By now, most people who are planning to close or winterize their inground pool will have already done so. Now you can rest easy, no more pool maintenance. Or is there? You still need to maintain the pool cover, to protect the pool, but also to care for the pool cover. Here's an article on how to care for inground pool covers.
Solid Pool Covers
Solid winter pool covers, also called lay on the water covers are a popular type of winter covers. These covers are made to float right on the water and overlap your pool deck. Depending on how low the pool water level is, normal overlap is 2 to 2 ½ feet. Water tubes on the edge of the cover will hold it securely.
Water: Water will build up from rain and snow melt on top of the cover. Having a cover pump is the easiest and best way to keep your cover nearly dry. Automatic cover pumps are the best way to go, and are also made to last for many years.
We also have small pool cover pumps, very economical to buy, which will get the job done. The drawback to a cheaper cover pump is that they are much slower and you have to remember to shut them off, or the cover pump motor will burn out.
Cover pumps can pump water from underneath a solid cover, through holes in the cover. A simple trick to avoid this from happening is to get an old Frisbee, place it on the cover upside down with the ridge facing up and put the pump on that.
Leaves: When leaves or debris are on the pool cover, take your leaf net and pole and scoop them off so they will not sit there and decompose. Sharp sticks or branches should be removed carefully so they won't pierce the pool cover.
Acorns attract squirrels with sharp claws, and worms attract birds with sharp beaks. Keeping your pool cover taught, without wrinkles running across the surface, will help it to drain faster and make it easier to clean. A Leaf Net makes heavy duty leaf removal a snap!
Holes: During the time the cover is on the pool, if it develops a hole you should patch it either with a cover patch or duct tape - if you can reach it. If your pool cover is oversized, and the hole is close to the edge, sometimes you can slide the cover closer to the edge, to move the hole into the area where the cover begins to rise over the pool coping.
If the pool cover has a hole in the center that you can't reach, you can either remove the cover and fix it now or wait until spring. If you leave the cover on, pull it as tight as possible, and add more water bags. Place your cover pump as far away from the hole as possible, and use the Frisbee trick (see above).
If your cover pump begins to pump water through the hole(s), no matter where you position the pump, use these other tricks. Under the cover, you can run a rope or twine from one side of the pool to the other, staked off tightly. This will raise the cover in the area of large holes, and keep the hole off of the surface of the pool. Another way to keep holes elevated until spring is to fill a few water tubes with air, and slide them under the cover, under the hole(s).
You can prevent holes by keeping a clean pool cover, and trimming back any nearby trees that have grown a little too close. After the leaves drop is a good time of year to do this. If the holes are from sharp corners of your pool's edge, place some outdoor carpet remnants or old water tubes between the deck and the pool cover. Using the Frisbee trick can prevent holes from throwing the cover pump out onto the pool cover. Just place the cover pump on the Frisbee, and use your pool brush or net to push it where you want.
Storage: In the spring, clean and dry the cover thoroughly on both sides, before you fan fold it, accordion style. Store your pool cover where ants and rodents cant get to it. A pool cover in a damp shed is a great place for small insects and critters to make a summer home. Storing a solid pool cover in a heavy trash bag or even better, a small trash can with a lid will give it the best protection.
Water Tubes: Should also be cleaned and dried before rolling or folding them up the tubes for storage, in a box or heavy trash bag. Set aside any water bags that were flat and need patching, or set them out with your recycling, without cleaning. Double water tubes that develop a hole in one tube can still be used. Pull the fill cap off of the broken tube side, so you know not to fill it next fall.
Safety Pool Covers
Safety pool covers are anchored into your deck are by far the best way to cover your pool for the off season. There are no water bags to deal with, no worries about the cover falling into the pool and the most important thing is they are totally safe. If a child or animal wander out into the pool the cover will hold them up completely.
Leaves: These covers are stretched taught across the pool, allowing most debris to be blown off easily with a leaf blower or in most cases they will blow off with the wind. If you have a solid safety cover with mesh drain panels, make sure the drain panels do not get plugged with debris or it will not drain through. When leaves blow under a safety cover over flat coping, use water tubes to weight down the edges of a safety cover.
Water: A completely solid pool cover should be using an automatic pool cover pump to keep rain water and snow melt pumped off the pool cover. Mesh safety covers are usually lowered a foot or more at closing time, so it can take many months of rain and snow to refill. If the water level rises and touches the bottom of the cover, however, lower the water so that leaves will not get stuck in the water and the water will not be warmed by sun.
Snow: During the winter, ice and snow may build up and pull your cover down deep into the pool. This is normal and even though it looks like the cover will break, it will hold and do its job. As the ice and snow melts it will raise itself back up above the water itself. It is not a good idea to try to adjust the cover at all when snow and ice is present.
Holes: Safety covers can develop a hole from a tree branch or something like that, try to remove what ever it is but don’t worry about the hole until the cover is removed in the spring. Next spring when you take the cover off, order safety cover patches made by 3M. Easy to use, and they work very well.
Storage: When the cover is removed for the season, clean it with a hose or leaf blower, fold it and put it in the storage bag. Stand it up, or place on a lounge chair and it will drain through the mesh bag. The bag has a draw string so hanging the cover up off the ground is a good idea to prevent any rodents or animal from getting into the cover.
Using mothballs or mint sachets in the safety pool cover bag will also help to deter nesting rodents during summer storage.
And there you have it, some tips on making your pool cover maintenance easier. Or, more work for you, in case you thought you were done with pool maintenance after you winterize!
SPP Pool Expert