This winter is shaping up to be rainy, icy and snowy, with greater than average precipitation across the country. If you are unused to large amounts of snow on your pool cover, here's a short post about what to do with Ice and Snow on a pool cover.
I have had a solid cover on my pool for years, but just this year purchased one of our mesh safety covers, and installed it back in September. With a safety cover, I'll do some things differently this winter in regards to rain, snow and ice and my pool cover.
RAIN & POOL COVERS
The small cover pumps, at a much lower cost of $40-$60, do not usually last longer than 2-3 seasons, and they are prone to fail when you need them most. Little Giant pumps cost more, but last much longer than the cheaper imported pumps of 250-500 gallons per hour.
With a solid pool cover, an electric cover pump is the best way to keep it reliably pumped off. I think the best pool cover pumps are made by Little Giant, such as the Water Wizard, and the APCP cover pumps. They both pump down to 1/8" and are extremely durable, and last for years.
ICE & POOL COVERS
Freezing rain is predicted in many areas over the next few days, I just noticed. Freezing rain doesn't have much effect on a pool cover, other than make the surface icy and slick. The larger concern of freezing rain and pool covers is overhead branches laden with ice, which could snap and fall into the pool cover; probably damaging it severely.
If a cover pump is not in place the rain and snow melt will freeze solid across a solid pool cover. This could damage the pool cover as it thaws and refreezes, which makes the edge of the ice sheet sharp. Sharp edges of the ice sheet on top of a solid pool cover can slice holes in the edges of the cover material.
Aboveground pools have extra concern about ice, not only on top of the pool cover, but underneath it as well. Air Pillows prevent the a solid sheet of ice from forming, above or under the pool cover, They break up the ice sheet so it doesn't become one solid sheet of ice, which puts pressure on above ground pool walls.
Melting Pool Cover Ice? Generally not a good idea, or an easy one, to try to melt ice on the pool cover - it's best to let it melt on it's own. If the water has become very deep on the cover, and is now frozen solid across the pool, there is nothing to do now but wait. If the ice sheet is very thick, melt a hole for the cover pump by pouring a few gallons of hot water slowly into one spot.
Breaking Pool Cover Ice? Also not recommended. The more cracks that are made in the ice, the more sharp edges there are. You may need to break a small hole for the cover pump, which can be done carefully with a hand tool if the ice is thin.
SNOW & POOL COVERS
- 1-2 feet - no worries
- 2-3 feet - stay calm
- 3-5 feet - take action
Did you see the news of heavy snows around Buffalo, NY - buried under 5 feet of snow? Maybe you were one of them, and wondered what to do when there is several feet of snow on top of your pool cover?
Solid pool covers, the floating water bag type - the best thing to do with a lot of snow on your pool cover is to leave it alone. However, if you do not have a safety cover, you should remove snow from around the cover, to delineate the pool edge, for safety reasons.
Aboveground pools with 5 feet of snow could collapse under the weight, although this is rare. 3 feet of snow? Likely not a problem, but if you are concerned, you could walk around the pool, carefully removing snow from on top of the pool cover, with a plastic shovel. Leave at least 6" of snow on the cover to hold down the cover.
Safety pool covers like mine look as if they are going to break when they get a heavy mix of ice and snow on the cover. But again, the best thing is no-thing; just let it melt on it's own. it is also important for safety covers to have the water level in the range of 2-12 inches below the tile. If the water is too low, the cover has no support and if it's too high, it gets stuck to the ice.
Melting Pool Cover Snow? As above, generally not a good idea to consider, but if you have a warm day, and one of the cover pumps above which pumps 1200-1700 gallons per minute, you could spray water on top of the snow from a garden hose, to melt the ice. Using a large cover pump allows you to pump it off before the temps drop below freezing again.
Shoveling Pool Cover Snow? Most manufacturers recommend against this practice, as it's very easy to damage the cover with sharp edges of a snow shovel. Like the time my 2 boys decided to be helpful and clean the snow off of Mommy's car. She still has the scrapes all over the roof of her car from the snow shovels!
~~~ Bottom Line is - do not worry about the snow, just be ready to either pump water off the cover (solid covers) or lower the pool water level (safety covers), to prevent cover failure or pool contamination. Same thing with ice, remove the melt as soon as possible, and for aboveground pools, be sure to use an Air Pillow under the cover.
SPP Pool Expert