Winter can take a toll on a pool cover. You can keep your cover looking nearly as good as the safety cover pictured here, by following simple steps for pool cover care.
Pool covers not maintained during the winter will invariably become damaged, and require replacement.
Safety Pool Cover Care:
Maintain Tension: Adjust the straps if needed, for equal tension on the cover springs. Cover springs should be about halfway compressed. Safety covers should look very taut, but have a slight deflection in the middle.
Inspect for any gaps against raised walls or steps that could allow small animals or babies to crawl through. If cover adjustment does not help, use heavy foam to block the gap.
If your safety cover deck anchors are missing or broken, see my earlier post on Top 3 Pool Cover Anchor Problems.
Maintain Water Level: Water level should not be too low. If you could receive a foot of snow, this can damage the cover without the water level beneath it for support. Add water if need be, to maintain the level in your pool.
Water level should also not be too high. If it touches the underside of the cover, it creates a wet spot that prevents leaves from blowing off, and it also allows their tannins to leach into the pool water.
If your pool water level rises under a mesh safety cover, a good way to lower it is to use a small cover pump in your skimmer or on the top shallow end step, and pump it down to that level as needed during the winter.
If you have a small hillside next to your pool, you can use a short garden hose as a siphon to lower water level.
How to start a siphon: Remove a few springs in a corner and fold the cover back. Run the hose out straight and then push it straight into the water to fill the hose with water. Have a helper hold one end of the hose in the water. Cap the other end of the hose with your thumb, and pull the hose away from the pool and to a point lower than the other end. Release your thumb and the water will flow. Now place a weight or otherwise secure the hose at the level in the pool that you want it to drain to.
Keep it Clean: Clean around the pool cover and to remove leaves stuck beneath the edge of the cover and the straps. The top of the cover should be kept clean of leaves and twigs. Use a leaf blower, or gently use your leaf net or pool brush to clean the surface periodically.
Patch the Holes: Patch any holes to prevent them from spreading. Safety cover patches by 3M are easy to use, and produce a permanent patch for small holes and tears in either mesh or solid safety covers.
Let it Snow: If your cover has snow on it, do not try to shovel it off, or melt it off! When it freezes solid and the cover is iced to the pool surface, don’t worry – when it thaws the cover will spring back to shape. No need to encourage it, you may damage the cover. A safety cover in good shape can easily handle 3 feet of snow or more.
Solid Pool Cover Care:
Keep it Taut: Solid covers that are not secured by enough water tubes or weights will slip toward the pool when heavy rain water builds up on the surface. When the water is removed with a cover pump, wrinkles are left behind in the pool cover.
Pull an inground cover that has slipped back up onto the deck, and remove any wrinkles. This will help the cover to drain towards the pump more easily and can also prevent damage by heavy sticks caught between folds of pool cover material.
Replace any broken water tubes that you notice during the winter. Don’t use bricks or blocks or anything that could damage the pool or pool cover. Sand Bags or very large planters can be used in spots, but you need to have the entire perimeter weighted.
For aboveground pools, if your cover has slipped or has many wrinkles, it may be too large for your pool size. In The Swim covers have a 4 ft overlap, which should leave about 12-18″ of overlap around all sides.
Check the tension on the cable and winch used on aboveground pool covers. In areas of high winds, secure the cover with cover clips. These keep the wind from getting under the cover. Adding a water tube in the middle or using wall bags around the edge of the aboveground cover will keep the “wind whip” to a minimum.
Maintain Water Level: Just like a safety cover, if the water level under a solid pool cover drops, the cover will not be supported. For solid covers, no water underneath allows a small amount of rain water to pull the entire cover into the pool. Messy.
Monitor the water level in the pool, and add water if it drops during the winter. This could indicate a leak in the pool, or, you could be pumping out pool water with your cover pump – through a hole in the cover near the pump.
Keep it Clean: A clean pool cover will deter chipmunks, squirrels and birds that may scamper across your cover, chasing acorns or worms.
Placing small plastic bowls or containers of water around the pool can provide water for desperately thirsty animals who may discover that they can puncture your water tubes to get a drink of water.
Removing rotting leaves and sharp sticks from the cover with a pool brush or your pool leaf net will prevent a clogged cover pump, or damage to the cover.
Keep it Dry: A dry or nearly dry pool cover won’t attract worms and birds. Several inches of water on the cover will stress the cover seams and allows very small holes to leach contaminants into your clean pool water.
Placing your cover pump on an upside down Frisbee or other plastic base with smooth rounded edges helps prevent cover damage from placing or moving your pump.
Trim the Trees: If you have a lot of trees around the pool, you probably are using a Leaf Net on top of your solid cover, to easily remove fallen leaves, but have you considered trimming the trees?
Now is a good time of year to trim excessive growth of trees, especially those that overhang the pool, drop a lot of litter, or block a good deal of sunlight. One heavy branch falling on your pool cover could ruin the cover, and create a lot of winter pool work.
Take care of your pool cover, and it will take care of you!
InTheSwim Blog Editor