You may have never thought about "Winterizing" your pool solar blanket. It's not a real concept, just my made up name for some steps that you should take at season's end to protect your solar pool cover all winter long.
In the classic Frequently Asked Questions format, here's how to winterize your solar pool cover.
Can I leave my Solar Blanket on the Pool all Winter?
If you are going to be using the pool, running the filter system and swimming, you can keep the solar blanket on the pool. If you are not going to be using the pool, I recommend that you close the pool using a winter cover. If you use the solar blanket to collect leaves and debris, the debris will weigh the cover down. The cover will begin to sink and the leaves and debris will slip into the pool. If this happens, you will have a mess to clean up. If the leaves sit on the solar blanket, you will end up with slime and algae on the cover and this will also make a mess in the water.
I have a Reel, Can I leave it on the Reel?
If you have a reel and want to leave it on the reel you can do this, but I would recommend that you cover the blanket with one of our Solar Reel Covers. These covers are made to protect the solar blanket cover from the elements of winter weather, and it saves the trouble of lugging it to storage. The solar reel cover has a zipper and a drawstring tie on each end so you can tightened the ends, to keep out mice and bugs.
How do I 'Winterize' a Solar Pool Cover?
By cleaning, drying, folding and storing it properly. Give some care to your solar blanket and it will last longer. When I clean my blanket, I lay it on a clean section of yard, out of the sun. You can also run it across a driveway.
Spray it down with the hose and brush off as much of the debris as possible. I then spray on small amount (drops!) of dish detergent and use a soft push broom; you can also use your pool brush and loosen up the dirt that is stuck on the cover.
I then rinse the cover off and do the other side. I usually hang mine over a line so that is can thoroughly dry. Once the cover is dry, I just fold the cover - fan folding it to make it easier to open next year.
Winter Solar Blanket Storage
Some solar covers come with a big bag to store the cover in. I put mine in the bag, and then I put it into a container with a top on it (like a clean trash bin). If you have field mice in your area, they like to nest inside the folds of the blanket and can do a real job ruining your solar blanket. A 20 gallon trash can works really well, as they can chew through a plastic bag.
You can also store your solar blanket inside of your safety pool cover bag - if you have a safety cover. Hung from a hook high above the garage rafters will help to keep out mice and bugs, and snakes - oh my!
How do I Extend the Life of a Solar Blanket?
Maintaining your pool chemistry is extremely important to maintaining the life of your solar cover, especially proper pH, Alkalinity and Chlorine levels. If you shock the pool with chlorine shock, always take the cover off for a day. Let the shock do its thing and then put the cover back on your pool, after the chlorine level has returned to a lower level.
When you take the solar blanket off the pool so you can shock or swim, I always recommend using the Solar Cover Tarp and throwing it over the blanket. This prevents the sun’s rays from beating down on the cover, which sounds funny, but it will help to extend your solar blanket's life. If you do not cover it, move it to a clean and dry location, out of the sun.
When should a Solar Cover be Retired and Recycled?
Solar blankets usually last about 5 years if the pool chemistry is good. They will eventually start deteriorate. The first sign of the solar cover starting to wear is the bubbles will be floating on the water. At this point, the cover will soon begin to break apart like flakes. When this starts happening, you should start looking for a new solar blanket. You do not want these pieces clogging your skimmer plus the solar cover is not really working to your benefit any longer.
When it becomes time to retire your solar blanket, it may still be useful to cover a wood pile, or have some purpose. If not, be sure to recycle your old solar blanket.
Clean it, Dry it, Fold it and Store it for the winter. You can leave it on the reel, if you cover it. Keep your water chemistry balanced and remove the solar cover when shocking the pool.
SPP Pool Expert