How to Winterize a Saltwater Pool

When the weather gets colder, you need to start thinking about closing your pool for the season. If you are a saltwater pool owner, winterizing your pool will look slightly different from winterizing a traditional chlorine pool. Winterizing your saltwater pool is necessary to protect your pool equipment from stains, damage, and algae growth from the harsh winter.

Here is my helpful step-by-step guide to winterizing your saltwater pool. For your friends with traditional chlorine pools, you can point them toward my main guide on how to winterize a pool.

Main Takeaways

  • In a nutshell, to winterize your saltwater pool, you have to clean the pool, test and balance the water, add winterizing chemicals, lower the pool water, winterize all equipment, add antifreeze, and then cover the pool.
  • You should winterize your saltwater pool when the temperature reaches below 65 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
  • Winterizing your saltwater pool will cost anywhere between $10 to around $600, if you need to purchase all equipment. If you hire a professional, expect to pay an additional $200-$300.

Supplies Checklist

Before you begin, ensure you have all the supplies needed to winterize your pool. This way, you can avoid panicking if you find out halfway that you’re missing something important. You will need the following:

Step-by-Step Guide for Winterizing a Saltwater Pool

Winterizing your saltwater pool is an essential part of pool maintenance every winter. As the temperature gets colder, it can start to damage the pool’s surfaces and the pool water. By winterizing, you can ensure you’ll have a beautiful and safe pool to swim in by the spring.

Step 1: Clean the pool

Before you begin the winterizing process, it is crucial that you thoroughly clean the pool. Make sure to brush and vacuum the entire swimming pool and clear it of all debris. The cleaner the pool when you close it, the cleaner it will be when you open it again as the weather warms up in the spring.

Step 2: Test salt levels

Saltwater chlorinators are notorious for their sensitivity to cold weather. They can become unreliable in the winter, indicating lower salt levels than are there. For an accurate salt level reading, use a salt testing strip. Most likely, you will not need to add more salt (I recommended keeping salt levels on the lower end when winterizing the pool).

AquaChek Salt Test Strip Titrators for Pools

These salt test strips from AquaChek should do the trick. Simple to use and accurate.

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Step 3: Test the water

You should also test the other aspects of your water chemistry, including pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness.

Step 4: Balance the water

Once tested, make sure to balance the water chemistry correctly. The ideal pH levels lie between 7.2 – 7.8. Total alkalinity should be between 80 to 120 ppm. Finally, the calcium hardness of the water should be between 200 and 400 ppm.

Step 5: Add winterizing pool chemicals

Your local pool store should stock a winterizing kit for your pool. These kits include algaecide to prevent algae growth. Follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly.

In The Swim Pool Closing Kit

In The Swim makes a great winterization kit that includes all the chemicals you need to close your above ground or inground pool.

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Step 6: Let the pool filter

Let the pool filter these chemicals and circulate the water for at least 8 hours before you fully close your pool.

Step 7: Lower the water level

Lower the water level to just below the skimmer line. This is due to rain, melted snow, and anything else that may cause water levels to rise during the off-season.

Step 8: Winterize the saltwater chlorinator

Empty and clean your saltwater chlorinator (SWC). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to winterize your SWC properly. For most, simply removing and storing it in a dry location is enough.

Step 9: Drain and clean all equipment

You should also remove and drain all other equipment in your pool, including any handrails, ladders, and other components of your pool that should be stored somewhere dry over the colder months.

Step 10: Winterize the skimmer

Use an air compressor to first force all the water out of the pool lines. Once all the water has been cleared, plug your skimmer with a skimmer plug. Doing this will prevent damage to your pool plumbing. If you plug your skimmer correctly, no water should enter the pool plumbing over the winter.

Step 11: Add some antifreeze

As an additional step to prevent damage to your pool, add some non-toxic antifreeze. This is only necessary if you live in very cold areas where the water is at risk of freezing. This is excellent insurance in case the skimmer plug is damaged or if you’re unsure if all the water has been pushed out of the plumbing.

Champion Swimming Pool Antifreeze for Winterizing

I use this option from Champion anytime I need to add antifreeze when winterizing a pool.

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Step 12: Cover the pool

Do one final skim of the pool to remove as much debris as possible. Once done, you can then cover the pool with a pool cover. As an optional step, you can add a couple of air pillows onto the water before covering the pool to prevent the cover from sinking.

Throughout the winter, you should continue to care for your pool by clearing debris and snow off the pool cover, checking the water chemistry and water levels, and adding pool chemicals as necessary.

Any further questions? Let me know!

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I close my saltwater pool for the winter?

When you should close your saltwater pool for the winter highly depends on your local climate. Most saltwater systems will start to fail once the temperature drops below a certain level. So this can range from anything between October to never. I recommend winterizing your pool when the temperature reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the average temperature in your area is below 65 degrees, it is time to start closing your pool before the temperature turns to freezing. For most regions in the north, this means winterizing the pool in late October and early November.

As an additional tip, make sure the water is cool enough to winterize before starting to close it. Warm water will make it easier for algae to grow, and the chemicals in the water will not last as long.

How much does it cost to winterize a saltwater pool?

There are a few one-time costs when winterizing your saltwater pool. If you’re a new pool owner, you will need to purchase an air compressor, a skimmer plug, air pillows, and, of course, a pool cover. The costs for this equipment vary:

  • Air compressor – $50 to $300
  • Skimmer plug – around $20
  • Air pillow – $10 to $20 per pillow
  • Pool cover – $50 to $200

You must also purchase chemicals such as a winterizing chemical kit and antifreeze. Expect to pay around $30 to $50 for the winterizing kit and $10 to $20 for antifreeze.

In addition to the above, you can also hire a professional to winterize your saltwater pool. For this service, expect to pay around $200 to $300. This is a great option for those that do not have time to close the pool properly. It is also a good option for new pool owners to learn how to winterize the pool by observing a professional.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Bottom Line

Winterizing your saltwater pool is important, especially if you live in colder climates. It is necessary as not only is saltwater equipment unable to handle the cold, but it also prevents expensive damage to your pool. To ensure that you have a clean and safe pool ready for use by the time the warmer months roll around, you should properly winterize your pool and pool equipment.

Especially if you’re a first-time saltwater pool owner, winterizing your pool may seem like a daunting task. But you now know it’s similar to closing a traditional chlorine pool. Alternatively, there is always the option of hiring a professional to winterize your pool if needed.

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