How to Protect Your Pool & Sprinkler Systems During Freezing Weather
When temperatures drop and it gets very cold, homeowners must take proactive measures to keep irrigation pipes and swimming pools from freezing. (For home water pipe protection, Click to view this post.)
Pool Protection During a Freeze
In milder climates, running a pool pump when temperatures are due to drop below freezing is the best precaution to take. Running the pump keeps pool water moving, and this slows freezing.
“Most folks leave the pump running anyway,” says Abacus Plumbing’s own Chris Castro. “If it stops out of nowhere,” he says, “use the option to override it. Do that during a freeze so nothing actually bursts.”
Pool owners with variable speed pumps should not run these pumps at the lowest speed. Make sure the water flow is right and adjust the pump speed to maintain that flow.
Protect pool plumbing lines with some form of insulation. Blankets, towels, and pool noodles all work.
Keep pool lines open so that water keeps flowing through them. Turned-off valves will stop water flow and can result in water freezing inside the lines.
Some homeowners choose to install a winter solar cover over their pools. Solar covers capture the sun’s energy and transfer it to pool water, keeping the water temperature high enough to prevent freezing.
Protect your pool by keeping the water level at the middle of the skimmer. Add water with a garden hose if necessary.
Keep pool water balanced:
- 2-7.6 pH balance
- 80-120 ppm total alkalinity
- 200-400 ppm calcium hardness
- 0-4.0 ppm chlorine
Winterizing Tasks for Swimming Pools
Pool owners who live in colder climates must take more robust steps to prevent their pools from freezing.
- Purchase a winterizing kit. This kit contains products that help to maintain proper chemical balances of the pool water during winter.
- Blow water out of pipes if they are to be plugged and insulated.
- Install rubber plugs in return lines to prevent freezing water damage.
- Install faceplate covers to skimmers to keep them from retaining water that can freeze.
- Understand the benefits of shock chemicals and anti-freeze. Use these products in water to maintain it and avoid freeze damage.
- Consider putting water tubes and air pillows under pool covers to mitigate ice expansion.
Sprinkler System Protection During a Freeze
The key irrigation component that needs protection during a freeze is the backflow valve.
Backflow valves with water inside will get damaged during a freeze. How? The water inside the valve turns into ice which expands and ruptures valve components. A ruptured valve may develop into a serious leak that brings irrigation system operations to a stop. Repairing the ruptured valve can cost hundreds of dollars.
Avoid backflow valve ruptures and repairs by draining the valve before a freeze. It is a simple task that only takes a few minutes.
“You just pull two valves,” says Castro. “There is a little port on the side [that] you can get to. Sometimes, they have little plugs on them. With a screwdriver, you can . . . drain the valve itself.”
Questions? Call Abacus Plumbing professionals. We provide comprehensive installation, maintenance and repair services for all residential and commercial plumbing applications.