Homemade winter skimmer plug ideas

BT

Active member
Apr 26, 2013
31
Pennsylvania
Pool Size
24
about 10 years ago a branch fell on my pool and bent the wall just enough at the skimmer so that i had to use silicone caulk to seal around the skimmer. Since the my winter plug does not fit tight. Last year we got alot of rain/snow so more water than usual pushed out. Any design ideas for a home made skimmer plug? I was thinking of a foam plug like the stand plug just larger than the opening with a backing plate on the outside of the skimmer hole and run a nut and bolt throught the center to pull it tight? here is my crude design idea
 

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Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,554
Bangor Maine
Confused why you don’t just disconnect the skimmer line, plug it from the bottom, then stuff skimmer and mouth with cut up pool noodles to displace any water that could enter it.
 
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BT

Active member
Apr 26, 2013
31
Pennsylvania
Pool Size
24
Confused why you don’t just disconnect the skimmer line, plug it from the bottom, then stuff skimmer and mouth with cut up pool noodles to displace any water that could enter it.
Thanks I did'nt know you could do that i usually just drain below the skimmer .

So the noodles will compress to allow the water to expand without cracking the skimmer? Do you just put a couple noodles in or pack it tight?

Can just leave the water level above the skimmer and close the valve at the bottom of the skimmer or do you still want to drain below the skimmer the have the nooodle case the water rises with the snow pack and overflows into the skimmer?
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
11,173
NY
So the noodles will compress to allow the water to expand without cracking the skimmer? Do you just put a couple noodles in or pack it tight
I used a new plug last year on a 17 year old skimmer and it leaked. (Just drips but still took no time to fill the skimmer). In hindsight of reading of them leaking for years, and all the terrible reviews online, when I had my own it was clear as day. The skimmer was out of square from years of UV exposure. The plug was most certainly square and even with the thick rubber gasket it was too much to overcome. So I jam packed the skimmer with cut up noods. There was maybe a half gallon of available space left, and none of it could freeze and expand with any force.

You worry isn’t even that the skimmer will freeze solid. In grounds do it all the time and the ice expands upwards. But in an above ground pool you worry about the ice in the pool being firmly attached to the skimmer and taking the wall with it when it shifts as it starts to melt. Much harder to do with an inground wall.
Can just leave the water level above the skimmer and close the valve at the bottom of the skimmer or do you still want to drain below the skimmer the have the nooodle case the water rises with the snow pack and overflows into the skimmer
You can do either. If you drain below the skimmer, leave the pipe open so any non frozen water can drain if/when it gets that high. Consider a way for runoff if that happens because you don’t want the falling water to erode the outside of the wall area. Some pavers or a ramp of some kind to get the water away will both work fine.

If you leave the water high, plug the pipe and stuff the skimmer with noods.
 
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BT

Active member
Apr 26, 2013
31
Pennsylvania
Pool Size
24
I used a new plug last year on a 17 year old skimmer and it leaked. (Just drips but still took no time to fill the skimmer). In hindsight of reading of them leaking for years, and all the terrible reviews online, when I had my own it was clear as day. The skimmer was out of square from years of UV exposure. The plug was most certainly square and even with the thick rubber gasket it was too much to overcome. So I jam packed the skimmer with cut up noods. There was maybe a half gallon of available space left, and none of it could freeze and expand with any force.

You worry isn’t even that the skimmer will freeze solid. In grounds do it all the time and the ice expands upwards. But in an above ground pool you worry about the ice in the pool being firmly attached to the skimmer and taking the wall with it when it shifts as it starts to melt. Much harder to do with an inground wall.

You can do either. If you drain below the skimmer, leave the pipe open so any non frozen water can drain if/when it gets that high. Consider a way for runoff if that happens because you don’t want the falling water to erode the outside of the wall area. Some pavers or a ramp of some kind to get the water away will both work fine.

If you leave the water high, plug the pipe and stuff the skimmer with noods.
Great info!, i will probably drain just below the skimmer and stuff with pool noodles. I did not realize about the potential for the ice to lift the sidewall up.

thanks for the help
 
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ghall6292

Bronze Supporter
Jun 10, 2018
142
North Central PA
Newdude, I like the pool noodle hack. Are you cutting them into long enough pieces so that they sorta fill the skimmer body, then bend at the top to go into the skimmer mouth (then a little into the pool as well?) Otherwise, it seems like a bunch of little pieces of noodles would just scatter into the pool prior to freeze up, correct?

I think I may try this this year. I have tried the foam plugs and both times they came out...worthless IMHO.
 

ghall6292

Bronze Supporter
Jun 10, 2018
142
North Central PA
Forgot to mention, I also have a Gizmo, but it does nothing to prevent the mouth of the skimmer from freezing up and becoming a solid part of the pool iceberg, as you mentioned.
 
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wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
3,105
Spring Valley, NY
Just as a side note, you don't want to monkey around the pool once there's ice as it can cut the liner when being pushedaround. Anything you want to do is before the freezing temps hit.
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
11,173
NY
did not realize about the potential for the ice to lift the sidewall up
Basically the big chunk of ice in the pool gets a good hold of the skimmer and the flimsy wall is no match if the skating rink wants to shift. Like this one

Some have had luck repairing the wall but once it’s buckled it’s weaker forever. The pool noodles or a empty jug will help give the ice less to grab. (y)
Are you cutting them into long enough pieces so that they sorta fill the skimmer body, then bend at the top to go into the skimmer mouth
I was taking down the pool in the spring so I just jammed as many cut strips as I could both horizontal into the mouth and vertical in the round part. If I ever do it again I will duct tape the two parts like dynamite sticks.

And as Wireform just said above, once there is ice it goes untouched until it completely melts. It will do so with razor sharp edges and can slash the liner.
 
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