by Rob Cox, September 6, 2018
There are many types of pool covers used to protect a pool during the off-season. No matter what type of pool cover you have, there is still required maintenance every year or two. Replacing anchors or water bags, patching the cover or holding the cover more tightly against leaves and wind are just a few things that you may need to do.
Here's a quick list of my favorite winter pool cover accessories for different pool cover types.These are the types of tools and products you might find in a poolman's toolbox!
These are the types of pool covers that look almost like a trampoline and are held tightly across the pool by a series of anchored straps. Threaded brass anchors are drilled into the pool deck, attaching to the springs and straps of a safety cover. An installation rod is used to lever the springs over the anchors, making a tight seal over the pool and locking out children, animals and large or small debris. Mesh safety covers allow rain water to drain through the very tightly woven material. Solid safety covers can have drain panels, or they can be completely solid and use an automatic cover pump.
Anchor Removal Kit: With a brass anchor removal kit, you can replace rebellious cover anchors in no time at all. Simply extract them from the deck, then pop in a new one! This tool is a must for pool owners with a safety cover. Another tool, called a wingmaster, is commonly used at large community pools or swim clubs with hundreds of deck anchors to maintain.
Long Cover Tool: In my service truck, I carried a homemade cover tool that was forged from steel. It was a 4' long rod that made installing the springs over the anchors much easier, and it involved less stooping and bending. You could make your own cover tool with a 3/4" pipe notched on one end. Better yet, you can use a pre-made installation rod, a 3' long cover tool made of hardened steel with a comfort grip handle.
Cordless Drill: If your pool cover has lots of cover anchors, listen up! Use a hacksaw to cut a length of a 1/4" hex key, and insert it into a cordless drill. You can use this tip to make turning anchors a quick and easy process. I also like to use T-handle hex keys on anchors that are hard to turn; these allow more torque when twisting than the L-handle hex key.
SOLID WINTER POOL COVERS
Solid pool covers are like a giant tarp. It's a series of woven polypropylene tapes, which are sealed and coated with a protective layer. They float on the pool surface, and are held in place around the edge of the pool with heavy weights. The weights lock out wind and debris and keep the cover from blowing away. Rain and snowmelt is removed from a solid cover with a small electrric cover pump, which can be either manual or automatic. Leaves and debris on the cover that won't blow off will need to be manually removed with care.
AquaBloks: Water bags are a necessary evil, but every year a few of them start to leak. Sure, you can patch them with silicone or vinyl patch. A better option is to replace them with Aqua Bloks - sturdy plastic containers that fill with water. The best part is that Aqua Bloks are guaranteed to never leak! They also clean easily, and stack nested during the summer. Try a few on your pool, and you may never buy water bags again!
Leaf Nets: For pools with even a small amount of leaves, removing them from a solid pool cover can be a chore. Lay a leaf net cover over the top of your solid pool cover, and tuck it under a few water bags. After the leaves have finished falling, remove the leaf net and all of the leaves in one easy motion. Store the leaf net once all the leaves have fallen (it should not stay on the pool all winter). Properly cared for, it can last indefinitely.
Water Wizard: This durable little utility pump has been made by Little Giant for over 40 years. I like the Water Wizard because it's extremely reliable, and it can take a few knocks without breaking. It also pumps down to 1/8", which not only makes it great for pool covers, but also for flooded basements or dewatering low spots around the house.
ABOVE GROUND POOL COVERS
For above ground pools with a complete pool deck surrounding the pool, you can possibly use a safety cover, but for the rest of us, a floating solid pool cover is used. A cable runs around the cover through a few dozen grommets, and it's tightened with a winch mechanism. Hanging weights on the cord on the inside of the cover is helpful in keeping it tight. Additional wind protection may be needed for many pools, as well as some type of of water removal system to regularly get rid of accumulated rain water and snow melt.
Cover Clips: For areas of high or moderate winds (which is just about everywhere) above ground pools will need something extra to help hold the pool cover down and keep air from getting underneath. Without it, a cover can be ripped to shreds in minutes. Cover clips are used to snap the cover to the edge of the pool, locking out wind. Cover seal is also good for creating a snug barrier to keep the pool cover tight against the edge of the pool.
Air Pillows: Many people think that air pillows are used to puddle the rain water into smaller area, around the pillow. Or if you pull the cover tightly over the air pillow, rain water will just run right off the pool. Not true in either case. Air pillows prevent a continuous ice sheet from forming across the pool, which can put pressure on above ground pool walls and cause damage. Air pillows are a highly recommended accessory for those in the snowbelt.
Cover Drain: There are two ways to remove rain and snow melt from the pool cover: use an electric cover pump, or use some sort of gravity/siphon drain. One of the most ingenious methods is the Dryco cover drain, which attaches to the center of your pool cover. The drain connects to a hose that is connected to the pool wall return! No electricity needed - brilliant!