How to use a
winter pool cover and help protect the
equipment? Winter pool
covers are used for several primary reasons: to
protect the pool from harsh winter weather, to
help keep out accumulations of wind-blown dirt,
leaves and debris, to keep water from
re-entering the pool and for safety reasons.
Cover are made from a variety of materials
including mesh fabric, vinyl and laminated
materials. Some types of covers are designed
primarily to seal off the pool for the winter,
without necessarily considering the safety
factor. Other cover stress the safety factor.
Inground and Above ground cover are different in
design and usage. Stock or custom covers are
available to suit most needs. Proper winterizing
protects your investment and can help make
springtime opening easier and less expensive. If
problems arise, refer to the
Page, as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
Join our E-Letter Mailing List.
You'll receive 1-3
E-Letters a month, featuring helpful pool and
spa advice, new product information and sale
announcements. All we require is your
e-mail address and you can opt out anytime you
wish. Your information will never be
shared or sold.
Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
Winter Pool Cover Choice?
I have a new 16' X 36" inground vinyl
pool. I live in upstate NY and will soon have to decide on a
cover. I am undecided between a solid cover or a mesh cover.
Help pointing out advantages would be helpful. Thanks a lot.
Ralph, NY, 7/6/2014
A solid cover can be made from a variety of materials and
can be anchored in place or held in place with water filled
bags. The anchored covers can provide greater safety, but
both are designed to keep water and debris out. Mesh covers
are anchored in place, provide great safety, but allow water
to pass through. Some solid covers have draining features
built in. Other types combine the benefits of a solid cover
with a mesh cover. In the final analysis, you have to decide
on your needs and which type of product best fits your
budget. Consider the ease with which the pool can be
covered, if you are planning on doing the work yourself.
Good luck and I hope that I have helped with the decision.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/7/2014
Worms Or Debris Getting Under An Inground Safety Cover?
a problem with worms and some debris getting under the
safety cover and ending up in the pool. What is your opinion
on using water bags along the edges of our safety cover?
Stacy G., Piedmont, SC, 9/27/2014
Water bags would work, but there is another way, that I like
better. You might have to loosen and then tighten the straps
to do this. Around the entire perimeter of the cover,
between the cover and deck, insert a continuous row of foam
play noodles. They are commonly used in pools. After
retightening the straps, they should make a really good leak
and keep worms out and debris from blowing in under the
cover, as well. I know that this provides a good
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/27/2014
Draining Winter Pool Cover?
I am buying my first pool and the
salesman has sold me a winter cover that is self draining.
No little submersible pump needed! He also said I do not use
a pillow with this cover since the water will not accumulate
on top. I remember my father saying that a pillow is needed
to protect the sides of the pool from ice that freezes under
the cover. Can I use this cover without a pillow or am I in
Steven E., 10/14/2012
It is called progress and you're not in trouble. At least
not this kind of trouble! The pillows are used on above
ground pools to raise the cover up, so that water will run
off. Some water will accumulate around the perimeter and
help keep the cover in place. In your case a pillow would
serve no function, as the cover is designed to drain any
accumulations of water. Have a good winter.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/14/2012
► To Cover Or
Not To Cover Pool?
Hi Alan , thank you for the helpful
information you're providing us with. I live in Montreal
Quebec" the freezer" I had an in ground pool 80k liters
built last year with vinyl liner and the installer carried
out the closing last winter. He blew out the return lines
and plugged them, blew out the skimmer line, plugged it and
installed a foam kit that acts as ice compensator in the
skimmer. He lowered the water level and drained the sand
filter and the pump. He advised not to cover the pool during
winter, did not remove the pump just left the plugs open and
did not mention any thing about liner protection and air
pillow. When I opened the pool last summer every thing went
well. Now it is my turn to close the pool this season. What
would you suggest to do? Is the pool cover essential and
what is its purpose? What would I use as ice compensator?
Thank you in advance for your answer.
Khaled L., Montreal, Quebec, 10/4/2011
The cover helps keep dirt and debris out of the pool and
makes springtime opening a lot easier. Branches and foreign
objects are kept out of a covered pool and this will help
protect the liner. A covered pool will experience less
freezing than an uncovered pool. If you use a
cover, it will help protect children and animals from falling
into an open, uncovered pool. There are several types of
covers available. You can use an ice compensator and/or
winter plug, in the skimmer, and it will act as an ice
compensator. For the pool, you can add air pillows, foam
noodles or empty, capped plastic bottles. I definitely am in
favor of covering the pool. I hope that this information
will be helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/4/2011
► Pool Cover
Drain - Leaving Open Or Closed?
I have a solid safety cover with
drains located in the middle of the cover. These drains have
Velcro covers and I am not sure why. It is my thought to
just leave these covers off and let the rain/snow drain into
the pool. I guess my question is, if you leave the covers
on, why are the drains there in the first place? Thanks.
Michael D., 10/16/2011
Mesh covers or covers with drains tend to let small
particles and waste to pass on through. The pool water
level will rise, depending on the amount of rain and/or
snow. The higher pool water level might need to be lowered.
With the drain closed, water will accumulate on top, as will
leaves and debris. Again depending on the amount of rain and
or snow, the cover may need to be pumped off. In the spring,
it can be a challenge to deal with a cover full of water and
debris. I becomes difficult to remove all the water and
debris, without allowing some to spill into the pool. I hope
this helps explains your choices.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/17/2011
We purchased a home that has a 27 ft.
above ground pool. The pool is completely surrounded by a
wooden deck. We have yet to find a good way to cover the
pool for the winter season. Apparently the deck was built
around the pool and sits too low to fit a pool tarp over the
edges of the pool. We have tried, to no avail, to secure
many a pool cover to the deck. The wind is too strong and
rips the tarp every single year. The previous owner said
that he couldn't come up with a good idea to cover the pool
either, so he just left it uncovered. We really don't like
that idea, though, because we have put in a new liner. Also,
we have tried water bags and they didn't seem to help. Could
you give us a suggestion? We are running out of ideas. Any
help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Teresa D., 8/30/2005
There are cover that strap down and can be attached to the
deck. It would have to be made to order. You could use those
foam noodles around the pool perimeter, as means of helping
to seal off the pool and prevent water and debris from being
blown under the cover. Have you tried an oversized solid
cover held in place by water bags? Use a large ball or
pillow to get the water to run off. I hope these suggestion
help. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster/ 8/31/2005
Thank you for getting back to me so
quickly. I'm wondering if you could elaborate just a bit
more about your suggestions. Are you referring to tarps such
as safety covers that lie flat across the top of your pool
and deck? And if so, what purpose do the foam noodles serve?
I guess I don't understand how to use the foam noodles in
the closing of the pool. And with your second suggestion, if
you get the oversized cover, where do the water bags get
placed? Last year, we tried them on top of the cover at the
edge of the water itself, but the wind pushed them right to
the middle of the pool. So then, we put them on the top edge
of the decking surrounding the entire pool and, you guessed
it, they got blown in on top of the cover anyway. Maybe a
larger ball in the center of the pool and water bags at the
edge of the water with an oversized cover? That sounds
promising except I'm not sure yet how to keep the wind out
from under the cover if the edges of the oversized cover
remain unsecured. At any rate, thank you so very much for
taking the time to consider this situation and make
suggestions. We so appreciate your opinion and think your
information base is superb. Have a great day.
Yes, I mean a safety cover. There are many brands, with
solid, mesh or combination covers, as well. The purpose of
the foam noodles is to seal off the space between the cover
and the deck. It prevents leaves and debris from blowing
into the pool. This idea was from my brother-in law and
seems to work well. With a light weight solid conventional
cover, the bags go on the deck, all around the pool
perimeter, and hold the cover in place. You can cut off all
of the excess cover to avoid it acting as a sail. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/31/2005
With A Safety Cover?
Our pool is a 16' X 36' and we had it
built with the intention of adding an automatic safety pool
cover in the future. My question is can the safety pool
cover be used as winter cover? Thanks for the help.
Dawn & Jim, Fayetteville, NC, 6/3/2011
In many areas a
safety pool cover can be used as a winter
cover. However, the procedures for winterizing are
different. The water level must be dropped below the
returns, the lines blown out, openings sealed off and ice
compensators or winter plugs, added to the skimmers.
Afterwards, the water level is raised so that it will help
support the cover, in case of major accumulations during the
winter. It is still possible to use a conventional winter
cover on top, in order to completely seal off the pool for
the winter months. A lot depends upon where in the country
you are and the type of winter conditions. Your dealer or
installer should be able to provide you with specific
instructions for your needs. I hope that I have been
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/3/2011
Ground Cover Woes?
I have read how pillows keep the pool
cover up so that rainwater will not settle on top of the
pool and run off. This is not the case with our above ground
pool (36X18 oval). The rain settles all around the edges of
the pool and gets so filled at the cover gets pulled in on
the side. We were told that when you use a pool cover pump
it also sucks the water out. The pool as well. This is
really a big problem for us and we were wondering why bother
with the pillow since the rainwater does not run off anyway.
What would happen if we did not use the pillow? Any
suggestions on how to keep the cover from pulling off on the
sides? Thanks for your advice.
The G. Family, NJ, 11/8/2005
It sounds like the water level in the pool is too low. If
you use a skimmer plate, to cover the skimmer opening, you
can keep more water in the pool. That way there is less area
for rainwater to accumulate in. The only way the pump can
remove water from the pool is if there is a hole in the
cover. That would seem to be the case, based on your
description. As long as the cover sits on the surface the
leak will add water to the top of the cover. You might need
a new cover or more than one pillow. I hope that I have been
of some help.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/18/2005
► The Best of
Good day Alan, It seems that I come
every other day with a question however, knowing that we now
have a great support, then, why not. Here is my dilemma. As
you may recall I am trying to put a mesh safety cover on my
pool and been trying to get all information before I buy it,
because this is a big investment for me. What I encountered
yesterday is; one of my pool chemical suppliers advised me
that he had a customer who put a mesh cover on his pool and
due to the fact that there are small openings in the cover,
much of the small dirt, and dust particles infiltrate
through these holes in winter. Another aspect of the matter
was that during the summer time, upon installation of the
cover, the sun ray would also infiltrate through the cover
and cause algae growth under the pool cover. So he ended
tossing down this investment! What do you think, is the mesh
cover worth it or, no. I cannot go with the solid cover now.
Need your help and advice. Thanking you kindly.
Peter B., 9/20/2004
There is no doubt that standard mesh cover will allow dirt
and small debris to pass right thorough. They are great at
keeping larger debris, kids, animals and more out of harm's
way. Safety is the number one advantage. You can always
clean up a dirty pool. There are some mesh covers with
designs that better deal with the dirt problem: built-in
filtered drains or pumps. Some mesh cover designs limit the
amount of Sunlight passing through the cover. I hope that I
have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/20/2004
Editors Note: an industry source pointed out that a
solid cover can be placed below a mesh cover. That allows
for the major debris to remain on top, where it will dry out
for easy removal. Water passing through the mesh cover
should be removed with a submersible cover pump.
► Two Covers Are Better Than One?
I have an in-ground pool with a taut cover that is entirely
mesh. I'd like to cover the mesh with a solid cover to keep
out the dirt. The pool is really dirty in the spring. Can I
put a solid cover over the mesh one? I am in Rochester, NY
where we can get quite a bit of snow. Thanks.
Joe F., Rochester, NY 9/11/2008
I have asked this question, myself. Contrary to logic, they
suggest putting the solid cover, under the mesh cover. Use a
submersible cover pump to remove excess water. That way the
bulk of the dirt is on top and is easily removed, in the
springtime. Then you pump the solid cover dry and scoop off
as much as possible. I hope that information is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/11/2008
► Question Of
Hi Alan. This year for the first time
I had my pool closed by a pool co. I also got a safety cover
with a mesh drain in it. The pool co. did a lot of things I
have never done before and am curious if they will work.
First, he didn't remove the pump, blew out the pipes and put
antifreeze in it. Second, he didn't lower the water in the
pool below the skimmer as we have always done. He put a
couple of crushed-closed bottles with a little antifreeze in
them into the skimmer. Said that would protect the skimmer
from freezing. Also didn't shock the pool, said all that
would do was cause wear to the cover. I live in Maryland and
we had a pretty cold winter last year and I am wondering if
this will protect the pipes to my pool. And we have always
removed the pump and brought it inside for the winter, will
it be OK to leave it out with antifreeze in it. Thanks for
Rosie, Maryland, 10/25/2003
Blowing out the lines and protecting the pump with a
propylene glycol-based antifreeze will do the trick. Would
it have been better to remove the pump and store it indoors?
Yes, but that would take time and reflect in the cost. Not
lowering the water level will result in water in the lines
right up to the bottom of the skimmer. This is, hopefully,
below the freeze line. I would prefer lowering the water
level and blowing the lines and sealing off the skimmer
intakes with a, ice compensator or winter plug. The crushed
bottles will act as ice compensators and help protect the
skimmers. High chlorine levels can take a toll on the vinyl
liner. The chlorine level; may have been high enough, so
that additional shock was not required. In your situation,
the mesh drain will allow the pool water level to rise over
time and I am sure that an experienced company would have
taken the necessary precautions for your area. I hope that I
have been helpful. Have a good winter.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/25/2003
Holes In Winter Cover?
I had an in-ground pool put in two
years ago and have used a solid winter pool cover to
winterize the pool. Last year when we opened the pool the
water was very clean. This year it was an ugly brown mess
due to three holes in the cover. The holes are about one
inch long by ¾ inch wide and are very close to each other.
It seems that a 6” by 8” patch would cover all of the holes.
Is there an effective way to patch a pool cover? Or should
I spend the money on a new cover?
Kevin M., Orchard Park, NY, 5/30/2007
Boxer Adhesives makes a line of winter cover repair kits and
patches that you can use. It just might solve the problem.
A hole in the cover,
not only allows dirt to get in, it makes it more difficult
to drain the cover and remove the accumulation of debris. I hope this
information proves helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/30/2007
Sizing Or Installation?
Desperately need help!! My pool cover
fell in. What should I do? We have an above ground pool, in
which we have decked fully around. When it was time to
purchase a cover, we went to a pool store and told them what
we have. THEY suggested we buy what you would use for an
inground pool. So we spend close to $200 on all their
products and last week the cover fell in. They had sold us a
cover with the water bags you fill up, and put all the way
around the pool. There is not much left around the edges
once you cover the pool, but they were told our
measurements, and said this was what we needed (oval 12x24).
The little winter plug thing you put in the side of the pool
where the water pumps water in, also fell into the pool.
When we called them for there help, they told us they didn't
know what to do? Help - First time pool owners.
Desperate, London, Ontario, 1/16/2005
The fact that the decking completely encircles the pool,
does prevent you from covering the pool, as if it were a
typical above ground pool. From your description it sounds
like the cover was too small and was not resting and being
supported on the surface of the water. Once water or snow
accumulated on the cover, the weight pulled everything in.
The only other possibilities would be if water leaked out
(you would see a lower water level) or the level was too low
to start with. A properly sized and positioned cover should
be in contact with the water, over all but the extreme edges
of the pool, and have 2-3 feet of cover lying on the deck
all around the pool. This allows for the water bags to seal
off the cover and hold everything in place. If the cover is
undersized, it may not be worth retrieving it and replacing
it on the pool, as the same thing could occur again. It
could be best to recover with a properly sized cover.
However, you need to confirm that the cover was really too
small and not a case of being installed improperly. I am not
sure that there is anyway that I can suggest otherwise. In
the spring you can clean the pool up properly, when the
weather becomes more cooperative. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/16/2005
Return To Top Of Page