by Mark Garcia April 11, 2014
Solar pool covers are available in a wide variety of colors - blue, black or clear - and in several thicknesses.
The 5-mil solar blanket is very thin, and may not last more than one or two seasons. The 8-mil is quite a bit stronger, and has a 3-year warranty. If you want your solar blanket to last for say, 5 years, the 12-mil and 16-mil solar blankets are the way to go.
Anyway, this post is not about which solar blanket to buy, but how to take care of your pool cover to make it last as long as possible. Or, better yet - this post is about how to destroy your solar cover, in 5 easy steps.
Are you tired of lugging that solar blanket around? Taking it off, putting it back on - and despite all of the pictures showing thin women easily managing it - your solar cover always bunches up and rolls under itself, until after some effort, you have it laying flat, and hopefully bubble side down?
Get rid of that ugly solar cover! Here's how ~
The fastest way to kill a solar blanket is to shock the pool, and then put the solar cover on. Even non-chlorine shock can damage a solar blanket in high concentrations, but high chlorine levels, even for a short period of time, is very corrosive to solar blankets. Accidental over-chlorination of the pool can have the same effect, or if you consistently run chlorine levels of 3 ppm or higher, slow degradation and death will soon come to your solar blanket. When the bubbles break and you find the floating remains, hundreds of tiny plastic circles - your job is complete. Good Job!
For those of you that use Trichlor tablets, and that is most of you I assume, you may have trouble with your pH slowly dropping over time. Add a little acid rain, and some low pH plant debris, and before you know it, you have a pH below 7.0. Unfortunately, acidic pH won't instantly kill your blanket, you'll need to keep it low for several weeks or months. Keep your pH low enough for long enough, and you'll not only do away with your solar blanket, you'll also put a hurtin' on all pool surfaces, and can simultaneously strip the copper from a pool heater heat exchanger! Bonus!
Kind of ironic isn't it? That the sun - BFF of your solar blanket, can also damage your solar blanket! UV rays are powerful, but when the solar cover is on the pool, most of them pass through to the water, without much damage to the cover. To accelerate the damage, accordion fold it on the deck and leave it there for a few days in the hot sun. Or, roll it up on a solar cover reel, and don't use the protective solar blanket cover, to shield it from the sun while it's rolled up. If you enjoyed killing ants with a magnifying glass as a kid, you'll love this method. Fast and Furious!
Not as damaging as the sun, but very cold winter nights, followed by warmer winter days will stress-out the polymers, as they expand and contract. Over time, cold temperatures will make your solar blanket brittle to the point where it actually cracks and splits. This method of killing your solar blanket takes very little effort. Just leave your solar blanket out all winter long, rolled up on a reel (without the winter protective cover), or just lay it in the dirt next to the pool all winter long. With any luck, come springtime, your solar cover will be killed to death. That's COLD, man!
Oils and Soils seem innocent enough, but they can be an excellent weapon in the war on solar blankets. Microscopic insects will do the work for you, boring small holes in the cover. Leaf tannins and dirt in general have a low pH level that will slowly erode away at stained spots. Don't clean it with solar cover cleaner, or you may cancel the progress made by dirt, tannins and insects. To use the dirt method, just pull off the cover and leave it laying in the side yard. Extra points for cleaning it with pool shock. That's Playin' Dirty!
I hope these solar blanket care tips will help you this summer to finally do away with that eyesore solar pool cover. Do you have other methods of destroying solar blankets? Send me your tips by email; I'll add them to the blog.
Thanks for Reading!