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

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
982
NY
Newdude's greenhouse idea is, I believe, sound.

My wife will tell you i have a million ideas. She'll also glady tell you how many of them don't work out. But hey, maybe if this one is going in the right direction, all the people smarter than me can run with it and make it work.
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
721
OV, CA
I like the green house idea...
I'm in California, not the midwest, but we still don't swim year round. I don't keep the pool heated in the off season. I found its not worth the cost/effort for the limited use. Even the spa gets heated up infrequently. My pool drops into the mid 50's in the winter and we just heat it up for special events, parties and such. We will get in a few days of swimming while it is at temp and then the novelty wears off.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,254
Morris Cnty NJ
even if the cost of gas isnt an issue as well as the heater destroying itself from being run in the cold weather, the size of the heater will keep you from doing this. you will lost the heat faster than you can put it back in with 100,00 btus. you would need 400k btus to raise water temp and even that may not work in below freezing temps. you would probably have to put the heater in garage or basement and pipe the flu outside to even make this possible. a greenhouse or a four seasons room built over the pool is the only real way, its not possible in my mind otherwise especially in Ohio
 

sktn77a

Gold Supporter
May 16, 2010
1,366
Chapel Hill, NC
Your pool, your choice. Do get a variable speed pump, though, to minimize year-round running costs. A big concern would be power outages for more than a few hours, in the dead of winter. This could allow the equipment and plumbing to freeze and get destroyed, nothing to do with being old or new.
 

magicman

Member
Apr 18, 2018
14
Lakewood, OH
I have a tentative plan. I was inspired by this thread, where a member from Canada managed to run his pool through Jan and eventually year round. His pool is far larger than ours, but located in a similar climate.

In our case, our pool is much, much smaller. The dig sheet says it's approx. 7,000 gallons, but I believe it's closer to 6,000. It's a kidney shaped in-ground fiberglass pool that runs 3 1/2 - 5 feet deep. You can liken it to a very large hot tub. Currently, when we run the heater and pump at 2000 RPM, we gain 2-3 degree per hour without a cover.

Our equipment pad is outside, near our house. I plan to construct a temporary enclosure around the pad, to keep snow off of the equipment while still maintaining proper ventilation for the heater. I'm still thinking through the best way to construct this, so any thoughts are welcome!

I'm imaging a greenhouse type enclosure constructed of plastic/wood and staked to the ground. Perhaps with a solid plastic top over the pump and filter and side/top ventilation over the heater. My hope is that the enclosure around the equipment will be heated by the operation of the pump/heater a bit, which will help with any snow that falls.

It seems the consensus is that the water temp should be maintained just above 70F, to prevent corroding the heater. So, my plan is to try and maintain that temperature throughout the week and bump it up to 90-95 whenever we plan to use it.

I'll also reprogram the pump for "winter hours", so that it runs at high speed for just enough time to allow the heater to kick on and maintain that 70F temp, then drop to a much lower RPM to just keep the water moving. In the thread referenced, above, it appears that not circulating the water will help maintain heat. However, I fear on cold nights that pipes and equipment might freeze if it's not circulating and the heater isn't on. The slow circulation is insurance against freezing lines while minimizing heat loss. Perhaps I will experiment with running the pump/heater in short bursts throughout the day/night, so that the water never stops flowing for more than an hour or two, while still maintaining heat. Last thing I want to do is destroy my new pool/equipment in our first year of operation!

We had a 2500 gallon koi pond with a large waterfall that we kept running all year. The pond had large koi and the previous owners had always operated it this way. The water wasn't heated. The pump ran continuously and while there was a lot of surface ice, the pump and plumbing never froze. The line was only a few inches below the surface of the ground where the majority of our pool lines are much deeper. I'm hoping the combination of the heated water and circulation means we won't freeze.

Of course, the pool will be covered with at least a solar cover. I'm looking into insulated covers as another option as well. They make them for commercial pools (think ski resorts).

Our pool has a SWG, I'm debating whether I should remove it in the fall and use liquid chlorine or keep it operating since the water temp will always be above 50F.

Final thought on all of this - right now I plan to keep the pool operating through the holidays, close it and re-open in the spring. Typically, the brutal cold doesn't hit until Jan/Feb. Depending on cost and how it all works out (do we actually use it), we will either abort and close early or keep it running all winter. I plan to estimate the cost per hour to run the heater in the next few weeks which will hopefully give me a good idea of how this will impact our gas bill. Since the pump is VS and uses only a few hundred watts at lower speeds, I'm not overly concerned about electricity. Plus, we're used to running a larger koi pond pump 24/7/365, anyway, which was a lot more expensive.

Then the question is, when we "close" do we just stop heating the water and keep it circulating so we aren't looking at an ugly winter cover? Or, do we drain, blow the lines and cover for the 3-4 month "off season"? I guess that's a topic for another discussion.
 
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mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
721
OV, CA
Sounds like a cool project.. please post pics of your greenhouse/pool with snow outside. Maybe make it partially retractable so when visitors can get snowed on while they are in your 90 degree pool :p
 
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Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
982
NY
Also consider other alternatives besides an actual greenhouse. There are all kinds of structures out there that would be similar. There are temporary sheds and car port like things too. Basically steel frame with some sort of tarp like cover. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Soupy

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 23, 2011
114
Maryland
Have you considered a standalone hot tub? 400 gallons of water in an insulated tub should that’s designed to run year-round seems is a lot easier than trying to operate an in-ground pool in the winter.
 

jimmythegreek

Bronze Supporter
TFP Guide
Aug 10, 2017
1,254
Morris Cnty NJ
You must have a generator. If you lost power long enough and a line froze it would be a nightmare to repair under a new pool ddeck. If you haven't done so already you can actually insulate your lines below ground at pad and bring them up wrapped in pipe insulation made for this. Even a poorly made insulated cover will do wonders for holding heat. Can be sections to make easier to remove like a hot tub cover only alot thinner

Have you thought about a hot tub like mentioned above? Can keep it going all year round easily
 

magicman

Member
Apr 18, 2018
14
Lakewood, OH
Quick update on this and I appreciate all of the comments / feedback / suggestions.

We purchased an insulated cover from a place in Canada. It’s heavy, foam and with overnight temps in the low 40s only lost 1.5 degrees F. We’ve been running the heater 4 hours a day and so far it has no problem keeping up. Water temp is 85.

Our current plan is to keep the pool operating until Jan 1st, the. Purchase a winter cover and shut it down until spring. The coldest temps come in Jan/Feb so it will be safest, unless we find things are going well and we push it further out.

Kids love the novelty of swimming in the cold, but having it closed for a few months will give them more excitement when it comes time to open it again for the summer. Without the worry for destroying our new equipment.

So, maybe doing it this way will be the best of both worlds?

I’ll keep everyone posted! I’m sure thing will continue to evolve as I continue my quest!

ps- getting an actual hot tub would be great, but the wife would never go for it! Our yard just doesn’t have the space.