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Winter Pool Care 101

When we think of swimming pools, cold weather isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. But even though we enjoy nearly all of our pool fun during the summer and warm-weather months, caring for your pool during the cold months is extremely important too.

Winter Pool Care 101 is essential whether you live in a region with temperatures that regularly reach freezing or almost never do. Either way, you need close your pool properly — and probably winterize it — to maintain the health of your water and allow for quick and easy opening when it’s time to jump back in.

Leslie’s has a team of expert service professionals to close and winterize your pool for you, but if you’d rather tackle it on your own, here are some helpful tips. Highlights include:

Winter Pool Care 101 - Clean pool
Clean in and around your pool

Winter Pool Care 101 - Balance water
Test and balance your water

Winter Pool Care 101 - Check equipment
Check your maintenance systems

Winter Pool Care 101 - Install pool cover
Properly install a pool cover

Clean in and around your pool well

The first step to Winter Pool Care 101 is to make sure your pool is clean. Brush, skim, and vacuum your pool thoroughly to remove dirt, leaves, or other debris. It’s also important to clear your deck and surrounding areas of branches, furniture, and other items that can fall on the pool cover (more on covers to come) or in the water and disrupt the water balance. Be sure that your pool water is as clean as possible when you put on your cover.

PRO TIP: If you are fully winterizing your pool, be sure to remove all ladders, equipment, and accessories and store them where they won’t freeze.

Test, balance, add additional winter chemicals

It’s vital to head into the winter months with balanced pool water, so make sure your pH (recommended range is 7.2-7.4), Total Alkalinity (80-150 parts per million, depending on pool type), and Calcium Hardness (180 ppm or higher) are all where they need to be.

In addition to the standard maintenance chemicals to bring your water to proper balance, using winter closing kit chemicals will help keep your water healthy throughout the winter months.

Recommended closing kit chemicals include chlorine-free pool shock, winter algaecide, oxidizing chemicals (in a slow-release floater), and a stain and scale preventer.

PRO TIP: If you prefer to use a chlorine shock, do so 5-7 days before closing to prevent breaking up and compromising your algaecide.

Check and prepare your pump and filtration system

One of the biggest benefits of fully winterizing your pool is not needing to operate your pump, filter, or heater while your pool is closed. This saves on utility costs, wear and tear on equipment, and your precious time — no pool duty!

But before you hang up your telescopic pole for the off-season, a vital step to remember for Winter Pool Care 101 is to ensure your systems are properly checked and shut down.

The power for your pump, light, and heater should all be shut off at the circuit breaker box. Also be sure that power to other components that you don’t want operating during winter (salt systems, etc.) are disconnected.

Filters should be inspected and cleaned, and water should be completely drained from your pump and filter system and any other equipment that contains water.

For heaters, make sure pilot lights are turned off and pressure switches are disconnected, the gas supply has been shut off, and the heater has been completely drained of water.

PRO TIP: To best remove water from all equipment and pipes, which will prevent freeze damage, “blow out” the water lines with an air compressor at low psi, air vac, etc.

Properly install your safety or winter cover

Begin by checking to make sure your cover is clean and free of rips. If repairs are necessary, apply patches as needed.

When you install your cover, ensure it’s secure and tightly sealed. For in-ground pools, adjust the water tubes or weights around the perimeter of your pool. You may need to use a cover pump to remove any extra water weighing down the cover.

PRO TIP: For above ground pools, double check that the air pillow is in the center of the pool. This is used to help avoid freezing water and snow to accumulate on the cover. If needed, use a telescopic pole to adjust the air pillow.

Winter Pool Care 101 Bonus

During the winter season, it’s ideal if you can check your pool water’s balance every two weeks. Also pull back the cover slightly to inspect the water and look for signs of staining or scaling.


We hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for the winter months ahead. If you have any questions about what we detailed or anything else closing- or winter-related, contact or visit your local Leslie’s store.

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