Do I Leave My Above Ground Pool Up for the Winter?

There are few things on this earth that bring as much joy as a pool in your backyard during summer. Especially with above ground pools, they are an affordable means of bringing fun all season long with minimal effort, but do you leave your above ground pool up in winter? 

If you have an above ground pool made of aluminum, steel, or resin, there is no need to take it down for the winter. Due to their permanent construction, it could cause the pool to lose structural integrity. However, if you have a soft-sided pool and live in a cold climate, it should be taken down.

It would be a tremendous task to take down large metal framed pools at the end of pool season every year. If you are someone who owns a soft-sided pool though, it is advised to disassemble the pool before winter in order to keep it from being susceptible to ice damage. Continue reading to see which pools you should and should not leave up during the winter and how to prep each of these types of pools for the cold winter months. 

Which Above Ground Pools to Leave Up During the Winter?

This may sound like a trick question, as it would seem like all above ground pools would stay up during the cold winter months. Although this is generally the case, not all have the luxury of staying out in the open during the chill of fall, the blistering cold of winter, and the warmth of spring. Even so, the large majority of above ground pools will remain standing during seasonal changes without any worry of weather causing issues to their structures. 

If you have a pool that is made from aluminum, steel, or resin, it is going to remain standing during the winter months. They are made from metals that are highly adaptable to changing weather and will not lose structural integrity due to the changing of temperature or weather conditions. 

These pools are the type of structure that you think of when above ground pools are mentioned. They have sturdy metal frames, are built upon a solid base, and usually even have some type of permanent deck around them. They are made to withstand heavy rain, heavy winds, falling snow, and even ice. It can’t be said that they would make it through a tornado, but they are built tough and will last season after season. 

Due to the nature of their construction, it would be nearly impossible to take these pools down every winter. They are built with a metal frame, have a separate pool liner inserted, and require dozens of different bolts to hold them together. 

Metal framed pools are designed to have a permanent place wherever you install them. They can be disassembled and moved from one yard to another (say, in a move), but this would be the only reason to take them down. 

If you were to disassemble a metal frame pool every season, you run the risk of damaging the pool liner, allowing the pool liner to shrink over the course of the winter months due to a lack of water keeping it taut, and chance damaging the pool frame itself. The risk of damage is much greater with the pool being taken down rather than just leaving it exposed to the elements. 

Lucky for you, this means one less major chore on your to-do list. Of course, you will want to be sure to winterize your metal frame above ground pool, even though you are leaving it up. However, we will get into that a bit later on.

Which Above Ground Pools to Take Down During the Winter? 

There is a whole other world that exists which includes those who own soft-sided above ground pools. These pools are great for those who are not looking to pay the price of a metal frame above ground pool, need something a bit more temporary in their backyard space, or simply do not have the room for a large metal framed pool. Soft-sided above ground pools are just as fun in the summer, but they do require more work when winter rolls around. 

Soft-sided above ground pools are made from an extremely durable polyester material that is coated in a urethane sealant. This material ensures that your soft-sided pool can handle normal wear and tear without busting, ripping, or popping on any given day. This type of material does great in warmer climates, however, it cannot stand below 41°F.

So, you will need to take down any soft-sided above ground pools that are made up of this type of material, lest the pool will sing a different tune than what it carried during the glorious days of summer. Due to the make-up of the material soft-sided pools are made of, weathering extreme temperatures can cause the material to get too cold which can cause it to crack once the weather begins to warm up again. 

This type of material is also very susceptible to ice damage which is also bad news for the overall structural integrity of your soft-sided above ground pool. Because of this, it is best that you take down your soft-sided pool during the winter months. 

This may seem like a huge task at first – and it is certainly going to be rather time-consuming – but soft-sided pools are designed to be put up and taken down in a relatively cut and dry manner. As long as you have the manual for the model of your pool, the takedown process should not be overly complicated. If you live in a cold climate and choose not to take down the pool, you run the risk of allowing the cold to negatively affect your pool. 

How to Disassemble a Soft-Sided Pool 

Each soft-sided pool is going to have a separate set of instructions to follow when it comes to its disassembly. It is imperative that you follow these instructions to ensure that no damage is done to your pool due to a haphazard takedown. 

With that being said, there is no one way to disassemble a soft-sided pool. However, most companies advise that the pool be taken down in a way that the set-up is reversed. Then, once your soft-sided pool has been disassembled, it needs to be properly dried and stored. 

Be sure that the liner is fully dried and all parts are equally as dried before putting them away for the season. Try to store them neatly in a container that can be sealed, or put them in an area that will not be exposed to changing weather conditions. Your pool should also be placed in an area that is cool (but not below 31°F) and dry. 

How to Winterize a Metal Frame Above Ground Pool 

Although you may not have to take your metal frame down for the winter, you do need to winterize it to give it the boost it needs to endure those cold winter months. If you want to skip the hard stuff and give yourself a bit of a leg up, go ahead and opt for the use of a winter closing kit. To show you the lay of the land though, let’s briefly go through the different steps it takes to get your metal frame pool ready for winter. 

  1. Adjust the alkaline and pH levels. You want to first adjust the alkaline in the pool, with the ideal range being 100 to 150 ppm. You then want to adjust the pH level and get it in the range of 7.4 to 7.6. For each of these variables, the higher the level, the better it is for when you are winterizing. 
  2. Adjust the calcium hardness level. After this, get your calcium hardness levels between a range of 175 to 225 ppm. 
  3. Shock your pool and add winter algaecide. When these levels have been solidified, it is now time to shock your pool. Along with that, you will need to add some winter algaecide to prevent the growth of harmful algae even in the cold winter months. 
  4. Disconnect and store the pool lines. After you have your water good to go, move on to your pool lines. Disconnect them, allow them to dry completely, then store them in a dark, dry area. 
  5. Remove your skimmer and winterize the pump/filter. You also want to either remove your skimmer basket or cover it for winter. Once this is done, you will need to winterize your pump and filter based on the instructions of each individual pump and filter. 
  6. Lower the water (but do not completely empty). Once this is down, lower your water level a bit, cover the pool, and voila! Your pool is now winterized!

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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