Today was a strange day for pool professionals in north Georgia. When I awoke and checked my weather app, as I do every morning, the temperature was only seven degrees. With the wind chill factored in, we were well below zero. My day unfolded into a trip to see a few pools that didn’t fare so well last night. The extent of their damage will not be known until Thursday, when the pipes and equipment finally thaw completely. One of them was running when the freeze guard apparently failed. This left all of the equipment completely full of water and by the time we arrived, all of it solid ice. We could not even remove the lid from the pump. Another pool had a different type of problem, one we refer to as “user error”. The intake valve from the pool had been left closed the last time the pump basket was emptied. This had apparently taken place almost a week ago and had gone unnoticed. With no way to draw water in, the pump was severely overheating and not moving any water at all. Ice had formed in other parts of the plumbing and once the valve was opened correctly, water could still not get through the pipes. The last visit was to check out a burst pipe on a fresh fill. The crack was on a valve that was mounted just above ground level. The water had sprayed high into the air and frozen all around. We were able to shut off the water to the house, cap off the broken pipe and then restore the water.
These scenarios and other phone calls that were received made me realize that there is a lack of understanding about what to do when you have frozen pipes. Depending on when you discover your frozen pipes, you may be able to minimize damage. Here are some things to try:
- Place multiport valve on waste and try running the pump
- If you are able to pump water while on waste then try placing the valve on recirculate and look for movement in the pool water
- If able to remove the pump lid, you might try pouring hot water into the pump to melt ice around the impeller
- You can purchase heat tape, which may help thaw the frozen pipes before more damage can occur
- Blankets can help insulate the pipes and equipment and prevent further damage
- If all else fails then pull as many drain plugs out of your equipment as possible and then shut off the circuit breakers
Do not attempt to use space heaters to warm your frozen pipes. They generate too much heat and often melt the pvc or cause chlorinators to explode. If your frozen pipes are so solid that you cannot move water through them, then the damage is done and you simply have to wait for them to thaw. Be sure to keep an eye on things when the thawing occurs or else your pool may drain down.