With the cold months upon us, pool owners may be wondering how to prevent their pools from freezing. Yes, they can freeze solid. If temperatures reach below zero, swimming pools that are not circulating can freeze solid within a few days. If those low temperatures continue for several days, the ice sheet can increase in thickness by up to ¼” per day.
If there is simply a thin sheet of ice across the surface of your pool, no worries. Mild climate pools often freeze across the surface overnight. However, if the ice sheet becomes thicker than ¼” to ½”, it will put pressure on your pool tile and skimmers as the ice expands. Most pool tile is frost-free, but you should keep the water under the perimeter pool tile band to be safe. Ice can crack tile or loosen the grout, letting small pieces of tile come loose. Also, if you don’t winterize your pool, you should keep the pump running to prevent water from freezing within the plumbing.
If your pool has a vinyl liner, ice sheets can be damaging if your pool has a leak. If several inches of water leak beneath an ice sheet, the sheet can then fall and damage the pool liner. Do not pump out the water beneath an ice sheet; you should actually add water if needed.
Be sure to stay on top of pumping and cleaning your pool during the winter. If not, your pool cover can fill up with heavy ice sheets and develop holes from their sharp edges. Keep your pool covers clean and keep the surface water under one inch. Mesh safety covers may appear to be close to breaking under a heavy load of snow/ice, but the cover often freezes to the surface of the water and springs back to the original fit after thawing.
Pool pipes that are located above-ground can crack if the pump is not kept running when temperatures reach below 32°. If PVC pipes freeze, the ice will expand and can crack pipes, pumps, valves, filters, and heaters. Consider wrapping your PVC plumbing with a heating cable for pipes if you can not run the equipment for any reason.
Overall, the best way to keep thick ice sheets from forming is to run the filter pump non-stop when temperatures reach below freezing and make sure all pipes and valves having water moving through them. Take care of your pool!
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