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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Swimming Pool Preparation For Winter / Freezing Weather

In the temperate climate of coastal North / South Carolina and further south, many pools are not winterized as they are in other areas of the country. (see brown area above) However, every few years we get unusual cold and freezing weather that lasts for days with little to no thaw.  In these situations we must take measures to protect our pool and pool equipment.  Always refer to your owners manuals that may be located online.  REMEMBER:  IF YOU ARE IN A HIGH WATER TABLE AREA OR WILL EXPERIENCE LOTS OF RAIN OR MELTING SNOW DO NOT LOWER THE WATER LEVEL IN YOUR POOL BEFORE OR EVEN AFTER THE STORM.  Water needs time to travel through the ground to lower areas and the ground water static pressure remains high which could cause a pool to "float" (yes, all pools concrete, fiberglass and vinyl).

Although temperatures may be close to freezing if there is a wind chill / shade it will increase chance of freezing of pipes and equipment.

1.) Clean the skimmer baskets from any leaves or debris.  This may have to be done after the storm as well if temperatures remain low.  WATER FLOW IS VERY IMPORTANT.  

2.) Clean pump baskets.

3.) Clean filters.  Dirty filters cause lower flow.  It is not unusual to see a sand filter freeze while the pump is running due to the nature of the sand in the tank having no way for water to go around it and the water within the sand freezing.  You may want to put a lamp on the filter area and shelter it from wind if possible.  DO NOT COVER SYSTEM IN PLASTIC.  The condensation can increase the rate of freeze.

4.) Pumps need to run 24/7 during extreme cold and when there is no high temperatures expected for 24 hours.  If you are on a mechanical timer I suggest putting it in manual mode and running constantly.  There is no guarantee that the freezing temps will only be at night or when you have the "on" time set. 

Variable Speed Pumps without Automation Systems:  There is a freeze protection mode on the variable speed pumps that need to be "enabled" in the programming.  HOWEVER THIS DOES NOT TURN THE PUMP ON FOR COLD AIR OR WATER.  This is a safety feature for the circuit drive (computer part) of the pump only.  There are no water temperature sensors AND air sensors with a stand alone variable speed pump.

Run the pump at high speed (may not be 3750 rpm, should be what was programmed into pump for the size pool you have) . Easy way to tell is when the pump is turned on and the skimmer wier (flap/door) opens should be the minimum speed you need.  

Automation Systems: Automation systems have freeze control program and if in good working order/enabled and programmed correctly.  IF you are not sure you can put the automation control panel (where the breakers are) and hit the "SERVICE" mode and then turn the pump on.  DO NOT put in "TIME OUT" mode as it will go back to program after 2 hours or so.

5.) Heat Pumps need water to flow through so open any by pass if you have one.  Gas Heaters need water run through or winterized if you have a by pass system that can close water to it and then you MUST remove 4 plugs to drain.  Consult owners manual.


IF POWER GOES OUT:
 Remove 2 plugs on pump (one in basket area, one in impeller area)

Remove drain cap/plug from filter 

Remove any salt cells or loosen any equipment with unions.

Remove plugs from any other pool equipment such as sand strainers etc.

Place a bottle of  Rubbing alcohol (still in container or pour 1/2 way into a 16 oz plastic drink bottle with the lid on the bottle into the skimmer.  This will serve as an antifreeze device for the skimmer.  There is also a plastic device called a gizzmo available.  The alcohol in bottle is "old school" and how we did it before Gizzmo's were invented.  DO NOT PLACE ANTIFREEZE IN THE POOL PLUMBING OR EQUIPMENT.  

Be sure to turn breaker off to power in case freezing occurs if your power goes out. You don't want the pump to come on and pump the pool water level down.

IF YOUR POOL EQUIPMENT IS BELOW WATER LEVEL OF POOL  - you must plug all wall fittings and skimmer before draining pool equipment.

MYTH:

Salt water pools don't freeze.   Yes they do if cold enough.  Salt in the water lowers the freeze temp for water but when water gets cold enough the salt is forced out during the solidification process and allows water to freeze.  Example:  Icebergs.

I hope this helps....stay warm.