Pool Closing in Chicago

Niedermind

New member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Chicago
04EAB26E-830A-4078-B5DE-9033AFB94F79.jpeg
I have a Viking fiberglass 22K gallon pool with gas heat, salt cell, auto cover with 1 skimmer, 2 massage jets, 3 returns, 2 LED lights and 2 deck jets. The minimum pool closing cost here in Chicago is $475, & I’d like to start doing it on my own.

After cleaning, balancing & shocking the pool, I decided to do a dry run. I removed the tiny plug beneath the pump motor basket, let it drain, and attached a fitting for my pancake compressor. I turned it on and let it run at 20 psi. The skimmer started bubbling so after a minute I closed it with a rubber stop. Then the massage jets bubbled, closed those, then the 3 returns, closed those. At this point, I expected to see the main drains bubble, but they did not. My pancake compressor cannot seem to maintain more than 25 psi at this point.

The deep end is 9 feet & the 2 main drains are at the base of the deep end wall, so there’s a lot of gravity to overcome. In the pic, the suction side is bottom right, & you can see one issue I have is there is no skimmer valve shut-off, only a main drain shut-off. So I can’t directly apply pressure to the mains. Also, the 3 returns use the more modern blue screw-in winter caps that have the pressure bladder in them. They are bubbling pretty fiercely with the compressor on, and I am wondering if that is also a problem since the pressure is getting released at those points.

I ordered a gizzmo because I have an auto cover which requires the water height to stay pretty much as is. I plan to add a gallon or two of anti freeze on my final run, & throw another liter bottle in the skimmer as well as a pool noodle. So I am not worried about the skimmer as much as the rest. Also, the deck jets never seemed to bubble or spray. Any tips or ideas?
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
10,465
Northern NJ
Read about Techniques to Air Lock the Main Drain in


Winterizing the main drain depends on the way the main drain is plumbed into your system. You do not, and cannot, clear the main drain of water. What you want to do is clear the water down the pipe until close to or at the frost level. That gives a free column for any water and ice to expand into.

Wrap some cut up pool noodles around the Gizzmo in the skimmer.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,776
Pleasanton, CA
Welcome to the forum!

The deep end is 9 feet & the 2 main drains are at the base of the deep end wall, so there’s a lot of gravity to overcome.
Not as much as you think. You should need only 4 PSI to lift 9' of water.

In the pic, the suction side is bottom right, & you can see one issue I have is there is no skimmer valve shut-off, only a main drain shut-off. So I can’t directly apply pressure to the mains.
Shouldn't matter if the skimmers are plugged.

Also, the 3 returns use the more modern blue screw-in winter caps that have the pressure bladder in them. They are bubbling pretty fiercely with the compressor on, and I am wondering if that is also a problem since the pressure is getting released at those points.
That is likely your problem. In order to clear the MD, all ports must be plugged without any air passing through them.
 

Niedermind

New member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Chicago
mas985, thank you so much for your prompt reply! Today it's 53 and the next 10 days look to all dip below freezing! So I have a couple extra old-school rubber stoppers. The gentleman at my pool store raved about the new blue ones—should I just stick with the rubber?
After posting I did some more deep diving on psi in pipes and you confirmed that for me. Surprising, but when you consider the overall cubic feet of water in the tiny pipes, it doesn't amount to much. I will try the rubber stoppers and see how that goes. Should I also be seeing water spray out of the deck jets?
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,776
Pleasanton, CA
I am not sure there is much benefit to blowing out the MD lines. I am assuming that you are lowering pool level below the return lines? If so, the MD line will drain to this same level which should give enough room for ice to expand in the pipe should it start to form. You can try and blow out the MD lines, by sealing all the ports, but keeping the pressure in those lines to prevent water from re-entering the line is very difficult and not usually very successful.

Also, keep in mind that even though temperatures go below freezing, it doesn't mean water will freeze right away. Underground, it can take weeks of constant freezing temperatures before the water will start to freeze. The water in the pool will freeze well before anything underground.
 

Niedermind

New member
Nov 5, 2019
4
Chicago
OK, so I took another stab. I switched off the pump, removed the plug, inserted the fitting and pumped air at 20 psi. Same result. Skimmer bubbled, I closed off the skimmer port with a doubled up hefty bag, then drained the skimmer with a wet vac. When it was dry, I inserted a gizzmo (teflon added), then poured in a gallon of anti-freeze into it. I capped gizmo and the massage jets bubbled. I waited a minute and did not see pink, but capped them off with rubber plugs. Then the returns bubbled. I tried putting rubber plugs in them but both sizes are far too large. I stuck with the modern caps and tightened them down to the o-rings. This worked fine and these fittings have been used to close the pool for the last four years so I figure they are doing their job. Next, I opened the deck jet valves and they bubbled. I sucked some water out of them with the wet vac, then poured half a gallon into each and capped off.

After all this, I opened the valve to the main drains and still no bubbles whatsoever, even after 10 minutes. At this point, I closed the main, shut off the compressor, and removed the fitting from the pump. I have yet to drain the cartridge filter and remove the salt cell. When I do, I was going to remove the cell and store indoors, and possibly blow my dry vac through the pipe to try to get any further water out from the heater. Because all the fittings are tight and there are no long runs, its the only place I could be able to blow out these devices. When I drained all the filters last time, I did not get good pressure through the drains so I decided to do that last.

Because of the auto cover, I did not drain the pool below the skimmer or the returns. The cover needs to be supported by floating on the water's surface. I really wish I could, it would make life a lot simpler.

Also, there is an open pipe coming from the ground next to the skimmer pipe. It spits small drips of water every now and then, and I can feel air pressure coming out sometimes. I assumed this was just a way to "burp" the system of trapped air somehow, but I don't know exactly what it is for.

Still wish the main drains bubbled for peace of mind. Thoughts?