Leaving pool open year round

TN94z

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May 15, 2012
344
Henderson, TN
I am in western TN and plan on leaving our pool open through the winter if possible. I have never done this and wanted to know what I need to do, what to keep an eye on, etc... Or if it's even possible. Our safety cover tore years ago and we had the concrete replaced and I'd rather not drill for the anchors either. Is it as easy as keeping the water flowing so it doesn't freeze?
 

JohnT

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One thing many people in Texas found this year is that you need an emergency power source to deal with power failures. Cold weather is often accompanied by power outages.

Depending on your area, leaves can be a mess to deal with in the fall at least and all winter in some areas.

Another issue in extreme cold is chunks of ice blocking the skimmer.
 

Bperry

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I am in western TN and plan on leaving our pool open through the winter if possible. I have never done this and wanted to know what I need to do, what to keep an eye on, etc... Or if it's even possible. Our safety cover tore years ago and we had the concrete replaced and I'd rather not drill for the anchors either. Is it as easy as keeping the water flowing so it doesn't freeze?
If it helps any, our safety cover is also torn but I close our pool with a tarp and water bags on top of the safety cover. No need to risk it just because of the cover. I close it in late November and open in early March.

The risk depends on how cold it actually gets and you won’t know until it gets that cold. My water never froze last winter so I probably would have been fine.
 
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TN94z

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May 15, 2012
344
Henderson, TN
The leaves were the first thing that popped into my mind. We don't really have "extreme" cold in western, TN. The power outages I have not thought about.
 

TN94z

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May 15, 2012
344
Henderson, TN
If it helps any, out safety cover is also torn but I close our pool with a tarp and water bags. No need to risk it just because of the cover. I close it in late November and open in early March.

The risk depends on how cold it actually gets and you won’t know until it gets that cold. My water never froze last winter so I probably would have been fine.



The cover we used after our safety cover tore was the tarp type with water bags. It came a freak heck storm last year and it busted every water bag we had without us knowing. This allowed the cover to fall into the pool and it became a MESS to clean out. This is actually what led us to think about leaving it open. The cover also tore the very first year so it was a waste of money.
 

Bperry

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The cover we used after our safety cover tore was the tarp type with water bags. It came a freak heck storm last year and it busted every water bag we had without us knowing. This allowed the cover to fall into the pool and it became a MESS to clean out. This is actually what led us to think about leaving it open. The cover also tore the very first year so it was a waste of money.
If the straps on the safety cover are still good, you can install it and place a cheap -mesh- tarp cover on it and it’ll keep it out of the water and doesn’t let water collect on top. Instead of water bags, we use aqua blocks, which won’t tear or pop, but do have their own issues. I have to have them go around the entire pool (~25 of them) to keep the wind from sailing the tarp.

Keeping the tarp up out of the water let’s you blow off the leaves easier so they don’t collect.
 

TN94z

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May 15, 2012
344
Henderson, TN
If the straps on the safety cover are still good, you can install it and place a cheap -mesh- tarp cover on it and it’ll keep it out of the water and doesn’t let water collect on top. Instead of water bags, we use aqua blocks, which won’t tear or pop, but do have their own issues. I have to have them go around the entire pool (~25 of them) to keep the wind from sailing the tarp.

Keeping the tarp up out of the water let’s you blow off the leaves easier so they don’t collect.

The safety has been thrown away now but some of the tears were actually around the straps. But the anchors for that cover are gone as we had a new pad poured. I may end up putting the tarp style back on and just getting bags again. I'd rather just leave it uncovered if possible.
 

TexEdmond

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Here in OKC we left our pool open because I had no idea how to do it myself and no pool companies would help us when I called around.

Not losing power to the pump is critical. We got lucky, because my current generator won't do 220v. VS pump and freeze mode took care of the rest. We made sure not to leave any of the 3 way valves fully closed. I covered the machinery with a moving blanket and a tarp, the heat from the pump helped out a bunch. A 100w bulb would also help, same with heated pipe tape.

Go to the RV store and get a gallon jug of pink RV antifreeze. We poured half into another jug (but a well rinsed chlorine or MA jug will do) and put the half jugs upside down in the skimmer basket. The antifreeze will keep the skimmers from freezing, and the flexy bottle will keep any ice that does form from expanding to crack the skimmer insides.

We had multiple days of ~0 degree low temps and the only thing I noticed was there are a half dozen water line tiles that got cracked right where the shallow end steps meet the sun shelf. I suspect that the ice sheet on top of the pool expanded there and it took the stress, so I've got to replace those soon. The ice was several inches thick. No plumbing damage that we've noticed this season.

The pool seemed to like mostly closing off the floor drain and having almost all the water coming thru the skimmers. This kept the ice more clear on the top of the pool, but it still froze pretty thick in the middle.
 

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Mdragger88

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Here many people leave their pool “open”- my sister in law does.
The important thing is to have a plan for long freezes like we experienced this winter & intermittent power failures during those times.
If you are used to closing your pool your self then u know what to do if the winter vortex is heading your way. Be prepared to do it quickly. You could also winterize the plumbing but just not cover - maybe wait until November (or after all the leaves fall) before shutting everything down so the debris in the pool will be minimal- this option depends on your trees of course. One year I didn’t winterize until Christmas.
You just need to keep an eye on the forecast so u don’t get caught off guard.
 

wireform

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Get an oversized mesh kind of tarp like a large screen and use water bags in place. The precip will get through but the debris will not for the most part. All you'll need to do is maintain the water level as you can backwash or have a submersible pump where you pull back the cover a bit and pump off whatever you need. If you go the regular tarp method you create sort of a pond ontop of the pool and will need to deal with that mess at the end of the winter.
 

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Bperry

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Get an oversized mesh kind of tarp like a large screen and use water bags in place. The precip will get through but the debris will not for the most part. All you'll need to do is maintain the water level as you can backwash or have a submersible pump where you pull back the cover a bit and pump off whatever you need. If you go the regular tarp method you create sort of a pond ontop of the pool and will need to deal with that mess at the end of the winter.
Yea, definitely mesh cover and siphon out the excess water that builds up.
I also tried 4 large inner-tubes (for snow sledding) that helped to prop up the tarp. They work, but you have to tie them off well so they don’t move around under the cover.
 

Homebrewale

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Apr 21, 2020
569
Apex, NC
One thing many people in Texas found this year is that you need an emergency power source to deal with power failures. Cold weather is often accompanied by power outages.

Depending on your area, leaves can be a mess to deal with in the fall at least and all winter in some areas.

Another issue in extreme cold is chunks of ice blocking the skimmer.

Doesn't that really depend on the elevation of the pool equipment to the pool surface? All my equipment is 18" higher than the top of the water in the pool. The frost line is less than 10" here. If for some reason we would lose power, I would drain all equipment, open all lines, and put Gizmos and swim noodle pieces in the skimmers. The equipment wouldn't have any water that could freeze. The water in the lines to and from the equipment would be 18" below ground which should prevent it from freezing.
 

TN94z

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May 15, 2012
344
Henderson, TN
What about just continuing to the run the pump as usual? If the water is moving, it won't freeze in my area, I wouldn't think. I could be wrong.
 

Mdragger88

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What about just continuing to the run the pump as usual? If the water is moving, it won't freeze in my area, I wouldn't think. I could be wrong.
This is true- so long as u have power….
U want to have a plan in place that u can employ quickly incase of power failure during extended low temps (more than a couple hours)
 
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HeyEng

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We do not winterize and don't plan on it. I was able to successfully mitigate the risk after last years crazy freeze but it was a pain. Being prepared is important. Here is recent thread that discusses this pretty well and also includes a video of the TFP experts talking about protecting your pool in these instances.

 

HeyEng

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This is true- so long as u have power….
U want to have a plan in place that u can employ quickly incase of power failure during extended low temps (more than a couple hours)
This is NOT necessary true. I am in Oklahoma and while we didn't have anything freeze (but I had two heat lamps and a chicken coop heater in an insulated shelter that STILL was well below freezing for several days) our neighbor DID have freezing of their pump. No power outages, pump (variable speed) running continuously but it STILL FROZE. Thankfully, I was able to help them get the plugs opened which seemed to have saved them. There are others in TX that reported the same issue; I think the recurring issue was that the equipment was exposed. So yes, while science tells us that moving water won't freeze...it's more accurate to say that it will help reduce the RISK of it freezing.
 

Bperry

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This is NOT necessary true. I am in Oklahoma and while we didn't have anything freeze (but I had two heat lamps and a chicken coop heater in an insulated shelter that STILL was well below freezing for several days) our neighbor DID have freezing of their pump. No power outages, pump (variable speed) running continuously but it STILL FROZE. Thankfully, I was able to help them get the plugs opened which seemed to have saved them. There are others in TX that reported the same issue; I think the recurring issue was that the equipment was exposed. So yes, while science tells us that moving water won't freeze...it's more accurate to say that it will help reduce the RISK of it freezing.
Check out the icicles that form on a river or stream if you don’t believe moving water can freeze. It just needs to get cold enough.
 

TexEdmond

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I think the recurring issue was that the equipment was exposed.

What kicked our butts was something like 9 days after we got the keys to the house last October was that huge ice storm that demolished everyone's trees and power lines. We had no power for several days. I get a chuckle out of the posts that say, "Practice draining your equipment when it's 100 degrees out and you can have a frosty drink in flipflops." I heartily agree and wouldn't want anyone to have to learn it our way.

If you're talking about the February freeze, yeah. It was pretty dang cold and I could see how -5 degrees with those crystal clear nights things could sieze up quickly with so much heat radiating off an uncovered equipment pad. The biggest safety issue I had to fix on that freeze was hooking up my longest garden hose to the front of the water heater in the garage... then tromping out into the backyard to dig out / defrost the septic sprinkler because the "full tank" alarm started going off and we were at risk of backing sewage up into the house...

Which reminds me... my next action is buy a generator and transfer switch that'll let me get 220v into my panel so we can have running water when the power goes out. Also easier to install while it's warm.
 

HeyEng

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What kicked our butts was something like 9 days after we got the keys to the house last October was that huge ice storm that demolished everyone's trees and power lines. We had no power for several days. I get a chuckle out of the posts that say, "Practice draining your equipment when it's 100 degrees out and you can have a frosty drink in flipflops." I heartily agree and wouldn't want anyone to have to learn it our way.

If you're talking about the February freeze, yeah. It was pretty dang cold and I could see how -5 degrees with those crystal clear nights things could sieze up quickly with so much heat radiating off an uncovered equipment pad. The biggest safety issue I had to fix on that freeze was hooking up my longest garden hose to the front of the water heater in the garage... then tromping out into the backyard to dig out / defrost the septic sprinkler because the "full tank" alarm started going off and we were at risk of backing sewage up into the house...

Which reminds me... my next action is buy a generator and transfer switch that'll let me get 220v into my panel so we can have running water when the power goes out. Also easier to install while it's warm.
Yep. It was an exciting time...one I do NOT want to repeat. We spent about $15K dealing with a slew of damaged trees after the storm. I guess I am thankful that we were without power (10 days) but it's wasn't that cold but spending all that money was depressing and the yard still looks terrible.

Then came the freeze to add insult to injury. It was definitely a learning experience but the key fact was that I LEARNED FROM IT. Now, if there is a forecast for whack-o weather like that, then I will be draining. No more worrying for days on end.

Ugh, and the septic. That was exciting trying to figure out WHERE the spray nozzles were. I had previously seen them 100x while mowing the grass but once covered in ice/snow, they were impossible to find.

We also got a generator. It's a portable, but thankfully the house is wired for it (although the pool equipment isn't on the generator circuit) and it will run the well, heat the water and keep the freezer/fridge going. :)
 

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