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Thread: Freeze Protection Debate

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Freeze Protection Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    The freeze attacks mostly the above ground plumbing, so if you have little above ground plumbing, you have little risk?
    Under certain conditions there is little risk. It depends on the weather. Water freezing sufficiently to break pipes can really only occur at certain temperatures and wind speeds. Some pipes are more vulnerable than others but it is important to understand the physics of freezing. Water does not freeze immediately at air temps below 32F. It takes time. How much is dependent on the lowest temperature and the wind speed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    I have a customer about 140 mi south of S.F. and just has a filter pump, filter, and cleaner booster. He had a total plumbing loss the other night (18 degrees). What i was telling any customer asking, that could not run the pump, was to cover the equipment with either a bed sheet, or blanket, and put a drop light (incandescent bulbs only) under the cover.
    So what happens if the power goes out in the middle of the night? I would still recommend draining the equipment. But I would also be interested in exactly what damage occurred in the SF case. What does total plumbing loss actually mean? Do you have any pictures? What size was their plumbing? Also, I would like to look up the weather conditions so do you have a date and location? It is very important to fully understand the situation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    Since every plumbing configuration is different, i wouldn't trust just draining out filter and pump. Only because once you tell a customer to do that, he could hold you liable for damage, and don't think he won't... or can't!
    I wouldn't trust anything that relies on power either. You are liable either way.
    Mark
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    [quote=mas985]
    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    The freeze attacks mostly the above ground plumbing, so if you have little above ground plumbing, you have little risk?
    Under certain conditions there is little risk.

    Sounds like your "hoping it wont freeze" or "it probably wont freeze". Are you willing to take that risk?


    Quote Originally Posted by "Pool Clown":1dbakzdd
    I have a customer about 140 mi south of S.F. and just has a filter pump, filter, and cleaner booster. He had a total plumbing loss the other night (18 degrees). What i was telling any customer asking, that could not run the pump, was to cover the equipment with either a bed sheet, or blanket, and put a drop light (incandescent bulbs only) under the cover.
    So what happens if the power goes out in the middle of the night? I'm open to suggestion... I would still recommend draining the equipment.

    I didn't clarify, i meant in addition to draining the equipment.


    But I would also be interested in exactly what damage occurred in the SF case. What does total plumbing loss actually mean?

    Like said, We will need to replumb the entire system (above ground)

    Do you have any pictures?

    Currently waiting for the customer to e-mail them.

    What size was their plumbing? Also, I would like to look up the weather conditions so do you have a date and location? It is very important to fully understand the situation.

    Relevance? What's done is done. Knowing pipe size, location, temp, etc. wont fix it at this point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    Since every plumbing configuration is different, i wouldn't trust just draining out filter and pump. Only because once you tell a customer to do that, he could hold you liable for damage, and don't think he won't... or can't!
    I wouldn't trust anything that relies on power either. You are liable either way.[/quote:1dbakzdd]

    I'm not looking for an argument, I know that does not fly here. I just simply wrote what happened in my case in hopes that it will help someone else. I stand by my post(s) I think in this case if there is a chance that it will freeze, treat it as though it will freeze.

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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    The relevance is that it is a data point to help us understand when you really need to worry.

    Small pipes freeze faster. High winds cause faster freezing. How low did the temp get and for how long. This is all real-world data that can help us all to understand.

    We are not looking to argue. We are looking to learn from this RARE real world example. Too bad you do not seem willing to help us further our understanding ... you know ... since we are a TEACHING forum
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    Sounds like your "hoping it wont freeze" or "it probably wont freeze". Are you willing to take that risk?
    Actually, I have taken the risk for the last 8 years. I live in the bay area as you can see and I haven't ever used freeze protection or even drain my pad equipment. We get down to the low 20s in the winter and small amounts of exposed water does freeze but the water in the pipes does not freeze solid. But this is very predictable. At a minimum temperature of 20F with no wind and 2" pipe, it takes about 15 hours for the water to freeze solid. This is much longer than what we experience in terms of time below 32F. Even at 10 MPH, it takes 11 hours which is still longer than what we experience. So in reality, I am not taking much of a risk. I once did an experiment with 1' of 2" pipe in the freezer and it took over 8 hours to freeze solid at 0F. Again all of this is very predictable.

    As Jason points out, the point of the questions is to learn about the conditions that were experienced during the freeze. Freeze time is dependent on pipe size, temperature and wind so I am interested if this situation fits the models.
    Mark
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    I agree. But how often are you going to get this data before it occurs so you can prepare? Are you going to change pipe size and alter the hydraulics in hopes that it wont freeze sooner? And how often is the weatherman wrong?

    And my last question....

    What is wrong with over compensating in a situation like this? I don't think your customers will be upset with you for it.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    Too bad you do not seem willing to help us further our understanding ... you know ... since we are a TEACHING forum
    What?? What am i not offering? I gave location and temp. At this time, thats all i know, till i get down there to repair.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    Too bad you do not seem willing to help us further our understanding ... you know ... since we are a TEACHING forum
    What?? What am i not offering? I gave location and temp. At this time, thats all i know, till i get down there to repair.
    Ah, you are right, sorry about that. Hope you follow up when you get more details.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    I agree. But how often are you going to get this data before it occurs so you can prepare? Are you going to change pipe size and alter the hydraulics in hopes that it wont freeze sooner? And how often is the weatherman wrong?
    I am not talking about changing the plumbing but only in assessing risk. So if you know what the risk is for given situation, you can make a correct decision. For example, I know what my critical temperature is and should the temp ever get below that, I will make alternate plans which will probably drain the equipment. Also, I build in plenty of margin in for bad weather forecasts but that was one of the reasons I was asking about the freeze damage situation. That would be a great data point. But need the actual city so I can look up the actual weather conditions (need wind speed too). Also, I need pipe size. That is very import to determine freeze times.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    What is wrong with over compensating in a situation like this? I don't think your customers will be upset with you for it.
    Nothing is wrong with that and in your situation, I would probably do the same thing. Although wouldn't you rather save your customers the trouble of doing anything if they really didn't need it?

    I am more interested in giving people other options if they are interested in it. We found that many on the forum that were relying on freeze protection found that either it was programmed incorrectly or power was lost or the controller just failed so this is a pretty good reason not to rely on freeze protection. Also, I would say in CA, running a pump all night for several days can get quite expensive so that is just another reason not to use freeze protection especially if you don't really need it.
    Mark
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    FWIW, The old blanket and drop light, along with draining the equipment trick IS the best advice i can offer here in this TEACHING forum. I believe it would be terribly irresponsible for me as a pool professional to advise a customer not to worry because it hasn't happened at my house, unless he lived next door.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    So when would you recommend that someone do that? 32F, 31F, 30F.......... Where do you draw the line? If you have a week of this type of weather, don't your customers get a little annoyed at having to do that every night or do you just have them shut down for a week?

    And I am not recommending that someone do nothing simply because it works at my house. As I said before, freeze times are fairly predictable if you know the weather conditions and plumbing setup.
    Mark
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    When i have a customer who has already had a freeze that had broken the pipes, i tell them to cover the equipment, light, and drain till i can get there to assess and repair.
    When i have a customer who calls with freeze concerns who does not have freeze protection, i have them set their time clocks to run in the early morning hours (or appropriate freeze times) instead of the normal daytime setting so the equipment isn't using excessive energy. I also tell them to cover and light till the freezing weather has subsided.

    No one is annoyed with me, in fact, they thank me for the useful info.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    I agree. But how often are you going to get this data before it occurs so you can prepare? Are you going to change pipe size and alter the hydraulics in hopes that it wont freeze sooner? And how often is the weatherman wrong?
    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    I am not talking about changing the plumbing but only in assessing risk. So if you know what the risk is for given situation, you can make a correct decision. For example, I know what my critical temperature is and should the temp ever get below that, I will make alternate plans which will probably drain the equipment. Also, I build in plenty of margin in for bad weather forecasts but that was one of the reasons I was asking about the freeze damage situation. That would be a great data point. But need the actual city so I can look up the actual weather conditions (need wind speed too). Also, I need pipe size. That is very import to determine freeze times.
    Why do you need this information? Were you going to figure out for my customer at what point they need to prepare for a freeze? That is very generous of you to offer, i think i got it, but thank you anyway.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    What is wrong with over compensating in a situation like this? I don't think your customers will be upset with you for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Nothing is wrong with that and in your situation, I would probably do the same thing. Although wouldn't you rather save your customers the trouble of doing anything if they really didn't need it? It would be trouble for my customers if didn't get their freeze point right. That's why i believe the blanket is more cost effective in the long run.

    I am more interested in giving people other options if they are interested in it. We found that many on the forum that were relying on freeze protection found that either it was programmed incorrectly or power was lost or the controller just failed so this is a pretty good reason not to rely on freeze protection.
    I don't think we were talking about automated freeze protection were we? I was talking about the blanket and drop light. But options are good.

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Also, I would say in CA, running a pump all night for several days can get quite expensive so that is just another reason not to use freeze protection especially if you don't really need it.
    Automated freeze protection only runs as needed, not all night (unless needed). Typically early morning hours.
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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Most freeze protection systems are set to turn on a 35 degrees or higher so they tend to run far longer than what is actually required. If they would allow you to set it below freezing, that would really shorten the run time required and protect the plumbing just as effectively. But I also understand why they do this because they don't want the liability either but it results in run times far longer than required. Most nights here now are 8 hours below 35F even though the min doesn't get below 22F.

    Also, I was just looking for the closest city/town, date this occurred and the size of the pipe that broke so I can see for myself if this was a predictable situation. Yes it is over and done with and I am not asking to get involved in anyway. This is purely for scientific curiosity. I have no underlying motive or agenda. Also, was any of the equipment damaged, pumps, filters, valves or was it just pipe/fittings?
    Mark
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    Below freezing temps in northern CA

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    Re: Below freezing temps in northern CA

    Mark I can picture a number of scenarios where 35 degrees makes sense for freeze protection, some of these are corner cases, but that does not mean they are no less valid.

    For example picture a near worst case scenario, freeze protection circuit mounted in a control box with southern exposure towards the late afternoon sun while temperatures drop on a clear evening after a cold front passes through. The control box itself may dissipate some heat from the timers, so lets assume that raises the internal temperature of the box by 1 degree, also it is mounted to a substantial mounting point, say a concrete wall, that retains heat from the sun, this slows the cooling of the box by hours as the evening progresses. Cold sub 32 degree wind is blowing at 30+ mph from the north east, and you are trying to protect a solar pool heater mounted on a roof over an unheated garage. Add in high altitude desert setting with low atmospheric moisture and the evening sky being a good black body absorber combined with the solar panels being a good black body radiator... and I can see where 35 degrees might not be conservative enough.

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    Re: Freeze Protection Debate

    I didn't mean to imply that 35 degrees would never be a good set point, only that the controller manufactures should allow you to set any temperature you want as a set point instead of limiting it to 35 and above.

    But most of the points you brought up are due to poor installation practices that could have easily been avoided.

    Temperature sensors should be placed near the equipment and out of the sun to accurately measure the air temp around the equipment.

    Solar panels should always be self draining in any climate that has the potential to freeze.
    Mark
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