Everyone has a different style for maintaining their pool. And when it comes to calling in a pool expert to do the job, not all pool owners are devout. Sure, there are some who shrug their shoulders at paying around $400 to have someone else close their pool. There are some owners who do everything on their own, and save themselves a bundle of cash as a result. But there are also many pool owners who, like occasional church goers, call in an expert just once a year, and always at the same time of the season. The reason for this annual ring? To have their pool lines blown out as they close up their pool for the winter.
So why do so many seasoned DIY pool owners call in an expert for this one task? Well, blowing out your lines has to be done just right, or you could have to pay up thousands of dollars in damage repairs. But the truth of the matter is that blowing your own lines doesn’t have to be as impossible as it sounds. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a simple process that you won’t even mind repeating each year. Here I’ll explain what it means to blow out your pool lines for the winter, why you should, when you should blow them out, and how—and what to do if you don’t quite feel ready to take it on alone. I promise: this won’t totally blow.
Blow Out My Lines? Sounds Dangerous.
So what does it mean to blow out your pool lines for the winter? Basically, this process uses air to push out every last drop of water in your system, so that your lines are completely dry for the winter.
I know what you’re thinking: hang on. A pool is supposed to move water—not air. Right? Don’t a slew of terrible things happen when you allow your circulation system to suck in air and not water, including a ridiculous energy bill and a potentially melting pool pump?
Well, yes. Your circulation system wasn’t made to move air, ever. That’s why it’s important to blow your lines out after you’ve achieved the perfect chemical balance for pool closing, shocked your pool, and have finished any other part of the pool closing routine that requires your pump to be on. Because once you blow out your lines, your pump is done running for a long time. That is, until you open up your pool again for next season, which will usually involve priming your pump to make sure there’s no air left in your system.
Always looking to cut operating costs—especially if you get even better perfomance as a result? Since you’ll need to prime up your pump again in the spring, now is the time to install the 1.5 HP Variable Speed Blue Torrent Thunder In-Ground Swimming Pool Pump—it pays itself off in under a year, is eligible for rebates, and also comes with a lifetime warranty. As customer Eric D says, “Day one, I fired this pump up and it ran clean and fast.”
Why Should I Blow Out My Lines?
Hey, I don’t blame some pool owners for opting to hire someone to blow out their lines. The goal is to have no water left in your plumbing, which all comes down to precision, and that could be intimidating. But depending on where you live and what kind of pool you have, you might not actually need to blow out your lines at all.
The purpose of blowing out your lines is to prevent any residual water in your circulation system from freezing during the winter, which can lead to costly cracking and damages in both your plumbing and your equipment. If your local climate doesn’t drop below freezing during the winter, you’re lucky for many reasons—including the fact that you don’t need to blow out your lines for the winter. And keep in mind that the weather on a global scale is getting more extreme every year. Even if you had just a few days of freezing last year, you’re going to want to play this season safe.
Another loophole to get around blowing out your lines has to do with what type of pool you have. If you have an above-ground pool, chances are you can skip this step entirely by simply disassembling your plumbing for the winter—as long as you have a safe (and dry!) place to store all those pieces. Check out how to get this done the right way by reading up on how to close your above-ground pool for the season.
If you do live somewhere that freezes during the winter and have an inground pool, the time and effort you put into clearing your plumbing of water now will be nothing compared to the time, effort, and cost of fixing a damaged system next spring. Read on, and you’ll be glad you did.
Timing, Timing, Timing.
As you probably already know, you can’t just winterize your pool willy nilly. There’s a specific process to closing your pool—and you’ve got to do it in order. Make sure that you’re blowing out your lines after you’ve already brushed your pool with a easy-to-use brush like the Blue Torrent 360 Degree Pool Brush, vacuumed your pool with a powerful cleaner like the Blue Torrent MyBot In Ground Robotic Cleaner, made sure you have the perfect chemical balance with winterizing chemicals, shocked your pool, partially drained your pool, and cleaned or backwashed your pool filter. If all that checks out, it’s time to blow out your lines.
The good news is, it’s easy from here on out. After you remove water from your circulation system, all that’s left to do is to uninstall some accessories and put a winter cover on your pool. You’ll be done in no time—and your hard work will pay off all winter long.
The winter isn’t without some routine maintenance, but you can cut down your work big time with an automatic cover pump. Keep your winter cover light and secure with the BLACK+DECKER 800 GPH Automatic Pool Cover Pump, which detects up to a quarter inch of rain and works on its own—fast.
How to Blow Out Your Pool Lines—In Ten Steps
Most pool companies will tell you that you need one of their pool blowers to properly blow out your lines, but in my experience a Shop Vac works just fine. Just make sure yours is a large canister type with a capability of around 5 or more horsepower. An air compressor can also get the job done, but you want to be careful not to over-pressurize your pipes and fittings.
Again, your pool water line should already be lowered for this routine to work. Depending on your pool winter cover type, that should be around 4 to 12 inches below your skimmer.
1. Bye, Bye, Add Ons
First, remove all skimmer baskets—you just don’t need them anymore. Their job is to filter out debris in water, and there’s about to be no water in sight. Go ahead and also remove your return fittings, which look like giant screws around the diameter of your pipes.
2. Go Unplugged
Next, remove all the drain plugs from your system—including your filter, your pump, and your heater, if you have one. You can either replace them loosely or store them away somewhere for the winter.
3. Turn the Valve
Set your multiport valve to “recirculate,” or at the “filter” position if you have a side valve. This will make sure that the water you’re blowing out heads for the right direction.
4. There She Blows
Attach your ShopVac or air compressor (and an adapter, if needed) to the pump’s drain plug opening and turn it on. Voila, you’re already blowing air through the system.
5. Keep an Eye Out
Watch your return lines and skimmer. You’ll want to keep your Shop Vac or air compressor on until you see bubbles coming out of your jets and your skimmer.
6. Get That Water Out
Use your ShopVac to remove water being blown out of the skimmer until it’s dry. Most pools have one or two skimmers. If you have two, you can blow air from one skimmer to the other skimmer by closing a valve off at the pump.
7. Plug It Up
Insert a skimmer plug into the hole at the bottom of the skimmer. This is usually made out of rubber, so it’s more resistant to freezing temperatures. It’ll also keep out any potential condensation throughout the winter.
8. ...And Keep Plugging
Insert winter pool plugs in the return lines as you see air bubbles coming out of each one. This should take about 2-3 minutes of blowing. If you live somewhere seriously cold, make sure you have straight pressure plugs—their straight sidewalls allow for a more secure plugging of the line.
9. Dry Up the Deep End
Turn the valve in front of your pump to the main drain setting to move air toward that main drain. Watch the deep end of your pool for bubbles. About a minute of run time should be enough to dry it out.
10. Finish the Job
You’re almost there. First, turn your pump valve back to the skimmer line. Although it won’t be running this winter, this restores it to a starting position for next spring. Next, shut off your air compressor or ShopVac, and put a valve in your pump to prevent leaking. You’re done!
Since we’re already looking ahead to next season, let’s think about the future—as of 2021, the switch to variable-speed pumps will virtually be federal law. Try the Blue Torrent 2 HP Variable-Speed Pump: it’s ultra-powerful, comes with a lifetime warranty, eligible for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year by energy saved. As customer Bill Britton says, “Runs great. Super quiet.”
I Don’t Know About This...
Feeling a bit hesitant? I totally get it. The last thing you want to do is blow out your lines incorrectly and have to deal with cracked equipment in the middle of winter. My advice? Call in a pool expert this year, and keep an eye on how they go about the process. I think you’ll find that it’s a totally doable routine, and much easier than it sounds. Make sure to take a few mental notes, and next year you can tackle it all on your own. That’s what I call playing the long game.
You Blew It... Good Job!
Who needs a pool expert when you are one? Now that you’ve mastered blowing out your lines, you’re mastered the art of DIY pool maintenance. From here on out, you only need to make a call if things go seriously awry—and since you’re on top of it, that’s less likely to happen. This kind of accomplishment can keep you warm all winter long—because we both know it won’t be the weather. Here’s to next season. Enjoy.