How to Winterize Your Pool Pump and Filter

Written by Michael Dean
April 3, 2024

winterizing a swimming pool pump

Winterizing can be a real drag for pool owners, and for good reason. For one, the pool season is over, and you won’t be able to use your pool until the end of spring. Secondly, the pool chores involved with shutting down the pool for the winter can be a lot of work. But the good thing is that it’s a pretty straightforward process when it comes to shutting down your pool pump and filter.

In this article, I will explain how to winterize different types of filters, why you should do it, when to do it, and a few other pointers. Let’s get started!

Main Takeaways

  • Winterizing your pool pump and filter is essential to protect them from the cold temperatures since water expands at low temps—this expansion can cause pipes and other components to burst and rupture.
  • Make sure every component is dry before storage.
  • Winterize the pool pump and filter when the average temperature in your area consistently falls below 65°F.

Step-by-Step: How to Winterize Your Pool Pump and Filter

Winterizing your pool pump and filter is essential to protect them from the cold temperatures and potential damage caused by freezing water. Whether you have a cartridge filter, sand filter, or D.E. filter, here are my detailed step-by-step guides to help you through the winterization process.

How to Winterize Your Cartridge Filter

Step One: Turn Off the System

First things first: turn off the pool pump and remove it from the power source completely. The last thing we want is for the pool pump to automatically start-up! Once you’ve done that, drain out all the water from your pump, clean your strainer basket of leaves and debris, and hang it for drying.

Step Two: Disconnect Hoses

Disconnect the filter hoses attached to the pool and get ready to put them away for winter. Usually, these hoses are fastened with metal clamps—easily removable with a screwdriver.

Step Three: Drain and Clean the Cartridge Filter

Open the air relief valve on top of the filter to release air pressure, then remove the drain plug at the bottom of the filter to clear out any remaining water. Take the cartridge out of the filter housing. Using a hose, thoroughly rinse and clean the cartridge filter to remove debris. If necessary, replace the cartridge entirely.

Step Four: Dry and Store

It’s important to let everything dry thoroughly after it’s been removed. Give it a few days if necessary, but make sure the cartridge filter and pump are as dry as bone before storing it in a safe, dry, preferably indoor place for the winter.

How to Winterize Your Sand Filter

Step One: Turn Off the System

As with any other filter, the first thing to do is to turn off the pool pump and disconnect the circuit breaker supplying power to the pump to avoid any hazards. Then, disconnect the pump, drain the water, clean the skimmer basket, and leave everything out to dry thoroughly.

Step Two: Backwash the Filter

Backwash your filter to keep it clean over the winter—we don’t want anything unpleasant festering in your storage space. When the water runs clear from the nozzle, it has been successfully backwashed. Once that’s done, move the valve to the “Rinse” option and let it run for roughly 30 seconds.

Step Three: Drain Water

Open the air relief valve to release pressure and remove drain plugs. Now that the filter is clean, turn that valve to the ‘Winterize’ or ‘Close’ setting. This allows the water to drain from your valve. You’ll also want to completely drain all the water from your tank by unscrewing the drain cap at the bottom. Do not reattach the cap. Instead, store it someplace for the next pool season. Also, remove any filter hoses at this point.

Step Four: Dry and Store

When all the components of the pool pump and sand filter are dry, stash everything in a secure, dry place for winter and cover it all with a heavy pool tarp.

How to Winterize Your D.E. Filter

Step One: Turn Off the System

Start by powering off the pump and turning off the circuit breaker. Unplug your pool pump, drain it, clean it, and dry it to prepare it for storage.

Step Two: Pump the Bump Handle

On a D.E. filter, there is a bump handle that is built into the cap of the filter pump and moves up and down. Move it up and down around ten times. When pushing down, go slow, and go fast when moving the lever upwards.

Step Three: Drain the Filter

Release air pressure through the air relief valve. Then, drain out your filter pump via the drain plug at the bottom of the tank. As the water drains, continue to move the bump handle. Drain the filter completely.

Step Four: Disconnect Everything

Once everything is drained, start getting ready for storage. For this, you’ll need to finish getting rid of the water in your filter tank (use a leaf blower or air compressor to speed things up if needed). Then, disconnect any connections such as pool hoses, the tank cover, bolts on the lid of the filter tank, etc.

Step Five: Rinse the Filter Grids

Remove the D.E. grids and rinse them completely. Be sure to rinse the inside of the filter tank bottom.

Step Six: Reassemble the Filter and Store

After thoroughly rinsing, reinstall all the parts of the filter you removed, such as the tank cover and the bolts (barring the hoses and connections). Thoroughly let everything dry off and stash it away in a safe, dry place for the winter.

Why It’s Important to Winterize Your Pool Pump and Filter

The main reason why winterization is necessary is that water expands when it freezes. This expansion can cause pipes and other components to burst and rupture. This can be very expensive and difficult to repair. Not to mention that stagnant, residual water can cause rust and corrosion, which hurts the lifespan of your pool equipment. Plus, proper winterization also prevents the formation of mold, mildew, and other bacteria in the pool pump and filter, not to mention it makes it easier to open your pool again in the spring.

Not yet convinced? Well, on top of all that, you should winterize to save money on energy costs. Leaving your pool pump and filter running throughout the winter is expensive and wasteful.

I cover all of this info and more in my complete deep dive on frozen pool pumps.

When to Winterize a Pool Pump and Filter

There is no one-size-fits-all answer on when to winterize a pool pump and filter. But as a general rule of thumb, I recommend winterizing the pool when your area’s average temperature constantly falls below 65°F. That’s considered a good time to start closing things up so you can get everything done in time before the water in the equipment starts freezing and getting damaged. Plus, algae is not likely to infiltrate your pool at those temperatures. 

Northeastern and midwest states should consider closing up their pool pump and filter around late September to early October. In the southeastern states, where it’s warmer, you could wait till early November to winterize. Depending on the weather, pool owners in warmer parts of the country, like Southern California and Texas, might not have to winterize at all.

What about the rest of the pool? Well, head on over to read my guide on when to close your pool.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I leave my pool pump and filter out in winter? 

I don’t recommend this. Freezing temperatures can cause a lot of damage. As the water in the pool pump and filter freezes, you risk it expanding and hurting the equipment. It’s always better to properly winterize and protect them. However, if winter temperatures don’t drop below 65°F, you may not need to winterize your pool and pool equipment at all!

What other pool equipment should I winterize?

Other pool equipment you should winterize include pool heaters, return jets, pool lights, and skimmers.

Check out my pool heater winterization guide here.

Will running the pool pump prevent freezing? 

Running the pump can potentially help prevent freezing, but it’s not a guaranteed solution since the water can still freeze – although it may slow down the process. Plus, it can be expensive and wasteful since what are the chances you’ll use your swimming pool in the wintertime anyway? Proper winterization is a much better idea if you are subject to colder winters.

Time to Winterize!

Taking care of your pool pump and filter also means winterizing the equipment when the time comes. In fact, preparing your pool pump and filter for winter is a crucial maintenance step that can save you time and money in the long run. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can safeguard your pool pump and filter from freezing temperatures and potential damage, ensuring it remains in optimal condition when spring comes around the following year. So, don’t wait! If temperatures are consistently below 65°F, go ahead and winterize!

Do you have any more questions about the pool winterization process? Let me know; I’m more than happy to help.

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