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How Do Cold Climates Affect Inground Swimming Pools?

How Do Cold Climates Affect Inground Swimming Pools?

Cold weather is one of the things that comes with living in the Midwest and like it or not, we’re just getting the first taste of a cold winter that will be sure to stay for multiple months.

For those of you with inground pools, the cold weather will call for some winter maintenance to help battle the harsh winters. Concrete, fiberglass, and vinyl liner pools all react to cold weather differently and therefore, have different risks associated with them. So, it’s our goal in this article to inform you of the possible risks that cold climates bring to each type of pool.

This isn’t meant to tell you which pool is the best for cold climates. In fact, we won’t tell you that at all. We believe in supplying you, the consumer, with all of the information necessary to make the choice that you feel the most comfortable with.

Pools aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, and this article will show you just that. However, you must be just as educated about the negatives of inground pools as you are about the positives. This is the only way to prepare for the inground pool offseason and protect your pool against damages that could cost a pretty penny in repairs.

So, let’s get into it.

Cold Climate Effects on Concrete Pools

Concrete pools consist of steel rebar, sprayed concrete, and surface materials such as plaster or tile. These are the most expensive materials an inground pool can be constructed with and can take a pretty good beating, but there is still a chance that cold weather can take its toll on a concrete pool.


You see, we often see temperatures fluctuate in the Midwest during the winter. One day it may be below 30 degrees and the next it may rise into the upper-40s and maybe even the 50s. And then it could drop back down below freezing. This can spell out major damage to the structure of the pool due to freeze-and-thaw cycles. The pool water may begin to freeze on those 30-degree days, thaw on a 50-degree day, and freeze again when the temperature drops. As a result, the concrete and plaster can begin to crack as well.

Now, it’s totally common for concrete and plaster to crack over time regardless of the climate that your pool is subject to. However, just keep in mind that a cold climate like those we’re used to in those Midwest winters may put your concrete pool at a bit of a higher risk than say, a concrete pool in California.

Cold Climate Effects on Fiberglass Pools

One of the great things about fiberglass pools is that they consist of multiple layers ( see How is a Fiberglass Pool Made?) that are fairly flexible. Due to the flexibility of the pool shell, it can withstand the force of heavy objects, animals, and even people pressing against the shell itself. And not only that, but the shell’s flexibility greatly reduces the risk of cracking or breaking from freeing temperatures.

The durability of a fiberglass pool shell is second to none, so you should have a good peace-of-mind knowing that it is able to withstand harsh winters and come out the next pool season virtually unscathed.


What may crack is the concrete placed around the pool as well as the patio, since concrete of any kind tends to crack as it gets older. Plus, this concrete will be directly exposed to freezing temperatures as well as snow and rain which can freeze and eventually thaw like we discussed previously.

If this does occur, you can always get the concrete refinished to repair any cracks and get it looking as good as new. But as far as the actual fiberglass shell goes, you should have a pretty good peace-of-mind about it surviving the winter will little to no damage at all.

Cold Climate Effects on Vinyl Liner Pools

Vinyl liner pools are made of a vermiculite floor and steel walls, both of which are not prone to cracking. I mean, vermiculite is a pretty soft and forgiving material and steel is—well, it’s steel so we all know how durable that is.

So, the main concern for vinyl liner pools in the winter is the liner itself.

In the summer when the pool is in use, the liner is at risk of being torn all the time. Sharp objects can tear the liner or someone can brush up against it the wrong way, causing it to tear as well. So, you may think that the liner isn’t at risk of tearing during the offseason because it’s not being used, right? Wrong.


Vinyl is a pretty fragile material and can be damaged easily. So, when you factor in the possibility of freeze-and-thaw cycles as a result of fluctuating temperatures, vinyl has an increased chance of being damaged. The material can become brittle when it freezes and form cracks or tears which can lead to leaks. If leaks form, you may have to wait until the upcoming pool season to repair them, which can leave time for the leaks to worsen and increasing the number of repairs needed. Thus, the cost of repairs increases.

As you can see, cold climates mostly affect just the liner of the pool, but when those damages are pretty substantial, you can face some pretty hefty repairs.

Which Type of Pool Reacts the Best to Cold Climates?

Well, we can’t deny that there is a clear answer to the question of which pool reacts to cold climates the best and that is fiberglass pools.

The layers that make up a fiberglass pool shell work together to give it flexibility that is not present in the structure of concrete or vinyl liner pools. They are more susceptible to damage create by freezing temperatures which can call for a hefty toll on your wallet in the form of repairs.

However, there may be many more positives that you can take away from those pool types that outweigh the risk of damages in the winter. And that’s great!

Yes, we can tell you that fiberglass pools react the best to cold climates like we experience in the Midwest during the winter months. But what we can’t tell you is which pool can give you everything you want and need. That comes from you and you only.

Our goal is to provide you with as much information as possible and as always, we hope that this article has done just that.

If you have any further questions, e sure to visit our Learning Center or give us a call at (219)-322-2797!