Water Level for above ground pool when closing for winter


New member
Oct 9, 2019
Overland Park KS
I've been on youtube today listening to different pool gurus talk about water levels for above ground pools when closing them. There are varying opinions. Curious what the opinions are here re: water level assuming we put a plate over the skimmer 'whole' and of course plug the jet thingy. Seems to me the higher the water the less stress on my pool cover. Had disaster last year where pool cover thread broke, (too heavy w ice and water) cover ended up in pool, mucky leaf mess to clean up in spring...was awful. Pool water was below output jet so....buying clips this year for cover, going to TRY and pump water off cover (did not know to do that last year) and hoping we can keep water level at almost normal level if we cover the skimmer whole thingy. Thoughts? Thank you in advance.


Well-known member
Sep 18, 2012
IL, NW of Chicago
I don't drain any water and have an Aquadoor cover for my skimmer & plug the return. Just keep water off the cover when you can, as weather allows.
I have always (7 years) drained my pool below the return and left all plumbing open. If I use an Aquadoor cover, that saves me the 4" or so of water to refill in the spring. Are there other advantages? Anything I need to watch out for?

Also, It looks like the Aquadoor cover is 2 pieces. It attaches to my existing face plate?


Gold Supporter
Jun 18, 2014
Glassboro, NJ
No it has its own face plate that goes in place of the face plate that comes with the skimmer. I have a wide mouth skimmer. I have arubber stopper from the pool store that goes in the Aqualuminator opening for my return. Long Screw, fender washers to cover the outside and a wingnut.


LifeTime Supporter
Jul 4, 2012
Chicago, IL
I have always drained 4" below the return and leave enough slack in the cover so it can handle water/ice that accumulates. I do pump water off the cover as weather allows while it is closed. I have never had a problem doing it this way (since 2012 season).

I always want to do as Joe Self does, but I get too afraid of ice cracking the skimmer or return, though many, many on this forum do so without problem, so that concern seems misplaced.

Joe - do you need to be extra vigilant with draining the cover given the higher water level? With a full pool plus water on the cover I would be concerned that the ice would go up the side wall and potentially push up on the railing.


Gold Supporter
Jun 18, 2014
Glassboro, NJ
In Southern NJ it has never gotten that bad. But I do drain the water off all winter. I also try to get any accumulated debris on the cover off through out the winter and in spring. I do put in an empty water bottle in the skimmer top down with the lid on when it gets really cold. The door held really well last year, I got marginal to no water leak thru the door.

It's supposed to be a colder winter this year. I'm not worried. The ice usually just gets thicker. I look into the skimmer opening through out the winter to check water levels. I can lift up the cover a bit at the skimmer and flashlight if needed. If there is a lot of water on top, the level rises at the skimmer, but goes down when I drain water on top.


May 29, 2018
Littleton, co
In Littleton, CO have an Intex 9 x 18 last year removed input / output 1.5" pvc pipes, drained 4" below inlet / outlet. Put the heater and sand filter pump into the shed. Then put a Harbor Freight black mesh tarp over it. (12 ft. x 19 ft. 6 in. Mesh All Purpose/Weather Resistant Tarp) It did get dirt/dust sediments through the mesh but spring opening was not that bad of build up. Kept the leaves of fall out of it. We got enough snow/rain last year to get back up to the holes. Might drain it a bit more this year. Also put empty bleach bottles floating on the top. Last winter in the Denver metro area was light. No hard freeze for weeks at a time.