Few days of below freezing temp. What to do?

ajw22

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Jul 21, 2013
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Northern NJ
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Should I bust the layer of ice I have sitting on top or minor point?

There is nothing to be gained by that.

And for lurkers with a vinyl pool DO NOT disturb the water with ice on it as the ice edges can be sharp and tear the liner.
 

HeyEng

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Nov 7, 2018
686
Oklahoma City, OK
When you mentioned firing up your heater, we made the decision to give it a go. It’s an old unit and we were weighing risks. Unfortunately, we waited too long. The water temp was 32 and the heater went into Low Temp Lockout. I have no clue if that can be overridden and we didn’t think we had time to figure it out. That’s when we noticed the one pump struggling and threw in the towel. I’ve been second-guessing my decision but now we’re hearing rumors of rolling blackouts so maybe not. There is a silver lining...I’ve been sleeping in 1-2 hour intervals so I could run out and check that everything is running and that we’re not burning down the side of the house with our heat sources in the tent outside (we’ve heated and covered all week) and I didn’t have to do any of that last night. Hoping you’ll have better luck than me!
I didn't think about a lockout, but I had started mine before it got below 32. The automation wouldn't turn it on, either...I had to over ride it at the heater control panel.

And yes, the rolling blackouts could put in kink in my plan. The sun has finally helped warm my pad shelter to above freezing, but the heater is still exposed and I am pretty certain that any water in the exchanger could freeze very quickly considering it's still only 5 degrees outside. This whole ordeal has been a pain...but if this is my biggest problem, then I really can't complain.
 
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HeyEng

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Nov 7, 2018
686
Oklahoma City, OK
Quick question: do I need to turn the gas supply to heater off? And why?
Most of the manuals will tell you to do so. Mine wants it off at two places, but I will only turn off the main shutoff. I am not interested in busting off the second valve that has been cold soaked for days.
 
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PaigeMark

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Jun 13, 2019
159
Tulsa, OK
I didn't think about a lockout, but I had started mine before it got below 32. The automation wouldn't turn it on, either...I had to over ride it at the heater control panel.

And yes, the rolling blackouts could put in kink in my plan. The sun has finally helped warm my pad shelter to above freezing, but the heater is still exposed and I am pretty certain that any water in the exchanger could freeze very quickly considering it's still only 5 degrees outside. This whole ordeal has been a pain...but if this is my biggest problem, then I really can't complain.
I need to learn how to over ride that heater one of these days. It really has been a pain but perspective is good. I keep seeing news reports of people stranded in this cold and it’s heartbreaking. A pool can be repaired. It’s still really slippery out there. My husband took a hard fall on the patio a few nights ago. Wishing we’d closed before that happened.
 
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HeyEng

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Nov 7, 2018
686
Oklahoma City, OK
...looking back I don’t know how we could have gotten hundreds of members to learn how to do closings and pipe blowouts on the fly with a few days warning. For every person posting there are many more simply reading/lurking. People would have done things incomplete or wrong and created totally new problems. I don’t know how we could have known, or what we could have done better, but my heart is with all y’all.

Thanks for the thoughts...I do appreciate it!

On top of trying to deal with a non-winterized pool, there are a lot more preparations to do as well. Lots of folks out here have live stock, have large propane tanks for heating and wells that aren't very well insulated (at least for days of single digit/below zero weather) on top of trying to make sure water pipes don't freeze in the house...oh and dealing with an aerobic septic system that is now full because the sprinkler heads are frozen. And now, rolling outages because they can't keep up with demand over a great swath of the central US.
 
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Rodex

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Jun 2, 2019
103
Mansfield, TX
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Thanks everyone for this thread, it is very helpful, along with the several other threads we read to try to decide what to do.

With blackouts rolling all around us for several hours at a time, we went ahead and drained the lines, pumps, and filter. We have a single speed primary pump and another one for a waterfall.

We drained some of the water below the skimmer, then closed the waterfall and ran air into the primary to drain the line. We pulled the drain plugs on both pumps and tried to pull the filter plug but it was stuck so bad that the plastic stripped before it would budge (not due to ice, it has been like that). So, we opened the backfill valve and tried to let as much drain as possible. Should we try to get the water out of the bottom of the filter housing?

The skimmer kept filling back up, so we sucked out what we could with a shop vac and then shoved a towel and cut up pool noodles inside the housing.

We covered everything back up with an insulated grill cover, blankets, and one of those blue tarps with the bubbles that help warm up the pool.

Any other watchouts or things we should try?
 

mas985

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May 3, 2007
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Water will expand less than 10% when freezing so technically, you only need >10% air to prevent any damage. Also, even with 100% water in the plumbing, freezing doesn't always lead to damage. In fact, it rarely does because most of a pools plumbing is open to the pool so when the ice expands, the pressure is relieved through the plumbing back into the pool. The most likely places where freeze damage might occur is where the water is blocked from expanding such as closed valves. So it isn't necessary to have the plumbing completely evacuated of water. Having just a little air in the plumbing can prevent most damage.
 

Sotex

Gold Supporter
May 11, 2020
100
San Antonio, TX
Good info in this thread for sure! Here in San Antonio we are also getting record lows. Single digits last night with rolling blackouts. We covered our equipment, didn't drain, etc. Basically did stuff we shouldn't have. The pump came back on and immediately went into "Thermal mode". Everything seems to be working though.

I think I'll go remove the covering and let Thermal mode do its job. May read back through the thread with thoughts of 1) turning off the gas to the heater 2) draining equipment and 3) flipping breaker. Might be overkill this far south though.
 

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Strawberryshortcake

Bronze Supporter
Apr 22, 2019
279
Hot Springs, Ar
Even though we are holding power, I have now gotten multiple e-mails from the power company basically begging everyone to conserve energy before they have to force blackouts (I guess Texas is already doing this?), they want us to turn off lights, unplug whatever we can, run the heat no higher then 68, and just use as little as possible.

So I feel like I made the right choice draining the equipment and covering it up before this all started. I was really surprised at how fast my pool froze after that, which means my water was already super cold. I think I would be major panicking right now! And I can't imagine running the pump at 2800-3000RPM would have been good for the electrical demand.
So at this point, I can't really worry too much. I am worried, but like... theres nothing I can do so it's not so bad. Lol.

This was when it first started....
IMG_6001.jpg

IMG_6005.jpg
And now.
For some reason almost all the snow that was ontop of the iced pool melted? I'm a little confused
 
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LostBard

Member
Oct 19, 2018
10
Frisco, TX
Guess it's my turn...
Been breaking up ice all day and trying to get some of the snow out from around the pool, as the concrete helped heat up the water some.
Might have been for naught, and now I'm exhausted.

I caught one of the skimmers weirs getting stuck after the sun went down, so I pulled both of them for the night (probably for the rest of the winter). I will be running in freeze mode throughout the night, and if we lose power, then I'll do as everybody else is doing, kill the power, drain my equipment, etc.

I have a small fence around the equipment already (required by the HOA) and it's up against the east wall of my house, so reasonably well sheltered already. Went ahead and put a tarp suspended over the equipment (the valves can still actuate and the pump can breathe, but it's no longer open to the sky). It's giving me ~3 degrees above ambient. Also found a larger tarp and put that over the shallow end of the pool where the Spa is, hoping to keep some energy in the pool (should I not have done this? I only had enough tarp for that end of the pool, about 1/3 of the length).

Summer better be worth it! :)
 

Hachu

Bronze Supporter
Aug 11, 2020
82
Dallas, TX
Curious if you all are going out at night every hour to break up ice? I'm so tired and don't know if I can do that after all day of doing it. I've thrown milk jugs and pool floaties to help.
 

Adamphotoman

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Aug 18, 2018
290
Dieppe New Brunswick
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Draining pumps and filters. Opening plugs. Don't forget the lines though.... I wouldn't want to see the need for busting up concrete to find burst pipes. Up here that is my every year worry.
 

Hachu

Bronze Supporter
Aug 11, 2020
82
Dallas, TX
Draining pumps and filters. Opening plugs. Don't forget the lines though.... I wouldn't want to see the need for busting up concrete to find burst pipes. Up here that is my every year worry.

The lines? I don't know what to do with them. 😟 heater, pump, and filter has been drained and the air release valve has been opened.
 

Slpoolowner

Well-known member
Jul 5, 2018
49
Sugar Land/Texas
We lost power at 1am last night and obviously the pumps shut off. I turned off the circuit breaker for all the pool equipment and removed two drain plugs from each of my pentair pumps. Questions
1. I have a century pump, but can’t find the drain plug, any ideas?
2. There are only two plugs for each pentair pump, correct? It’s the intelliflo model that most have
3. Anything else I can do at this point?
 

tclayton10

Active member
Jun 17, 2019
27
Cypress, TX
So I guess I'll be a guinea pig for what happens when non-winterized pool equipment is subject to 20 degree or lower temps for almost 24 hours. When we lost power at 5 am Monday morning, I didn't think it would be out for 22 hours, so this dummy didn't think to go out and drain the pumps and filter. When the power came back on at 3 am today, I thought o Crud, I need to make sure the pumps aren't frozen!!! Too late. And the system had been trying to turn them on for the 5 minutes or so while I got dressed warmly enough to go out (10 degrees in Cypress, TX). Sure enough both pump baskets are solid blocks of ice, and part of the lid lock rings had split in half as if someone had sliced through it (complete circle broken off). So I've got the breakers off, and am going to wait until we get warmer temps later today and then try to pour warm water over the baskets to see if I can get the ice melted enough to pull any big chunks out. Then I'll try to fire up the pumps and pray for circulation.

Open for any other tips you all might have for recovering from bad owner preparation. :)
 
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mknauss

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May 3, 2014
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Laughlin, NV
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1. I have a century pump, but can’t find the drain plug, any ideas?
2. There are only two plugs for each pentair pump, correct? It’s the intelliflo model that most have
3. Anything else I can do at this point?
Typically the pump will have a plug in the basket area. Otherwise, I hope you took the pump basket lid off and most water will drain.
There are only two plugs on the Intelliflo
Did you remove the drain plug from the filter?
 

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