Mason County News
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Freeze Protection for Swimming Pools & Spas
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 • Posted February 16, 2011

The two recent cold spells in Mason were unlike anything I have ever experienced in my 45 years as a Pool service & repair person. Last year around the time of the stock show I recorded an early morning temperature of 8 degrees Fahrenheit but I know the daytime temperatures were warmer last year with little or no wind chill. I am basing this assumption on the fact that last year when I learned that extreme cold temperatures were headed our way I wrapped with foam insulation nearly all the exposed plumbing on one of my service customers outdoor pool systems & set the time clock to run the filter pump from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Moving water normally only freezes under the most extreme sub zero conditions & the coldest temperatures occur at daybreak. The measures I took last year to protect my customers’ equipment were more than adequate then but not this year. With several days where the temperature never rose above 20 degrees & where with wind chill factored in temperatures were at or below zero, there were numerous breaks in his P.V.C. plumbing. I have since repaired the plumbing & have ordered a freeze control device to be installed on his control system.

I moved to Mason in September of 2009 from the Sacramento area of California. During the 43+ years I was in the swimming pool service & repair industry there I experienced several hard freezes but the lowest temperature I remember was 13 degrees & the lowest daytime highs were barely below freezing. That particular freeze occurred just before Christmas in 1990 & did significant damage to pool & spa systems up & down the entire state. People were not prepared because there had not been a weather event like that since December of 1972 & few of them had paid attention to advance forecasts.

Another problem was the lack of freeze protection devices in the control systems at the time. In 1972 virtually all newer swimming pool systems were controlled by electrical/mechanical time clocks. Many of the older ones were controlled by simple on/off switches. None of these offered any type of freeze protection. By the freeze of 1990 there were computer controlled pool & spa systems with built in freeze protection but they were pricey & only found on some newer pools & spas.

Today, all computer controlled pool & spa systems have built in freeze protection but they also come with $2,000.00 price tags. Time clock controlled systems are also now available with with freeze protection & are far less expensive. They were not common in California as the need was not great due to the milder weather. I installed a number of computer controlled systems between 1995 & 2009 but never a time clock with built in freeze protection.

When I started servicing & repairing pools & spas in & around Mason I noticed that most of the newer ones had the time clock controls with built in freeze protection. Now I know why. The coldest weather I ever experienced in California only required a 12 hour 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. run cycle for protection against damage to the equipment. That won’t cut it here in Mason. I am in the process of researching the different types of freeze control devices available for time clock controlled pool & spa systems & have a source for the most common one, the Intermatic time clock. My ultimate goal is to insure that every pool & spa system in Mason County has adequate freeze protection.

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