How to Winterize Inground Pool Plumbing

pool-diagram-plumbingSo, you want to winterize the pool pipes, eh?

To “Winterize” pool plumbing means to use air to remove the water from all of the pipes and equipment, to prevent costly freeze damage repairs.

Today, I’ll explain how to use a blower to winterize an inground pool…

Pool Winterizing Equipment

cyclone-blower-for-poolsTo blow out your lines, you can use a 5hp wet/dry vac, or a Cyclone blower vac, shown here, which can also be used to set inground vinyl liners.

The Cyclone is the strongest and easiest to use blower for blowing out pool plumbing, but a heavy duty wet/dry vac can be used in most cases.

Air compressors with a small tank can also be used, but are the least suited, due to their high pressure / low volume design.

You’ll need a long, heavy duty extension cord, plugged into a grounded, 110V outlet, on a 20 amp circuit. If you trip breakers while blowing the lines, try plugging into the kitchen circuit.

Blowing the Lines with a Cyclone Blower

To blow out pool lines, you can do it all from one skimmer, by attaching your blower hose into the skimmer. hose-and-hose-adapter

The Cyclone comes with a 1-1/2″ hose and a hose adapter. Just thread the adapter into the skimmer and connect the hose! (2″ skimmer holes will need a 2″x1-1/2″ threaded reducer bushing, or a 2″ hose adapter.)

Wet/Dry vacs however, usually have a fat 3 or 4″ hose, that you need to connect to a smaller pipe or hose, or series of hoses, with lots of duct tape. Either thread a male pipe adapter and about 2′ of PVC pipe into the skimmer, or use a hose adapter and a 1-1/2″ filter hose. Then duct tape them together to make an air tight seal.

After you have your skimmer connection made, close other suction valves, skimmers and main drain. Set a multiport valve on waste and roll out the backwash hose. For cartridge filters or push-pull filter valves, remove the pump lid and drain plug.

Turn on your blower, and let it run until it’s just barely spitting water, or spraying droplets. You’ve just blown out the skimmer line, congratulations.

dead-head-jandy-valveTo blow the other suction lines (sk/md), you’ll need to block air flow from entering the pump. The easiest way is to reverse a 3-way valve, (known as deadheading). Remove the handle lock nut, and pull the handle up to the top of the valve stem, to bypass the stops, and close off the pipe that comes into the pump.

You can also use a #9 winterizing plug where water enters the pump, to block the air from the pump. As a last resort, you can put the multiport valve in the Closed position.skimmer-sticks

To blow other skimmers without moving the blower, thread in a hose adapter and a vacuum hose to the other skimmer; or use a PVC arrangement, shown here. Turn on the blower, and blow from skimmer to skimmer until it’s just barely spitting water from the other skimmer.

To get all the water out of the skimmer well, you often have to shut off the blower, remove the pipe or hose adapter, and let the water inside the skimmer drain into the pipe, and then blow the pipe again. Use a scoop or large sponge to remove most of the water first.

To blow out the main drain, block the airflow as above, and then open the main drain valve. After air has been bubbling strong for 30 seconds, close off the main drain valve tightly, while the air is still blowing.

cyclone-blower-for-pool-winterizationWhile the Cyclone will always blow out main drains, some wet/dry vacs will not, especially on deeper pools. If you are having trouble, check for blower/hose/valves for air loss, or lower the water level further, or give up and fill the main drain line with pool antifreeze, and hope for the best.

Now that the suction lines are blown out, you will send the air through the pump and filter, and blow out the return lines. Make sure all equipment lids are tight, and open the filter air bleeder valve. Open all return valves after the filter and turn any chlorinator knobs on high. Set multiport valve on Recirculate, or push-pull valves on Filter.

Before turning on the blower, always have a clear and unobstructed route for the air to take, no dead-ends. Turn on the blower, then remove all drain plugs on pump, filter and heater, let the water spray out, and replace plugs loosely.

You should soon see the air bubbling at the pool wall return lines. If not, check for air loss (the air has to go somewhere). As the return pipes blow, it will begin strongest out of the wall return that is closest to the pump.

plugged-returnAfter plugging the first return tightly, the other return(s) will begin to blow water/air. Plug them tightly, while they are blowing / bubbling. Pressure cleaner lines (Polaris) usually blow after the returns lines are plugged. After plugging your last line, quickly shut off the blower, and plug the skimmer with an expansion plug or threaded plug with o-ring. Winter Plugs.

Congratulations! You just winterized your pool plumbing. Double check your system, to be sure that you have blown all out pipes, aboveground and below ground. Set multiport and push pull valves at a midway setting, and remove all equipment drain plugs for storage in the pump basket.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


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