A winter safety cover not only looks great, lasts for years and requires virtually no maintenance, but it keeps your pool safe and secure. Even if your fence is left wide open, you can rest easy knowing that your pool is safely covered. Pets and children, or even adults that fall onto the cover will be well supported. Considering the alternative type of winter cover, a safety cover is money very well spent - and, you can install it yourself, and save loads of money.
In order to install a Rectangle or Freeform safety cover you will need the following tools:
- Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer Drill
- 3/4" concrete masonry drill bit
- Chalk Line and piece of chalk
- Tape measure and Hammer
- 50-100' extension cord
- Several 5 gallon buckets
- Shop Vac or garden hose
Should I winterize the pool before the cover is installed?
I usually winterize the pool before I install s safety cover for the winter time. You can cover the pool before winterizing but you would have to remove the cover to be able to access the skimmer and returns of your swimming pool. With winterizing the pool before installing the cover you have access to everything so it is easier and quicker to do it that way.
On the other hand, it can be easier to install the safety cover if the water level is higher in the pool, so that the cover is floating on the surface as you spread it across the pool. This is more helpful for freeform cover installations, as it may help you to more easily center the cover on the pool.
How do I install a rectangle safety cover?
To install a Rectangle safety cover the first thing to do is check the label on the box and make sure the dimensions are correct for the size pool you own. Then take the cover out of the box and lay it on the grass or driveway and measure the length and width of the cover, then measure length and width of your pool. You want to divide the difference between the safety cover and pool measurement in half and then mark the pool deck with chalk at the ends of this distance from the pool edge. An example which will help explain this is a 16'x32' pool and cover size is 18'x34' - the difference of 2ft becomes 1ft on each side of the pool. You will need to have 2 marks at each corner of the pool cover which are easy to see.
Next, take your chalk line and snap a chalk line across the marks that are on the pool deck. Make sure your chalk line extends at least 30" beyond the pool sides. Now do the same for the width of the pool. Next start on 1 corner and locate where the 2 chalk lines intersect. On the corner locate the intersecting point and measure 16" towards the end of both lines and then mark these points with chalk. Repeat the same procedure for the other 3 corners of your swimming pool.
Now it is time to start drilling the holes that you previously marked on all 4 corners, 2 holes on each corner with a total of 8 anchor locations. A helpful hint in regards to drilling would be to measure up 2" from the bottom of the drill bit and then put a piece of duct tape at that spot. Now when you are drilling your anchor holes this will make it easier to drill to the proper depth of 2" deep. Once the edge of the tape gets to the edge of the deck stop drilling and back out the drill.
After drilling the hole use the shop vac to vacuum up the dust so that you can insert anchor into the hole. You can also use a garden hose to spray the dust off the deck, but be sure to hose it off completely, so the concrete dust doesn't dry on the deck.
When installing the brass anchor into the hole you just drilled remove the male threaded half and insert the aluminum tamping tool that is provided into the anchor body. Place the brass anchor in the hole and then tap the top of the tamping tool with a hammer until it is flush with your concrete patio. Thread in the male half so that top is approximately 1/2" above the surface of the pool deck.
Now it is time to install the springs on the straps of the safety cover. Slide the triangular end of the spring over the strap, and allow it to hang down towards the ground. Then bring the strap under the buckle, and back through the top. Sounds confusing... hard to explain, but similar to a backpack strap. Once you get one strap connected the others will be easy.
When installing the springs onto the brass anchors use the notched installation tool that is provided with the safety cover. This is done by inserting rod through the end of the spring and stretching the spring onto brass anchor. Next install anchors in the center of the deep end and shallow end to hold cover in place. Follow procedure until all of the springs are installed on all of the brass anchors.
As you install the springs onto the cover, adjust them all to the same length at first. In the end, you'll want all of the springs to be about 50% compressed; you can tighten or loosen each spring by adjusting the straps as needed.
How do I install a freeform safety cover?
When it comes to installing a freeform safety cover you will follow the same procedures I discussed previously on installing the springs and buckles to straps on a free form safety cover.
Take the cover out of the box and measure the exact dimensions of swimming pool and safety cover. From the difference between these measurements adjust the overlap so that you have an equal amount of overlap around the entire cover. Typically most freeform safety covers have a 16"-18" overlap but check your paperwork that is included with the cover and that should give you that information.
Take the cover and lay it over the pool making sure you have an equal overlap, and the cover is centered over all parts of the pool. Once the cover is laid out over the pool take several 5 gallon buckets filled with water or sand and place them on a few straps to hold cover in place. You can also use old solid cover water tubes, if you have some of those.
Locate one of the straps near the center of the pool cover and measure back 16" from the edge of the overlap on the cover, then drill at both ends of the pool in line with strap of the cover. Take shop vac and remove dust from the hole. Insert brass anchor, attach springs and buckle on strap and then stretch spring onto the brass anchor with installation tool. Next find a strap on the safety cover that intersects with the strap you already installed and install as same procedure above.
Once installed go back and adjust the shorter strap so that the first strap you installed stays straight. Next you want to locate anchors from the center of the strap and drill anchors, insert anchors, attach buckles and springs to straps and then stretch onto to brass anchor with installation tool. Recheck the centering of the cover and move the buckets if necessary.
Now that you have 2 width straps installed find another strap that is towards the middle going across the pool and drill anchors, insert anchors on both sides holding strap in place, attach springs and buckle on strap and then stretch spring onto anchors with installation tool. After completing the installation of the first 8 anchors install the remaining anchors working form the center of the cover to the ends. Alternate sides and attach and secure each set of 2 springs to the cover as each set of 2 anchors are installed.
Make sure that the seams on the cover are running straight and not curving as they run across the pool. Sometimes you have to go back and adjust strap tension to make sure other seams stay straight, especially on a freeform safety cover. Check your cover for 'center' continuously as you install a freeform.
When installing a safety cover around a raised wall, make sure you don't have the safety cover material all bunched up, stretch it out so that it covers the proper area along the wall. If your swimming pool has a raised wall, waterfall or rock feature, you want to start the safety cover installation at this location first. Install wall anchors with the installation instructions that are provided.
What things can go wrong?
Gaps where the edge bunches up or areas with too little coverage, or too much coverage, or cut-outs not lining up. Most installations are flawless, but here's some examples of things to watch out for.
Strap Adjustments. If you are installing your safety cover and the cover is starting to bunch up along the edge of the cover you should start by adjusting some of the straps on the cover by either loosening or tightening the strap. This might take you a little bit of time it is done by a trial and error process. Normally when you adjust the straps this will remove the pucker you have in the material. Also make sure the strap is not twisted or upside down when it is installed onto the anchor this can cause the material to gap around the cover.
If you run into an area with too much safety cover material you can try to have extra overlap on the opposite side of the cover to offset the extra cover material. If you have too little material then you need to go back and make sure the cover was installed correctly. Try to always center the cover over the pool, for equal overlap on all sides.
Cut-Outs. If you have a safety cover with obstructions and the cut outs don't line up in proper location go back and try to adjust straps so that you can move cover and hopefully this will make the cutouts line up in the proper location.
When installing a safety cover it is very important not to rush take your time - measure twice and drill once. In regards to installing a freeform safety cover it is imperative that you drill holes on opposite sides of each strap. After drilling anchor holes and the cover is in place go back and make necessary adjustments to the straps so that the seams run straight on the cover, and you keep the cover centered over the pool as you progress.
Wood or Paver Decks. If you don't have a concrete patio follow the manufacturer's installation instructions for a wood deck or Brick paver installation. In regards to a wood deck you need special wood deck anchors in order to install your safety cover.
For a Brick patio you need special paver tubes to install safety cover. The brass anchor is press fitted into the paver tube and then the paver tube is pounded down into the hole that you drilled so that it is flush with the top of the brick pavers. This gives you the strength and stability to hold the weight on a safety cover.
Give us a call with any questions you may have on pool safety covers - I installed my own, and you can too!
SPP Pool Expert