Freezing temperatures and chilly weather can wreak untold havoc on your swimming pool and its equipment, making it necessary to take steps in advance to winterize your pool properly to avoid serious damage. However, it’s hard to always be on top of things. And you might not have been able to prepare for the oncoming frost, and you’re now staring at a frozen pool pump!
But no worries; it can be fixed! In this article, I will get into what exactly causes a pool pump to freeze, how you can fix it, how to prevent it from happening again, and a few tips for winterizing the pump. Let’s dive in!
- When talking about a frozen pool pump, you may either be dealing with frozen bearings or frozen water.
- A frozen pool pump can get seriously damaged, sometimes even beyond repair.
- A frozen pool pump can damage the pump housing, impeller, bearings, or other smaller components, such as wiring.
- Proper and timely winterization is the best way to prevent your pool pump from freezing while the pool is closed.
A Frozen Pool Pump: Frozen Bearings or Frozen Water?
Before tackling your frozen pool pump, let’s clarify: are you talking about frozen bearings or frozen water? I’ll discuss both of these below.
Pool pump motor bearings are pivotal to the smooth and quiet operation of your pump. They can freeze up during colder weather because of no proper lubrication or a build-up of rust or dirt. When this happens, they stop the motor from rotating smoothly, causing the pump to freeze. Signs that your pool pump bearings are frozen include:
- Your pump motor is making loud grinding or screeching sounds when you flip the switch on
- The pump motor is difficult to manually operate
- The pump motor is very hot to touch
Cold weather can easily freeze a pool pump, especially if you haven’t winterized it properly. This is because when water freezes, it expands. This expansion inside a structure, like a pipe or a pump, can seriously damage the equipment and other components. Signs that your pool pump is frozen include:
- The pump motor is unresponsive and cannot be turned on at all because of ice damage
- The pump housing is cracked
- Visible ice on the pump lines or motor.
How to Fix Frozen Bearings
If you’ve detected the issue with your pump is frozen bearings, here’s my quick breakdown of how to fix it.
Step One: Turn off the Pump and Remove the Motor
You’ll first need to turn off and unplug the pump from the power outlet, disconnect the power to the pump, and then remove the pump motor from the pump housing. To do this, you may need to unscrew a few bolts.
Step Two: Take out the Bearings
To access the bearings, you’ll need to remove the impeller first, then pull off the pump’s front and back bell-shaped ends. If you have difficulty getting inside the pump, I recommend inserting a flathead screwdriver into the seam and gently tapping it with a hammer to pop it open.
Finally, extract the bearings from the motor—you can do this using a bearing puller.
Step Three: Clean and Lubricate the Bearings
Check the removed bearings for any signs of damage, such as cracks or rust. If the bearings are damaged, you may need to replace them. Otherwise, simply clean them using a rag and a degreaser to strip off any stubborn dirt or debris from the bearings.
Once this is done, I always recommend applying a fresh coat of bearing grease to lubricate them.
Step Four: Reinstall the Bearings
Go ahead and reinstall the bearings; make sure they’re aligned correctly.
Step Five: Reinstall the Motor and Restart the Pump
Reinstall everything, including the impeller and bell-shaped ends. And put the motor in the pump housing. Be careful not to over-tighten the bolts when reinstalling the motor in the pump housing, as doing so can cause damage. Then, restore power to the pump and turn it on to check if it’s working.
If the pump still does not work properly after these steps, you may need to replace the motor entirely or call in a pool professional to take a look.
How to Fix a Frozen Water Issue
If you have failed to properly winterize your pool pump, you may be dealing with frozen water within your pool pump. Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to fix it. However, you should keep in mind that frozen water in your pool pump can severely damage it, and unfortunately, sometimes the only fix is to replace it entirely.
Step One: Turn off the Pump and Remove it
The first step is disconnecting the pump from the power and removing it from the system. Moving carefully, remove any connections and unions that connect the pump and motor to the filtration system.
Step Two: Thaw the Pump
Next, you’ll need to thaw the pump housing and lines. This involves placing it somewhere warm on a few dry towels and just letting the water gently melt. Do NOT attempt to hasten the process yourself with a hair dryer or an open flame. Just let nature run its course for however long necessary.
Step Three: Inspect the Pump
Once the water is completely drained and emptied, you can inspect the pump closely for issues, keeping a sharp eye out for cracks in the pump housing or any other signs of damage. If the pump housing is cracked, you may need to replace it altogether. You could repair any minor cracks with epoxy glue.
Step Four: Reinstall the Pump
Gently restore the clean and dry pump to the filtration system, then restore power and turn it on. Check and see if it’s running well without any leaks. If there are any issues, you might need to call a professional.
How Do You Prevent Your Pool Pump From Freezing?
Stopping your pool pump from freezing again is definitely possible, and winterization is your best defense against it. This is especially crucial if you live in a chilly climate! Winterizing involves draining the pump and lines and keeping them in a warm and dry area throughout the winter. Another way to possibly prevent the pool from freezing is to keep the pump running for a few hours each day during cold weather—this helps to keep the water moving and prevent it from freezing. However, I do not generally recommend this solution. Unfortunately, you still risk your pump freezing if the weather gets too cold, not to mention the bills can get hefty!
How to Winterize a Pool Pump
Here’s a quick look at how to winterize a pool pump:
- Turn off the power to the pump, disconnecting your pump and filter.
- Drain the pump and lines. Turn your filter to “winterize” and disconnect the drain cap. If necessary, use a leaf blower or air compressor to speed things up. It’s really important you dry it out completely because any residual water can damage the pump when it freezes.
- Store the drain cap, and make sure to put it somewhere safe so that you can use it again when the weather warms up. Disconnect any filter hoses as well.
- When all the pump components are completely dry, wrap it all up in canvas and put it in a dry and safe area for the winter.
Read my complete guide on how to winterize your pool pump and filter for more detailed information.
Does Freezing a Pool Pump Cause Damage?
Yes, freezing a pool pump damages it significantly. Unfortunately, in some cases, freezing can damage a pool pump beyond repair, in which case you would need to replace the pool pump motor or the entire pump. In other cases, the pump might be salvageable, but there may be a cost to fix it. The type of damage you can expect due to frozen water can include cracked pump housing, bent or deformed impeller, seized bearings, and damage to any components, such as the seals, electrical wiring, or gaskets. None of this is good news!
In severe cases, you may need to replace your entire pump. You can check out my research on the best pool pumps if you’re in this situation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does running the pool pump prevent it from freezing?
Technically, running the swimming pool pump constantly will prevent it from freezing. This is because the moving water will not freeze. However, this can be expensive and is unfortunately not a foolproof strategy for winterizing your pool.
Can a frozen pool cause damage?
Yes, a frozen swimming pool can cause significant damage. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion can cause the pool’s lining to crack, the pool’s walls to bow, and the pool’s pipes to burst. If the pool is not properly winterized before the freezing weather sets in, residual water can wreak absolute havoc on your pool and pool equipment!
Pool Pump Frozen No More!
If your pool pump is frozen, it’s best to take action as soon as possible. Unsure about handling it yourself? Call a professional and get them to take a look! Or you can reach out to me for help. Of course, no one wants to deal with a frozen pool pump, and, as you can see, the best thing to do is to properly winterize your pool pump in the first place. Prevention is the best cure, after all!