Pool pumps are designed for warm weather, but freezing temperatures can cause all sorts of problems. For example, the plumbing can crack, the impeller can jam, and the motor might not work anymore.
It’s important to winterize your pool to stop unwanted weather damage in its tracks — but can running your pump prevent some of that damage?
Running your pool pump will prevent freezing because the moving water stays warmer and doesn’t let the water molecules freeze. You can run your pump at its lowest speed during the coldest parts of the day to stop plumbing problems. Program your pump to run any time the temperature dips below 32 F.
In this article, I’ll explain why your pump should run when it’s cold, how you can prevent the pool water from freezing, and whether or not the pump should be drained during the winter months. Let’s get started!
Does Running a Pool Pump Stop It From Freezing?
Many pool professionals recommend running the pump throughout the year. Pool pumps circulate the chemicals and prevent algae blooms, but they also stop the water from getting too cold.
There’s a common misconception that cold or frozen water is safe for pools because it prevents algae. While this is often true for blooms, frozen water poses a different threat.
Does it always seem like your pool pump is whining, hissing, or grinding when it’s cold? These are often signs of frozen water.
The ice prevents the impeller and motor from working properly. Once the impeller jams, none of the pool equipment will work. You’ll have to get a new impeller and repair the pump if it breaks.
The Orlando Sentinel recommends running the pool pump to prevent it from freezing, but I’ll show you many other tactics below.
How Do I Keep My Pool Water From Freezing?
To keep your pool water from freezing, heat the pool with a solar cover, pool heater, and a liquid solar cover. Run the pool pump during the coldest parts of the day to prevent the stagnant water from freezing.
You can also winterize a pool with a thick winter cover to insulate the water if you live in freezing conditions.
Follow this detailed process to prevent your pool from freezing:
- Circulate the pool daily to keep the water moving. Water circulation is one of the most effective ways to stop the water from freezing. For example, rushing rivers freeze much less often than stagnant lakes and ponds. The subtle movements are enough to stop the freezing process.
- Place a solar cover or winter cover on your swimming pool. Winter covers are excellent if you don’t intend to swim in the pool or lift the cover too often during the colder months. However, solar covers are easier to remove and can heat the water when the pool is under direct sunlight.
- Heat your swimming pool with gas heaters, electric heaters, solar rings, liquid solar covers, and so on. Heating your swimming pool will elevate the temperature above freezing conditions, protecting the liner, gunite, and equipment. These heating tactics are most effective in mild climates that don’t freeze around the clock since they’re best for maintenance purposes.
- Close extra equipment valves. If you have valves and plumbing going to solar systems and other equipment that you don’t intend to use, it’s best to close the valves. The cold water has a tough time getting up to the roof (or wherever the panels are located). The water can freeze in the panels, shattering the plumbing.
As you can see, it’s quite easy to prevent your pool from freezing.
It keeps the chemicals circulated and stops plumbing and equipment issues. (Ice and frost can cause long-term, permanent damage to your pool pump, heater, and filter.)
These common issues might make you wonder if you should empty the pool or drain the equipment. I’ll discuss what could happen if you dump all of the water below before you make the decision.
Should I Drain My Pool Pump in Freezing Weather?
You shouldn’t drain your pool pump in freezing weather unless you have an above-ground pool that you intend to store in a room-temperature location.
Draining a pool pump will prevent the chemicals from circulating throughout the pool. This process can lead to massive algae blooms, chemical stains, and more.
Draining your pump will shorten its longevity. Pool pumps last several years if they’re not drained, frozen, or clogged. However, that doesn’t stop many pool owners from draining the system every winter to stop it from freezing. Some people also do it to reduce their utility costs.
So, when is it a good idea to drain your pool pump?
You should only drain your pool pump if you’re winterizing an Intex pool (or another above-ground foldable setup).
When you drain a swimming pool pump, you should fold the pool and store it in a safe, dry, cool environment. Dryness, excessive moisture, and direct sunlight can ruin the pool.
However, I highly suggest that you circulate the pool and keep water in the pump all year. I always recommend running the pool pump for one hour per 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
For example, an 80-degree day calls for 8 hours, while a 60-degree day calls for 6 hours. If you live in an area that stays around 40-degrees or less, you shouldn’t run it for fewer than 5 hours a day, though.
The goal is to keep your swimming pool above freezing temperatures as much as possible. Continuous circulation is the best way to warm the water enough to prevent it from freezing.
If you drain your pump, keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t forget to prime the pump once you fill it with water.
- Turn off the pump’s timer to prevent it from running dry when it’s empty.
- You can’t put any chemicals in the pool when the water is stagnant, so you should expect algae blooms.
- Winter covers are the best cold-weather defense against algae, so you could limit unwanted blooms with them.
If you’re looking for a top-notch winter cover, the Blue Wave In-Ground Winter Cover comes in multiple sizes and includes an eight-year warranty. These winter covers seal the edges of the pool to keep all of the debris out of the water. You can use it with or without a circulating pump.