By now we should all know that when winter comes, you should be ready to prepare your pool. From chemical treatments to cleaning and storing equipment, getting an above ground pool or inground pool ready for winter is important. When you fail to winterize your swimming pool, you run the risk of freeze damage or contamination. One of the most important aspects of preparing a pool for winter is installing a pool cover for the winter.
Some readers might think that all pool covers are created equal. Squeaking by on your summer cover might seem like a good idea. Maybe you don’t want to spend the extra money, or perhaps you just don’t understand the difference. Either way, a winter pool cover is not the same as a summer pool cover. Pool covers for the winter are designed specially to help your pool weather the colder months.
If you’ve been on the fence about buying a pool cover specifically for the winter season, here’s your sign to take the leap. Read on to find out why a pool cover for winter is a must. Learn what to look for in a winter pool cover, and find answers to some of the most common FAQ’s.
What is a winter pool cover?
The first question you might have before buying a pool cover for the winter season is, “how does it differ from a regular pool cover”. This is a great question. The answer boils down to the purpose of each type of cover.
In the summer, your pool cover is designed to serve a few very simple purposes–warmth, safety, and cleanliness. It needs to keep your pool warm and prevent large pieces of debris from dirtying the water. It also need to keep children and pets safe. In the summer, you will cover and uncover your pool frequently. Because of this, summer pool covers are generally lightweight, and less heavy duty. Additionally, they typically do not form as close of a seal around your pool’s perimeter. You don’t have to worry as much about the prospect of them touching the surface of your pool because there is no risk of freezing.
In comparison, a pool for winter is much heavier, and serves a larger purpose. A pool cover for winter seals tighter, and is kept off the surface of the water. While summer covers often center around warmth and protecting others from your pool, winter covers center around protecting your pool from other elements. Often, manufacturers place less focus put on appearance and convenience for many winter pool covers.
Different Types of Winter Pool Covers
Even when it comes to a pool cover for winter, there are a few different types of winter pool covers to choose from. The type that is appropriate for your pool will depend on the type of pool you have, and factors such as cost. What makes sense for a rectangular, inground pool may not make sense for an organically shaped above ground pool, and vice versa.
Solid Pool Covers
The first type of winter cover for a pool is a solid pool cover. This type of pool cover is typically made from vinyl. This makes them the heaviest option of the three winter covers. However, they are also the most impenetrable of the bunch. The heavy duty material makes them great for standing up against rain and snow. Even better, they do the best job of blocking sunlight.
Even though most of us don’t associate winter with sun, even a moderate amount of light can create conditions for algae blooms come springtime. To secure a solid pool cover, install anchors and springs around the perimeter of your inground or above ground pool. These solid covers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be custom fit to your pool. When not in use, fold and store somewhere cool and dry.
The next type of pool cover for winter is a mesh pool cover. More typically seen during summer as a type of safety cover, newer mesh models have changed construction. New, micro-mesh covers are now available for winter use.
Micromesh covers are lighter weight than their solid competitors. Benefits of mesh covers include increased durability and flexibility. They also drain water that would collect on top of a vinyl cover and cause potential rips or tears in a solid cover. However, this draining effect does have a catch.
While you won’t have to worry about siphoning water off the top of your pool, you will need to worry about the water level in your pool. If you are planning to use a mesh cover this winter, lower the water level of your pool a few additional inches to accommodate for extra rain or snow melt.
All-Season Pool Covers (Automatic)
Finally, the most expensive version of a winter pool cover is an automatic pool cover. Calling an automatic cover a winter cover is actually incorrect. Most automatic covers feature updated designs, and protect your pool all year round. These covers are solid, and designed to fit your pool perfectly. They are weight bearing and act as a safety barrier in the summer, and protection of your pool from the elements during the winter.
It should be noted that automatic covers are often not designed for use on above ground pools. Additionally, you may find it challenging to find contractors who will design an automatic pool cover meant for organically shaped pools. However, if the conditions of your pool are correct, and you have a little bit of extra money to spend, automatic covers bridge the barrier between summer and winter protection. This means increased convenience and durability. For many families, this is worth the price tag.
No matter what kind of cover you have, you’ll notice that winter pool covers are advertised ubiquitously with another product–air pillows. But what are air pillows? And what purpose do air pillows serve in protecting your pool during the winter?
Think of air pillows as a barrier or cushion, or sorts. Imagine a vinyl cover that is flush with the surface of the water. While this may seem fine, now imagine what would happen to that cover during a freeze event. If your pool cover freezes to the surface of the water, you are going to have a hard time removing it. The cover may be ripped, torn, or damaged, and you may not be able to remove it at all.
Air pillows are designed to solve this problem. They float on the surface of your pool, and create a barrier between the cover and the water. If you have a vinyl or mesh cover that runs the risk of making contact with your pool water, then air pillows are a winter must have.
Can I use my automatic pool cover in the winter?
Yes, most automatic pool covers are designed for all season use. If you are unsure of whether or not your automatic cover is graded for winter protection, reach out to the installer to confirm. However, most automatic pool covers can also be considered a pool cover for winter use.
Should I cover my pool’s pump?
If you cannot store your pool’s auxiliary equipment out of the elements, you should be sure to cover it. Equipment such as pumps, filters, and hoses should all be kept clean and dry during the winter months.
Do I need to cover my pool in winter?
Yes, you should always cover your pool in the winter to protect against sunlight, debris, evaporation, and freezing events. In some climates, winter may not mark the end of pool season. If you swim all year long, then winter covers may not be necessary.
What is a pool cover pump?
As mentioned, solid pool covers do a great job at keeping out rain and snow. But that extra liquid has to go somewhere. And if it is not flowing into your pool, it should not sit on top of your cover adding extra weight. Pool cover pumps are exactly what the name suggests. Pool cover pumps pump the extra water from rain or snow off of the cover of your pool, relieving the extra weight.
How do you winterize an above ground vs inground pool?
There are many common steps for winterizing above ground and inground pools. In fact, the main differences between the processes are minimal. We’ve talked in depth about how to prepare your pool for winter. Read more about inground and above ground pool winterization here.