Tools needed for an in ground swimming pool closing with a Loop Loc or an other type of safety cover will require a Loop Loc or safety cover installation tool and also an Allen key to raise the anchors out of the deck or concrete patio. All other pools with standard solid vinyl covers and pools with safety covers will also require you to have a basic set of sockets, a Flathead screwdriver, Philips head screwdriver, channel locks and a small air compressor, garden hose and a small submersible pump or cover pump if you have one.
How To Lower The Pool Water Level
During the winter water can seep into the swimming pool if you have a mesh safety cover so you will want to lower the water level to make up for the water that will be added to the pool from rain and snow. Pools with solid covers should also drop the water level a bit but not as much other wise the cover could slip into the pool during the winter. You will want to lower the water level in your pool for a numbers of reasons, but the two main reasons are so your skimmers don’t hold blocks of ice during the winter and so your pool doesn’t overflow if you have a mesh cover.
You can pump the water down in your pool two different ways. You can use the filter system attached to the pool a if you have a main drain. If you do not have a main drain and you need to lower the water level in the pool way below the skimmers you can use the pool system until you get down to the bottom of the skimmers and then you can use a small cover pump or submersible pump to remove the rest of the water.
Here are the instructions for each type of cover;
Safety Cover Water Level Instructions
If you have a safety cover on pool in ground pool you will want to lower the water level at least 12 inches below the coping to make up for the rain and snow that will fall through the mesh all winter long causing the pool water to raise up. If you live in an area where you will get more then 12 inches of rain and snow a winter you will only initially want to lower the water when closing but you also will want to remove some water during the winter as well so the pool doesn’t over flow during the bad weather.
Standard Vinyl Pool Cover Water Level Instructions
When closing an in ground pool with a standard solid vinyl cover you will only need to lower the water level below the skimmers. If you lower the water to much you will wind up not having enough of the cover overlapping the pool when you place it on. Then when the water and snow collect on top of the cover your pool cover will wind up falling into the pool and you will wind up with a big mess. So when lowering the water in your pool with a solid cover you only will want to lower the water right below the skimmers. This will keep the bulk of the water and ice out of the skimmers if the pool water should or when it does freeze.
How To Fill Up Water Bags Or Raise Anchors
Raising The Safety Cover Anchors
The safety swimming pool cover has springs that are attached to the straps. These springs hook up to something called a “deck anchor” if you have a wood deck, or a “patio anchor” if you have a concrete patio. If you look at the ground around your swimming pool around 12 – 18 inches back from the copping you will see some round brass anchors with an Allan key hole in the center, these are your safety cover anchors that need to be raised. What you will need to do is to take your Allan key and turn these anchors counterclockwise which will raise them up as you do so, but you do not want to spin them all the way out, you only will want to spin them up around 3/4 of the way up. Go around the pool and raise all the anchors you can find, if you miss one or two you will be able to use the cover straps to find them when you go to install the safety cover onto the pool.
Filling Up The Water Bags Or Aqua Blocks
If you have an in ground pool with a solid vinyl cover you will need to use water bags or Aqua blocks to hold down the pool cover. During the off season the wind, snow and ice can take a toll on the pool cover so making sure that it is held down correctly is really important. There are some things that you need to know about properly filling up your water bags and how you place them around the pool.
When filling your water bags or Aqua Blocks you want to make sure that you only fill them up about 3/4 of the way. This leaves room for the ice to expand when the water freezes inside the water bags or the Aqua Blocks. If you fill the water bags up to much and then the bags freeze the ice could expand and then pop your water bags. The next thing you should know about your water bags is that when you are filling them you should not drag them around the deck or the patio because the friction can cause the water bags to develop holes and then start leaking water.
When placing the water bags or Aqua Blocks around your swimming pool you will want to make sure that you place them all “end to end” meaning that if you are laying down water bags you will want to place one edge of one water bag next to the edge of the water bag next to it. Basically you will want to not have spaces between the water bags or Aqua blocks. If you do leave spaces the wind can blow leaves and other debris under the cover during the winter and when you open the pool you will have a huge mess to vacuum from the bottom of the pool. Another thing yo also consider is that every space of cover that can be picked up by the wind will leave you with a greater chance that the pool cover can be blown from the pool.
How To Winterize & Blow All The Pool Plumbing Free Of Water
One of the most important things that needs to be done when closing an in ground pool is to be sure that you remove all of the water from the plumbing lines so they do not freeze when the outside temperature drops below the freezing point. You can blow the water out of your lines with a small air compressor, a large sized shop vac or also using a professional liner blower / vacuum. Each method is effective if done the correct way.
Blowing Your Lines Out With An Air Compressor
You can use a small air compressor to blow the water out from your swimming pool lines really easily by removing one of the pump drain plugs while the filter system is off. Then what you will want to do is to spin the end of the compressor hose into the drain fitting. Once you do so you can turn the air compressor on and then the system will start building up with air and shortly you will see air start coming out of one of the returns or the skimmers. Now what you will want to do is, one by one walk over to each skimmer or return jet that is bubbling with air and place either a rubber or threaded plug into the opening or in the case of the skimmers you would want to screw in the Gizzmo’s. Once you have placed a plug or Gizzmo inside all the openings you will start to see the main drain blowing air from it and then you can shut the air compressor off and disassemble the filter system because now your lines are blown free or the water that used to be inside of them.
Using A Shop Vac Or Blower To Clear The Water Out
If you want to use a shop vac or heavy duty blower to get that water out from the pool plumbing lines you first will have to disconnect your filter system from the plumbing. Once you do so you can then take the hose from the blower or the shop vacuum and place it over each fitting until all of the water blows into the pool. You will have to do each line separately, for example, you will have to blow out the skimmer line to blow out the skimmers, then blow out the return lines to blow the water out of the returns. Once you have blown all the water out of the lines you can then insert your rubber or threaded plugs and also your Gizzmo’s into the skimmers.
How To Winterize The Pool Pump
Winterizing you pool pump requires you to do a few things. The first thing you will want to do is to disconnect it from the swimming pool filter plumbing. You can do so by loosing the union fittings on the suction side and discharge side of the pump. You will want to use a large sized pair of channel locks to loosen the plumbing unions. After you have removed the pump from the swimming pool plumbing you will want to now remove the two drain plugs that are on the pump strainer basket housing. You can remove these drain plugs with a socket from your socket set.
Once you have removed the drain plugs you will want to open the top of the pump and empty the pump strainer basket free of any debris it has collected. Once you do so, go ahead and place the two drain plugs inside that basket for safe keeping. This is a trick us pool guys use in the trade and while we are on the job. We place all of the drain plugs and small parts inside of the pump strainer basket so they do not get lost over the winter time. Once the drain plugs are inside the pump basket you can place the pump over to the side so you can now start winterizing your pool filter.
The Hayward, Pentair, Leslie’s and Sta-rite pumps have two drain plugs to drain the pump housing. You will find one drain plug in the front of each pump and one drain plug on the side of the pump strainer housing body. It is very important to remove both drain plugs to be sure that all water has been drained from inside if the pump. You also will want to store you pump in an area that doesn’t drop below freezing and also is pest and bug free so they do not try to make a nest in your pumps motor windings over the winter.
How To Winterize The Pool Filter
Winterizing your pool filter requires you to first disconnect the pool filter from the pool filter system if you have a cartridge or D.E. filter. If you have a sand filter you will most likely be leaving that in place for the winter because its just to heavy to move and removing all the of sand from the filter is just not necessary at the time of the pool closing. Winterizing a pool filter for the winter is different for each type of filter. A sand filter will be winterized differently then a D.E. filter or Cartridge Filter.
Winterizing The D.E. or Cartridge Pool Filter
If you have a D.E. or Cartridge filter on your in ground pool you first will want to disconnect it from the filter systems plumbing. Next you will want to remove the drain plug that is on the backside bottom of the tank in most cases. On Hayward Filters the drain plug is usually on the bottom of the back of the filter. On Sta-rite and on Pentair filters you can usually find the drain plug on the bottom of the tank. But the drain plug will either be on the bottom or the side for sure, so go ahead and remove that so the filter can drain free of any water.
Once the filter drain plug has been removed and the filter is drained you will want to remove the cartridge , fingers, or filter grids inside of your filter. You should not store away a dirty filter all winter season long because it can damage the filter and also leave you with a mess to clean up in the spring time. So go ahead and open up the filter and clean the grids really good if you have a grid filter, clean the fingers really good if you have a filter that has fingers, and if you have a filter with a cartridge, replace it or clean it really well. As a note, Hayward Filters use a grid system as well a a finger system in their filters You will find grids in filters like the Hayward Micro-clear and PRO grid filters. You will find fingers in the Hayward Perflex line. The Sta-rite and Pentair line of filters will have large sized cartridges that will need to be removed and washed really well before seasonal storage.
On D.E. filters or cartridge filters with multi-port valves; You will want to remove the gauge, the sight glass before storing the filter body, filter elements and the filters multi-port into the garage, shed or basement for the winter or off season. If you do not remove the sight glass and gauge, they could break and then you will have to replace them. To remove the backwash sight glass and the gauge from the multi-port just spin them counterclockwise which is to the left.
Winterizing A Sand Filter
If you want to winterize your sand filter you can do so quite easily. What you will need to do is to first shut the filter system down and then remove the drain plug from the bottom or the side of the filter. Next you will want to let the filter drain completely out. You then will want to remove the sight glass, the gauge and the backwash line from the filters multi-port. After you have done so you will want to set the multi-port to the “closed” position. Once you have done those steps you will want to place the sight glass and the gauge inside of the pump basket as mentioned above or in a place where it will be found when you go to open up the pool in-the spring time.
How To Remove The Diving Board
When you close your swimming pool you should also remove your diving board so it doesn’t get all stained up from the leaves and other debris laying on it all winter long, or you could buy a diving board cover but removing it is quite easy and less expensive. In order to remove your diving board your going to need an open end wrench or a pair or channel lock pliers. You will want to loosen the two bolts that are in the rear of the diving board. Once you loosen these two bolt you will want to make sure you are holding onto the diving board before you remove the two diving board bolts or the diving board could slip off of the stand and slide into the pool.
So once you have loosened the two bolts, place one hand or have a buddy hold the diving board for you and then remove the diving board bolts. Once you have the diving board bolts removed you will be able to lift the diving board off the stand and you should store it in a clean, dry place for the winter. You also will want to remove the diving board fulcrum and place it inside as well. The diving board “fulcrum” is that white piece of rubber that is on the front diving board stand. Just lift it right off and place it in a dry safe place for the springtime.
How To Remove The Pool Ladder & Ladder Bumpers
Removing the pool ladder will require you to have a 1/2″ socket. You will first need to loosen the ladder cup bolts. The ladder cups are what the ends of the ladder that is on the deck or patio slip into. On the front of these ladder cups you will find bolts. You need to loosen them at least 6 turns and then then bolts will most likely be sticky up. If they are, take the end of the socket handle and smack them down and that will loosen the wedge inside. Now you will be able to pull the ladder from the ladder cups. Once you have the ladder pulled out of the pool you will want to pull the ladder bumpers out of the bottom of the ladder. They will just pull right off of the ladder when you pull on them, sometimes if they are old they will fall into the pool as you are pulling out the ladder. So you might wind up retrieving one from the bottom of the pool with the skimmer net. There are two ladder bumpers on every ladder unless you have a gunite or concrete pool where they are not normally used. You should store the ladder in a well ventilated place free of dirt and debris.
Adding The Winter Chemicals
You will want to first make sure that all of your chemicals in your pool are first balanced before closing your pool. Once you have tested the water and confirmed that all of the pool water chemistry is in the correct ranges you will then want to add some winter chemicals to the pool. You can use a winter closing chemical kit sold by your local pool supply store or you can add the chemicals yourself. You will need to raise the total Alkalinity in the pool to about 50ppm – 70ppm over the normal range which is between 80ppm to 120ppm. This will insure that the pool waters PH stays in somewhat of a correct range during the winter time when all that excess rain and snow is melting into the pool or seeping in through the cover. You will also want to add a few lbs of pool shock to the pool. Larger sized pools should use around 4lbs of shock and smaller sized pools should add around 3lbs of shock to the pool. But once again, always be sure to balance the pool chemicals to the proper ranges a few days before you close the pool.
How To Unfold & Place The Solid Style Cover Onto The Pool
If you have a solid pool cover you are going to want to fold it out on top of the pool. When folding the cover out, try not to have wrinkles or bulges on the cover otherwise water could collect in those spots and then form pockets that will be more difficult to pump out during the winter. Once you have pulled the cover across the pool you will want to place your water bags end to end all around the swimming pool cover.
If you are using Aqua Blocks you also will want to put them end to end leaving no spaces for the wind to pick up the cover. You also may want to put an inch or two of water on top of the pool cover if you live in a windy area. This will help hold the pool cover down during windy winter storms and also prevent damage to the cover and the pool. You should always keep an extra few water bags or Aqua Blocks around just in case one goes bad during the winter season.
Securing Down The Safety Pool Cover
If you have a Loop Loc or any type of mesh or solid safety cover then you probably have raised the anchors. So now what you will need is the Loop Loc or safety cover installation bar to install the cover springs onto the brass deck or patio anchors. What you will want to do first is to unfold the cover onto the pool and then hook two corners of the cover onto the anchors on one side of the pool. Once you have the two corners hooked on, you will want to grab the safety cover installation bar tool and then walk to the opposite side of the pool and hook the other two corners of the cover.
Once you have the four corners of the cover hooked up you can then start hooking the anchors on one side of the cover. Then you will want to walk to the opposite side of the pool and hook all of the safety cover springs onto the anchors using the installation bar.
Maintaining The Pool During The Winter
Before winter starts and right after you close the pool you should buy a pool cover pump if you do not have one. Pool cover pumps range from $50 and up and can save you a whole bunch of heartache when the springtime comes and even during the winter. You basically just hook the cover pump up to a garden hose and when you have warm days in the winter time you can use it to pump the excess water from the top of your solid vinyl pool cover or even to remove some excess water from the pool if you have a mesh safety cover.
You also will want to remove any leaves, big branches and so on throughout the winter if need be. Leaves and other debris can cause your cover to have holes and then all sorts of stuff can fall into the pool water which could possibly damage the liner or even make a mess of the pool water. Its always best to only keep an inch or two or water on top of a solid winter pool cover and of course keep it debris free as well.
If you need any help or have any other questions about closing an in ground swimming pool, please leave your questions below.