New England winters are no longer as cold and snowy as they were a few decades ago, and I am not talking about the unusual snowfalls in October. Winters are getting alarmingly warmer in New England than elsewhere in the United States. However, it’s still necessary to winterize an above-ground pool.
Winterizing an above-ground pool in New England typically includes vacuuming the floor and walls, testing water chemistry to ensure the parameters are balanced, uninstalling all removable fixtures, and using a solid cover. You may also require a submersible pump.
The specific winterizing measures depend on the type of above-ground pool you have and where you live in New England. For instance, radiant above-ground pools in southern New England are likely to be easier to winterize. Keep reading to learn how to winterize an above-ground pool.
How To Winterize an Above-Ground Pool in New England
The cleaning and prepping routine should begin at least one week before closing an above-ground pool for the winter in New England. Many people begin winterizing when minimum temperatures are consistently under 65 °F (~18 °C). I recommend waiting for under 60 °F (~15 °C) if you can.
The optimum temperature for algae growth is 68 °F to 86 °F (20 °C to 30 °C). So, winterizing at 60 °F (15.55 °C) is a safe bet to prevent an algae bloom. Bear in mind that, if your above-ground pool is heated, you might want to enjoy it until the daily minimums are much lower.
Select an opportune day when you have several hours at your disposal because winterizing an above-ground pool in New England requires time, resources, and effort. The steps below will go through the process and give you tips on how to winterize your above-ground pool.
Prepare the Above-Ground Pool for Sub-Freezing Temperatures
Preparing an above-ground pool for the sub-freezing temperatures of New England involves the following exercises:
- Cleaning the pool: brushing, skimming, and vacuuming.
- Draining pool water until the level is below the skimmer.
- Testing water chemistry: alkalinity, calcium hardness, etc.
- Restoring pool water balance: alkalinity, pH, chlorine, etc.
- Preventive measures: algaecide, reducing phosphate, etc.
- Winterizing the plumbing and uninstalling removable parts.
Here’s a glimpse of the kind of pool water chemistry you should have while winterizing:
- pH: 7.2 to 7.6
- Total alkalinity: 120 to 150 ppm
- Calcium hardness: 175 to 225 ppm
- Free chlorine: 1 to 3 ppm
- Free bromine: 3 to 5 ppm
- Phosphates: 0 to 0.1 ppm
The red flag for phosphates is one ppm or 1,000 ppb. The ideal level is zero phosphates, but up to 0.1 ppm or 100 ppb shouldn’t cause any significant problems. So, you may need a phosphate remover before winterizing your above-ground pool in New England.
Phosphate removal requires water circulation and filtration, so don’t plug the skimmer or remove the pump hose until after you have used a product such as Orenda PR-10000 Concentrate (available on Amazon.com). This product removes phosphates the minute it comes into contact with the water, so it’s quick and easy to use.
You could also consider a highly effective phosphate remover, such as the Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect + Phosfree (available on Amazon.com). This product is an excellent choice for weekly pool treatments and helps to maintain water quality over time.
Any product you use to balance or restore pool water chemistry has specific instructions, most importantly, the proportion of every chemical and how you should use it. Additionally, all above-ground pool manufacturers provide detailed winterizing instructions, so make sure to read them before applying any chemical product.
These directions will vary for the size and type of pool. For instance, Snyder Pools have these winterizing instructions for their radiant above-ground pools:
- Pool water chlorination: 1 lb. (0.45 kg) per 5,000 gallons (18,927.06 liters).
- Preventing algae bloom: 1 qt. (0.95 liters) of an algaecide.
- Sustain Winter Shield: 32 oz (946.35 ml) per 20,000 gallons (75,708.24 liters).
Maintaining a pleasant pH level is perennially necessary, so winterizing isn’t an exception. Additionally, you shouldn’t have any copper or iron in your above-ground pool.
Use an Above-Ground Solid Pool Cover Throughout the Winter
After you clean the pool and restore its water balance, uninstall all removable fixtures, such as:
- Drain plugs
- Drop-in steps
- Weir door
- Pressure gauge
- Skimmer basket
- Pump basket
- Pump suction hose
You should also winterize the pipes, plugs, and ports, including the following:
- Eyeball fitting
- Filter tank
At this stage, you will have only your above-ground pool with the water level below the skimmer. At this stage, you’ll need to get a solid pool cover and install it properly. A heavy-duty solid pool cover is better than a mesh one to brace for the winter in New England.
Consider the likes of the Blue Wave Round Above-Ground Pool Winter Cover (available on Amazon.com). These polyethylene covers have heavy-duty cables and winch tighteners.
These round Blue Wave above-ground pool winter covers have a 4-foot (1.22 m) overlap, which should be sufficient to prevent stretching and ripping. The overlap is also adequate for most top rails. An above-ground radiant pool may not require anything else if the solid cover is perfectly set up.
A radiant above-ground pool with 2-inch (5.08 cm) thick walls made of acrylic-coated aluminum sheets and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation can endure ice and snow. Thus, New England winters are unlikely to damage these walls.
However, you may be worried about your pool water freezing and wind blowing under the winter cover. The mass or volume of water in small pools may not be sufficient to prevent freezing. In these cases, the best remedies to such possibilities are air pillows and water-resistant sandbags.
Follow the steps below to set up your air pillows and sandbags:
- Inflate an air pillow of a relevant size for your pool and place it under the winter cover. It should float on the water.
- Set up water-resistant sandbags along the perimeter of the winter cover. These will keep the pool cover sturdy and ensure no winds can blow underneath.
- Use strong cables to secure your pool cover. Place them just beyond the pool perimeter with weights to keep the cover stable.
Get a Submersible Pool Pump To Drain Water From the Cover
In New England, the snow and thaw cycles may cause water to pool on the winter cover. You’ll need a submersible pool pump, like the Little Giant APCP-1700 (available on Amazon.com), to drain water off the cover. The 1/3 HP Little Giant is an automatic submersible pump with a capacity of up to 1,745 GPH.
Install an Above-Ground Pool Heater To Brace for the Worst
Consider an above-ground pool heater if you fear the worst. Freezing water expands, and it may be ~9% in some cases, posing problems for the structural integrity of many above-ground pools. However, don’t get an air-source heat pump for a pool, as it won’t work at under 40 °F (~4 °C).
Winterizing an above-ground pool in New England is a challenge, so you should consider all the solutions I’ve shared here. A relatively large above-ground pool shouldn’t freeze, but you may also consider an antifreeze or a gas heater for smaller pools.
A heater isn’t an option if you have drained and disconnected the plumbing lines, and you shouldn’t use antifreeze for pool equipment. You should also never use automobile or car antifreeze for any pool, above-ground or in-ground.
You’ll need to check with the manufacturer if the pool floor and walls will stand winter weather.
- Connecticut Insider: Study – Climate Change Puts New England’s Distinctive Four Seasons and Its Outdoor Economy in Peril
- CBS News Boston: Study: New England Is Warming Up Faster Than the Rest of the World
- Forbes: Ask The Contractor – 6 Things To Know About Winterizing Your Above Ground Pool
- ScienceDirect: Effect of Temperature and Light on the Growth of Algae Species
- Pool Corporation: How To Balance Pool Water
- Pool Corporation: Everything You Need to Know About Phosphates in Pool Water
- Snyder Pools: Winterizing Instructions for Radiant Above Ground Pools
- Radiant Pools: About Our Pools
- Islander Pools & Spas: Radiant Above Ground Pools
- Pennsylvania State University: Thermal Expansion and Density
- AquaComfort Solutions: How a Pool Heat Pump Works