December 1, 2021

Frozen Swimming Pool — How to Fix It and Avoid It

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Winter can be tough on your backyard oasis, especially when your pool faces the risk of turning into a block of ice. Pools can freeze solid in just days with temperatures below zero, causing major headaches for homeowners.

frozen blue pool

Key Takeaways

  • Break up ice that forms on your pool’s surface gently using a plastic tool to avoid damaging the liner. This prevents thick ice from breaking tiles, pipes, and harming your pool system.
  • Lowering the water level before winter arrives gives room for ice expansion without damaging the pool structure or liner. Use a pump to drain excess water to just below the skimmer opening.
  • Keep filter pumps running 8-10 hours daily during off-season and continuously in freezing temperatures to circulate water and prevent it from freezing inside pipes.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance of your pool help keep water well – circulated and free of debris, reducing the risk of freezing in winter months.
  • Investing in a high – quality winter cover protects against debris, snow, and helps maintain warmer water temperatures, decreasing the likelihood of damage due to freezing.

Minor Frozen Pool

Many people experience some degree of pool water freezing during the cold winter months. If your pool water develops a thin layer of ice across its surface, you likely have little to worry about. In this situation, it’s easy enough to break up the ice and just monitor your pool and the weather. A thin surface ice sheet can even occur in very mild climates and is nothing to be alarmed over.

Major Frozen Pool Problems

On the other hand, if your pool water begins to freeze from wall to wall and the ice starts to thicken, you could have a serious problem. This type of situation can cause your pool tiles to crack as the water freezes into ice and expands. Prolonged freezing temperatures can cause this type of situation to occur. Once pool ice has frozen to a half inch in thickness, you should be concerned and take steps to break up the ice before it thickens further.

You should also keep your filtration system running to prevent any water in the pipe from freezing and causing your pipes to burst. If you suspect that your pipes are frozen, you should contact our certified service team. In some cases where pipes have burst, and parts have become damaged, you may need replacements.

The Dangers of a Frozen Pool

A frozen pool can cause extensive damage to vinyl liner pools and lead to complete freezing, resulting in severe consequences. It is important to take proactive measures to prevent these dangers.

Regular cleaning and maintenance, inspection of pool pipes, and investing in a quality winter cover are essential for safeguarding your pool from freezing in winter.

Potential Damage to Vinyl Liner Pools

Vinyl liner pools face a big risk when the water turns to ice. Ice sheets that are thicker than ¼ to ½ inch can crack pool tiles, break pipes, and harm the filtration system. If water finds its way behind the liner or if there’s a leak, this can make things even worse.

The expanding ice might push against the sides of your pool, stretching or ripping the vinyl lining.

To keep your swimming area safe during cold snaps, it’s crucial to watch for super-cooled liquid turning into solid ice inside your pool. This transition doesn’t just happen at freezing point; it starts with nucleation sites where ice crystals form and grow.

You don’t want these forming in your piping or heating systems either because they can lead to expensive repairs down the line. Protecting these parts before winter arrives will save you from trouble when temperatures drop suddenly.

Consequences of a Pool Freezing Completely

A fully frozen pool leads to severe problems. Thick ice can crack tiles and break the plumbing underneath, leaving you with costly repairs. Pipes designed to carry water smoothly might burst when water inside them expands as it freezes, adding more trouble beyond just a damaged surface.

Furthermore, if your swimming area has a vinyl liner and leaks occur due to ice damage, replacing or repairing these liners becomes inevitable. This not only disrupts your enjoyment of the facility but also puts a significant dent in your wallet for restoration.

Ice layers thicker than ¼ inch are especially harmful, pressing against the sides with enough force to create cracks or even tear through softer materials like vinyl surrounds.

Steps to Take if Your Pool Freezes

If your pool freezes, break up the ice using a pool brush or broom. Lowering the water level can help alleviate pressure on the pool walls caused by frozen water expansion. Keeping filter pumps running will prevent pipes from freezing and protect the overall integrity of your pool system.

Breaking Up The Ice

Gently break up any ice forming on the pool’s surface. Use a plastic tool to avoid scratching or damaging the lining. Thick ice sheets can harm tiles, pipes, and your swimming pool’s system if they grow beyond ¼ to ½ inches.

Keep actions smooth and steady to reduce risk.

Monitor the ice closely during cold snaps. If thin layers start to form, use warm water from a hose to melt them away before they thicken. This method prevents damage by keeping the ice from expanding and putting pressure on the pool structure and plumbing network.

Always ensure that you handle warm water carefully around cold surfaces to avoid sudden temperature changes which could cause more harm than good.

Lowering Water Level

Lowering the water level in your pool before winter hits can save you a lot of trouble. By draining some water out, you make room for ice to expand without harming your pool’s structure or liner.

Use a pump to remove the excess water until it sits below the skimmer opening. This simple step can prevent damage from expanding ice.

Keep an eye on the weather and act quickly if freezing temperatures are forecasted. Lowering the water levels too late might not give you enough time before the freeze sets in. Make sure your pumping equipment is ready and operational ahead of time to avoid last-minute rushes and potential damage from rapidly forming ice.

Keeping Filter Pumps Running

To prevent freezing in winter, keep filter pumps running for 8-10 hours a day during the off-season and have them run continuously when temperatures reach below freezing. This continuous circulation of water helps prevent it from super-cooling and freezing within the pool’s plumbing and equipment.

By maintaining water flow, you can avoid potential damage caused by frozen pipes in your pool system.

Regularly circulating water through the filter pumps also ensures proper distribution of chemicals and heat throughout the pool, which is essential for preventing freezing. This simple step can save you from costly repairs due to frozen or damaged pipes when colder temperatures hit.

How to Prevent a Frozen Swimming Pool

To prevent pool freezing in winter, perform regular cleaning and maintenance to keep the water well-circulated. Inspect pool pipes for any potential issues that may lead to freezing in winter.

Consider investing in a quality winter cover for added protection against the cold weather.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial for preventing pool freezing in winter. Clear debris from the pool surface to avoid blockages in the filtration system, which can lead to ice buildup.

Skim leaves and other debris off the water’s surface weekly using a telescopic pole with a mesh net attachment designed for pools. Additionally, brushing the pool walls and floor every week will help prevent algae growth and keep your pool looking clean.

It is also essential to maintain proper chemical balance by testing the water regularly using a test kit or strips.

Inspection of Pool Pipes

When it’s time to inspect your pool pipes, remember that regular maintenance is crucial. Cracks due to freezing can be prevented with meticulous inspection. It’s imperative to maintain the water level under the skimmer or perimeter pool tile band to minimize any potential damage from freezing.

Keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear as well as insulation issues around the pipes, so you can address them promptly.

Regularly checking your pool pipes is essential in preventing future damage from extreme winter weather conditions.

Investing in a Quality Winter Cover

pool cover

Investing in a quality winter cover is crucial for safeguarding your pool during the colder months. A high-quality cover provides a protective barrier against debris, ice, and snow, helping to maintain water quality and prevent damage to the pool’s surface.

By utilizing a durable winter cover, you can reduce the risk of structural damage caused by freezing temperatures and minimize the need for extensive cleaning or repairs come springtime.

Additionally, an effective winter cover acts as insulation, helping to retain heat provided by specialized heaters or solar covers.

By investing in a quality winter cover that suits your specific pool type and size, you are taking proactive steps toward ensuring that your investment remains protected throughout the winter season.

Deciding Between Keeping Your Pool Open or Closed for the Season

When deciding whether to keep your pool open or closed for the winter season, consider the option of keeping it open if it is heated. Keeping a heated pool open in winter can prevent freezing and potential damage.

Running the water heater for 12 hours a day and utilizing an automatic timer for water circulation are essential preventive measures. It’s important to remain prepared for increased utility bills when opting to keep the pool open during colder months.

To make an informed decision, carefully assess these factors while considering whether to keep your swimming pool operational throughout winter.


Preventing pool freezing and fixing a frozen pool are essential for maintaining your pool during the winter months. Regular cleaning and maintenance, inspecting pool pipes, and investing in a quality winter cover can help prevent freezing.

Taking steps such as breaking up the ice, lowering water levels, and keeping filter pumps running are crucial if your pool freezes. Consider whether to keep your pool open or closed for the season based on heating options available to you.

You can reach out to Carlton Pools to schedule an opening or closing, ensuring a smooth process that saves you time and hassle. Opening and closing a pool can be a lot of work and difficult to do it yourself, if you don’t have the right tools and equipment.

By being proactive, you can protect your pool from potential damage caused by freezing temperatures.


What happens if my pool water freezes in the winter?

When your pool water freezes, it can cause damage to PVC plumbing and other components due to the expansion of ice. This might lead to leaks or breaks once the ice melts.

How can I prevent my above-ground swimming pool from freezing during a snowstorm?

To prevent your above-ground swimming pool from freezing, use insulating covers that reduce heat transfer and protect against frost exposure. Adding antifreeze to the water can also help.

Can hot water fix a frozen pool?

Pouring hot water directly onto super-cooled or frozen sections of your pool can help melt the ice more quickly. However, be careful not to use boiling water as it may damage your pool’s lining or structure.

Why is it important to keep liquid water moving in my pool during cold weather?

Keeping liquid water moving helps prevent freezing because constant motion makes it harder for ice crystals to form. You can achieve this by running your pump or using a spigot to circulate warm water.

Are there any tools that help monitor and manage my pool temperature remotely during winter?

Yes! There are online platforms and social media groups where you can find recommendations for gadgets that connect with mobile apps allowing you to monitor and adjust your pool’s temperature remotely, even when you’re away from home.