How To Winterize Pool Equipment  

by Pool Builders on 11-15-2011 in Articles

When it comes time to winterize your pool equipment there are a few tools in particular that you will need to have. The first and most important is either and air blower or a shop vac vacuum with a blower setting. You will need this tool to blow out any water from underground pipes and inside of equipment. You will also need a few wrenches, combination wrenches are best, and you should have a 9/16, a half-inch, and two 7/16 wrenches. It is also very helpful to have larger channel lock pliers for opening unions. Any other tools that you require will be specific to unique equipment that you own.

Before you can winterize your equipment you need to prepare the swimming pool. You need to drain it below the lowest return fitting, as well as making sure that it is clean and well balanced before attempting to close. The immediate area around the pump filter and heater are going to get very wet during the winterization process of the equipment so be sure to prepare this area as well and remove any items which should not get wet.

Pump
The first piece of equipment to start with is the pump itself. Almost all swimming pool pumps have two winterization plugs. The first would be on the front side at the bottom of the wet end. This is the end of the pump that the water goes into. The second winterization plug is usually close to the first except it is on the side of the pump in approximately the center if you were to book from a lengthwise or profile prospective. Remove these two winterization plugs and store them inside the pump strainer basket. All parts and pieces that you collect from winterizing your pool equipment, for example the plugs from your filter or heater, should all be stored in one location inside the pump strainer basket for the winter. Pool pumps do not need to be stored inside for the winter as they are made to weather in all climates. The only thing that you need to do is make sure that you remove any debris such as leaves from inside the strainer basket and remove the winterization plugs from the bottom. Gravity will take care of the rest.

Sand Filter
The filter is very easy to winterize. The first thing to do is to remove the drain plug from the bottom of the filter tank . You will then want to set the filter on recirculate. Recirculate bypasses the filter tank itself and allows water or air to pass directly through the filter head. You set the filter head to recirculate to a allow you to blow out the plumbing lines from the pump, through the filter head, all the way to the pool. Once you have blown out all of the lines it is critically important to set the filter dial valve to the winterize position.

Cartridge Filter
If you have a cartridge filter instead of a sand filter the process is the same in that you first remove the drain plug from the bottom of the tank, but then you disassemble the filter and remove the cartridge filters from inside. These must be stored inside for the winter after thorough cleaning, or at the very least allowed to dry completely before allowing them to freeze. Any items such as a sight glass or a pressure gauge must be removed and stored inside of the pump strainer basket.

Gas Heater
Winterizing your heater properly is very important since if you get this wrong you will likely need to replace the heater in the spring. The heat exchanger inside of a heater will almost certainly crack if it has not been winterized properly. This means that all water must be removed from the heater to prevent expanding and cracking the exchanger in subzero temperatures. All you need to do to winterize a pool heater is to remove the 9/16 or half inch winterization nuts in the sides of the heater. There are usually two, three or four of these. Some newer heaters have built in winterization plugs that do not require tools however, most pool heaters in service today still require wrenches. These nuts are often rusted, seized and stripped making this process somewhat difficult. With the winterization plugs now removed you can open the heater and undo the connection at the pressure switch. Not all pool heaters have a pressure switch but most of them do. Open the heater and look inside and if you see a coil of copper that is one quarter inch connected to a small disc with two 7/16 inch nuts this is a pressure switch. You need to open this to allow it to drain in order to properly winterize the heater. Finally open the plumbing connections and turn the air blower on in either direction through these ports. Let the air blower run for 3 to 5 minutes just to make sure that you have every last drop of water out of the heater. Be sure to close up all ports and reinstall the winterization plugs right away to avoid any moisture accumulating in the system over the winter.

Salt Water Cell
Since salt water generators and saltwater cells are becoming so much more popular you should become familiar with how to properly winterize one. The saltwater cell will be installed into your plumbing system with two unions or quick connect adapters. This is for service of the cell as saltwater generating cells require regular servicing to remove scale buildup. Remove this cell completely from the system and be sure to cover the ports where it connects with tape or bags for the winter. The salt water cell will need to be cleaned and then stored indoors for the winter season.

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