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    Avoiding Freeze Damage in Your Above Ground Pool

    January 16, 2019

    >First Off - aboveground pools freeze easily and they freeze thick - you may be surprised that aboveground pools can freeze 1-2" per day in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For northern pools that can be an ice sheet over 12" thick, and over 6" thick for many southern 'sunbelt' areas.

    Pool Freeze Damage. The same pool water that you swim in, refreshing and relaxing throughout the swimming season, can be the same water that completely destroys your pool during the winter. Ice, and the damage it can bring, is all too familiar up here in the northeast. Pool owners from Florida to Maine are starting to get a taste of the destructive power that winter ice and snow can bring. Even if you only have freezing temperatures a few days per year, protecting your investment from freeze damage should always be high on your list.


    Water leaks are not only a nuisance in the swimming season, but they actually are much more mischievous and detrimental in the winter months. Without the water level in the pool to support the ice sheet above it, a leaking pool can be damaged from the ice sheet when it falls or shifts. Under the cover, ice will form because of freezing pool water. Ice will also form on top of the cover from snow and ice accumulation. The severity and thickness of this ice can be alleviated by regular snow-melt water removal. If the pool water beneath this ice was to drain out, the support for the ice is gone. In both situations, the ice will settle where gravity takes it and the only thing standing in its way is your pool walls and pool liner.

    Aboveground pool walls and skimmers can easily be mangled from ice sheet damage. Furthermore, frozen rain water/snow-melt on the top of your winter cover will most likely bring the cover down with it. This can also cause extensive damage to the aboveground pool's frame. While the pool is covered, if you notice the cover sinking into the pool (from a leak in the vinyl liner) and/or there is visual stress where the cover meets the top rail, we suggest releasing the cover into the pool. This practice will relieve the stress and tension on the cover that can cause a collapse. If you are able to detect even a slight leak during the swimming season, take every step possible to fix any leak before closing the pool. If you need to, add water during winter to keep the level up, until it can be fixed.


    The same ice that develops underneath your pool cover can also cause damage in a different way. If this ice is left to form uninterrupted, it can easily expand to the point that it starts pushing out your pool walls. This process can also wreak havoc on the pool's frame, and scrape against your pool liner.

    aboveground pool with cover and air pillow Air Pillows, aka, Ice Equalizers, ice compensators, are your best defense against ice damage. The presence of a large air pillow prevents ice from freezing under the air pillow, which stops solid ice sheets across the top of the aboveground pool. The unfrozen area under the Air Pillows allows room for ice to expand into, instead of expanding in an outward direction against the walls. Water expands about 9% when it freezes, so use enough Air Pillows to cover about 10% of the pool surface area.


    skimmer cover guard for aboveground poolsIf the water level in the pool freezes in-to the skimmer, and then water leaks out of the pool - that's when you see the crumpled skimmer wall as shown above. Water that freezes inside your skimmer over the winter can easily cause the skimmer to crack and break. Water levels are typically lowered in the winter, to just beneath the skimmer. Use pool winter Skimmer Closures and Skimmer Guards (aka Gizmos) should be used. Both styles of skimmer closures block pool water from entering into the skimmer, therefore a prevent freezing.

    Skimmer Guard Gizmos for WinterAlternative to the Aquador type skimmer closure, you can use a Gizzmo type Skimmer Guard. A skimmer guard works much like an air pillow since its main purpose is to absorb any ice expansion, but instead of protecting the pool walls it will protect your skimmer from the outward expansion of ice. Without a skimmer guard in place, your skimmer body can easily become cracked and require replacement from freeze damage.


    pool cover pumpsRain and show building up on top of the pool cover puts a lot of stress on a winter pool cover, and when a sheet of ice on top of the pool cover begins to thaw, it develops sharp edges which can poke holes around the edges of a pool cover, in some cases. Yet, a small amount of water on top of a solid pool cover is helpful to secure the cover firmly. Use a small submersible pool cover pump to regularly and even automatically remove the rain water and snow melt from your pool cover.

    When considering the possibility of freeze damage to your aboveground pool, it will always be wise to over-prepare. If you were asked to spend roughly $30 for these items or have you pool destroyed, I think the choice would be obvious. The items I have referred to in this blog post to prevent pool freeze damage can easily be found here: Pool Freeze Damage Protection. As always, SPP can be contacted at 1-800-983-7665 to discuss potential winter risks and help you avoid freeze damage to your pool.

    Joe Silverstein
    SPP Pool Expert

    Blog Author