by Rob Cox September 23, 2014
Yesterday I was called out to my former community pool - Dowden Terrace, to install a new winter cover on the baby pool.
Last year, the baby pool had been renovated - a zero-depth entry, aka beach front entry was added, bubbler fountains were installed in the floor and the pool was coated in a beautiful speckled quartzite plaster finish.
The pool board operations guy hit me up on LinkedIn early last month, asking about a winter safety cover for their 'new' baby pool - I had some specific advice.
"If it was my pool", I told him "I would go with a solid safety cover, without drain panels." I don't think he was familiar with the concept, only aware of mesh safety covers, like they've always had in the past.
"With that beach front entry, you'll get bad staining around the water line" I explained. "That's going to require heavy acid washing every spring, which will damage the plaster... and make it rough for the babies feet".
I think the part about the babies feet really got him - next thing I know, it's a month later and I'm installing a completely solid HPI Deck Lock Covering System. It's my first Hinsperger's solid safety cover I've ever installed, so I'm excited about taking a close look at this product.
Emptied out and laid out the box contents, shown above. From left to right, T-handle hex key, spring tool, tamping tool, buckles, anchors, double springs, Rule cover pump. An installation guide and DVD was also included - of course I didn't even look at that!
The first step is to roll out the cover and spread it over the pool, it's easy to determine the underside of the cover, facing the water. Two people is helpful to stretch out the packing wrinkles. I used plastic umbrella weights to hold down the corners, while we stretched the cover to the 'deep end' of the 28' long baby pool.
I then walked around the pool with the buckles, dropping one buckle next to each strap. Did another lap around the pool, dropping one spring next to each strap - 22 in total.
BUCKLES: I find it annoying to put on buckles, some other manufacturers do that step for you, but it's easy enough. Follow the images (click for larger) from left to right to install your buckles. A stool is helpful for those who'd rather not do much stooping to ground level.
SPRINGS: These are double springs, heavy duty stuff. They come compressed, and need to be pulled out to full extension. They can take a bit of work to get them ready to hook onto the strap. As shown in the picture, they come out of the box as in the top image. Your end result should look like the bottom image.
The pool board president comes in and says, "So, what's the secret to installing pool covers?" I thought for a moment, thinking of one word I could boil it down into, and said "Centering". With a rectangular pool, spend the time centering it over the pool. The cover will be floating on the water, so you make some allowance for this deflection. Or, you could use a measuring tape. The cover has an exact dimension, and so does the pool. Safety covers typically have a 12-15" overlap.
ANCHORS: HPI brass anchors (22) performed flawlessly. This was a replacement cover, so I was able to reuse some of the existing anchors in the deck, and had 6 leftover (which we installed around the pool cover).
With a rectangular safety cover, you want to start by drilling the corner anchors, all 8 of them. Don't connect any springs to any anchors until you set and drill all 8 corner anchors. Only after drilling these and attaching all 8 corner springs, connect all 8 springs at the same time.
After your corners are attached, you can just go around the pool finishing up, by drilling and cleaning the holes (I used a garden hose for the dust), and tamping in the anchors. Start in the center of the pool, and work your way out to the sides, drilling 4 holes, setting 4 anchors and then attaching 4 springs. After the first four, move outward from the center and drill, tamp and attach another set of 4 anchors, two on each side.
For drilling the anchor holes in the concrete deck, I used my old Hilti TE-52 rotary hammer drill. Make sure you use a full size hammer drill, nothing handheld, or it will take all day. A good hammer drill can drill a hole in about 1 minute - or half that time with a sharp bit (3/4 inch masonry bit).
The pool board treasurer walks by - "so, this is the $1000 cover, huh"? I nodded, "She's a beauty!" I say. I didn't ask, but I would guess that, compared to a quote from their pool managment company, they probably kept $1000 in their pocket. Which is good for any swim club.