to winterize, you just pull the drain plug and place the multi-way position valve between two setting. If there is a plug in the multi-way valve, remove it.

Earth filters and Cartridge filters should be disassembled and cleaned. Older filters tend to have a lot of hardware, and newer equipment tends to have a band with one nut, or one really big ring nut.

When reassembling filters, be sure to lube all o-rings. Look for rips in filters. Both cartridge and D.E filters are usually cleaned and stored in doors.

Winterizing Chemicals For Above Ground Pools

There are all kinds of kits and gadgets. We usually just throw in a 1/2 to a full quart of algaecide, and a gallon or two of liquid chlorine. If you close a clean pool and don’t dump in debris when removing the cover, it should open very clean. I know a lot of professionals that don’t use any chems at all.

What ever you do, don’t throw in powdered anything, that will just sit on the bottom of the pool liner. You can burn your pool liner with chlorine.

If you don’t have any trouble with metal in your water, I recommend an algaecide with 7% copper. Copper helps to prevent algae growth.

Installing The Air Pillow & Winter Cover On Your Above Ground Pool

Air Pillow

Some people use empty plastic drums, but most blow up an air pillow. The air pillow is to

air pillow for pool
This air pillow is overfilled

prevent ice from freezing solid across the top and then, pushing out on the walls as it expands. The air pillow is a sort of ice dam. It’s a very important item.

Do not fill it up to capacity like a balloon, blow it up about 1/2 to 3/4 full. This way the water pressure wont pop it. Use the twine we talked about and tie the air pillow off in the center of the pool.

Pool Cover

Use a solid cover, so no dirt can pass through it. If you want your pool as clean as it was when you winterized it, you will use a solid cover. Also buy one with at least a 12 year warranty. Anything else is cheapo garbage.

This is where your helper will come in handy, especially if it is a windy day. Me and my helper try to catch the wind and fly the cover over the top of the pool, vs dragging it over the air pillow.

Once the cover is in place thread the cable in one eyelet, then out the next, and repeat until you go all the way around. Then install the crank onto both ends, and tighten it up until the cable is very taught.

It is easier to keep a cover clean that is taught across the top. One way to do this is to dangle gallon jugs filled with water from the edge of the pool cover. Just tie them into the eyelets.

Be sure and use a cover pump, or to siphon off water as it begins to accumulate. Heavy amounts of water or even snow will push down the ice that does form in your pool and can puncture the liner.


The most important things are to get out any standing water in your pool equipment, and to cover the pool to keep dirt out. If you have a heater or don’t feel like you got all the water out, use a pool antifreeze to dilute any standing water that may be left. You can use a shop vacuum on reverse to blow air through the system too.

If you can’t bring in some of the equipment, it would be a good idea to wrap it in a small tarp and put a bungee cord around the base.

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