How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool is about how to prepare an in ground pool for below freezing temperatures in a temperate climate.  You need to do this preparation to keep leaves, branches, and debris out of the pool, to prevent excess algae from growing, and to prevent your pipes and pump from freezing.


The pool that I’m winterizing is an 18×36 foot in ground rectangular pool with two removable ladders.  It has two jets, a topside skimmer and no bottom side input.  I live in USDA zone 7B, which goes down into the teens several times a year and is enough to freeze pipes.

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

At a high level one needs to do the steps outlined below to winterize the pool. The solar cover needs to be removed, dried and put away.  The ladders in the pool need to be removed.  Next the pool needs to be vacuumed and shocked.  Then the water needs to be removed from the pipes and skimmer and pool antifreeze needs to be added.  At this point, the pool can be covered with a tarp like pool cover.  The last step is to put the pool toys away for the year.

Clear the Deck

Since a lot of work is going to be done on the pool deck, the first thing that needs to be done is to move all of the deck furniture off of the pool area.  Once the deck area is clear, use a blower to blow all leaves, sticks, and dirt off the deck.

Bye Bye Solar Cover

I remove the ladder that is facing the deck so that I can more easily remove the solar cover.  Then I pull the solar cover on the deck and let it dry.  Only the top side will dry quickly. Sometimes it helps to blow some of the water off of the solar cover with the blower.  Once the top side is dry, fold it in half. Now the top side, which was on facing down, needs to dry.  Continue this step until the solar blanket is folded.  It will get smaller with each fold.  Once it is folded, put it away right away.  Do not let it sit in the sun for too long or it will quickly degrade from the heat.

Vacuum and Shock

Vacuum the pool and get all of the leaves and anything else out of the pool that could cause the pool to stain.  After the pool has been vacuumed, then shock the pool.  I just do a regular shock.  Some people do a super shock, but for me that has been unnecessary because I have a very good pool cover that does not allow any light in.  If you have a cheaper cover or one with holes in it, you may need to add more shock.  I also backwash the pool pump at this step to get all of the DE out.

Removing the Ladder

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

There are likely several different types of steps.  Mine have a cap that meets the ladder poles at the pool deck.  Under this cap is a ½ inch bolt.  The bolt is attached to a wedge that secures the poles to the pool deck.  Turn the bolt counter clockwise to loosen the steps.  If the bolt comes out, knock it back down to allow the wedge to loosen around the poles going into the deck.  Once the ladders are removed, let the water out of the ladder pipes.

Skimmer Pipes Water Removed

Note: My pool does not have an input at the bottom of the pool that feeds the pump.  If your pool has a bottom input, your process in this step will be a little different.

Shut the pump off.  Then cover the skimmer.  Pool stores in temperate climates sell a cover for your skimmer and there are a couple of types shown at the end of this post from  It is kind of like a lid to a Tupperware container and snaps over the skimmer on the pool side.  This will prevent any water from leaking into the skimmer area from the pool itself.  Now turn the pump on until all of the water is sucked out of the skimmer and pipes.

How to Winterize the In Ground Pool

Then open the filter basket at the pump where the skimmer pipe comes in and use a shop-vac to suck the remaining water out.  Next, go to the skimmer end and hook the shop-vac up to the pipe at the bottom of the skimmer that goes to the pump and suck the water out.  Pool store sell a special hose for this connection.

Antifreeze for the Skimmer

After all of the water has been removed, I then put pool antifreeze in the skimmer pipes.  I add one gallon to go down the pipe.  I then use a special screw in skimmer freeze plug into the bottom of the skimmer.  Mine is called a “Skimmer Gizzmo”. This plug will allow any possible ice to expand inward against the freeze plug vs. outward and cracking the skimmer housing.  Once the freeze plug is in place, I then add a half gallon of antifreeze into the skimmer and then put the lid on the skimmer.

In the filter basket at the pump, I add the other half gallon of pool antifreeze.  This will protect the filter basket and the pump impellers.  Cover the filter basket with the cover that normally goes on it and you are done with the skimmer lines.

Jet Water Removed

It is now time to remove the water from the jets.  Instead of sucking the water out, we are going to blow the water out.  Most shop-vacs have an input and an output side.  If you hook the hose up to the output side, it blows air out.  We will now use our special hose and duct tape to hook the output side of the shop-vac to the pipe at the top of the pump and blow air toward the jets.

On the jet end, unscrew the jets from the pool.  Make sure you unscrew all the way back to the pool and not just the outer screw on piece.  Now in the jet closest to the shop-vac, cover the jet with a “swimming pool return line winterizing plug”.  After this is done, give it a minute or two and you will see the next jet inline start to blow air out.  Repeat the plug step for each jet you have.

Antifreeze for the Jet Lines

Once all of the jets are plugged, go back to the where the shop-vac is blowing and shut it off.  Disconnect the shop-vac from the flexible pipe and pour a gallon of pool antifreeze down the pool pipe.  After the antifreeze is in, I connect the pipe back up to the pool filter to limit the rain that gets into it.

Cover the Pool

You will want to cover the pool to keep all of the leaves and debris out.  The cover will also keep the sun out, which will prevent algae from growing.  Once the cover is pulled over the pool, weight the cover down with water tubes.

Water tubes are rubber tubes that are meant to be filled with water and are capable of expanding without popping if the water in the freezes.  The weight prevents the cover from blowing into the pool.

Last but not Least

Put your pool toys, baskets, nets, and anything else away.  They will survive much longer if they are put away out of the sun and winter weather.

The Parts List

Below is a parts list of the items I used.  If you order any of the items below, please be cautious and make sure the parts are the right size for your pool.  Most of the parts are very specific for certain size pools.


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