Top 3 Pool Cover Anchor Problems

It seems to happen every year. 1 or 2 of your brass safety cover anchors either won’t come up, or they won’t go down – and some of them just spin in the hole.

Aggravating. Struggling with pool cover anchors is no fun, and leads to scraped knuckles and broken fingernails.

Here’s the Top 3 problems with brass pool cover anchors, and what you can do about it.

Hex Key Hole is Stripped Smooth

If the hole where you put the Allen (Hex) Key is rounded smooth, you will have trouble turning it either direction. First, make sure it’s not your Hex Key that’s rounded smooth, or stripped. Secondly, check that the hole is not half-filled with hardened grit.

Use a large flat head screwdriver – but not for the slots on either side of the hole. Tap the screwdriver head into the hex hole, deep enough to “bite” into the edges. Then use pliers to turn the screwdriver handle.

If the insert is raised, grab the edge with a pair of locking pliers and the anchor can usually be turned, if it’s not also seized up. If it can be fully removed, the insert half of the anchor can be replaced.

Pool Cover Anchor Won’t Turn

This can be caused by hardened grit in the threads, and/or from the outer body of the brass anchor being bent during installation into a poorly drilled hole.

If your 1/4″ hex key is twisting and bending with the force, try a Tee-handle type of Hex Key, which are made of stronger steel, and are easier to get leverage with. Speaking of leverage, if you are using the standard “L” shaped hex key, you will get more turning force when you insert the short end of the hex key into the cover anchor hole.

Lubrication will usually help. WD-40™ or 3-in-1™ oil. Nothing heavy, just a light penetrating oil. Allow the oil to soak in for at least 30 minutes before attempting to turn it again. Lubricate again, if the anchor will only turn a few turns before getting stuck again.

When turning a stuck pool cover anchor, turn as far as you can in one direction, then reverse, and back in the original direction. This helps to break up the grit in the threads.

If the insert is partially raised, try grabbing the edge with a pair of tightly locking pliers. Use the pliers as a lever, and turn it back and forth. Push with your palm and keep your fingers up, not wrapped around the pliers. This avoids scraping your knuckles – ouch!

Pool Cover Anchor Spinning

Only the top 1/8″ of the brass pool cover anchor actually holds the anchor in the hole. When the anchor is tamped into the 3/4″ hole, the 13/16″ width of the anchor collar press fits into the hole. When the hole is slightly too big, or the anchor was not tamped in place firmly enough – we get a spinner!

Loop-Loc cover anchor pinsWith pliers, or maybe just bare-handed, you should be able to pull the entire anchor out of the hole. If it’s partially raised, you can also pry it out easily.

If the anchor is seized up, lubricate and hold it firmly with locking pliers in one hand, or place in a small vice, while trying to turn it with the other hand.

If the whole anchor can be pulled out of the deck, you can tamp the anchor back in place (be sure to use a proper tamping tool), or tamp a shiny, new brass anchor into the deck, to replace a “seized spinner.”

How to Remove and Replace a Pool Cover Anchor

The Chip and Pry Method: With a sharp flat head screw driver and a small maul, chisel out the concrete around the top of the anchor. In some cases, you only need to chip out on one side – then tap your screwdriver in under the lip of the anchor body and push downward. If you chip out enough of the concrete around the upper lip, you should be able to pry the anchor out. Remember it is only being held in place by the top 1/8″ of the anchor body.

Homemade Anchor Puller Method: Use a 1/4″ tap to create threads in the hex key hole. Then place a short 1″ nipple over the anchor. Slip a large fender washer over a 1/4″ bolt that is taller than the 1″ nipple. Insert the bolt through the nipple and thread it into the tapped and threaded anchor. Tighten the bolt against the washers, and it will raise the anchor out of the hole.

There is a commercial pool tool available, called the Wingmaster, with an adapter kit designed to removed cover anchors in a similar way to the homemade anchor puller described above.

A final option would be to re-drill a new anchor, adjacent to the old anchor. The old anchor can be scored or painted with fingernail polish to easily identify it as the old, non-working anchor. If the threaded insert piece is removed or missing, and you want to fill in the old anchor body, you can use caulking or mortar mix.

Answers to your vexing pool problems. That’s what we do here – everyday! If you need replacement brass pool cover anchors, or any other items for your safety cover, visit our Safety Cover Replacement Hardware page.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Top 3 Pool Cover Anchor Problems — 13 Comments

  1. I rec’d a new set of brass anchors with my new (replacement)loop lock cover … the old ones are working fine but look 30 years old. So I’m thinking of simply replacing the screw in part of the anchor and get a new brass collar for each. Is there any way to keep them looking almost new year?

    Thanks for the advice !

    • Hi, no need to replace the anchors, unless they are sticky or non-functional, and in many cases of non-function, the entire anchor (both halves) need to be replaced. The brass anchors will tarnish within months, I don’t know of a way to keep them shiny, other than polishing them with Brasso 🙂 – so save yourself the work! BTW, you can order new safety covers without new hardware (springs/anchors), but the savings are small, a discount of $50 or so… if you have a lot of them new anchors, you may be able to sell them on Craigslist for $2 each or so…

  2. How can I reduce chipping around the top of the anchor hole.lm using a 4 point bit that cuts a perfect hole but ehen I sink the anchor I get chipping. Some arent bad but some are very bad.

    • Great question, chipping around the hole when drilling or when tamping the anchor can be avoided, sometimes. First thing – most important, is to use a sharp bit, dull bits will chip more*. And, new concrete will chip more than old concrete. Secondly, after drilling the hole, but before fully retracting the bit, rotate the drill in a circular motion, just once or twice, about a 12″ dia, to round out the top 1/4″ of the hole. This will avoid the tamping chipping that you are experiencing, but will sometimes create chipping too, depends on the deck really, aggregate decks are less ‘chippy’ than broom finished, and the more air entrained into the top surface, the more chipping can occur around the anchor hole. Stone decks, and large pavers are – most types, are very hard and don’t chip as easily. I’ve used water before too, just a hose trickling around the bit, but not sure if that helps actually.
      * in my experience a hammer drill bit is ‘sharp’ for 250-400 anchors, depending on the quality of the bit. When renting a hammer drill and bit, ask for the sharpest (newest) bit they have…

    • Hi Mark, if the anchor has fully come out of the hole, you can just tap a new anchor into the hole, no epoxy needed – the top 1/8″ of the anchor body is wider than lower parts, so it press fits into a 3/4″ hole in the concrete. Just a few hammer taps to set in place.

  3. How do you put the round back in the end of the pool cover spring so the installation and removal tool will fit in? Some of mine are stretched out and I am tired of replacing them. Thanks, Mark

    • Hi Mark, if you bang the metal tip on the concrete, it will reduce the oblong-ness, making it a bit more round, or round enough to get the tool through. Adding heat from a small propane torch would make it more bendable. (but be careful around the cover, with fire!). Keeping enough water in the pool for heavy snows prevents out-of-rounding, and springs that aren’t too tight, but half compressed or less. It’s best if water level is only 6″ below the tile when the snow hits, for the cover of average tension.

  4. Hi, is it safe to spray the anchor and screw with WD-40 every season (to keep them lubricated) or should the oil only be used if the screw is stuck?

    • Actually it can only be a good thing. It may discolor the deck around the anchor, if that concerns you. The very best thing to do would be to remove the male anchor insert fully and hose out with water. Then blow out with a leaf blower, and allow to dry overnight. Then apply a light lubricating oil (like WD-40), or you can use a heavier bodied lube like Aqua Lube.

    • Hi – I have no idea, but it’s several tons I’m sure. Safety cover STRAPS break-test at over 4000 lbs, not sure about the anchor, but it should be more than the strap.

  5. Pingback: How to Install Pool Safety Cover Anchors | InTheSwim Pool Blog

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