Swimming pools are often the center of attention in warm months. Who doesn’t love spending time at home around the pool? In fact, in the United States, swimming is the fourth favorite recreational activity.
Winter-time however, is tough on pools. This is when proper maintenance will ensure that you’re able to enjoy your pool again when it warms up.
Installing a pool cover for winter is a must. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of using one.
Best Types of Pool Cover for Winter
Before we get into how to care for a pool cover, it’s helpful to know what kind you should buy in the first place. You can find heavy duty pool covers online and, depending on your area, at a local store.
Your choices are a tarp-style cover or a security-style cover, such as vinyl or mesh, which are stronger. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each kind.
Tarp-Style Pool Covers
Although cheaper, tarp covers don’t make the best winter covers. To use one in the winter you’ll have to keep a pump on top to stave off any water build-up. You can expect this variety to last from one to three years maximum.
Mesh Pool Covers
The next step up is a mesh-style cover. These kinds require no extra maintenance or work during the winter once installed. They are also light-weight, so one person can handle installation and removal without help.
The main drawback to a mesh cover is that your water will still collect dirt and debris throughout the months. Your pool will need a thorough spring cleaning.
Mesh pool covers cost about $400 less than solid vinyl ones. This variety generally lasts from ten to fifteen years. Much longer than a standard tarp cover.
Solid Vinyl Pool Covers
And finally, the grand-daddy of them all; the solid vinyl pool cover. A vinyl pool cover is a more suitable option for keeping out the winter elements and protecting your pool. They do require a pump, however, like the tarp-style ones.
Strong and durable, this kind keeps the water clean. This means less maintenance for you when spring comes around. Vinyl covers can last up to eleven years.
Now that you understand the different types, let’s talk about how to take care of them throughout the winter.
Protecting an Above Ground Pool Cover from Wind Damage
An above ground pool is more at risk of wind damage than its in-ground counterparts. High winds can rip a cover apart. Not only that, the sheer force of a cover ripping off or becoming a pool parachute will damage the actual pool as well.
For this reason, be diligent when installing a cover. Here are our top three tips for preventing wind from ruining your pool components and your day:
1. Install Pool Cover Clips
Pool cover clips are cheap and easy to use. You simply hook them to the cover and then to the underside of the pool rail.
Don’t skimp on the number of clips that you use though. You want to create a secure attachment to the pool to prevent anything from getting in or under the cover. Leaving large gaps between clips creates vulnerable spots.
2. Strap It Down
Above ground pool covers should come with grommets around the edges. They’ll also have a cable and winch system included for tightening the cover around the pool. Here’s how to use this system:
- Wrap the cover under the rails of the pool.
- Put the cable through the grommets.
- Ratchet it tight using the winch.
Proper installation will hold the cover taut and prevent the wind from getting underneath. A tight cover will also prevent debris from getting up underneath and into the water.
3. Add Water on Top
This may sound counterintuitive, but adding up to three inches of water on top of the cover is a smart idea. It adds extra weight and protection to the cover itself. That said, make sure that the layer of water on top doesn’t get above three inches.
Too much water weight weakens seams and the cover could sink into the pool water. Wondering how to remove water from the pool cover if it does? Get a pool pump to suck the excess water away.
Preventing Ice Expansion Damage
Most of us know that when water freezes, it expands. When it comes to above ground pools however, this ice expansion pushes on the walls. Too much pressure will damage them causing a potential breakage in the wall.
Use a pool pillow to act as a cushion, absorbing some of that pressure. Sounds a little crazy, right? Yes, but it works.
All you do is blow it up and place it in the center of the pool under the cover. Done.
In-Ground Pool Cover Care During Winter
In-ground pools are not as much at risk of wind damage as above ground ones, but they have extra enemies to worry about. Elements such as tree limbs, ice, and melting snow are among them. Here’s how to keep that in-ground pool cover in good shape.
Tree Limbs and Branches: Preventative Care
The main cause of punctures in swimming pool covers during the winter is fallen tree limbs and run away branches. The sheer weight of snow and ice in the winter gets too heavy for weak tree branches, causing them to come down on your pool. Even people in warmer winter climates should pay attention to what’s hanging above their pool.
To prevent this from happening, call in the services of a tree trimming expert ahead of time. Have all the dead or excess limbs hanging above your pool removed before winter hits.
How to Handle Surface Ice and Snow
In harsh winter climates, ice is bound to form on top of pool covers. Your first instinct may include shoveling it off.
But, that ice won’t damage the pool cover. However, trying to remove it might.
Never try to shovel, scrape, or melt ice off of a pool cover. The ice will melt in time and the cover will return to normal.
If you’re using a sold vinyl pool cover, keep excess water pumped off as much as possible to prevent thick layers of ice from forming on it. As for snow, that’ll have to wait until it melts.
If your cover gets punctured, a quick and temporary fix is duct tape. Dry the area off as well as you can and patch it up. Most pool supply stores carry mesh cover patches as well.
What’s the Bottom Line?
In-ground and above ground pools each have their own unique threats during the winter months. Use our tips above to stave them off.
But, no matter how tempting, don’t altogether skip installing a pool cover for winter. You’ll regret it when spring comes around.
If you’re in the Katy, Texas area and need help getting your pool ready for spring, we’d love to help! Contact us for your free consultation.