If you have an outdoor pool, you know how much time and money goes into regular maintenance. While they are fun in the summer, the truth is they are expensive to heat and maintain, and take a lot of time and effort to get them opened in the spring and closed in the fall.
We’ve all seen it – a homeowner spends the time and money installing a beautiful pool with the vision of hosting fun pool parties, being the “cool dad” of the neighborhood, and enjoying every summer with the kids, only for the pool to become degenerate and ugly after a few seasons due to inadequate maintenance.
Pool covers are an essential part of pool maintenance, and they help reduce costs, and ensure safety. Simply put, if you have a pool, you need a pool cover and if you don’t have a cover yet, now’s the time to buy one!
There are many types of pool covers available, all with different price points and features, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a pool cover so you can choose the right one. First off, we’re going to look at why a pool cover is so important.
Why You Need A Pool Cover
Dirt, debris, and bugs that have found their way into your pool in the off season and while you aren’t using it make for a lot of work in the spring. A pool cover makes sure that come spring, your pool is free of any foreign objects, which greatly reduces the work you put in to open your pool up!
Sadly, most drownings of children in the US happen in a home pool, and are the number 1 cause of death for children under 4 years old, after birth defects. One of the best ways you can ensure the safety of your family and pets during the off-season is to invest in a pool cover that will prevent any accidents, and save you so much heartache.
Remember, a pool cover can be a crucial part of your pool safety system, but it shouldn’t be your only safety precaution! Water alarms, pool fencing, and constant supervision are essential as well to keep your family safe.
Finally, while pool covers can cost a considerable amount upfront, depending on type and specific features, they greatly reduce the costs of maintaining your pool in the long run. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these statistics:
- Reduce amount of make-up water needed by 30-50%
- Reduce chemical consumption by 35-60%
- Reduce heating costs by 50-70%
Clearly, investing in a pool cover is very important for not only your family’s health and safety, but also your financials!
Now that you understand the importance of using them, let’s take a look at the different kinds of pool covers available to help you decide which pool cover is best for you and your family’s needs.
Types of Pool Covers
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your pool cover. You really need to think about how you use your pool, how long your season is and your budget before selecting a pool cover.
Let’s look at five different types of pool covers:
- Mesh Safety
- Hybrid Safety
- Winter Pool Covers
Solar Pool Covers
Let’s start with solar pool covers, because they are typically used during the pool season as a way to reduce costs and extend the use of your pool.
Solar pool covers work by capturing the heat from the sun and transferring it to the water, reducing the energy costs of heating the water. They also help reduce the amount of water that evaporates from the pool, further reducing the energy costs involved in replacing and heating the replacement water.
Solar pool covers don’t need to be secured, so they are easy to place and remove daily, and they should be used any time the pool is not in use. They’re a great cheap and efficient way to heat your pool and reduce your costs.
However, if you are looking for a pool cover to reduce maintenance, for use during the off-season, or one for safety purposes, a solar pool cover won’t be enough.
Solid Safety Covers
Solid safety covers are a great option if you are interested in both safety and the ease of pool opening in the spring. Because they’re made of solid vinyl, if they’re correctly installed, they should stop anything from entering your pool: dust, debris, bugs, sunlight, etc.
Most come equipped with a pump to remove excess water buildup in the middle of the cover. Removing this water is important if you don’t want your cover to tear or get damaged, and if you want to get the longest life out of it.
It’s important to regularly maintain your cover by sweeping or blowing off any debris during the offseason as well. You should regularly check your pump as well to ensure it’s properly functioning and hasn’t become clogged. With the right maintenance, a solid safety cover can last 9+ years.
Mesh Safety Covers
Mesh safety covers have a great lifespan, can hold a lot of weight, and don’t need to be pumped regularly because they don’t hold water like a solid cover does. The mesh is designed fine enough to trap debris from falling in while allowing rain to drain in, meaning less maintenance.
They have anchors to stay in place, and are lightweight to ensure ease of installation and removal, and they can support a lot of weight. However, because they are made out of mesh, they can sometimes allow dust and dirt to fall through, so while they prevent larger objects from falling through (including pets and children!), they can’t guarantee the cleanliness of your pool.
When properly maintained, they have an excellent lifespan of 12+ years!
Hybrid Safety Covers
Can’t choose between solid or mesh pool covers? Don’t! There are great hybrid options available that give you the best of both worlds.
Hybrid safety covers are made out of solid vinyl, stopping any debris, dirt, or bugs from entering the pool, but they have fine mesh in the center of the cover to allow water to drain, eliminating the need to pump the excess water.
They offer all the advantages of mesh covers, including the great lifespan, while providing the same coverage and protection of solid covers. Of course, you should expect to pay a bit more for these benefits, but they’re definitely worth it!
A note on pool cover installation: If you want to reduce or even eliminate the hassle of placing and removing your pool cover after/before each use and at the end/beginning of each season, invest in an automatic cover. These automatic covers can be installed and removed with just the touch of a button, and don’t need anchors or water bags to keep them in place!
Winter Pool Covers
If you only need a pool cover for the winter/offseason, don’t have much money to spend, and don’t have a need for a safety cover, the regular winter pool cover/tarp is right for you.
Keep in mind that, while inexpensive, they do require maintenance and don’t have a great lifespan, so prepare to replace them every few years! Because they can’t hold a lot of weight, you’re going to want to clear off any rain that falls to ensure the cover doesn’t tear, get damaged, or fall into the pool.
Also, because they don’t come with anchors, you’re going to need to buy and use water bags to weigh it down and keep them in place.
Remember, standard winter pool covers/tarps and solar covers are not meant to be used as safety covers. They cannot hold the weight of a child or animal and will not prevent drowning.
Once you’ve determined which pool cover is right for your specific needs and budget, here are a few reminders:
- Carefully measure your pool to ensure you buy the proper size of cover
- Make sure to regularly and properly maintain your pool cover to get the most life out of it
- Ensure your pool cover is fully dry before storage
- Check for and remove any algae growth before covering your pool for the offseason
- Read the manufacturer’s information and verify the specifications of your pool cover so you know what coverage to expect
Remember, while pool covers can be expensive, they are an investment for your pool. Not only do they give you peace of mind knowing that your family and pets are safe from pool accidents, they also help reduce maintenance costs and significantly decrease the time and effort it takes to keep a clean pool.
It is estimated that homeowners spend anywhere from $3k-$4k to maintain their pool every year – a one-time investment in a quality pool cover that will last years will soon pay for itself with the reduced costs for heating, water loss, and chemical consumption.
Of course, we are happy to always answer your questions about any pool equipment and how to maintain it.