Pools in Southeast Texas should be designed and built so they are easy to maintain through the off-season without the winterizing process. Pipes and the equipment do not blow out, and there is little to no worry about frost damage in normal weather conditions.
Then it happened. An abnormal winter freeze rolled into Texas, and drove temperatures to shocking lows overnight, and also knocked out power. This second part was the part that no one had seriously thought about. People went to sleep on Sunday night, and the following day there was no electricity leading to various pipes to freezing.
When the temperature drops, the freeze protection on the pumps kicks in, so those pumps are running. Unfortunately, with power failure, the filter is full of water with no water circulation, there is pressure, and it starts freezing, causing cracks on the whole filtering system.
Some larger areas around Dallas, Austin, and Houston were without electricity for days, forcing many to replace much of their pool equipment.
The Farmer’s Almanac is warning of more bad weather this winter. The long-running publication predicted Texans will be “chilled to the bone” and experience “near-normal precipitation” in its 2021-2022 Winter Outlook. The Almanac indicates that late January may bring frigid and flaky weather like in February. Hopefully, it won’t be as robust, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare in the event of another winter freeze with potential power outages.”
How to Winterize an In-Ground Swimming Pool
With this experience, it is now time to go through the steps on how to winterize a pool:
Gather any chemicals and supplies used from previous years, such as cover weights, skimmer plugs, antifreeze, and flotation devices for a cover. Also, use an air compressor to blow out swimming pool pipes for a complete winterization process.
Prepare the Filter
It doesn’t matter if it is sand or DE filter; backwash it.
Drain the main tank by pulling the filter plug. If it is a “push-pull” or slide-style backwash valve, pull the backwash valve and leave it open. It is not good to remove the top and expose the spider gasket to ice build-up, especially when it has a multiport backwash valve or a dial. On the other hand, check to see that there is no water inside.
Using an Air Compressor
Use a shop-vac to blow out the lines if possible and plug them.
Prepare the Pump
If the pump has unions, completely disconnect it from the plumbing and turn it upside-side-down to get any remaining water out; otherwise, disconnect the drain plugs on your pump and put them in the pump basket.
Get the Heater Ready
Not all heaters have multiple drain plugs, so if the pump has unions, disconnect it from the plumbing and turn it upside-side-down to get any remaining water out. Use an air blower or a shop-vac to eliminate any leftover water out. Do not remove the heat exchanger or the burner.
Check Any Additional Equipment
Please do the same procedure to any other equipment, and we mean booster pumps, auxiliary pumps, valves with drain plugs, and in-line chlorinator. Ensure to loosen and unscrew quick disconnect fittings on the pump and filter systems.
Jets and Skimmers Require Removal Too
Remove skimmer baskets, skimmer weirs, and any jet fittings.
Blow The Return Lines
Use an air compressor to blow out all the return jet pipes. Ensure keeping the air blowing until the air is visible, coming back into the pool’s jets. It can help remove over 95% of the water out of the return lines.
Blow The Suction Lines
If an air compressor can help blow out any water, it is also suitable for suction lines. Use a Gizmo-style screw to plug the skimmer when bubbles are visible. Be careful to get the Gizmo-style screws appropriately installed. To ensure a tight seal, use PTFE tape on the threads.
Black rubber-type plugs are also a good choice, and so are empty plastic bottles of soda. They work wonders, especially when something allows water expansion and helps to avoid cracking your skimmers.
If you have a slide, an auto-vac system, or a waterfall, you will have to drain and blow out that suction and return pipes as well.
Water Levels and Chemistry Preparation
Test the pool water to ensure the chemicals are in balance. The perfect balance is when pH is between 7.2 – 7.6 and Alkalinity between 80-120 ppm.
On the other hand, you need to drain the water a few inches below the ceramic tiles and no more than that.
Place the Pool Cover
Inspect the cover before installing. Inspect for any rips or tears. You can use a swimming pool patch tape or heavy-duty duct tape to patch lightweight covers and a vinyl pool patch for vinyl covers.
Now, if you use water tubes, then place them through the loops on the cover. Fill lines with water until they are at 85% percent capacity. You do not want the water to expand and let the pipes split. Lay them out end to end no more than 1 foot apart. It is a must to replace any leaking pipes.
At Platinum Pools, we are here to help you with any questions regarding the care of your swimming pool. We also have an excellent service department ready to help your pool stay in top-notch shape. Call us today or visit our website for an appointment.