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    Storing your Solar Blanket for the Winter

    September 27, 2012
    debbiefarnan

    With summer coming to a close and your pool water getting colder, it is time to start thinking about closing your pool. One of the first items you need to store for the winter is your solar blanket, also called a summer cover, by some pool owners.

    Correctly putting away the solar blanket for winter is very important.  We want your solar blanket to last as many years as possible, and I'm sure that you do too! If you paid the money to buy a good quality solar cover, you definitely want it to last for several years!

    CLEANING YOUR SOLAR BLANKET

    The first step to preserve and increase the lifespan of your solar blanket is to give it a good season ending cleaning. I like to roll mine up and carry it to the driveway, where it will drain well while I clean it. I keep about half of the cover folded, lying on the side yard, and pull a large section of it across my driveway.

    After hosing it down, we pour a dish soap/water mix (very slippery!) over the top and brush the surface with a soft push broom. Then hose it thoroughly to rinse it well. We like it to dry faster, so then we turn on our leaf blower and blow off most of the water. Then we pull over another section on top of the section we just cleaned, and repeat the process.

    I wouldn't recommend pressure washing your solar blanket, unless it was very low pressure, with a wide stream. I think old soap and water and a little elbow grease is all you need to clean your solar blanket.

    DRYING YOUR SOLAR BLANKET

    After the cover is cleaned, it needs to be dry on both sides before folding. If you put it away with any water on it, you will end up with mildew growing on it over the winter. Mildew is very difficult to remove and you may end up having to buy a new solar blanket. It not only smells bad and looks bad, but mildew actually is degrading to the solar cover; it weakens the material.

    We like to lay our solar blanket over the clothes line to dry. I just move it once or twice and it dries on both sides. Don't lay your solar blanket to dry on the grass in the hot sun - it may burn the grass brown if left too long. You could pull it over top of a large car or boat, or anywhere you have some room available. Maybe on top of your pool cover, right after you install it.  Remember to flip it over and dry both sides of the solar cover before you fold it up for winter storage.

    FOLDING YOUR SOLAR BLANKET

    Once you are sure the solar blanket is clean and completely dry, you are ready to put it away. Assuming that you are not using a solar reel to store the solar blanket, there are two ways to fold your solar blanket. Fold it or Roll it. You can either fold the blanket on the seam that runs down the middle. Then keep folding in the same direction of the seam until the width is manageable, about 2-4 feet wide. Now fold the entire length in half, in half again and so on, until you get a manageable length.

    The other way of folding is not really folding at all, it's rolling up the blanket. Especially if it's small and round, rolling it up is easy to do, and avoids wrinkles. A combination method of folding your solar blanket involves making one fold one the seam, and then rolling it up. After it's rolled up, you can use string or masking tape to keep the roll together.

    STORING YOUR SOLAR BLANKET

    CONTAINERS: Store your solar cover in an area where mice cannot get to it. Mice like to make nests inside of the folds of the solar blanket during the winter.  They can do a lot of damage to the solar blanket. My husband stores our solar blanket in a large trash can that he bought for that purpose. After putting on the lid, we store it in the backyard shed. By doing this, we are protecting the cover from any small critters. Any type of container that is animal proof will work.

    REELS: A lot of solar blankets are very big and would be easier to keep rolled up on a solar reel. You will still need to make sure the solar blanket is clean and free of debris as well as nice and dry. In this case, there are solar blanket covers that you can use to protect the solar blanket rolled up on a solar reel.  A solar blanket cover will protect your solar blanket from the sun's damaging rays, snow, rain and ice during the winter months. Most solar blanket covers have drawstrings and straps at both ends of the cover.  This way you can pull it tight preventing any mice or other critters from getting into the solar cover. A cover for your cover! What will they think of next?

    Basically, you want to make sure the cover is clean and clear of any debris.  Whether you take the solar blanket off the pool and store it in a shed or you leave it on a solar reel, you want to make sure that the solar blanket is dry so that mildew cannot grow. If you are going to keep the solar blanket outside, make sure it is stored somewhere mice, chipmunks or any type of critter cannot get to it.

    Debbie Farnan
    SPP Pool Enthusiast

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    debbiefarnan
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