Equipment lower than pool - how to get through winter in future

gweston

New member
Oct 25, 2020
3
Dallas/Texas
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Brief intro before I get to my question - skip to the end if you like.

I inherited a 20 year old pool 5 months ago - its my first so I'm learning a lot from TFP - thank you! Like so many in Texas, I got hit by longer and longer power outages during the freezing weather - longest 22 hours. I was running the pool equipment and managing fine, even with a 6 hour outage I was able to keep the skimmers clear and get the water moving. But it eventually became apparent we were going to be in an extended outage so I isolated equipment, drained what I could, noodles in skimmers, etc. Nothing drained from the heater so I knew that would be an issue but things did get worse from there.

As the days progressed with everything turned off and a 4 inch layer of ice forming on the pool, I started to get cracked pipes and valves on the return side after the heater. Everything was covered but of course it was cold-soaked. In hindsight, heating tape would probably have helped here because I've had power available for the last few days. Now the ice is thawing I have a continual slow leak from the return side (cracked) Jandy and check valves and the pool level is slowly dropping (autofill turned off).

Unfortunately, the pool pad is 1 to 2 feet below pool grade so my guess is that gravity is just doing its job and the leak will stop once the pool level reaches the return jets. I have calls out to pool companies to help assess and repair, which may take a while but, in the meantime, I'm trying think what changes I might make for the future while they are repairing and replacing equipment and pipes.

So, to my question/ concern:

Since I have this issue with the pad being low, I don’t think I can rely on keeping the pool running over winter and then draining the equipment in the event of a power outage because water will always be in the return pipes and valves. Even if I buy a sump pump I might not have power to drain the pool to a suitable level in a emergency. Likewise, if I buy heater tape, that might keep this area from freezing I have same issue if I lose power.

I think I’m talking myself into doing a full winterizing in future but I would value any insight or suggestions.

In case it helps, I've attached a photo of the piping and valves prior to the damage when I was trying to work out what everything did. Basically, most of the stuff on the left side in compromised and the water is leaking from the ones marked as 'unknown'.

Thank you for any advice you may have.
 

Attachments

  • Pool Pipes and Valves.pdf
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PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
5,411
Damascus, MD
Pool Size
29000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
Here's the problem winterizing. If your water stays in the 60s or higher, you are going to get algae growth. What is your typical water temp over winter? If the water is staying "warm", then you could winterize "just in case" but would need to keep an eye on the pool and possibly put in some bleach from time to time to keep the algae at bay. Either that or winterize and be resigned that when you open each year you will have a mess to clean up. Catch 22.
 

gweston

New member
Oct 25, 2020
3
Dallas/Texas
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Hi Poolgate, thank you for your reply. The water was around 50 deg on average the last month or so. But of course we do have periods with air temp in 70's or even 80's during winter.

So I guess the other part of my question is, what could I do on the return side to help protect it in future if all plugs are removed (in similar emergency) since whole left side pretty much needs rebuilding anyway? Things that I thought of: raising the 3 returns (and insulating them) so the valves are 12 inches higher than they are now (ideally above pool water-line) or battery backup on some sort of heat source to keep them warm during a power outage.
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
36,145
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
What about burying shut off valves below ground to isolate the pool from the equipment pad? Use sprinkler box or other item to retain access to the valves. Even insulate the box.
 

gweston

New member
Oct 25, 2020
3
Dallas/Texas
Pool Size
13500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
Thanks for response MK. Digging might be a challenge with the way it is now but enclosing in a removable insulated box is definitely on the list. I say removable so I could extend to cover heater I think (obviously with gas turned off).
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
23,724
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Things that I thought of: raising the 3 returns (and insulating them) so the valves are 12 inches higher than they are now (ideally above pool water-line)

Raising the valves will protect the valves but not the pipe. The pipe will have water in it up to the pool water level and the water filled pipe above ground will likely freeze and may burst.

Have on hand winterizing plugs for your returns so you can plug them and prevent water flowing down to your equipment. Having a strong blower on hand can let you low out the lines and airlock them. Basically you need to do many of the things we Northerners do to winterize our pipes,