Running pool equipment year round in winter / keeping small in ground pool open all year in Ohio

magicman

Member
Apr 18, 2018
10
Lakewood, OH
I know it’s probably a bit early to be thinking about this, but...

We’re in the process of installing a 7000 gallon fiberglass in ground pool in northern Ohio. My hope was to keep it heated throughout the winter. We’ll have a 105,000 btu Raypack gas heater and Pentair SuperFlo VS 1.5hp pump.

My question is, how insane is it to keep the pool open year-round, heated above freezing and circulating 24/7 at low speed (occasionally bringing the temp high enough to swim).

Are their any concerns if we get a lot of snow? I’m not sure how that would affect the running equipment if we get 6-10 inches coming down in it. Would we want to build some kind of temporary cover for the winter?

I found a few places that sell insulating pool covers, which are used for insulating the pool in colder climates.

Based on a website that estimates gas costs for pool heaters based on location and time of year, it seems to be feasible financially.

Keep in mind, temps in the winter often get down in the teens in Feb. We also tend to get good amounts of snow occasionally.

We had a koi pond with living fish and a pump/waterfall we would run all year. It wasn’t heated, but the water continually circulated so the plumbing never froze. Though the pond surface did ice over.

Don’t want to ruin our new investment just because we want to use the pool as an occasional hot tub in the winter. Maybe it’s just better off to close it?

Not concerned about power outages.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
7,835
Northern NJ
You worried about pump or heater failures during a freezing spell? Every year we get a bunch of panic posts in the winter whose equipment failed during a hard freeze.

Best if you have a spare pump and know how to swap it in if you try and keep your pool open.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
I thought my heater was going to be the greatest thing ever. It was a money hog before the solar cover and got much better after but the thing we found was that if it was cool out, nobody really felt like swimming. When i divided the total cost by the 6 extra swims we got, is was a $150 a pop. For some people they felt like swimming much more so it was worth the cost. Others simply didnt care about the cost. For my family we decided it just wasnt worth it. Swimming in Jan/Feb seems like an awesome idea on paper. When the time comes and you ask who wants to join you, you might get told that you are the only one who wants to go outside in shorts at 10 degrees.
 
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Hootz

Bronze Supporter
Feb 5, 2018
100
Rogers, AR
When we had a hot tub I hated getting in and especially out in the cold weather....I know many folks love it but it is not my preference.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
The hot tub and heated pool were awesome ideas on paper. Neither one panned out. When it was all still new, of course we all used both. It quickly became just myself and not worth the electric costs for my own occasional enjoyment. The hot tub and heater forced us to upgrade our electric panel to 200A at a cost of $2500. (Arguably it needed to be done either way but that was our excuse to do it) then $6k for the stand alone hot tub, and another $6k for the heater, plumbing, electric and concrete pad for the heater. So $14.5k not including 3 years of sky high electric bills. And now the equiptment just sits there in the yard. I could have done so many other upgrades with that money, but live and learn i guess. Again, just my experience. I know tons of people who LOVE their hot tub and heated pool.
 

Donldson

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
3,822
NW Ohio
Note that you cannot use a heater to keep pool water just above freezing. Burning of natural gas and propane releases moisture and when the temperature of the heat exchanger is too low it causes this moisture to collect which then absorbs soot and turns it to acid. Since the heat exchanger is made of copper, this is a very very bad thing. So the heater isn't supposed to be used when the water temperature is below 60 and you would have to keep yours at least that warm all winter even when you aren't using it.
 

Pemolis

Well-known member
Oct 14, 2015
134
Dallas
Your natural gas bill is going to be enormous. I have a 30k pool, and to heat it daily costs roughly 20 dollars. Assuming you do the same, your natural gas bill would come to maybe 5 bucks daily, or 150 dollars a month during the winter running it 24/7.

Assuming no breakdowns....

And assuming that heater can withstand being on 24/7, during storms and deep freezes....
 

DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
447
Columbus, Ohio
I live in central Ohio and I think you are forgetting the weather we have had recently. I remember weeks below freezing last year with night time lows at zero or below. Never mind having my driveway plowed twice due to winter storms.
 

magicman

Member
Apr 18, 2018
10
Lakewood, OH
Hmm. This is all very discouraging. I’m not so worried about equipment failure being it’s all new. $150/mo isn’t a huge problem. I do a lot outside in the winter (probably not typical for most) and with kids I anticipate we’ll go out once a week. My bigger concern is the safety of the equipment. If we’re running the heater to keep the water at 70 and crank it up to the 90s on the weekend, will the heater be ok operating in those outside temps? The pump has an air intake on the back and accumulating snow might be a problem. Thought I might build a temporary shelter to keep snow off. We ran a large koi pond pump 24/7 year round so the we’re already budgeted for the extra expense. Keep in mind we’re taking 7000 gallons (I suspect it’s a little less). It’s like a large hot tub.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
$150 a month would be in the summer, if you are lucky and its already incredibly warm. I couldnt even imagine what it would cost for Dec, Jan and Feb. I am roughly at the same temperature line as you in NY. Everybodys equiptment and pool is different but with the solar cover and heat pump mine was about $300 extra for sepember and $400 for october.
 

Deb04

LifeTime Supporter
Jul 12, 2008
375
Seacoast, NH
Do you have a gas line, or a propane tank? If a tank, you’d also be relying on the gas being delivered every time before you run out.
 

rajung

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2015
463
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Last year we hit -50 windchill, -35 actual and a total of 60 in of snow, that could happen anywhere that usually has harsh winters. For me that would be equipment suicide
🥶
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
Pool size definately matters. Yours will be 25% cheaper than mine even. But if its 10 degrees for January with wind chills of minus 15, you will still spend $1000 for the month. If you dont sieze and freeze all the equipment. I only want you to go for it after you exhaust all research. My opinion is just a small piece of that. If you really think you can, i love crazy people and im halfway there most days. Ill be the first one cheering you on.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
Also, for most of last winter it was colder than Alaska for your general region. (30 to 40 degrees colder if memory serves, they had a heat wave) We were spared the worst of it in lower NY but the weathermen kept using words like polar vortex and bomb cyclone to describe what you guys were seeing. Even pipes with moving water would freeze if this year is that cold again. And what about blizzards ? Most winters we get two 12 inchers and one or more 24+ inchers. Easily enough to collapse the insulating cover and clog the skimmers with ice dams leading back to pipe and equipment failure.
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
469
NY
Ok i've given plenty of disclaimer for what could go wrong. Lets put our collective internet hive mind together and get Magic man swimming in Ohio in the winter.

I had a couple of 3 AM thoughts that could help. I live in an agricultural area with farms that grow all year round. A simple greenhouse would almost solve the problems for the 3-4 really cold months. During the day the greenhouses are 80ish degrees and the farmers use heaters to keep it above 60 at night. Your pool would be the simialr equivalent of their heater. Get one big enough to also house the equiptment and you would only have to figure out a way to properly vent the heater. If you went at least 4 ft larger than the pool, the frost line would be away from the pool walls and the ground surrounding the pool would remain in the 55 degree range. Half of your battle uncovered would be the top foot or two of frozen earth constantly trying to cool the pool. You could easily make it well into late November and remove the greenhouse at the first thaw. Any late March dips in temperature would generaly be quick. Swimming covered in January wouldnt exactly be the outdoors--y you were looking for but you`d still be swimming in January in Ohio.

 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
7,835
Northern NJ
 

BowserB

Silver Supporter
Jul 29, 2018
102
Katy, Texas
Newdude's greenhouse idea is, I believe, sound. How many $500-1,000 gas bills would it take to exceed the cost of even a custom greenhouse, assuming a five-year loan? The other benefits of the greenhouse--keeping out leaves and other plant debris, flies, mosquitos (you may not have those like we do), and insects in general--would be another benefit. Heck, I don't need it, but I've almost talked myself into one!

I might also question the adequacy of a 105,000 btu heater. My Pentair Mastertemp 400 takes 20-25 minutes to raise the pool (15k gallons) temp 1 degree in 80 degree air. It takes about 45 minutes to heat the spa (400 gallons, I think) to 100 degrees from 60 degrees in 50 degree air. This is in ground that hasn't frozen in about 15,000 years. My friend down the street has a larger pool 20k gallons. His wife wants to swim all year, so he got a commercial pool heater. His February gas bill was $350--in southeast Texas with low temps below 40 only about a third of the time and below freezing only twice. Note. My friend's summer electric bill is pretty high, too, as he has a chiller to cool down the water in the summer.

Magicman, you're almost making me appreciate southeast Texas!
 
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