How to Winterize Your Above-Ground Pool Plumbing—The Easy Way

There’s a reason above-ground models are the most common pool type. They’re just easier. Planning a big move? They can come along. Pool in need of a drain? There’s no such thing as the above-ground pool pop up, unlike inground models. Changed your mind about its position in your yard? You can change it. Honestly, what can’t these pools do?

Well, depending on where you live, above-ground pools can’t exactly shoulder the winter without help—especially if you have an inflatable or Intex model. And whether or not you’ve decided to take your actual pool walls down for the season, it’s recommended that you make sure your plumbing isn’t left out in the cold without a leg up. I’ll explain whether or not you need to winterize your plumbing, how to choose the best way for you, and how to either take down your plumbing for the season or blow out your lines—in the simplest, most efficient way possible. Let’s do this.

First Thing’s First: Do You Need to Winterize?

This is the most important annual question for any and all pool owners. Nobody wonders whether or not they should open their pool at the beginning of the season, but closing their pool is a whole different story. And to further complicate the answer, “closing” your pool doesn’t just happen one way—depending on your climate and pool type, there are many different avenues you can take to keep your pool clean and safe for the winter.

For above-ground pools, you have a few different options. If you don’t live somewhere that reaches freezing temperatures, you can cover your pool and maintain it throughout the winter, without winterizing your system (like winterizing your filter, or blowing out water from your lines).

If you do live somewhere that reaches freezing temperatures (even if it’s just a few times throughout the winter), you’re going to want to winterize your filter and winterize your pool plumbing. Here we’re tackling that second part. 

Make sure that if you have an inflatable or Intex pool, you’re also closing your pool by taking your actual pool walls down. Seems like a lot, I know—but you’ll be glad you did it when you still have a pool to swim in next spring.

Not taking down your pool this winter? Remember, your winter cover is going to get some serious debris over the next few months—and left unattended under that weight, it could fall into your pool and bring all that gunk with it. Keep your cover light and secure with the heavy-duty Brute Force 1250 Pool Cover Pump. According to customer Eric Zimmerer, “Love it! Saves so much time.”

how to winterize your above ground pool plumbing

Two Ways to Winterize Your Pipes:

No wonder so many pool owners experience choice fatigue. Even when it comes to winterizing your above-ground pool plumbing system, you have a few different options. Read on to find the right approach for you.

Take It Down!

This one is my personal favorite, and the option that I recommend for everyone—as long as their plumbing is actually easy to remove. By definition, the winter is a harsh, cold, and stormy time. Leaving out any of your equipment is a risk, which is why it’s always recommended that you store your pump and filter indoors. But when it comes to winterizing any part of your pool, we’re usually just working to prevent any catastrophe from happening. The safest way to prevent your pool lines from cracking is to remove them and store them for the winter. Thankfully, it’s also usually the easiest way to go about it. Otherwise, you’ll have to blow out your lines, which gets a bit more complicated.

Blow Out Your Lines 

Definitely more complicated, but this option is sometimes necessary, depending on your specific above-ground set up. If your lines are glued or super-sealed together, instead of connecting via a threaded pipe, it might be a lot more difficult for you to simply take them down. In that case, we can adapt the way pool owners blow out their lines for inground pools—since that plumbing isn’t going anywhere—here, to above-ground models. Since lines for above-ground pools are usually shorter than those for inground, and aren’t as often positioned underground, it should be a breeze compared to our friends with fiberglass, inground pools. Sorry, friends!

Take It Down!—In Three Steps

Alright, so you do get freezing winters—but of that above-ground demographic, you’re one of the lucky ones. If your plumbing is easy to take down, it’ll take no more than ten minutes to actually remove them, and then some time for drying and storing. But then you’re on your way, and you won’t have to regularly check your equipment in the elements, hoping that major cracks haven’t formed despite your best efforts. This is the way to go—so let’s start. 

1.     Consider Where You’re Storing

If your above-ground pool is an inflatable or Intex brand type, you’re going to need a lot of space. It’s recommended that you take down the actual pool walls for those types, since they would get ruined in freezing temperatures. But that pump, plumbing, and filter—all of which we want to take down here—aren’t exactly compact, either. Make sure you have a safe, dry space cleared out for your equipment before you start taking anything apart. If you live in a place with truly freezing temperatures, you’ll also want that space to have heating. Otherwise, your equipment can get cold enough to crack anyway, “safe” space or not.

2.     Take Those Lines Down 

Whether or not you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, taking down and storing your pool lines will make setting them up again in the spring a lot cleaner. Less gunky, let’s say. The best part? All you have to do is disconnect the lines. Again, if this is too tough you might want to skip to the next tutorial. Usually above-ground lines connect from your equipment, like your pump, directly to your pool with a pipe that can be twisted right off. Disconnect your lines on both ends, and don’t worry about taking them apart any further.

3.     Dry Them Out & Put Them Away

Once your lines are disconnected from your pool and your equipment, turn them onto their side to drain them out. It won’t be a lot of water that comes out, but your beloved fruit tree is probably not the place to do this, since your water is likely still saturated with chemicals.

Once all the water still lodged in them runs out, let them air dry outside—we don’t want any festering-for-months mold to appear on pool opening day. Once they’re completely dry, you’re ready to store your pipes. Oh, and my advice: do not—seriously, do not—do this while your circulation system is on, or even connected to power. If you’re closing your above-ground pool in order, you will have already sorted out that step, but I’d better say it here, too. No backyard geysers, okay?

Closing season is the perfect time to plan for the future—and an efficient pump will save you tons of cash and effort to come. Try the Copper Force Above Ground Pool Pump, which has a start capacitor and different horsepower options. According to customer Doug Paar, “The pump is very quiet and has good pressure. I would recommend.”

how to winterize your above ground pool plumbing

Blow Out Your Lines!—In Three Steps

So you have PVC pipes that cannot be easily removed? That’s cool, it happens. If you don’t experience freezing winters, you don’t have to be here. Go outside and take a walk in that lovely, mild weather! For the rest of us, we’re going to have to blow out the lines. Since the pipes are going to be outside in the elements all winter, we want to make sure they’re as dry as possible—any water that’s trapped inside can turn to ice, expand, and permanently damage or crack the lines. For plumbing that’s already difficult to remove, the last thing you want to do is have to deal with patch ups or replacements.

1.     Get the Gear & Get Prepped

For above-ground pools, winterizing usually involves using an air blower or a Shop Vac. If you don’t have one, there’s a big chance a buddy of yours does. Once you have one on hand, you’re almost ready to go. Make sure your water is lowered to below your skimmer and return jet(s), and your circulation system is off. Check, check, and check? Let’s move on to the next step.

2.     Blow That Water Out (or Suck It Dry)

Power on your air blower or ShopVac and aim it to blow air into your skimmer and through your plumbing. If you’re using a ShopVac, you can also suck water from your skimmer. As long as you don’t have long lines of underground plumbing, this should do the work just fine—and keep your lines protected this winter. If your system is a little more complicated, you can also blow air through your return lines after removing your directional return jet inlets from your pool wall.

3.     Add Antifreeze

If you do leave up your lines, you’ll want to add pool-grade antifreeze directly into that empty skimmer. Although you do have to mix it with some water, it’ll be less than the water you’ve ust purged from your system—and this water will be coated in a chemical that prevents it from freezing. Most manufacturers recommend one gallon of antifreeze for every 10 feet of 1.5 inch pipe. Just make sure you get the antifreeze that’s made for pools and not, you know, cars. That stuff is toxic.

4.     Plug Your Pool Up (And Take Hoses Down) 

Now that you don’t have much water in your plumbing, and the water that is your pipes is saturated with pool antifreeze, you just have to make sure more water isn’t reintroduced. If you haven’t yet, take out your return jets and replace them with threaded plugs. Next, install a winter freeze plate on your skimmer. You’ll also want to remove all the hoses you might have, including at the bottom of your skimmer or connected to your return fitting. These can be stored away for the winter. You’re done!

Pool opening day will be here before you know it. Give your pool a leg up—and prevent debris from depleting up your chemical balance—with a top-of-the-market automatic cleaner. The Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Pool Cleaner is my top recommendation. It works independently of your pool filter which lowers energy costs, just needs to be plugged into an outlet, and has a lifetime warranty.

Put That in Your Pipe!

Unfortunately for most of us, all warm seasons must come to an end—but the hardest part of closing your pool is also officially over. Congratulations on properly winterizing your lines, whether that meant taking them down completely or blowing them out. When the sun does start to get warm and we all start coming out of our shells (or layers of flannel), your pool will be all the more reading to get revving. In the meantime, enjoy.

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