The Safest Way to Store Your Above-Ground Pool for the Winter—Fast

If you ask an above-ground pool owner what they love the most about theirs, chances are they’ll mention one particular word: flexibility. And this time of year, that’s a great trait to have. The fact of the matter is that the world is constantly changing around us—and one of the most noticeable changes, for better or worse, is the weather. Eventually, that first brisk morning comes and the realization that summer is ending sinks in like a high-leap cannonball. And although flexibility when it comes to your pool is a major strength, it can often lead to a little extra step at the beginning and end of pool season: storing your pool and/or your pool’s equipment for the winter.

I know, I know: an added step is not exactly what any pool owner who is already on top of their maintenance routine wants to hear. But pool opening and closing both only happen once a year, and present a great opportunity to make sure your pool can survive during the harsh season. I’ll help keep you and your pool safe and sound for the winter by explaining why and when you should store your pool equipment, why and when to store your pool and liner, and finally, how to store your standard above-ground, inflatable, or Intex pool for the season—and get it just right. 

You Weren’t Planning on Leaving That Gear Up, Were You?

If you figured you’d just close your above-ground pool without dissembling any of its parts and call it a day, I’d advise you to check your handy dandy weather app. If you live somewhere that never, ever freezes, you probably don’t have to worry about your equipment cracking during the winter—which would lead to some pretty costly replacements and time-sucking installs. If you’re in the Midwest or somewhere similarly snowy, you’d better think twice about leaving your pool parts to whims of the elements.

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.” 

Why Store Your Above-Ground Pool Equipment for the Winter?

If it were up to me, all above-ground pools would have their plumbing, pump, filter, and any other accessories in a safe, dry place for the winter. Seems like I’m overdoing it? Well, think for a moment about what this winter is going to bring. Even if you don’t live somewhere that gets particularly icy, you will have to deal with storms and their debris, like dirty rainwater, twigs, leaves, and algae spores. You might even be somewhere where you get high winds. Storing your equipment away for those harsher months will save you a lot of cleaning time and the continuous checkups otherwise required during off-season pool maintenance. The time you take now to store it all away could save you loads of time later—and isn’t that what managing any kind of responsibility is all about?

the safest way to store your above  ground pool for the winter

When Should You Store Your Pool and Pool Liner?

It probably seems like I’ve been expecting you to do a lot up to this point. Sorry about that. The good news is that I’m not going to tell you to completely take down your pool regardless of circumstance. There are a few reasons that you should leave your pool up—as long as your weather will permit it.

Many new pool owners might assume that starting fresh every year is better for their pool’s water chemistry. However, draining your pool and starting from scratch every year actually requires a lot more care on pool opening day, not to mention the sheer volume of chemicals. You only really need a reset when your total dissolved solids (TDS) spike to an alarming height and render the chemicals you add to your pool more or less null. But don’t worry too much about it—it usually takes a few years for this to happen, and you’ll know when it’s coming.

So if not for water chemistry, why would you go through the hassle of draining your pool for the winter? Unless you have an inflatable pool, you probably don’t have to. These pool types are extremely susceptible to freezing, and are likely to suffer permanent damage if left out in super cold temperatures. 

If you have an above-ground pool that isn’t inflatable, don’t think you can close this window and go off on your merry way. We still have to take down that equipment—and I’ll show you exactly how.

Worried your pump won’t perform well next year, and rack up operational costs as a result? Try a replacement pump like the reliable and quiet Single Speed Dual Port Flow Force Replacement Pump for Above Ground Pools. According to customer Jeff Haywood, “Good quality pump at good price. Came with lots of fittings for different applications. Would recommend.” 

How to Store a Standard Above-Ground Pool for the Winter—In Five Steps

If you have a standard above-ground pool for the winter, you can leave it up—but that equipment has got to go. Before we get into it, make sure that you’re already well-versed on how to close your above-ground pool for the season, so that you’ve already checked off the closing steps required before taking down your plumbing, pump, filter, and more. This means cleaning your pool with a patented BLACK+DECKER 360-Degree Bristles Pool Brush, vacuuming it out with the Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Cleaner, balancing your water chemistry, adding winterizing chemicals, shocking your pool, and draining your pool to just below the skimmer. Seems like a lot, I know—but you’re almost there. Other than installing a winter cover, this is the final step.

1. Get That Storage Space Sorted

Okay, so you’re not taking down the entire pool, which would take up a good amount of space. But that pump, plumbing, and filter aren’t a walk in the park to store, 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 freezing temperatures, you’ll also want that space to have heating. Otherwise, it could get cold enough in that “safe” space to crack your equipment, anyway.

2. Take Those Lines Down—and Dry Them Out 

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, allow all the water still lodged in them to run out, then 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 word from the wise: do not—I repeat, do not—do this while your circulation system is on, or even connected to power.

If you have hard PVC pipes that cannot be easily removed, you’ll need to winterize your plumbing by blowing out your lines—this will prevent any water still in your pipes from freezing and cracking your lines. For above-ground pools, winterizing usually involves using a Shop Vac to blow air into your skimmer and through your plumbing. You can also suck water from your skimmer. Just keep in mind that for this to work you’ll have already drained your water just below the skimmer.

If you do leave up your lines, you’ll want to add pool-grade antifreeze directly into that empty skimmer. 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.

3. Fix Up That Pump

On the surface, your pump doesn’t resemble a grizzly bear in the slightest—unless it’s running louder than any pump should—but it does need to hibernate for the winter. To take down your pump, remove all drain plugs from the pump and the filter. You’ll also want to remove the pump itself, the chlorinator if you have one, and all hoses. Now you’re ready to store it them away. My suggestion? Store all drain plugs in the pump basket for quick locating next spring—they have a knack for going missing.

4. Give Your Filter One Last Go

Since your filter is a holding place for all the gunk it picks up from your water as it circulates through, drain it before storing it this year. No way do you want that stuff sitting for long.

If you have a sand filter, set your multiport valve to “winterize” and remove the drain plug at the bottom. Allow the filter to completely drain. If your valves has any other extras, like a sight glass or a bleeder valve, remove those, too. If your filter is too heavy to carry inside, it’ll be fine as it is: outside, with all drain plugs removed. 

For cartridge filters, just take the cartridge out, submerge it in water with pool filter cleaner, rinse it out, let it dry, and store it inside. You’ll want to leave the valves open on your filter throughout the winter.

For diatomaceous earth (DE) filters drain all water out of the pump and filter, and then rinse off the grids with a hose to remove excess DE. Again, leave the valves open on this one.

5. Take Down Your Accessories

These little parts might be easy to overlook, but they’ll take a hit this winter if left in the elements. Remove any pool ladders, rails, and other accessories you have installed in your pool. (That’s one reason why you’ll want a pool ladder with easy installation and take down, like the Easy Pool Step Ladder for Above-Ground Pools.) This is also a great opportunity to give them a good rub down, then let them dry. 

Do you have a saltwater pool? Now is the time to remove your salt water chlorine generator, drain it, and store it. (Some have a “winter” setting, which will make this easier.) Plus, you can turn off all power and gas to your system, since you won’t be needing them. I have two pieces of good news for you: you’re about to love the bills that come in, and you’re done!

The next part of closing your pool involves using a winter cover, which is at risk of collapsing under rain and debris this winter—but that can be prevented with a cover pump that works on its own. Keep your cover light and secure with the BLACK+DECKER 800 GPH Automatic Pool Cover Pump, which detects up to a quarter inch of rain and works fast.

the safest way to store your above  ground pool for the winter

How to Store an Inflatable or Intex Pool for the Winter—In Four Steps

Although they’re wildly convenient any other time of the year, inflatable and Intex pools are no match for the harsh conditions of winter. If you have one of these above-ground pool types, the pool’s equipment, accessories, and the pool walls and liner itself has got to go. Before we start taking everything down, read up on how to close your inflatable or Intex pool for the season. You’ll have some things to do before this step, such as draining your pool and gently scrubbing down your pool walls. Once you’ve got those tasks in the bag, this will be the end of your pool closing. You’re almost there—and it really won’t be long from here on out.

1. Make Some Space

You’re about to take down your entire pool, which includes some pretty large equipment. Make sure you have a safe, dry, and big space cleared out before you start taking your pool down. If you live in a place with freezing temperatures, that space should also be heated. If your storage space drops below freezing and damages your pool anyway, we are not going to be happy. Got a plan in place? Let’s get working.

2. Let Your Walls Down     

Some Intex pools, such as the “Frame-Set” versions, have a frame, and some don’t. If your pool has a frame, use your owner manual to disassemble it. Then, rub it down with a soft cloth—you already cleaned your pool walls, but the frame sits on the outside of the pool as well. Next, leave it out to air dry.

Whether you have a pool frame or not, you’ll also want to air dry your pool liner. Ideally, this shouldn’t be in direct sunlight, or on a scorching day—since they’re designed to hold water, extreme heat could permanently fade and damage your liner. Make sure your liner is dry before this next step. And I mean really, really dry. In fact, it’s best to sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on it to absorb any leftover water. Did I mention it should be dry? 

3.     Fold… and Fold… Your Pool Liner 

You know that friend of yours who is always saying they’re around if you ever need a hand? You’d better give them a call right about now—since you’re about to understand the size of your pool in a whole new way, this isn’t going to be a task for just one person. Once your pool liner is dry, you’ll need to fold it into as neat a square as possible to fit it back into its original packaging. I know, I’m making it sound easy. And with the right help, it can be. Remember, it’s supposed to be as neat as possible—a perfect square might just not be possible.

Tossed the box? That’s totally cool. You can use an extra large plastic storage container with a lid. If you did happen to keep your owner’s manual around, there should be a visual aid to help with folding your particular liner. If you’re folding and folding and that liner is somehow looking messier, those instructions might be just what you need. 

4.     Clean That Equipment, Too

Look at all that space you have in your yard now! I don’t blame you for feeling accomplished—you absolutely should. But you’re not done quite yet. Go ahead and disconnect your pump, remove all valves, give it a rub down, and let it air dry.

Your filter is next. Since most inflatable and Intex pools have cartridge filters, it’s going to be a breeze to finish this off. Open your filter pump, remove the cartridge, submerge it in cleaning fluid, and let them both air dry. If your filter cartridge is dirty, you’re better off skipping the clean and ordering a replacement instead. Just make sure you get the right filter for your pool type. Got it all sorted out? You’re done!

Had more to clean up than you were expecting? You need to give your pool a leg up with an automatic cleaner. The Blue Torrent Stinger Automatic Pool Cleaner is my top recommendation. It works independently of your pool filter to lower energy costs, just needs to be plugged into an outlet, and has a lifetime warranty.

the safest way to store your above  ground pool for the winter

Don’t Throw Away the Key!

You’ve made sure your pool equipment (and maybe even the pool itself) is safe, but don’t lose the plot here: winter will end, and the off-season with it. And sure, you might have to move a few boxes of old school medals and Halloween wigs to get to it, but your swim essentials will be right where you left them, right when you need them. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later. In the meantime, enjoy.

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