Remember "SWIM" When Buying a Pool Cover!by Karen DeMasi
Sep 14, 2000
As summer comes to an end, the chore of getting the family pool ready for winter becomes a reality. It's not necessarily a fun chore, but it has to be done (in most parts of the country, at least!).
Besides cleaning (vacuuming, scrubbing, etc) your pool better than you did all summer and adding the proper winterizing chemicals, the cover is the most important element in keeping the pool free of debris over the winter months.
Now onto the topic...How to buy a pool cover (Above-Ground)
The first thing is the most obvious:
Size...Make sure you buy the correct size cover for your pool.
Do not buy a cover that is the same size as the pool, you need a few extra feet for overlap.
Example...My pool is a 27 foot round above-ground (measure from edge to edge across the pool if you are not sure). The proper cover size for it is 31 feet.
(Make sure it says for a 27 ft pool, not that the cover is 27 ft).
That allows for enough of the cover to overlap and be secured so there are no openings in which leaves and debris can enter the water.
Plus, if the cover is too short, and not secured correctly, a good wind can grab the cover or it can sink into the pool, thus defeating the purpose.
Warranty...Pool covers come in varying strengths (thicknesses).
They are priced according to how many years you are supposed to get out of the warranty.
I have found, through experience and from the pool store (an employee who wasn't going to be selling any expensive 15 year warranty covers!) that they just don't make them like they used to.
She claimed a 10 year pool cover no longer lasts 10 years, but a few seasons at best.
Being a fairly new pool owner, I cannot attest to this...only my own experience in the last few years.
If you live in a particularly cold portion of the country, ice, snow and freezing temperatures really take their toll on a cover. Most warranties do not allow for this, only for manufacturers defects.
Improper use is not covered under warranty, so if a grommet ripped away from the cover because it was not correctly placed on the pool, or you had so much ice on the cover that it ripped, it will not be covered.
Warranties are pro-rated. The cost of a replacement is a percentage of the original purchase price, depending on how long you have owned the cover. It is not a free replacement.
Take that into account, along with the fact that most manufacturers want you to return the cover to them at your expense, and it seems more economical to just buy a new one when the time comes.
So, in my opinion, unless you live in an area of the country where your winters consist of mild temperatures with no ice or snow, a more expensive cover will only be a waste of money and will probably last a few winters before you have to replace it.
Get the cover that is affordable to you and take the best care of it you can (manufacture recommended cleaning and storing instructions will help prolong the life of the cover.)
Included...The cover typically comes with a cable and winch set to secure it to the pool.
If it is not included with the cover, be sure to get a set.
There will also be warranty papers and instructions.
Warranties are typically pretty limited, as stated above.
Material... There are basically two types of covers...solid and mesh.
Solid covers will keep out the sun, helping to prevent algae growth (adding an algecide before covering will help too.)
But, solid covers will collect a lot of water. No matter how many tire tubes or air pillows you place under the cover, there will usually always be a dip in the cover where water can accumulate.
In our case, we have a solid cover and use a submersible pump to drain the water. We tend to drain the water occasionally during the winter between freezes to prevent putting undue stress on the plastic cover from heavy ice.
Mesh covers will not accumulate water (yay!) but they will let the sunshine in (boooo!)!
If you have a lot of trees near your pool, a good combination is a mesh cover over a solid cover.
That way, when you re-open the pool, you can remove the mesh first, without all the leaves falling into the clean pool, and deal with the water on the solid cover after that.
One more thing to consider is when to buy your cover.
If you buy an air conditioner during a heat wave, you will pay top dollar.
Consider this when buying your cover.
Don't wait until the ground is freezing (some pool stores are only seasonal and you will be out of luck trying to find one at that time anyway).
Online/Mail order catalogs usually have good prices all year.
One company I buy pool supplies from is:
They are reasonable and have quick shipping.
All in all, buying a pool cover is not brain surgery.
Shop around and remember:
SWIM: Size, Warranty, Included, Material!