Winter Pool Covers

Friends of ours do not bother covering their pool in the winter time. We have always put a cover over the pool as soon as we close it for the season. It stays on the pool until we open the pool the following spring once it is warm enough to start thinking about going for a swim. It is big, difficult to handle, hard to clean and frankly is a pain to install and remove. Are our friends taking the right approach to not using a pool cover and leaving the pool exposed to the elements all winter long? With all of the work looking after a pool, opening and closing the pool and dealing with a pool cover is just one more step that many of us could do with out.

Why Use a Pool Cover

Well it turns out that there are some good reasons for using a pool cover and this is what makes us install it every year even with all of the extra work. Our pool liner is vinyl and subject to aging like all pool liners due to the suns ultraviolet rays.  An average pool liner according to the pool companies should last around 15 years before needing replacement.

The vinyl  liner will become brittle and will easily crack as it gets older. Ultraviolet rays will only speed this process up and with the chlorine in the pool while it is operating aging will only speed up.   Covering the pool in the off season will limit the UV rays and since it is not operating, you are not adding chlorine either. All of this will help to preserve your pools liner for a few extra years. Anytime you can defer spending several thousand dollars to replace a pool liner is a good deal. We have had several rips in the line which we were able to have repaired. These rips were due to some construction going on around the pool and not natural rips caused by age. Our liner is now in its 24th year!

Types of Pool Covers

There are several types of pool covers. The most popular one is a large tarp that is spread across the pool and held in place by rectangular vinyl  tubes filled with water. The cover fits over the pool on top of the water and overlaps on to the deck. These covers are relatively inexpensive and do a great job of keeping the UV rays away from the liner and also limiting debris from entering the pool.

There are also safety pool covers which provide additional protection in addition to protecting your liner from UV rays. They are more expensive, however they will prevent debris from settling into the pool since the cover is suspended by steel connectors across the top of your pool and all debris will be blown away by the wind. These covers also prevent pets and children from falling into a closed pool.

How to Install a Pool Cover

Installation of the tarp style of pool cover is relatively easy. Once the pool is properly prepared for winter, i.e. the pipes, pump and filter are drained and plugged the cover can be placed over the top of the pool and the weights put in place to hold the cover in the proper position over the winter.

The safety cover will take a bit more work, however most people can install the safety cover easily to hooks on the edge of the pool. The cover is hooked to the pool deck using stainless steel single coil springs with d-rings for easy installation.

Removing the Pool Cover in the Spring

Removing the tarp style cover is usually more work in the spring. A great deal of dirty debris and water will be laying on top of the tarp, which most people will try to remove prior to dragging the tarp off of the pool. All of the weights must be removed first, and drained. Then the tarp is pulled off allowing a great deal of dirt and leaves to go into the pool. This all has to be vacuumed up and the pool cleaned before you can begin using it. Additionally the tarp and the weights need to be properly cleaned prior to storing for the summer season. Remember that if you do not use a pool cover all of this debris will be in the pool anyway.

The safety cover style of pool cover is typically much easier to deal with. It is spread over the top of the pool and all debris has usually been blown off of the safety cover by the wind. It is not touching the water so debris is never caught and left to sit on the pool cover. You should still probably clean the cover before storing it, but the job is much less. Sales people claim that you will not have debris such as leaves and other material in your pool to deal with, however we find that in addition to leaves, there are many worms that crawl into the pool in the fall looking for warmth. They obviously die and need to be cleaned out in the spring. The safety cover will not prevent this problem.

Storing the Pool Cover

All covers should be cleaned and allowed to dry prior to being stored for the summer. We wash our pool cover on the driveway, let it dry and then fold it up and store it in the garage. If you do not give it a good wash and allow it to dry, you may have a dirty smelly cover to deal with through the summer in your garage.

Is It All Worth It

Owning a pool is certainly more work with the daily maintenance, opening and closing in the spring and fall. Adding a pool cover increases the amount of effort needed, however as an investment of time and money, anytime you can defer spending several thousand dollars by several years or more, it sounds like a good deal to the writer. Placing a pool cover on your pool over the winter months will definitely prolong the life of your liner and defer the need to replace it prematurely.

Our next pool cover will likely be the safety type which will significantly decrease the amount of leaves etc that get into the pool over the fall and winter.

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