How To Close An Above Ground Pool

Written by:  Danny Rhodehamel

In most parts of the country, the inevitable end of summer’s warm weather will arrive. And unless you’re a polar bear, you’ll want to close your pool until the spring. Properly closing above ground pools protects them from debris and harsh winter weather. This helps reduce the time and money needed to open your pool in the spring. You’ll also eliminate additional electrical and chemical costs by closing the pool and avoid possible freeze damage to equipment and plumbing. Follow the steps below for winterizing your above ground pool.

Tips & Warnings

Step by Step

Step 1

Several days prior to closing an above ground pool, test the water for pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and chlorine. Adjust levels if necessary. It is important to get the water balanced to protect the pool from corrosion or scale buildup that can occur while it's shut down. You should test for the following: pH 7.2 - 7.6; Alkalinity 80 - 120 ppm; Calcium Hardness 175 - 250 ppm; Chlorine 1 - 3 ppm.

Step 2

Step 2 Above ground pools need to be cleaned before winterizing. Brush and vacuum the sides and floor. Use a clarifier to get water crystal clear. Lower water level while vacuuming (set filter to waste bypassing sand). Clean the tile line to remove oil and scum line so that it will not set on during winter months.

Step 3

Winterizing chemical kits are available to help protect water quality during the winter months. This is a convenient way to get all of the necessary chemicals for closing your pool. Carefully follow the instructions on the product labels. Additional algaecide and shock can be purchased separately for larger size above ground pools.

Step 4

Clean the filter, skimmer, and pump basket. Remove all unused chlorine product from the chlorinator. Cartridge filter elements and D.E. grids should be sprayed with cleaner and rinsed with a garden hose. Sand filters should be backwashed.

Step 5

Lower the water level below the returns and skimmer. Never completely drain above ground pools - hydrostatic pressure can cause damage. Using an air compressor or shop vac (attached to the blower side of the vac), blow water out of system by forcing air down skimmer and through the plumbing. Add pool anti-freeze to plumbing and install threaded winter plugs to the return fittings to keep water out of lines. Pool anti-freeze is a non-toxic formula. DO NOT USE AUTOMOBILE ANTI-FREEZE IN YOUR POOL.

Step 6

Remove all drain plugs from pump, filter tank and any other pool equipment. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for your specific equipment. Place all drain plugs in pump basket for storage so your can find them easily in the spring.

Step 7

If you are using air pillows under your pool winter cover, inflate them with a leaf blower or shop vac. Tie off air pillow in the center of the pool; larger pools will require two or more air pillows. The air pillows will shed water toward the edge of pool for easier removal. They also allow forming ice to crack inward preventing damage to the shell or structure of the pool.

Step 8

Place winter cover over pool surface, black side down, and secure it with the cable and winch under top ledge of pool. In very windy areas, we recommend using winter cover seal, a tough plastic wrap material which is wrapped around above ground pools to keep wind from getting up underneath the cover. An automatic or manual cover pump can be used to remove rain water and melted snow that collects on top of the cover.

Comments (1 to 16 of 16)

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User: Inyopools

Gizzmo - Yes. Gizzmos come in two sizes, 9" and 16". The 9" Gizzmo is recommended for the AG pools.


Have you ever heard of putting a Gizmo in the skimmer box of an above ground pool?

User: Inyopools

Terri - The old fashion way to drain a body of water is through gravity. Fill a garden hose with water. Block the ends of the hose to keep water from draining out. Then place one end in the pool and the other end outside the pool on a downward slope. Gravity on the water in the hose will pull water out of the pool.

User: Terri

My local pool company says to drain 4-6" below the skimmer. Is a pump the best way to do this? Just wondering if there is a super-secret that I can't find on google. I don't really want to buy another pump, but will do so if that is the only option.

User: Inyopools

tinner2002 - I would not recommend draining your AG pool completely. The water provides the pressure needed to keep the wall from collapsing. If you have any kind of wind at all, it can blow the wall in and crease it beyond repair.

User: tinner2002

I live in Las Vegas where we only see temperatures as low as 28 degrees a few days in the winter. most days the low is 35 or above. I was planning on draining completely and just putting on the cover that I just ordered from you. I CAN do that, right? (21 foot x4 foot deep round splash pool).

User: Inyopools

AG Pool in winter- Most pool manufacturers recommend keeping your pool mostly full during the winter to keep it from heaving up during a winter freeze and to keep the wall from buckling in.


Can You Leave a Aboveground pool full in winter.


I wasn't sure on how much water I should have in my pool when closing it, glad I stopped on your site, other sites did not give this information. I had already added the winterizing kit, but my water level was to low, I think by adding water I'll be okay. Also helpful on the pillow, I just let it float about, since the pillow didn't come with instructions, so I will take the cover off and secure the pillow to the middleand readjust the liner to a fuller pool. Thank you. Ellen Bowser

User: Inyopools

AG Pool in winter- Most pool manufacturers recommend keeping your pool mostly full during the winter to keep it from heaving up during a winter freeze and to keep the wall from buckling in.


I emptied my pool before researching the proper way to shut it down for the winter, so what do I need to do to protect my liner?

User: Inyopools

Sara - Most pool manufacturers recommend keeping your pool mostly full during the winter to keep it from heaving up during a winter freeze and to keep the wall from buckling in. Can you put a temporary patch on the liner to hold water until spring? If the tear is not too large, these patches are pretty effective.

User: Sara

I bought a foreclosed house with a 32x17 above ground steel sided pool. As a first time pool owner, your site has been fabulous for reference. I have one item that I need your advice on. The pool will only hold about 5 inches of water. I plan to replace the liner in the spring. Will the pool be ok over the winter or will there likely be damage to the walls? I live in Ohio and I expect freezing temperatures in the winter. The walls are back filled with will rock. Thanks!

User: granny

Very helpful info for us. Thank you.

User: SDavis

This information was quite helpful. Thank you for supplying it. Many companies would probably charge for this kind of knowledge.

User: Bobcat

Thanks for the information on closing an above ground pool

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