In Plano, TX we get our fair share of cold weather. Last year's pool freeze saw absolutely unprecedented pool equipment repairs due to a late winter storm that brought on an unexpected cold snap. It's a reality that some homeowners were unprepared for and hundreds of thousands of homeowners saw costly pool repairs as a result.
Advice for Avoiding Costly Pool Repairs
Obviously, the best advice is that even though we live in Texas, you may want to consider closing your pool well before the weatherman issues a frost warning for the Dallas, Forth Worth area. Typically we don't see long stretches of freezing temperatures. It normally takes several days for freezing temperatures to cause the type of damage we saw last year, but that's exactly what happened. As we saw last year, not closing your pool when temperatures dip below freezing can lead to costly pool equipment repairs if the power fails.
We aren't trying to scare you, but there's is plenty of potential damage that can happen to your swimming pool if the pumps are unable to properly function when temperatures plummet below freezing. It's our intention to inform you what can occur if your pool is not properly shut down by a qualified pool contractor.
One of the first things to do when closing a pool is to ensure that the water level is below the intake of your swimming pool's filter system. You'll also want to ensure that all water has been removed from your pool equipment and pipelines.
Why Pool Equipment Freezes
Basic science tells us that if there is any water left in the pipes of the pool plumbing, that water will freeze unless it's circulated. What happens is that water expands as it freezes by up to 10%. That volumetric growth is more than enough to crack your pipes and cause costly damage to your pumps, filters, heaters, skimmers, and other water features.
Having a pool contractor perform winterization service on your pool equipment and pipes is definitely less costly than performing pool repairs. If you don't plan on using your swimming pool during the off-season, the best advice is to close it until temperatures hit 70 degrees and then reopen it. Gambling that there won't be a winter storm that knocks out power is a big risk that can cost you thousands of dollars in pool repairs.
Last year's storm caused incredible damage to swimming pools because of this very issue. As long as electrical power is available, equipment stays running and that will usually keep pool equipment from freezing. Nothing will freeze as long as water is flowing through all the pipes and equipment. However, when that power source is interupted, the pipes still do not immediately freeze; it takes a couple days of below-freezing temperatures before the soil freezes.
When temperatures persist below 32°F, day and night, over extended periods of time, frost is able to penetrate the ground at a rate of around an inch per day. If it stays cold enough, the daytime warm-ups that thaw the soil don't happen. As a result, pipes can freeze in the ground if it stays cold enough, long enough. Luckily, that didn't happen to most folks in the state. What did occur far and wide throughout Texas, was damage to pool equipment that was above ground.
Pool Pump Repairs
When you turn on a pool pump that has been damaged by ice, you'll know you have problems immediately. PVC pipes and connectors, can be easily damaged during freezing weather. Usually, they are easily and cheap to replace. However, when there are a large amount of homeowners all vying for the same equipment at the same time, a perfect storm can occur where that equipment runs out of stock. A new pump housing can cost several hundred dollars more than PVC piping, depending on the type of pool pump you have.
Pro Tip to Avoid Costly Repairs
Remove the two plugs from the pool pump to winterize it (even if only for one night).
Pool Heater Repairs
Your pool heater can freeze just as quickly as the rest of your equipment. In a severe freeze, cast iron and polymer heater headers are frequently the first to snap. And it's a good thing they do, because it drains the heater and prevents major harm that can lead to even more costly pool heater repairs.
Remove the front and rear header drain plugs and disconnect the pressure switch within the heater to winterize a pool heater (even if only for one night). To eliminate all of the water, blowing air through the heater is suggested.
Pool Filter Repairs
Swimming pool filter tanks can bear an incredible amount of pressure, up to 50 psi in most circumstances. That's still is no match for the power of expanding ice. In some situations, the tank will split right down the middle, or the clamp ring on the cartridge or DE filters will split in half. We've seen damage to the top mounted multiport valve flange, where it will detach from the tank or simply start to spray everywhere.
How to Avoid Repairs:
Open the air bleeder and remove the filter drain cap or drain plug to winterize a pool filter (even if only for one night). If you have a multiport valve, turn the handle to a position halfway between up and down, and if you have a push-pull slide valve, set it halfway between up and down.
Let's face it, most pool leaks occur during inclement weather. When temperatures drop, that expansion weakens seals, gaskets, valves, and many other components in the swimming pool equipment. During our pool leak inspections, we've seen this happen time and again. Properly winterizing your pool equipment ahead of cold temperatures is the best advice to avoid leaks.
If you live in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and are intent on keeping your pool open, your best advice is having us install a freeze sensor, which is compatible with a digital time clock. These two devices allow us to program your pool pump to switch on automatically when the temperatures drop below a certain level.