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Can You Leave Steps in Above Ground Pool for Winter? What Could Happen

Closing your pool for the winter is never an easy process. For this reason, some people wonder if they can expedite the process by leaving the steps in their above ground pool throughout the winter season.

Leaving the steps in an above ground pool during the winter is generally not recommended. Doing so can damage the steps, encourage algae and bacteria growth, or lead to unauthorized pool access.

Below, we will discuss why it’s a good idea to remove your pool ladder or steps before closing your pool for the season. Keep reading to learn the best practices!

Can I Leave the Steps in My Pool in the Winter?

Closing a pool at the end of the summer is never something to look forward to. Because the closing process is already so much work, some people consider leaving their steps or ladder inside their above ground pool until it’s ready to open again.

However, leaving the steps in your pool for long periods when you aren’t using it can cause more problems than it solves. Leaving the steps or ladder in your above ground pool is generally not recommended for the following reasons:

  • Ice could damage the steps
  • It encourages unsupervised pool access
  • It can lead to algae and bacteria growth

When you’re ready to close your pool for the winter, remove and store the steps properly until you open your pool again in the spring.

Leaving the Steps in Your Pool Leads to Damage

Leaving the steps or ladder in your above ground pool during the winter can easily lead to damage, especially if you live in an area where temperatures could drop below freezing. This is the number one reason experts advise against doing so.

Most pool steps and ladders are made of plastic, and many are hollow inside to allow water to pass through and keep the steps firmly planted on the pool floor. When water freezes inside your pool steps, however, it expands. This could lead to cracks on the steps, legs, or railings.

In addition to this, water can freeze around the steps. If it builds up enough pressure, the ice this creates can actually crush your steps.

Depending on what kind of pool steps you have, they can be very expensive to replace. For this reason, it’s essential to remove plastic pool steps from your pool before closing it for the winter.

Here’s a link to some Pool Accessories from Amazon and the highly recommended Sand Filter Pump to upgrade any above ground pool setup.

It’s a little bit safer to leave the steps in your pool over the winter season if they’re made of metal. However, keeping metal submerged in still water for so long can lead to rust or corrosion, which could end up in your pool water.

Regardless of the material they’re made of, storing your pool steps in a dry area over winter will significantly extend their lifespan.

Leaving the Steps in Encourages Unsupervised Pool Access

If you live in a more temperate area, you might choose to leave your pool uncovered during the winter — even if you won’t be swimming in it. As long as you maintain your pool as you would during the swimming season, there is no problem with doing this. However, you should still remove your steps.

Leaving the steps inside your pool when you won’t be using it for long periods of time encourages unsupervised, and sometimes, unwanted, pool access.

Not only is this important for the safety of any young children in your home, but it’s also important for the safety of others who might try to use your pool while you’re away. To avoid accidents and unwanted visitors, it’s always best to remove your steps when you won’t be using your pool for a while.

Leaving the Steps in Can Lead to Algae and Bacteria Growth

When you don’t remove the steps or ladder before covering your pool for the winter, the cover won’t fit properly. This makes it easier for debris, wild animals, and other contaminants to get inside, which over time will lead to algae and bacteria growth.

In addition to this, water will build up inside your steps over the winter months, and without routine cleanings to prevent it, this water will eventually grow algae and foster bacteria.

To keep everything clean and to make opening your pool in the summer as easy as possible, you need to remove the steps before closing.

Where Do You Store Pool Ladder in the Winter?

Now that you know that it’s generally not a good idea to keep a pool ladder or steps in the water during the winter, you may be wondering where you should store your steps until you’re ready to use them again.

Ideally, you’ll store your pool ladder in your garage, shed, or basement until they’re ready to use again. Just be sure not to store them in the same area where you store your pool chemicals, especially if your ladder is made of metal. Exposure to chlorine gas can lead to rust.

If you don’t have any of these areas available, there are some other options. When you don’t have a closed space to store your pool ladder, the next best option is to store it on your pool deck with a tarp covering it. To prepare your pool ladder for winter storage, follow the steps below:

  • Lift your ladder or steps over the pool wall.
  • Lay the ladder on its side, then remove any drain caps to let water drain out.
  • Replace the plugs after all the water has drained out to prevent anything from getting inside while the ladder is out of the pool,
  • Clean your ladder with a multi-purpose pool surface cleaner.

After completing the steps above, you can store your pool ladder in the best location you have available.

Here’s a link to some Pool Accessories from Amazon and the highly recommended Sand Filter Pump to upgrade any above ground pool setup.

Final Thoughts

While leaving your pool ladder or steps inside your pool during the winter might seem like a good way to save time, it can have many undesirable after effects.

To keep your steps and your pool in the best condition possible, store the steps in a garage, basement, or under a clean tarp until it’s time to open the pool again.

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