Winter is coming. Is your pool ready? If you’re planning to close down your pool for the season, a pool cover is essential. Pool covers protect your pool from the elements, prevent unsightly debris from piling up, and provide an important safeguard for children and pets.
Which cover is right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options.
A typical “standard” winter pool cover is made of a tarp-like material and is designed to keep out dead leaves, debris, and sunlight during the months you’re not using your pool.
Winter pool covers are affordable, widely available for both in ground and above ground pools, and they’re usually easy to install. However, these covers tend to deteriorate quickly and most will need to be replaced within two or three years. They’re also not the sturdiest option. Although they are designed to stay firmly in place -- above ground covers are held in place by heavy-duty cables; in ground winter covers are held in place with specially designed water bags -- they won’t stand up to heavy weights.
Swimming pool safety covers will cost a bit more than standard winter swimming pool covers, and installation is slightly more labor-intensive. But many swimming pool owners find that the extra cost and work is worth it: Safety covers last longer (if they’re properly maintained and stored, of course), and they’re strong enough to keep unattended children and small animals from falling in the water.
There are two types of safety covers:
Durable and long-lasting, solid pool safety covers are designed to stand up to heavy winter debris and snow. They also block out sunlight, which prevents harmful algae growth. The only drawback to a solid cover is that it’s well . . . solid. There’s no place for rain or melted snow to pass through, which means you’ll need a pump to keep your pool cover free of excess water.
Mesh covers protect your pool and keep out debris like leaves and tree branches. They’re also deceptively strong. Mesh covers are held in place by a network of heavy-duty straps, which means they stay firmly anchored in place all winter long and can easily support thousands of pounds. And although mesh safety covers won’t block out all sunlight, most of them offer some degree of sun protection to help inhibit algae growth. And because water can pass through mesh easily, there’s no pool cover pump required.
Winter pool covers will keep out debris and sunlight, but they typically can’t hold substantial amounts of weight. Safety covers, on the other hand, are purpose-built to be extra strong, which means they can keep unattended kids and small animals out of the water.
Although it’s far the priciest option, an automatic swimming pool cover makes up for its hefty price tag with convenience. With an automatic swimming pool cover, you get the strength of a safety cover at the touch of a button -- literally. These retractable covers are made of super-durable fabric and designed to keep out debris, sunlight, people, and pets. Unlike a traditional safety cover, though, these covers are built in and controlled by a button or a switch.
When it comes to safety, it’s hard to beat automatic covers. Once they’re closed, they’re closed -- and nothing’s getting through. Of course, these covers are not the right fit for every pool, and they might not be the best fit for above ground pools or pools with unusual shapes. Another consideration: In addition to being expensive to install, the actual pool cover will need to be replaced every five to seven years.
There’s more to winterizing your swimming pool than choosing a cover. You can choose from a wide variety of winter pool supplies that can help you remove snow and debris, maintain your pool’s chemical balance, and more:
Q: How long will my swimming pool cover last?
A: A basic winter cover might last 3 to 5 years, but a tougher safety cover (such as a solid or mesh cover) can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years.
Q: How much does a swimming pool cover cost?
A: That depends on several factors, including the size and shape of your pool, and the type of cover you choose. In general, smaller covers and covers made of mesh will cost less than larger, solid covers. And, of course, automatic pool covers will be the most expensive of all. A retailer that sells pool supplies and pool equipment can give you an estimate based on your swimming pool’s unique dimensions.
Q: Can you repair a pool cover?
A: If your pool cover has minor damage, such as a small hole or tear, you can repair it with a specially designed patch kit. Keep in mind, though, that if your pool cover is older, or if the damage is extensive, it might make more sense to replace it entirely.
Q: How do pool covers work?
A: Pool covers are pretty simple: They act as a barrier between your swimming pool and the outside elements. A basic pool cover can help retain heat, keep your pool free of debris like leaves and dirt, block sunlight, and inhibit algae growth. Some pool covers -- known as “safety covers” -- are also strong enough to prevent people and animals from falling in by accident.
Q: What is a pool cover pump? And do I need one?
A: A pool cover pump keeps water and melted snow from pooling on top of your pool cover and weighing it down. You’ll need a pool cover pump if you opt for a solid pool cover. If you’ve got a mesh pool cover, however, you don’t need to worry about a pool cover pump. The tiny holes in a mesh cover prevent water from collecting.
Q: What kind of winter pool cover do I need?
A: The pool cover you choose will depend on several factors: Is your pool in ground or above ground? Do you get a lot of snow where you live? Do you want something strong and ultra-durable or quick and easy? Speak with a retailer that specializes in pool supplies to learn more about the available options.
Q: Do I need to clean my pool cover?
A: Yes! A good maintenance routine can help extend the life of your pool cover. Here are some things you can do to keep your pool cover in tip-top shape: