Question about skimmer protection for freezing weather (yes, another SE Texas question)

snoopy42

Silver Supporter
May 12, 2014
10
Pearland, TX (Houston area)
First, I want to thank everyone who has responded to the slew of existing posts and questions about options for protecting equipment for this 5-day hard freeze in SE Texas. I learned a lot and made the decision to just drain my surface equipment and tarp it.

But I have three remaining questions regarding protecting the skimmer:
1) Should I also drain my pool to below the skimmer line?
2) How do I determine which skimmer protection method (pool noodle pieces, empty milk jug / 2L bottle, or milk jug / 2L bottle filled halfway with RV or pool antifreeze) to use? Are there success differences among them?
3) Does the answer to #1 impact the answer to #2? For example, if I drain the pool to below the skimmer level, then there is less water in the skimmer and it no longer thermally interacts with the pool water, which means that remaining skimmer water can freeze even faster. On the other hand, that remaining skimmer water has more room to expand. Does this impact which of the #2 options is better?

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,900
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
1) Yes

2) Any of the skimmer protection techniques is effective. Do at least one and some folks do more then one.

Antifreeze will only help if you plug your skimmer outlet to hold the antifreeze.
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,925
NY
3). I’ve been wrestling with this in my head all week and I cant get myself to agree with myself. If you leave the water high, The pipe in the bottom of the skimmer is insulated with a foot of water. It can freeze too, but probably not in the event you are currently having.

If you drain the pool to get the water out of the skimmer then the bottom pipe is the top layer of ice, now exposed to the air. So then you need to blow out the skimmer line or add many gallons of antifreeze.

given plenty of warning we would have spent the last 2 weeks teaching y’all how to blow out your pipes. On a whim and behind the 8 ball already, it’s a lot more complicated than that for most.
 

snoopy42

Silver Supporter
May 12, 2014
10
Pearland, TX (Houston area)
I think I'll leave the water level normal to provide that extra insulation for the skimmer pipe. No Gizmos to be found locally, though my understanding is that I'd only use that if I blew out the pipes, which I'm not going to do. So I'll toss in a plastic bottle instead. Was going to weigh it down by half-filling it with pool antifreeze, but there's also none of that to be found. I've seen posts saying that RV antifreeze is an acceptable substitute for this use, so making a run to the auto parts store now...
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,925
NY
The RV kind works great if it’s going to actually go in the pool upon startup, like when we use it in the return lines. But in this instance, Your antifreeze will only be in the pool while inside a bottle. So any of them will work. On the off chance the bottle splits or dumps, It’s only 1/4 gallon : 10k Or whatever yours is.

I would have said to go to the pool store for gizmos. They might not have them either because it’s so rare to close the pool by you. Or they may have had a few but are now long sold out.
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,925
NY
though my understanding is that I'd only use that if I blew out the pipes
It can be screwed into the skimmer either way. In this case, full of water and the gizmo will absorb any ice expanding.

we all drain to start the season, but any pools with mesh/permeable covers fill right back up and that gizmo is under water anyway in no time.
 
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snoopy42

Silver Supporter
May 12, 2014
10
Pearland, TX (Houston area)
No RV/marine antifreeze to be found either. Used 70% isopropyl alcohol instead, since that also has a pretty low freezing point. Weighed the bottle down with a rock because otherwise it was still floating and popping up the skimmer cover. So have 1/3-1/2 the bottle available to "accept" any of the water-ice expansion.
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,925
NY
Even if the bottle was to burst, you have 16k gallons to disperse the half gallon of antifreeze. It might use a little extra chlorine at startup for a day. We avoid it when we can but it wouldn’t be a big deal.

If we ever do this again, you can weigh the skimmer cover down with a stepping stone / cinderblock
 
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