by Sean Griffin, October 2, 2009
A safety cover is ideal for the homeowner with a swimming pool in their backyard. It adds a safety barrier and keeps debris from falling into the pool during those months when the pool is not in use. It makes spring cleanup easier and is visually more appealing than any tarp style cover that has the potential of turning into a backyard swamp.
There are several different manufacturers who offer a wide variety of covers. Different standards of mesh and different styles of solid covers allow you to choose the cover that suits you best.
The first step is deciding which cover is best for you. Features & Benefits to compare include warranty, amount of sunlight that penetrates cover, spring capability, quality of craftsmanship, and of course pricing. Colors are also an option on any safety cover and availability varies from manufacturer. Covers range from a standard green to a kaliedoscope cover, using multiple colors.
Solid Covers- Allows minimal to zero sunlight to reach water. Tend to be more expensive and are heavier than mesh. Can have drain panels or be completely solid and utilize a cover pump to remove standing water.
Mesh covers- Allows water to drain into the pool while catching fallen debris. Mesh weaves and fabrics vary. Lightweight and easy to put on and remove.
Take note of when you open and close your pool and your surrounding climate. Pool owners that are prone to algae outbreaks and open later in the season should consider a solid cover. If you open early, close late and monitor water chemistry - a mesh cover is ideal.
MEASURING FOR A CUSTOM MESH SAFETY COVER-
This will depend on the shape of your pool. For simple rectangular pools we can measure the pool perimeter using inside dimension (waterline). Take note of all non removable objects, including diving board, ladders, handrails, and note the amount of decking around the pool to ensure anchors will align on deck. Also note the type of coping you have. If you have flagstone or any stone that has a sharp edge, additional padding might be necessary to prevent premature wear. Form fit pools, kidney shape pools, ellipse and round pools might require an A-B measurement. This is entered into a CAD program to triangulate the points and design the cover to follow the curve of your pool. To get forms for AB measurement you can follow this link: http://www.poolcenter.com/images/PDFs/PC_Safety_Cover_Measuring_Form.pdf
An A-B measurement is taken by first marking points around the inside perimeter of the pool. I have used chalk and I’ve used masking tape, but anything that you can mark with a number and stay in place to take a measurement from will work. Depending on the curve or if it is a tight angle you will space your point about 2-3 feet apart. For tighter turns you would want to mark off more points and for broader curves you can space farther apart. For straight walls, your points can be up to 5 feet apart. Next you will set up your A-B line. This line should be approximately 2/3 the length of the pool and at least three feet back from any point on the pool line. You will then take a measurement from both A & B to all points around the pool. With this information, and the known distance between A and B, a series of triangular measurements accurately plots your pool shape. You will also take a few cross dimensions for further confirmation.
ORDERING A MESH SAFETY COVER-
Once you’ve’ decided on what cover you like you can check our site for a list of stock covers to see if your pool qualifies. If your pool cover size is not considered "stock" you can submit your measurement to Poolcenter.com by Fax, email, or mail to receive a custom quote. Some homeowners opt to use a stock size cover to avoid price increase that accompanies customized covers. Be aware that on the underside of the pool cover, wear strips are sewn in to deal with the friction that occurs at the edge of the coping. A improperly fitted cover may not have the wear strips crossing the coping stones. However, some folks still use a larger rectangle to cover a free form, or an odd sized rectangular pool. Although this voids the warranty, if you are willing to pad the cover in certain areas, using carpet strips or other suitable material, these stock covers can still perform well on your pool.
If you are ordering a replacement cover, anchor locations will need to be measured to ensure correct panel spacing. Some manufacturers are also willing to use old cover as a template. Simply clean and remove springs first, and send the old cover directly to the designers. Contact your dealer before sending, so the manufacturer will know who to send the quote to.
Turnaround time varies between manufacturers. Custom covers typically take a little longer than stock covers. Once order is placed a confirmation will be issued with approximate ship date. When it is shipped a racking number will be applied. Most mesh and solid safety covers ship UPS or FedEx.
INSTALLING A MESH SAFETY COVER-
Your cover will arrive with a set of installation instructions. Furthermore I recommend viewing our video of a Loop-Loc install to see the procedure and the work that is involved when installing a cover. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-8vbuVVPSM
There are several different methods for installing a safety cover. The easiest is to float the cover on top of the pool water to position. Then you would drill anchors in at the four corners and continue working your way around the cover. The straps are adjustable and should be in the position to allow spring to compress 2/3 of the way. I have used water buckets to hold the cover in position on up and over cover installs. I have also heard of setting up a lattice to hold cover.
Obviously some installs are more complex than others. For custom covers, the trick is constant centering and re-centering. Start from the inside and work toward the outside (opposite from rectangle covers). Keep modest tension on the springs until all anchors are drilled, then adjust if needed.
If you don't own a Rotary Hammer drill, you can rent one at any good rental shop. You'll need a 3/4" masonry drill bit. A sharp bit will speed things up, at around 30 seconds per hole, but a dull bit can take several minutes per hole. A nice hammer drill will also speed things up. They are rated at BPM (blows per minute), and nicer brands include Milwaukee, Bosch and Hilti. It should look like a small jackhammer. If it looks too small to do the job, it probably is. Handheld drills and cheap bits will take a long time to get your cover installed.
After installing your cover, make adjustments to all the straps after a day or so has gone by, to allow for small amounts of stretching. The springs should be adjusted less than 1/2 of their compression. Not too tight, not too loose. In areas of water features, raised walls or steps, work with the tension to close up any gaps that might allow debris, animals or small children to slilp through.