The Definitive Guide for When to Close Your Pool—And How to Do It Right

Well, here we are again. It was a great summer of sunbathing, cold cans by the pool, and perfecting our backstroke. But we knew that cool air was coming, whether we liked it or not. And once we start switching out our sandals for sneakers and sunglasses for sweaters, it’s time to face that frigid music. For pool owners, the transition of the season can bring a feeling of dread, because some serious work is coming—it’s almost time to close the pool for the winter.

But it’s tough to know exactly what your pool needs, and when. Depending on your pool type and weather, I’ll explain whether or not you need to close your pool at all, how far you need to go, and when you should start shutting it down. This is going to be clear, I promise—and will keep your pool water as clear as possible next spring. 

But Do I Need to Close It At All?

Even the busiest, undecided pool owners reach a point, usually a month or so into fall, when they finally have to make the call: to close, or not to close. If you’re new to the game and have winters that aren’t often below freezing, it can be a tough call—and if you’ve put it off this far, I’d guess you aren’t exactly jazzed about the prospect. The good news is this: based on the weather patterns in your area, you might not need to close it down at all. I’ll break down the task you have ahead of you based on whether you live in a tropical paradise, have just mild winters, or have freezing winters.

definitive guide for when to close your pool and how to do it right

What’s Winter? 

Well, lucky you. You live somewhere flanked by palm trees, sea air, and good vibes. Listen, you’re good to go. If you can swim all winter long and you’ve forgotten what an icicle looks like, you just don’t need to close your pool. In fact, you don’t even need be here. Close out of this window and put on a swim suit. We’re all living vicariously through you.

Okay, I’ve Just Got Mild Winters

Nothing wrong with a little moderation, right? If you experience very mild winters, you have another path entirely—and fortunately, it’s also the easiest path to take, since you never have to completely close down your pool. If it’s too cold to swim during your winters but too warm for any kind of frozen water to form and damage your system, you can opt for a partial close.

So what exactly is a partial close? Well, remember that closing your pool means more than just slapping a winter cover over it—though that’s ideally part of the process, too. Closing your pool also involves cleaning its surfaces, balancing your water’s chemical balance, and shutting down your circulation system. But when you have mild winters, you don’t need to do that last part. You can actually continue to run your pump for about half of the usual time, balance chemicals as usual, and keep it covered and safe from the elements and any stray creatures that might otherwise tumble in. Just make sure you have an extra bottle (or two or three) of algaecide.

Since we’re thinking of next spring, remember that as of 2021, the switch to variable-speed pumps will virtually be federal law. Thankfully, the Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump is ultra-powerful, comes with a lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”

Help, I Have Freezing Winters 

Hey, it happens to the best of us. If there’s one thing we don’t have the power to change, it’s the weather. Let’s accept it as it is—and accept that you absolutely need to close your pool. Think about it: when you have a body of water in freezing temperatures, all that liquid turns to ice. If that’s all that happened, you’d probably be fine. but the volume of ice is actually greater than the volume of water—in otherwise, ice expands. And when it expands, you’d better believe that it can crack your expensive plumbing, expensive equipment, and expensive pool liner. Did I mention that the damage could be expensive?

So if you live somewhere in the Midwest and you’re wondering if there’s a loophole to pool closing, let me just give it to you straight: there’s not. You’ll have to execute the full process for closing your pool for the winter, whether you have an inground or an above-ground pool to close. But listen, it’s going to be so worth it to have a working pool next year, and you’re going to love your energy bill this winter. 

Okay, I Need to Close My Pool. But Do I Need to Take it Down?

Trust me, I know it gets confusing. We all talk about “pool closing” as though it means one method, and it just doesn’t. When you are dealing with freezing winters, closing your pool could involve blowing out your pool lines to keep it dry and free of cracks this winter, or it could mean taking down your plumbing and storing it away, or it could mean taking down your plumbing and the pool itself. That’s a lot of options, no? 

If you know that you need to close your pool but you’re unsure how far you need to go with it, you’re far from alone. And depending on your pool type and climate, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do. 

Prioritize Your Pool Type

There are three major pool types we’ll consider here: in-ground pools (which aren’t going anywhere this winter), standard above-ground pools, and inflatable or Intex-brand pools. I’ll give it to you straight.

If you have an in-ground pool, your plumbing probably isn’t going anywhere—and your pool definitely isn’t. You’ll want to blow out your pool lines to make sure that they’re completely purged of water. For the rest of your pool, just cover it up with a winter safety cover and lower your water line below the skimmer.

If you have a standard above-ground pool with hard sides and maybe even a built-in deck, you’ll want to drain it below your skimmer, drop some pool-grade antifreeze or the WinterPill in your skimmer, and use a big inflatable winterization pillow under your winter cover.

Things get really serious when you have an inflatable or Intex pool. Yeah, that material just can’t be relied on to last through the winter—especially in icy temperatures. If you have an inflatable or an Intex pool, which would be at least partially inflatable, you’ll want to take the whole thing down. On the bright side, your yard is going to look huge! And you might be eyeing some landscaping projects before things get really chilly later this year.

It All Comes Back to Weather

Again, you only need to close by pool type in the way I’ve outlined above if your temperatures reach freezing during the winter. If you have mild winters, you can do a partial close, where you run your pump half the time every day with your pool covered. If you don’t have a typical winter at all, what are you still doing here? Get out there and enjoy!

definitive guide for when to close your pool and how to do it right

When Should I Close My Pool?

So now that you know exactly what you need to do this winter and how, one question remains: when do you make the transition? Well, that one is actually pretty easy: you should close your pool once your local temperature consistently drops below about sixty degrees Fahrenheit (unless you’re taking your entire pool down, which you can do anytime). I mean, how could you get a more solid answer than that?

Waiting to close your pool until your weather is consistently below sixty degrees Fahrenheit will also save you some cash, keep your chemical balance in place, and keep things fun. Read on to learn just how.

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.”

For Saving Some Cash

It’s tempting as a pool owner to want to close as early as possible and open as late as possible—for the simple reason of keeping energy bills low for as long as possible during the off season. But, come on! You’ve got to live a little, and if you have a variable-speed pump you’re already saving loads every month.

From a maintenance standpoint, I recommend the opposite: you should be closing as late as possible and opening as early as possible. Your pool will stay cleaner if it’s not stagnant throughout warmer temperatures, and that will actually save you money that you might otherwise spend on a cloudy, murky pool, and a serious algae infestation. More on that next.

For Chemical Balance 

So why is 60 degrees a magic number? Well, for a few reasons. As you might know, bacteria and microorganisms like algae thrive in warm, shaded places. Once you get below this range, they just don’t grow as well. And since bacteria and algae will quickly exhaust the chemicals you add to your pool water during closing, waiting until your local temperature drops will keep your chemical balance in place longer, and prevent your pool from becoming a green swamp by next spring. Deal?

If you have a powerful pool heater, you’re going to want to turn it off and let your pool water also reach a temperature of around sixty degrees and under before calling your chemical balance fully restored and covering up for the winter.

For Fun!

This one is simple. If you wait until your weather is consistently below sixty degrees to close, you can use it right up to the time you slap on that winter cover! This works especially well if you have a pool heater and can have a warm, comfortable swim right up until the final moment before closing. Ahhh. Quick dip, anyone?

The perfect heat pump will save you money without compromising a powerful, quick job—just like the Energy-Saving ComforTemp Pool Heat Pump 95,000 BTU to heat 18,000 Gallons. According to customer Steve, “Simple install and simple set up. Heated my pool from 66 to 82 degrees in about 2 complete days.” 

definitive guide for when to close your pool and how to do it right

Case Closed!

Congratulations, you’re done with your annual lurk on pool forums: you sorted out how and when to close for your specific situation. Your reward for all that hard work and research? It’s threefold. First, you’ll have as pristine a pool as possible on pool opening day next spring. Second, you only have to worry about winter pool maintenance or maintenance for mild winters. Third, you’re going to want to frame those energy bills you’re about to get during the off season. In the meantime, you have a little more time on your hands. Enjoy.

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