Winter pool covers do a big job. They keep your pool protected through rain, sleet, snow, and dark of night - all winter long. And although we have pool covers in all price ranges, a winter pool cover can be a small investment. What can you do to protect your pool cover investment, and avoid costly pool cover repairs? Read on for some pool cover care and maintenance tips - and make your winter cover last longer!
Use an Air Pillow beneath your aboveground pool cover to protect the pool walls from damage, but also to keep the cover up and out of the water. Air pillows also ensure proper water run-off, so that the water doesn't lie in the center of the pool pulling the cover into the pool. Air Pillows are available in various sizes, small, medium and large. Order to match your pool size.
High winds can shred a cover in minutes. Secure your aboveground pool cover tightly with the included cable and winch, and recheck the cable tightness a few times during the winter. For extra protection, use either wall bags, cover clips or cover seal to keep the wind from getting up underneath the cover. You can also hang weights on the cable, to help hold down the cover in high winds.
Keep it clean! Pool covers can be damaged by the acids contained in leaves, acorns and other tree debris. When they rot for long enough, they attract all kinds of critters that can further damage your pool cover. The smallest animals attract larger animals, those with beaks and claws. Have a regular schedule for pool cover cleaning; use your leaf net or brush to gently remove tree litter.
Keep it dry! Solid pool covers are solid for a reason, to keep water and debris out of the pool. Pump off any excess water on the pool cover, in order to take the weight off of the cover and reduce the strain. When it gets colder, water on the cover will freeze, which could also harm the cover, especially if there are twigs or sticks that get caught in the ice and snag the cover.
Spring cleaning of your pool cover is important to prevent mold, mildew and to remove microscopic animals which may degrade the cover fabric. When removing the cover for the pool opening, clean off any debris. Take the pool cover off the pool, lay the cover on the ground and rinse off with a garden hose to clean the cover. Once the cover is dry, fold and store in a cool, dry location.
Make sure you have the correct size cover to fit your pool. When installing the solid cover, allow the overlap portion of the cover to be tucked under the corners of the pool. After overlapping the deck by 3 feet, any excess cover should be tucked under for protection. This will ensure that the cover will not pulled into the pool with the weight of the water or snow that will accumulate on the cover.
Try to pump off any water on the cover with a cover pump before it freezes. Remove any leaves that accumulate on the cover, and especially sticks and twigs which can be damaging to the cover when frozen in ice. Use a leaf rake on a pole to gently scoop up any debris that is wet. Dry debris can be gently brushed off, or use a leaf blower from the edge of the pool.
Keep an eye on the water level under the cover. Solid pool covers depend on the level of the water for support, and if the pool begins to leak water during the winter, the cover could end up in the pool! If you notice your water level dropping and your cover slipping, you should remove the cover, and try to locate the leak. The "leak" could be a hole in your solid cover, with your cover pump pulling the water through!
Prevent animals from gaining access to the pool. Large animals that accidentally fall on top of the pool cover will surely end the useful life of your pool cover and maybe the animal as well. Deer, horses or dogs can all do a lot of damage. Smaller critters with sharp claws, like squirrels, raccoons and possum can too. Keeping the cover clean helps to help deter critters chasing worms or acorns.
Come spring, your winter pool cover deserves a nice bath. Spread it out over a clean, sloping driveway, and use a hose and a soft push broom (or pool brush) to scrub off winter gunk and grime. Rinse well and then spread it out to dry before folding and placing in a cool, dry location for the summer months. If you have field mice in the area, place your cover in a large trash can or trash bag with moth balls.
What about Safety Pool Covers?
An inground safety cover is easier to maintain during the winter months, because water on the cover will drain through the mesh panels. You should keep an eye on the water level in the pool though, so that it doesn’t rise above the bottom of the skimmer. Also, if the water level drops too low (due to a leak), a heavy snow load can put a strain on the springs and straps.
Upon installation of a safety cover, it is important to not install the cover too tight - so that it creates stress points, especially on the corners. The springs of a safety cover should be about 1/2 - 2/3 compressed. Check that your cover springs are not too loose or too tight and adjust the straps if needed.
The cover should overlap the inside pool edge by 12-18". Areas of greater overlap may require padding beneath the cover to prevent the coping from rubbing on the cover fabric. Sharp coping stone corners or rocks should also be padded. You can use carpet remnants or sheets of heavy vinyl.
Take a look at the trees around the pool. If possible, trim back the branches that may fall on your expensive safety pool cover and cause an expensive repair. Small branches, of 1" diameter can even be damaging, if they hit the cover at the right angle. And more than the cost, it's inconvenient to send the cover off for repair.
When storing the cover in the spring, place indoors if possible. If stored outdoors, or even in the garage, add Moth Balls or Mint leaves to the cover bag to repel burrowing rodents. They like to make nests in the folds of the cover, and usually end up chewing holes through the fabric.
Small pool cover holes during winter?
If the holes are accessible, one can purchase a patch kit, cut it to size and adhere it to the torn area. If the holes are out in the middle of the pool, wait until you take the cover off, spread it out in the yard, and once the cover is dry, repair holes in a floating, tarp style solid pool cover with a cover patch kit. A temporary fix can be made with duct tape. Patch holes promptly, to prevent them from spreading. For safety covers, or if you want a better patch on your solid pool cover - use these mesh cover patches.
For cover holes, be sure to reposition the cover pump, so that you don't pump the pool out through the hole! If the hole is near the edge of the pool, and the cover is large enough, sometimes you can shift the cover a few feet, so the hole is near the coping edge; raised above the water.
What should I do for large cover holes during the winter?
The way to repair large holes would be to obtain a larger patch to put over the hole. Depending on how large the holes are, another remedy would be to duct tape the area that is torn, if you can reach it. If it is warm enough, remove as much debris off the cover as possible. Remove the cover, lay it out in the yard and cut the size of the patch that you need to repair the large holes. Reinstall the cover. For safety covers, a panel replacement is usually done for large holes.
What if my cover falls in the pool, what should I do?
First, you should try to remove any debris that is still on the cover. The easiest way to accomplish is to use a leaf rake to scoop the debris. Be careful not to puncture the cover by dragging sharp sticks. Remove the cover from the swimming pool, and inspect it for tears and other damage.
Then assess the amount of debris in the pool, and start scooping it out with a pool leaf net, pushing it slowly across the floor. Spend the time needed to get as much debris out of the pool as possible. Test the water, chemically treat it if necessary, and reinstall the cover as you did when you first closed the pool.
So, remember, pool covers do a BIG job. Take care of your winter pool cover and it will take care of you - and your pool! If you have cover care tips to share, leave a comment below for us.
SPP Pool Expert