When it comes to winterizing a pool, there is some debate about what steps are necessary. While it’s agreed upon that the water needs to be skimmed, extra chemicals should be added, and the equipment needs draining, different pool technicians argue over whether or not pool pumps and motors should be disconnected and taken inside. Here are a few of the pros and cons of keeping the pool pump indoors during the winter and instructions on how to disconnect it if necessary.
- Pump motors can develop rust deep inside the motor which can keep the motor for working come springtime. Keeping pumps away from accumulating moisture (assuming you live in a place that gets considerable rain/snowfall) during the winter is a good way to protect the equipment.
- Heavy snow is a danger to pool equipment that remains outdoors. It can lead to the motor/pump flooding which often results in a broken pump system that needs replacing come spring.
- Putting it inside prevents the pump/motor from being hit by falling branches, floods, or insect damage (as unlikely as some of these instances are).
- It can be difficult to protect pool pumps, especially if you live in a harsh winter climate. Putting plastic sheeting over equipment can be harmful because it causes condensation which speeds up equipment corrosion. Some people build a housing structure over their pumps but that can be expensive and time intensive.
- Brutally cold temperatures can weaken the capacitor (battery component) of the motor.
With that said, there are instances where removing the pump for winter can cause more harm than good.
- Cold temperatures on their own don’t really do much harm to the elements of a pool motor (copper, plastic, steel, etc.). It’s the moisture that goes along with the cold that usually does damage.
- Some pool technicians don’t feel as though storing the pump indoors actually prolongs motor life. In fact, it may shorten it if the wires or terminal boards are damaged during detachment and reattachment.
- When it’s disconnected, the odds go up of the motor being damaged during storage. Many technicians won’t detach the pump during routine pool closings unless explicitly asked.
How to Disconnect the Pool Pump
If you do decide to remove the pool pump for the winter, here are some step by step instructions. We highly suggest getting out your pool pump manual so you know where everything is. The manual will be specific to your type of pump while this is a generalized guideline.
- Make sure you first winterize the pump, whether or not it gets removed for indoor storage. Remove the strainer cover lid and remove the drain plugs at the bottom of the strainer (depending on your pump). Turn on the pump briefly to expel water from the impeller after the water has drained. Don’t keep it turned on too long or you’ll burn the seals.
- Use a shop vac to blow the water out of the plumbing lines that run between the filter equipment and the pool. Blow water out of each line from the filter to the return outlets and from the pump to the skimmers. Replace the strainer cover and drain plugs. Close the air relief valve on the filter and replace the drain plugs. Close the backwash valve.
There are two methods of disconnecting the pool pump: you can remove just the motor element or you can remove the entire pump and motor together.
- Some pumps have unions on the pipe before and after the pump that makes removing the motor much easier. If you don’t have unions or no room in the pipes to install them, remove the pump motor by taking off the 4-6 bolts or volute clamp band. After the pump volute is separated, grab the motor securely and slide it straight back to separate from the pump.
The next step is tricky so BE CAREFUL or ask for the help of an electrician or call a local pool service.
- If you have an above ground pool the pumps simply unplug from their connections and the entire pump and filter system can be brought inside for the winter. If it’s an in-ground pool system, the pumps are hard wired with a flexible conduit that contains two power leads and a ground wire.
- Turn the power OFF at the breaker and shut off the circuit breakers on the sub-panel. Shut off the time clock.
- Remove the timer trippers from the time clock to prevent the clock from turning on if the breakers are turned on again during the winter.
- Flip the motor so it’s standing on the wet end with the back of the motor pointing upward. Remove the end cap/cover plate to open the back of the motor and expose what should be 3 wires.
- Use either a flat-head screwdriver or nutdriver to loosen the incoming power leads. Make a note of how it’s wired in a notebook or in your copy of the owner’s manual so you will remember how to rewire it come springtime.
- Above the terminal wire will be a green ground screw—use a small flathead screwdriver or nutdriver to loosen and remove the ground wire from the motor.
- Next step is loosening the conduit connector nut on the outside of the motor. To do this, disconnect the flexible conduit from the motor while pulling the wires out of the motor. With the wires removed from the motor, twist an electrical nut on the end of each and wrap the tires securely with electrical tape. Cover the conduit opening to protect it from accumulating moisture.
- Finally, remove the copper bonding wire from the connector on the motor. Use a nutdriver to remove the screw that holds the brass bonding lug on the motor. Screw the back into the motor so it doesn’t get misplaced.
- Store indoors somewhere it won’t get wet, damaged, or lost. A clear, airtight storage bin is an excellent option. DO NOT store with pool chemicals like chlorine. Gas emitted form chlorine can corrode metal components of your equipment and you’ll end up harming your pump instead of protecting it.
- Store your equipment on a low shelf where it can’t fall and become damaged. Keep it off of the garage floor where it’s likely to be in the way of spills or getting potentially bumped by cars pulling in and out.
Many pool owners swear by this method, saying their equipment looks brand new every time they bring it out after winter has passed. Instead of replacing bearings, gaskets, gauges, and lines on a regular basis like people who keep their pumps out during harsh winters, they simply reconnect and are ready to go. It’s a small job (relatively) compared to those who have to constantly repair equipment due to premature failure.