In Pool Central’s part of the world, swim season ends shortly after Labor Day.
If you also live in a cooler climate, you too may already have thought about when and how to close your swimming pool. While cleaning and winterizing are important steps, one of the most controversial topics seems to revolve around the pool cover.
What’s the best pool cover to use? What’s the best way to weigh down a pool cover to keep it secure for the winter? What can you do to prolong the life of your pool cover?
Pool Central examines each of these end-of-summer pool maintenance questions.
Do You Have to Cover Your Pool in the Winter?
A swimming pool is a significant investment. Don’t you want to do everything you can to keep your pool beautiful and in good shape? That means, unless you are able to use your pool year-round, you definitely should protect your above-ground or in-ground pool with a winter pool cover.
There are several additional reasons to use a pool cover.
First, swimming pool covers prevent debris, bugs and small critters from entering your pool and fouling the water.
In the winter, a heavy duty pool cover helps keep rain and snow from mixing with your pool water and throwing the chemistry out of balance. It also helps protect the pool and equipment from stains and scaling.
When the weather turns warmer in the spring, pool covers block sunlight to reduce algae growth. Hopefully, this means your pool isn’t filled with disgusting green sludge when you remove the cover.
What Type of Pool Cover Should You Use?
Most pool owners use a fitted pool cover that is the right size and shape for their pool, or even a pool safety cover (more about those later).
Resist the temptation to cover your pool with a standard blue painter’s tarp. While it may work fine over the summer for your neighbor’s small, metal frame or inflatable above-ground pool, there are some good reasons to invest in a quality cover designed specifically for pool winterization.
A quality pool cover will fit your pool snugly and, with the help of clips and tethers, be less likely to come loose in high winds. It also will last longer and be less inclined to rip.
If you have an inground pool, consider investing in a safety pool cover. This is an especially good idea for families with pets or small children. As the name implies, safety pool covers are very strong pool covers that can support weight, thereby preventing accidental drownings.
Since pool safety covers are securely anchored to the pool deck, pool weights are not necessary.
How Should You Secure Your Pool Cover?
If your area is prone to severe storms, you’ll want to minimize potential damage to your pool and cover by making sure the cover won’t flap and tear, or get blown off.
Above Ground Pool Covers
You can secure an above ground pool cover several ways.
- Loop anchor lines through grommets in the pool cover and tether them into the ground with stakes. Some people also use carabiner clips to hang milk jugs half-filled with water from each grommet.
- Tie a cable through the grommets and secure it beneath the rails, using a winch for the tightest possible fit. Use cover clips to clamp the cover to the pool railing for added security.
In-Ground Pool Covers
If your inground pool cover isn’t strapped or anchored, there are a few reliable ways to keep it secure.
- Pool cover sandbags are a tried-and-true method to weigh down a pool cover. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to use. You can also use the sand-filled weights that hold down your patio table umbrella in summer.
- The water tube is a pool winterizing standard, although some pool owners consider them a headache to use. Water tubes are easy to fill, but some can be flimsy. If they’re punctured by an animal or a falling tree branch, the water will leak out and the weight becomes useless.
- You’ll still find pool owners who swear by bricks or cinder blocks to weigh down their pool covers. Most pool experts don’t recommend this method for a couple of reasons. First, the rough surfaces of construction materials can rip your cover. Second, if they fall or are dragged into your pool, they can tear your pool liner. Plus, they’re not easy to get back out!
Some Pool Cover Accessories to Consider
Certain pool winterizing accessories can ease your pool closing routine.
- Winch. This simple and inexpensive mechanical tool helps obtain the tightest fit when using a cable to secure pool covers for above ground pools.
- Winterizing Pillow. An inflatable winterizing pillow is a small investment for a big job. The pillow goes in the water under your cover to protect the frame of your above-ground pool. When winter ice forms and expands, it compresses the pillow, not your pool frame.
- Pool Siphon. A low-cost cover siphon helps prolong the life of your pool cover. Large puddles of rain and melted snow on top of your pool cover could rip the fabric or loosen the ties. A siphon works on simple physics (not electricity) to remove the water.
As your final swim of the year draws near, now is the time to prepare your winterizing supplies. Check your pool winter cover for damage. Check your pool cover weights for leaks.
And if you need to replace or add to your pool closing accessories, make your list and fill any gaps before winter kicks in.