Swimming Pool Blog

How to Freeze Protect your Pool this Winter

How to Freeze Protect your Pool this Winter
by Rob Cox
, October 31, 2012

How to Freeze Protect your Pool this Winter

It's COLD!Forecasters are predicting a colder than usual winter this year, with more than usual amounts of snow and ice - even in mid-south and southern regions of the United States.

For pool owners who don't winterize, the possibility of freeze damage is very real, if certain precautions are not taken.

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, the water inside your pump, filter, heater and above ground pipes begins to freeze. When water freezes, it expands with enough force to cause significant damage, costing hundreds, or perhaps thousands of dollars in repairs.


To protect your pool equipment from freezing:

1. Open all valves to move water through all pipes.

2. Operate the pump(s), until temperatures rise above freezing.

Easy enough, just run the pump! Problem is, freezing temps can come at night while we are sleeping, or while we are away from the house. 

During the winter, most sunbelt pool owners that do not winterize may run their pumps only 4-6 hours per day. To avoid having your pump(s) off when freezing weather hits:

1. You could run the pumps 24/7, all winter long.

2. You could watch the Weather Channel 24/7, all winter long.

3. You could shut the pumps off and drain the above ground equipment.

4. You could use the Weather° or WeatherBug Apps, to alert you when temp drops.

5. You can install a time clock with a freeze protection sensor.

The last item, using a freeze protection sensor - is the best method. This will turn on your pump(s) automatically, at the outside air temperature that you specify. When it warms up again, the sensor will disengage and the pump will shut off.

These are usually integrated with a time clock. Intermatic is the most well known name in pool timeclocks, and they have two timeclocks that will provide freeze protection.

PE153 freeze temp


Intermatic PE153 Digital Timeclock

• Memory backup
• Freeze protection
• 2-speed pump capable
• Heater protection
• LCD readout

Program your digital timeclock, set your freeze set point and you are all set for the winter. The PE153 will turn on your pool pumps automatically, when used with the Intermatic Freeze Sensor 173PA28A.

If you already have an Intermatic Mechanical Timeclock, the PE153 will snap into your existing box, to make the job easier. Take a look at the PE153.


 Intermatic PF1103T Mechanical Timeclock

• Built-In Freeze Sensor
• Adjustable from 32° to 45°
• 120/240 Volts
• Manually adjustable timer

With the PF1103T (new version shown at left), you can dial in the temperature that you want the pump to come on, and rest easy. No additional temperature sensor is needed, it's built in (the small black dial on the left).

If you already have an Intermatic Mechanical Timeclock, the PF1103MT will snap into your existing box, to make the job easier.


Choose the best method for you to keep your pump operating during freezing temperatures. It only takes under an hour for extensive damage to occur to pipes, pumps, filters, heaters. Be prepared this winter!

My pool equipment is FROZEN, now what?!?

1. Shut off pump so that pump won't try to turn on with frozen water around the impeller. If it already has been trying to start, and now the motor won't start any longer, check the motor capacitor, as it may need replacing.

2. Place a canvas tarp or heavy blanket over the equipment, and carefully place a small electric space heater underneath. Use a low setting and allow for some cross ventilation. Space heaters can cause fires, if it comes in contact with the blanket. A handheld hair dryer can also be used. Be careful that water does not come into contact with the heater or hair dryer, to avoid electrocution.

3. When you can remove the pump lid, pour in some warm water, to help melt the ice.

4. Carefully inspect the system before turning on the pump - checking for broken pipes, valves, pump body and filter body. Make sure all water has thawed before starting pool pump.

5. If you do have damage that needs to be repaired, drain the equipment and pipes, to prevent more damage while the repair is being made.