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How to Close Your Above Ground Pool at the End of the Season

Closing an above ground pool at seasons end should be a fast and worry-free process - learn how by reviewing the following article!
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Closing an above ground pool at season’s end should be an easy and worry-free process. Our pool specialists at The Pool Factory™ have put together the following tutorial to ensure proper pre-maintenance and closing of your investment at the end of the season.

Recommended Pool Closing Supplies

Winterizing Chemical Kit
Skimmer Cover Plate
Return Fitting Winter Plug
Ice Compensator (Air Pillow)
Winter Cover
Filter System Winter Cover

Winter Cover Pumps are strongly recommended to keep excess water from building up on your cover. Excess water on your cover means excess stress and a torn cover or damaged pool.

Steps to Closing an Above Ground Pool


Clean and vacuum the swimming pool.


Check and adjust PH and Alkalinity.

Pool Maintenance Checks
Pool Check 3 In 1 Chlorine Test Kit

Is a three way test kit tests for chlorine, pH and alkalinity levels. Proper levels keep your pool sparkling clear. One bottle contains 50 Strips.


Add winterizing kit following manufacturer’s label instructions.

Pool Closing Kit

This Winter Closing Kit contains everything you need to close your pool this fall. It will condition the pool water and prevent algae growth throughout freezing winter months to ensure a sparkling clean pool.


Run the pool filter system for at least 1 hour.

AquaPro Pool Pump

Attach a winterizing skimmer plate to your thru-wall skimmer.

  • If you have a standard size thru-wall skimmer, attach a standard skimmer winterizing plate by removing ONLY the 6 screws corresponding to the 6 holes in the plate.
  • If you have a widemouth thru-wall skimmer, attach a widemouth skimmer winterizing plate by removing ONLY the 10 screws corresponding to the 10 holes in the plate.
  • It is not required to lower the water level below the skimmer opening when you are installing the skimmer winterizing plate. In areas with harsh winters a water level at or slightly below the skimmer level would be sufficient.

Do not remove skimmer face plate.

Pool Skimmer Cover/Plates

Prevents ice damage to your thru-wall skimmer and pool wall. Plate comes complete with screws and gasket, and installs over the existing skimmer face plate. Available for standard or widemouth thru-wall skimmers.

Skimmer Cover Plate

Plug your return fitting in the inside (water side) of pool with a threaded winterizing plug. If you have an Aqualuminator Light, then it should also be plugged in the inside (water side) of pool using a winterizing plug for the Aqualuminator light. Make sure that the plug is pushed in all the way. The plug must be flush in the light housing. Dip plug into pool water to lubricate if necessary.

IMPORTANT: All pool lights, such as the InnovaLite, Multi-Color LED Pool RETURN Light, and the Multi-Color LED Skimmer Face Plate Light should be removed from the swimming pool and stored indoors.
How to open a saltwater swimming pool step 4

Inflate air pillow (leaving soft) and fasten, allowing it to float in the center of the pool.


Drape the winter cover over the air pillow so it lays on the surface of the water all around the pillow.


Add 1-2 inches of water on the cover to prevent wind damage.


Empty and clean your filter, and remove all of the drain plugs in the filter tank and pump. This will allow the filter system to completely drain out any water and dry before storing indoors in a warm dry area. You also have the option to use an Aquapro Filter System Winter Cover to protect the filter system from the fall and winter elements if left outside.


Store all filters and equipment in warm dry places to prevent cracking. Drain excess water off cover during winter months to prevent damage to your pool.

Additional Tips

Blow out excess water in the pool heater using an air compressor or shop vac and plug inlet and outlet lines of heater.

As water, ice and snow build up on your winter pool cover during the winter, always drain the cover when possible using a winter cover pump.

Too much water on the winter pool cover can destroy your pool if not drained off. The weight of the water pulls the cover into the pool. The cable, which holds the cover in place, will then pull the top ledges, the skimmer and the return up. This will damage the above ground pool beyond repair. Your pool warranty does not cover winter damage.

Excess water on the cover can also tear your liner. The weight of the water will cause more movement in the ice below, which can rip your liner. Never attempt to break ice on your pool winter cover or in your above ground pool. This will tear your liner. Wait for the ice on your cover to melt and then pump it off. Ice below the cover should be left alone. Let it melt on its own. Never let anyone step on the ice, cover or on the pool. This will damage your pool.

AquaPro Filter System Winter Cover

The AquaPro Filter System Cover is designed to protect your above ground filtration system from debris, acid rain, and block UV light. Quick and easy fit with elastic bottom and (4) Velcro side seams. The AquaPro Above Ground Pool Filtration Equipment Cover protects and extends the life of your filtration system.

AquaPro Automatic Pool Cover Pump 3,000GPH W/ Leaf Protector APC4000A

The AquaPro Cover Pump is the finest pool cover pump ever designed. Features a powerful 110 volt 3000 GPH automatic submersible pump with a specifically designed strainer base.

Alternative Pool Closing Tutorials

  • June 16, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Help! We had some bad weather last week – tons of hard rain. The rain caused a small area on one side of my pool to become “unlevel” (not sure if that is a word) therefore the pool is leaning. I know draining above ground pools is not wise but how can I level that area without draining it at least a little bit? Draining is the only way I can think to do this. How long is it safe for pool to be drained? Thanks!

  • September 14, 2013 at 12:08 AM
    Richard Manes

    I have a 12×24 above ground pool should I drain some water out? I had a 18×33 years ago and I drained it below the return line added chemicals and pillow and cover? Do I need to do this with this one?

  • September 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM
    Steve Fuchsluger

    Sep 27, 2014
    I’m closing my AG pool today (first time). The winterizing kit and instructions for closing an AG pool do not specify the level of water to establish after installing the skimmer plate and return plug. Do you leave it at level below these two items or do you raise the level of the water to cover the skimmer plate? If so how high? 1/2 cover plate or other height? Thank you.

    • September 29, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Hi Steve,

      You can leave the water level at its normal level (middle of skimmer face plate) as long as the winterizing skimmer plate and winterizing return plug are installed properly. It’s also a good idea to use a cover pump to remove the excess water off of the winter cover to reduce the stress on the pool and the cover.
      Here is the link for our cover pump options: https://www.thepoolfactory.com/pool-supplies/pool-closing/accessories/cover-pumps

  • November 10, 2014 at 1:17 PM
    Nanci Folsom

    I am located in orlando, FL. Is it okay to close my pool with just the pillow and cover. We do not get ice here.

  • November 28, 2014 at 6:46 AM
    Laura Ann

    I have a 24 round above ground pool. The cover is a solid winter cover. I put a cover over the skimmer and a plug in the return. There seems to be a leak. It is not the skimmer or return as the water went lower than that. What do I do?

    • December 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Please use our contact us form to get in touch with one of our Pool Experts!

  • December 27, 2014 at 8:43 AM
    Mike Vadnais

    While paying some bills online yesterday, I heard an unsettling sound. It sounded like a big chunk of ice falling. After looking around the house, I noticed the pool cover was way down in the pool. I live in Minnesota, and this year we have had a warmer than normal December, but our November was below zero at times and very cold. Actually had a brown Christmas. Upon walking around the pool inspecting, I noticed the ground was soaked. I looked inside the pool to find there was only about 2 feet of water left. Where it’s leaking I have no idea, but I did remove the cover because it appeared it was pulling the sides, as there was some ice on the cover that I could not get off as it was stuck to my leaf net we usually leave on all winter as well as the cover to keep debris off the cover.

    At this time, I really had no choice, but to remove and cut the leaf net as I was afraid of more damage to the pool. I have now removed the cover totally off the pool, and with hardly any water in it, and possibly still leaking, will leave it off for the rest of the winter to avoid damaging the pool structure itself. This all took place yesterday, and this morning I have awoken to 4 inches of snow to make this whole experience that much more frustrating. I put the pool in during August of 2013 so that I could have it ready for the 2014 swimming season. The pool wintered very well the first year without any issues, and we enjoyed a great summer using it almost every day. I am sure I will need a new liner, as something surely put a hole in it. I have read the closing instructions, and always followed them, but is there anything else that we can do in these really cold weather climates to avoid this in the future? The pool that I have is the 12 x 18 Hampton with the 25 guage liner in it. I think it would almost be better to put some type of tented cover over the pool that will not let the rain and snow build up. Something you could just rake off. I don’t want to go through this every couple years. It is already getting very expensive.

    • December 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Please use our contact us form to get in touch with one of our Pool Experts!

  • August 1, 2015 at 9:34 AM
    Chuck Burroughs

    Question: My above ground pool is 15 X 30. In ordering a pool cover, is the 15X30 an exact fit or should I go with the next larger size so that I have several inches extra to hand over the side of the pool. Thank you

    • August 5, 2015 at 4:09 PM

      Hi Chuck,

      You should order a winter cover by pool size. Our pool winter covers are cut 3-4 feet larger than the pool size to give you the extra material that you need to properly cover your swimming pool. So if you have a 15×30 pool you should order a 15×30 winter cover which will be approximately 18×33 – 19×34 overall in size.

  • September 12, 2015 at 10:11 AM
    laura hall

    i have a new 18 by 33 foot oval pool. this is the first winter coming up and i would like to know if i can leave the pool uncovered.
    i was thinking of ordering the leave catch net you have for sale. but then removing this once all of the leaves have dropped and leaving the pool uncovered and without the pump for november-march. we live in ga and the low temps are in the 30 s with occasional 15 degree lows. will this harm my pool?

    • November 24, 2015 at 12:51 PM

      Hi Laura,

      Leaving the pool uncovered for the winter may decrease the life of you pool liner and/or make Spring clean up tougher. A leaf net cover can be helpful but will not catch small debris that can stain your pool liner. If there is a chance that the pool water will freeze in your area, we would recommend a skimmer closing plate and a winterizing plug for your return fitting to help avoid ice damage.

  • October 11, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Can I leave the steps in the pool on their side under the cover?

    • November 24, 2015 at 12:18 PM

      We do not recommend leaving steps inside the pool during the winter. Ice can move the steps and damage the vinyl liner or even the entire pool.

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