Southern Pools Freeze Over

 Frozen Pools
by Mark Garcia, January 8, 2018

FREEZING TEMPERATURES AND FROZEN POOLS

frozen pools image

An arctic blast that swept through the sunbelt, deep into the heart of Texas and across the Carolinas has southern U.S. pool owners concerned about the sight of ice on the pool, the tiles, or worse when pipes and pumps freeze-up.

Service companies across Texas have been called upon for emergency plumbing repairs to aboveground pipes, pumps and valves that froze and cracked - when temperatures dipped below freezing and the pump was not circulating the water. See this article on Dallas NBC5 about Freezing Temps Leading to Swimming Pool Pipes Bursting. And over in Durham, NC, temps are so low that entire pools are freezing, a story told in this article on an ABC7 site. 

We've been getting a lot of questions from concerned inground and aboveground pool owners. Today's blog is an FAQ on the most common questions we have heard over the years regarding swimming pools and freezing temperatures.

 

Q: What Types of Pool Freeze Damage are There?

  • Pool Equipment Cracks - heaters, chlorinators, pumps, filters, in that order.
  • Pool Valve Cracks - Jandy valves or check valves.
  • Pool Pipe Cracks - PVC pipe and fittings.
  • Pool Light Conduit Cracks - running under the deck.
  • Pool Skimmer Cracks - inside body of the skimmer. Fix with Pool Putty.

Q: My Pool Pump/Filter is Frozen, What Should I do Now?

  • Shut off Power at the Circuit Breaker.
  • Remove Drain Plugs - from pump (2), filter (1), heater (2), Chlorinator (1), Etc.
  • Open filter Air Bleeder to assist in fast drain down.
  • Cover Entire System in Heavy Blankets and Tarps.
  • Safely place a small space heater, with adequate air flow and clear space.
  • Add a gallon of non-toxic RV or Pool Antifreeze to the skimmer(s).

Q: How Can I Prepare My Pool For Freezing Temperatures?

  • Keep the Pump(s) Running! 24/7 when temps threaten to dip below 32°.
  • Maintain a clean Filter and Pump Basket, to ensure proper flow rates.
  • Check that all valves are open, No fully closed valves in/out of the system.
  • Check Timeclock or Programs, Remove Off Trippers or Override Programs.
  • Power Outage? Quickly remove all drain plugs and open air bleeder on filter.

Q: My Power Shut Off and it's below Freezing?

  • Shut off Power at the Circuit Breaker.
  • Remove Drain Plugs - from pump (2), filter (1), heater (2), Chlorinator (1), Etc.
  • Open filter Air Bleeder to assist in faster drain down.
  • Cover Entire System in Heavy Blankets and Tarps.
  • Make a 'skimmer bottle' with Antifreeze or pebbles, or a Skimmer Gizmo to absorb ice expansion.
  • Pool Antifreeze can be added to underground pipes, if power remains off. Use 1 gal per 10 ft of pipe.

Q: My Pool has Freeze Protection, What Else Can I Do in Freezing Temps?

  • Monitor the system for failure, make sure that it is operating by checking it several times per day.
  • Be sure All Valves are Open (skimmers, drains, vacuum; returns, spa jets, fountains, features).
  • Keep children and pets safely indoors.

Q: My Pool Surface is Frozen solid; Pump is Running, What Else Can I Do?

  • Monitor the system for failure, make sure that it is operating by checking it several times per day.
  • Monitor the water level, if your pool has a leak, add water to support the ice sheet.
  • Be sure All Valves are Open (skimmers, drains, vacuum; returns, spa jets, fountains, features).
  • Keep children and pets safely indoors. Do not allow walking or playing with the ice sheet.
  • Do not attempt to break the ice sheet, or melt the ice sheet. Do not add hot water.
  • Small inspection holes can be cut with a saw, or drilled with an auger.
  • Ice sheets grow slowly, about 1/4" per day in most cases.
  • Ice sheets of over 2" exert considerable outward pressure.

Q: My Pool Fountain or Water Features are Solid Ice or Not Running?

  • Remove nozzles or spray head, using boiling hot water if needed to melt ice.
  • Open the fountain or feature valve, and pour 1 gallon Antifreeze into the pipe with hose and funnel.
  • Do not attempt to break off solid ice formations into the pool, unless easily accomplished.

Q: I have a Pool Cleaner, Can I Run it During Freezing Temps?

  • Robotic Cleaners can be operated during Freezing Temps if needed.
  • Suction cleaners and Pressure cleaners with booster pumps can run in Freezing temps, if needed.
  • Do not operate a cleaner if the pool surface is frozen over, or in icy conditions.
  • Drain the pool cleaner fully after use in cold temperatures.

Q: I have an Automatic Pool Cover, Can I Operate During Freezing Temps?

  • Automatic covers are usually best not operated during freezing temperatures, but can be if needed.
  • Keeping the pool covered may not prevent the pool from freezing over, but will slow the process.
  • Keep the cover pumped off, to avoid a large ice sheet forming on top of the auto cover or winter cover.

Q: I have a Variable Speed Pump, is Low-Speed OK for Freezing Temps?

  • In most cases low speed is sufficient to prevent water from freezing, but use medium just in case.
  • Be sure that all lines to and from the pool are open, and water is moving to all points possible.
  • Override any programming for less than 24 hours per day. Run VS Pumps 24/7.

Q: I have a Salt Pool, Can a Salt Pool Freeze?

  • Salt pools will freeze just like any pool, although it has a slightly lower freezing point.
  • Salt in a saltwater pool will not protect pool equipment or pipes from freeze damage.

Q: Is it OK to Backwash the Filter During Freezing Temps?

  • Yes, you can perform regular maintenance tasks, water won't freeze instantly.
  • If there is a large ice sheet on the pool however, add water to maintain ice sheet support.

Q: My Pool Is Leaking and Frozen Over?

  • Add water to maintain level, to support the heavy ice sheet.
  • Ice sheets can fall at angles that damage pool liners, lights, ladders, or wall fittings.
  • Ice sheets grow slowly, about 1/4" per day in most cases.
  • Ice sheet thickness of over 2" exerts considerable outward pressure.


Here's some other related Poolcenter blog posts about Frozen Pool and Frozen Pool Equipment:

Frozen Swimming Pool - What to do with a Frozen Pool

Your Pool, the Cold, and How to Protect it

Help! My filter - pump - heater is FROZEN

 

 

Thanks for Reading!

Mark Garcia