The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining a Saltwater Pool in Winter

Tips for Keeping Your Saltwater Pool Open in the Winter

A decade ago there were 1.4 million saltwater pools in America, and the popularity of salt-chlorinators has grown significantly ever since.

So if you’re the owner of a saltwater pool, consider yourself lucky! Your soft, crystal-clear swimming pool water is likely the envy of the neighborhood during the summer months. But many saltwater pool owners wonder how to preserve their luxurious swimming pool during the colder months.

At DSP, we’re happy to help you learn how to best maintain your saltwater pool in the winter. We know that swimming pool winterizing can be challenging for some pool owners. That’s why we’ve created an easy-to-understand guide for saltwater pool winter care, which will help you maximize your salt pool’s life and your enjoyment of it.

Is Saltwater Pool Winterizing Necessary?

Why does your saltwater pool require winter maintenance anyway? Isn’t it sufficient to add a pool cover and call it a day? No!

Maintaining a saltwater pool in winter prevents damage that can cost you a pretty penny down the line. Other benefits of saltwater pool winterizing include:

  • Algae growth prevention
  • Minimized surface stains
  • Maintains healthy salt and pH levels
  • Conserves energy
  • Protects your pool from harsh winter conditions
  • Makes it easier to prepare your pool for the summertime

So let’s dive into the initial easy steps to maintaining a saltwater pool in winter. Following these instructions can help you keep your saltwater pool open in winter and master saltwater pool winter care!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Maintaining a Saltwater Pool in Winter

Are you the type of person who just loves swimming all year round? If you live in a climate that doesn’t get too cold, you can keep your saltwater pool open in the winter and continue to swim all year long.

But, if you prefer to close your pool in winter, these tips can help you as well. Doing so will keep your salt pool in good condition for when you open it back up when the warmer temperatures return.

Here are some steps for maintaining a saltwater pool in winter:

1. Clean Your Pool

First thing’s first: clean your pool to ensure optimal cleanliness for the next time you swim! To clean your pool:

  • Remove any debris from the pool with a skimmer net
  • Scrub your pool walls with a pool brush
  • Vacuum your pool
  • Turn on the pool filter for one hour before cleaning the filter

If you’re closing your pool for the winter:

  • Remove any bacteria and organic matter with a granular shock
  • Remove diving boards, ladders, slides, deck mounts, toys, floats, and handrails to minimize interruption on the pool cover

2. Check Salt Levels and pH Balances

Test the saltwater pool chemistry by checking your pH levels, alkalinity, and calcium hardness. They should measure within the following ranges:

  • pH levels: 7.2-7.8
  • Total alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 200-400 ppm

If any of the above water chemistry items are off, your pool might form more mineral scales of salt and reduce your winter chemicals’ effectiveness. Consider checking your pool water chemistry every 6-8 weeks.

Don’t forget about the salt. When the weather gets cooler, your chlorine generator might note lower salt levels than usual. While your instinct might be to add salt, ignore it! You might overdose the water if you add too much salt.

Consider using salt test strips or digital water testers for more accurate salinity readings.

3. Add Your Winter Chemicals

Now that you’ve tested salt levels and pH balances, it’s time to add your winter chemicals. Most pool closing kits have algaecide, a necessary winter chemical that prevents algae growth in winter. Consider adding enzymes as well.

4. Lower the Pool Water Level

If you have a skimmer protection plug kit, you don’t need to worry about this step. But, if you have a sand or DE filter, your first step is to backwash the filter to clear out any dirt. Ensure you don’t lower the water level too much. In-ground pools should be 12 inches below the skimmer, and those with covers would be six inches below the skimmer.

Make sure you monitor your pool water levels regularly, as leaks can ruin your pool walls and covers.

5. Clean and Remove Salt Cell

The best part about a salt cell is how intuitive it is. When the temperature drops, it recognizes the cooler weather and automatically turns itself off, which improves its life span. Additionally, the winter months make it so your pool needs less chlorine to stay clean (even less than the small amounts found in saltwater pools.) That’s because bacteria usually grow more slowly or not at all when the temperature drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you aren’t keeping your saltwater pool open for the winter, you’ll need to remove the salt cell. But, before you remove it, begin by turning off your pool pump, as well as any other circuits to pool equipment.

Next, you’ll have to clean the salt cell. When doing so, use a high-pressure hose or wooden tool (never metal) to gently rinse the cell’s inside. Then, you can store it indoors until the spring, which helps increase the equipment’s lifespan.

Although this isn’t a necessity, you can replace the salt cell with a dummy cell. This mock salt cell takes up the space of your original salt cell throughout the winter months. Conversely, if your local climate isn’t too harsh and you keep your saltwater pool open in winter, can put the salt cell back once it’s clean.

Check out our salt cells if it’s time to replace yours!

6. Drain Your Equipment

Time to drain and clean all of your pool equipment. That includes your pool pump, heater, solar covers, filters, and additional sanitizers.

For electrical equipment: Make sure you turn off all power circuits before cleaning and draining. Take out any drain plugs for an extended period to release any water that’s accumulated inside the equipment, and store your plugs somewhere safe.

For your filter: Remove the cartridge or filter grids before cleaning them. You can clean filter cartridges and grids with a hose or soak them with a filter cleaning solution.

For your o-rings: Use lubricant to lower the chances of them cracking this winter.

Finally, use a blower or vacuum to dry and remove any excess water from your equipment. Then, store your pool equipment somewhere safe from the winter elements.

7. Winterize Skimmer and Pool Lines

If you skip this crucial step, you’ll be faced with a hefty bill for expensive repairs for cracked pipes. To winterize your saltwater pool’s skimmer and pool lines, you should:

  • Remove the skimmer from the basket, as well as all fittings from return lines
  • Use an air compressor to push out all the water from the intake and return lines
  • Plug your skimmer with a guard and plug your return lines with expansion plugs or pool plugs.
  • Turn off the air compressor once the above steps are complete.

8. Cover Your Pool

The final step? Add a pool cover. Before doing this, though, do one more sweep of your pool to ensure all debris and dirt is removed. Otherwise, you’ll risk leaving debris inside over the winter, which may cause staining. You should also ensure your cover has no rips. However, you can patch them if your cover does have rips.

We know that different pool owners might have different covers. Follow the recommended steps for your specific cover below.

  • Solid winter cover: Keep the cover secure by filling up water weights around the pool.
  • Safety cover: Your anchors should be at the surface of the deck and attached to the cover straps with an installation tool.
  • Above-ground pool cover: Secure an air pillow underneath the cover with a winch kit and cable to break up any ice.

Your Saltwater Pool Is Now Ready For Winter

Maintaining a saltwater pool in winter isn’t so hard! You can even enjoy keeping the saltwater pool open in winter if you’re up for a chillier swim!

Make sure you follow these steps to ensure the saltwater pool stays in prime condition during the cold winter months. And, if you ever need any support with saltwater pool maintenance, our friendly team is always here to answer any questions you may have.

Ready For What Comes Next?

Is your pool as easy to maintain as it could be? Could your water quality get even better? See how you can have the most modern pool system possible: See more now ►

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