As much as we wish for pool season to last forever, alas, all things must eventually come to an end. Then, you are left with two choices for your Intex above ground pool: 1) disassemble it and store it somewhere for the winter, or 2) you close (winterize) your pool and leave it outdoors. We will primarily be focusing on option 2 in this article.
Winterizing your above ground pool sounds like it’s exclusively done during winter, however it can also be done if you intend on closing your pool for an extended period and don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting it up all over again (or taking it apart in the first place).
Keep in mind, there are specific steps you need to take to winterize your pool. It’s not as simple as putting on a pool cover and leaving it out during the winter. The extreme cold can damage your pool, and then you might not have a working pool next summer.
In this article, we go over step-by-step how to winterize an Intex above ground pool so that it will remain in tip-top condition even when left outside in the winter. At a glance, you will need to remove all the old pool equipment, balance your pool water, add a winter chemical kit, install pool air pillows, and finally cover the pool. Let’s go over how exactly that works.
Steps to close your Intex above ground pool
The wintertime can be harsh on above ground pool owners, but if you are armed with the right equipment and knowledge, then it actually isn’t that difficult. Plus, doing this will help your Intex pool last through many summers (and winters) so that you can maximize both the value and enjoyment of the pool.
Prepare all the winterizing materials
Consider this step zero. Gathering all of the materials below will ensure that the winterizing process will go without a hitch. The winterizing materials are:
- A pool cover
- Clips, cables, and winches for the pool cover
- Pool pillows
- A winterizing kit (includes pool shock, algaecide, pH increaser, alkalinity increaser, calcium hardness increaser)
If this is your first winter as a pool owner, you may not have many of these items. However, you will be prepared for subsequent winters because they are reusable.
Remove pool equipment
After you’ve gathered the winterizing materials, it’s time to get to work. First things first, take out all of the old pool equipment, toys, and any other pool accessories. Leaving them in the pool during the winter can cause both the equipment and the pool to be damaged.
For the pool pump, remove all drain plugs, hoses, and pumps. To make storage easier, store related items together, in this case the drain plugs and the pump basket should be kept together so they are easy to locate when it’s time to reopen the pool.
Also remember to remove the old filter cartridge and rinse it off with a hose. Leave the valves open and store the cartridge inside for the winter. Alternatively, you can simply replace the filter cartridge with a brand new one next pool season.
Pool owners using a sand filter on their Intex pools should set their multiport valve to “Winterize”, then take out the drain plug underneath to allow it to fully drain.
Clean the pool and equipment
Thoroughly clean your pool and the pool equipment. For the pool, use a pool skimmer to get rid of debris on the surface. Then use a pool vacuum to clean debris that settled at the bottom of the pool. As for what chemicals to use, we’ll get to that shortly.
As for the equipment, give everything a good rinse with fresh water. Other pieces of equipment that are harder to clean, such as the hose, can be submerged in soapy water for 30 minutes to remove all of the chemicals.
Dry all of the equipment with a towel, and then leave them out to air dry. This step is crucial, because there could still be some droplets of water that you missed. Leaving it out to air dry ensures that the equipment is bone dry before storage.
Balance the pool water
This is no different from balancing your pool so that you can safely swim in it. Unless you want your pool water to become a breeding ground for bacteria and pests, you need to ensure the water is properly balanced. Refer to the numbers below on the optimal ranges to target:
- pH: 7.4 – 7.6
- Chlorine: 1 – 3 ppm
- Calcium hardness: 175 – 225 ppm
- Alkalinity: 100 – 150 ppm
We recommend you aim for the higher end of these ranges rather than the lower because it will be a decent stretch of time before you can do your next adjustment during the winter season.
Utilize a winter chemical kit
There are various winterizing pool chemical kits you can use to maintain your pool for a month or even a whole season. These kits will contain the chemicals needed to balance your pool while it is not in use. Follow the instructions carefully; they’ll usually require you to clean your pool weekly.
You have the option of buying these pre-packaged kits or you can buy each pool chemical one by one and make your own kit. To be honest, the money savings and time invested are not really worth the return in my opinion, but these are your options.
If you prefer using regular shock instead of pool shock, we recommend you add it to the pool the night before you intend to close the pool so it has enough time to work. Pool shock is fast-dissolving and you don’t need to wait before you close your pool.
Install pool air pillows
Those of you living in harsher climates will need to place pool pillows in your pool. This is a must because the pillows will help hold up the weight of the snow and ice that will accumulate on the pool cover, alleviating the pressure from the sides of the pool and preventing damage.
Make sure to place the pool air pillows in the center of the pool for the optimal support and weight distribution. Use a cable and winch to tie the pool air pillow to ensure it remains roughly in the center.
Cover your pool
If you don’t want to skim and vacuum your pool everyday, and you want to keep the weather from changing your pool’s delicate chemical balance, then you need to cover it up. You can use a dedicated pool cover, but you can also just use a large tarp.
Throughout the winter season, check the pool cover daily to make sure it hasn’t loosened up and to clear off any debris that accumulates on it.
And those are all the steps for how to winterize your Intex above ground pool for cold weather. Next, we will be answering some commonly asked questions on the topic of winterizing the pool vs. putting it away.
Frequently asked questions
What does it mean to close or winterize a pool?
If you have an above ground Intex pool, you have the option to disassemble and store it for the winter, or you can winterize it which means you will be leaving it out for the winter.
When a pool is closed or winterized, it means that its equipment is removed and its pipes are dried out in order to prevent damage caused by freezing temperatures. Chemicals will also be added to balance the water chemistry. It’s a bit more complicated than simply covering the pool up and putting up a sign that says “Closed”.
The part people are most likely to mess up on is adding chemicals into the water to prevent algae, bacteria, and mold from growing in the water and on the pool itself while it is covered up for the winter. You can buy a winterizing kit to help you with it.
Failure to properly close your pool can result in irreparable damage due to the harsh temperatures during wintertime. It’s the difference between having a usable pool next summer and having to buy a new one.
Intex pools are a bit different to winterize because they are partially inflatable and made with lightweight materials that are easy to set up. The downside is that these materials are not particularly resistant to the cold, and the pool lining can rupture if it gets too cold. That’s a mess that will be difficult to repair, if it can be repaired at all.
Should I store or winterize my pool?
Many above ground pool owners would probably feel safer storing their pool for the winter rather than leaving it out. However, some pool owners don’t have the time or energy to set up and take down their Intex pool every season, or maybe they simply don’t have the space to store it, so they want to leave it outside.
Unfortunately, depending on where you live, you may not be able to winterize your pool if the temperatures drop to 41°F (5°C) and below. At this point (actually, hopefully well before this point), the manufacturer recommends you drain the pool, disassemble it, and store it during the winter to prevent damage.
If the weather is fair year round where you live, then you have the option to winterize your Intex pool by following the steps outlined in this article.
Conversely, if you realize that you need to store your pool but aren’t sure how, please read this article on that exact topic for more details. The shortened version is that you should keep the equipment in storage tote boxes and to keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. If you don’t have space in your home, consider renting a storage unit.
When should I close my Intex pool?
Give yourself plenty of time to close the pool. Better to do it early than to do it last minute during the biting cold, when damage might already be done to the pool.
We understand that you are very busy and probably don’t have much free time, but procrastination is the enemy. If you get a cold weather alert about upcoming freezing temperatures in a day or two’s time, it may already be too late for you if you can’t drop everything at a moment’s notice to go close your pool.
Our recommendation: if it’s no longer T-shirt weather, it might be time to start thinking about either storing your pool or getting ready to winterize it.
Can I drain my above ground Intex pool for the winter?
No, you should not drain your Intex pool for the winter. The pressure and weight of the water keep the structure stable and reduce the chances of damage from wind, heavy rainfall, or any other reason. Leaving an above ground pool empty will result in the structure being damaged beyond repair. If you plan on draining the pool, you had best disassemble and store it to keep it safe.
Knowing when you should winterize your pool and how to do it is essential knowledge if you are the owner of an above ground Intex pool. After all, it can potentially save you a lot of hassle by letting you keep your pool outside year round and keep it from getting damaged beyond repair if you know what you’re doing.
To recap, the steps are to clean your pool and equipment, balance the pool water by adding the winterizing chemicals, add pool pillows, and finally to cover the pool up. These steps should help you enjoy your Intex pool for many summers to come.
Ultimately, you don’t need to hire a professional to winterize the pool for you if you’re willing to do a little bit of research and put in the effort yourself. You will end up saving hundreds of dollars and you will learn a lot about the winterizing process yourself. It will be difficult at first, but once you’ve been through it once, you will be prepared for subsequent winters.
Photo Credit: Bart Everson (CC BY 2.0)