Pool Cover Removal, Cleaning and Storage

ooh, ugly and gross, needs some work

If you have a mesh or solid safety pool cover, pictured left – removing and storing the pool cover for winter is not so much trouble, but if your pool cover looks more like the one on the right – it’s gonna take a bit longer and requires a bit more care.

Here’s how to remove both pool cover types, safety pool covers and solid pool covers.

How to Remove a Safety Pool Cover

  1. Hose, skim, or blow off the pool cover thoroughlyreplacement brass safety pool cover anchors pins
  2. Hose, broom or blow off the surrounding pool deck
  3. Loosen all springs with your spring removal tool
  4. Flip the springs inward, on top of cover after removal
  5. Tighten down cover anchors with 1/4″ hex key
  6. Pull one end of cover over the pool deck 4 – 6 feet
  7. With a helper on the other side of the pool, put your foot on the cover seam that runs between you – with your opposite hand, grab the cover where the next seam meets the strap/spring. Pull this seam to meet the pool cover edge
  8. Continue fan-folding the pool cover, seam to seam, accordion style
  9. Use a leaf blower or a hose while folding, if needed, to clean debris
  10. When the cover is folded into one long section, fold this in half, then half again. Roll-up the last portion tightly. Stuff it into the cover bag and allow to drain before storing for the summer.

To all you safety pool cover owners, 10 steps seems like a lot, but you know that it only takes 10-15 minutes to remove, clean and fold a safety pool cover. You paid a little more for your efficient, time-saving purchase, and now it’s payback time.  🙂

How to Remove a Solid Pool Cover

Now, for the rest of you unlucky souls… just kidding! The process is nearly as easy. cover pumpSince all of the water from the melting snow or rain accumulates on top of a solid cover, the first step is to remove this water. Any kind of cover pump will become your useful tool for the next several hours. Run a hose out to a sewer or the furthest part of the yard.

Now, if you are fortunate enough to own a winter leaf catcher, you winter pool leaf netcan pull 99% of the leaves and debris off the cover with one easy motion. Leaf catchers are inexpensive, wide-mesh nets that you place on top of your solid pool cover. Easy to remove from the pool; you can haul the whole mess somewhere appropriate to dump it out.

If you don’t have a leaf catcher on the solid pool cover – grab that long pole and start skimming. We need to remove 99% of the leafs, sticks, bugs and other debris by hand. Don’t make the rookie mistake of pumping all of the water off, but then leave the debris on the cover to bake hard in the sun.

leaf-rake-bag-type-pool-skimmer-netIt’s much easier to use a leaf rake type of skimmer net to remove the leaves and debris while there is still some water on the cover. Having a helper with a plastic bristled pool brush on a pool pole can help to push the debris into an area where you can scoop it up with a leaf net.

Here’s a Tip: tighten-up the cover first! It will help to make cleaning and skimming an inground solid cover easier if you pull out the wrinkles on the surface. Work your way around the edge of the pool cover, pulling the cover back away from the pool edge, pulling the water bags along with the cover.

After all the debris is off, plug the cover pump back in and remove any remaining water. Now, it’s time to remove whatever was holding your cover in place. If it’s water tubes, flip open the lids and drain them. Hose them clean, fold them or roll them up and put them in a box, safely located for next time. If you use the time-saving Aqua Blocks, just pop the tops, empty the water, and stack them up.

For aboveground pools, after all of the water is removed from the cover, loosen the cable/wench assembly and remove the cable that secures the pool cover around the pool. Be careful not to allow the pool cover to fall in the pool as you remove the cable. Have at least 1 helper on hand, and two would be helpful.

Finally, it’s time to pull the pool cover off of the pool. If it’s windy, pull the cover off length-wise in the direction the wind is blowing. With a helper on the opposite side of the pool, pull the cover rapidly from one end to the other, keeping it waist high and not letting the edges dip into the water.

If there is still a few gallons of water on the cover, concentrate it into one area and continue pumping. When it’s down to a few gallons, both you and your helper can grab up the cover and pull it completely off and away from the pool.

Remove the cover to a clean area, so that you can spray down the cover. Sloping driveways work best, but a clean, grassy hillside will work too.  After rinsing and brushing with a pool brush or push broom, allow the cover to dry before folding. Be careful not to leave the cover over top of grass for too long, it may brown the grass temporarily.

I wonder if we’ll ever see a pool opening crew featured on the television show “Dirty Jobs“? In the words of show host Mike Rowe,“It’s a dirty job, but somebody has got to do it.” Looks like this year it’s you – Good luck with this Dirty Job!

Michael Doan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Pool Cover Removal, Cleaning and Storage — 4 Comments

  1. This was our first winter with a pool. 30′ round aboveground. Used the mesh winter cover. We tried to pump off water when we were ready to remove, but we realized we were pumping all the water not just the water on top. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Julie, I’ve never actually removed one of the mesh aboveground pool covers, but I would think that the best way may be to fold it in half, bringing one side to the other side – then slowly keep pulling the pool cover off the pool (with 2 or 3 people), bunching up the cover and pulling it over the wall, pulling all debris and water to one area, which you slowly make smaller and smaller. The water on top of the cover should drain into the pool, through the mesh. Slowly though, it could take up to an hour (?) of slow movements? Alternatively, pull the cover tightly across the pool, so that the cover is above the water, then use a Leaf Rake bag or Powerful Leaf Blower to remove surface debris on the cover, then just quickly pull the cover off the pool, just sliding it off to one side. If anyone else has a suggestion, please chime in!

  2. I was once told that its a good idea to store a safety cover in a plastic box, rather than the storage bag i came with, to prevent potential damage from pests or rodents.

    I can’t find a box big enough though. 40 gallons was the biggest i found, and it seems like i need something twice as big. Have you ever found anything big enough to store a safety cover?

    • JB that is an excellent question. You are right that safety covers make attractive summer homes for mice and other creatures. The mesh bag that comes with the cover does not keep them out, they’ll chew right through the bag. Same with using large trash bags. If your cover is small, you can use a large trash can and lid, or one of those Jumbo rubbermaid bins, but if your pool is big or curvy or both, even the large trash service cans are too small. To answer your question, No, I have not found a great safety cover storage idea. I wish we had one made of a heavy plastic material that mice wouldn’t chew thru. You can use moth balls or mint sachets to deter the mice, and it also helps to hang the cover up in the rafters of the garage, if you have them exposed, or inside the house, anywhere that is harder for them to reach.

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