As summer draws to a close, homeowners will soon have to close their pools for the season. If you have an automatic safety cover and live in an area that doesn’t have high snow accumulation, you already know how easy this is.
Although it’s a good idea for pool owners to use safety pool covers year-round, many who don’t have an automatic safety cover leave their pools uncovered while they’re being frequently used. If you haven’t been covering your pool during summer, now is the time to prepare to cover your pool for fall. Having a safety cover installed should be part of your preparations.
Safety covers provide protection for children and pets
Not all pool covers are certified as safety covers. For example, solar blankets don’t qualify as safety covers, because they won’t prevent a child or pet from falling into the pool and possibly getting trapped.
Safety covers meet standards that are set by the American Society for Testing Materials International (ASTM). To qualify, a cover must be:
- Equipped with a drainage system that prevents water from collecting on the cover
- Free of any holes that would allow a child to fall into the pool
- Able to support the weight of two adults and one child
Even if you don’t have children or pets, a safety cover is still the most prudent choice. If grandchildren come to visit, or a neighbor’s dog wanders over, a safety cover will make sure they (not to mention other critters and debris) stay out of your pool.
There are three types of safety cover:
Automatic Safety Covers
Don’t despair, it’s not too late to still have an automatic safety cover installed. Whether you’re a new pool owner looking to close your pool for the first time or whether you’re upgrading from a solid or mesh safety cover, you’ll be happy you made the decision to go with the most convenient and cost effective option. An automatic safety cover can stay on your pool year round and can be open and closed with the simple flip of a switch. This means that if you live in a place where temperatures don’t drop below freezing, you can open and close your pool for the season in less than four minutes. Plus, because most safety covers are made of a solid material you will get your use out of it when the weather warms back up as it helps conserve heat and prevent evaporation. Most automatic safety covers will come with a pump that sits on the top to meet the safety standards noted above.
Maintaining your automatic safety cover is pretty easy. It’s inevitable that you’re going to get leaves, twigs or debris on your cover. If you can clean it off manually before you retract it, great. If not, no worries, simply checking and cleaning your cover box periodically should keep your cover clean and debris free.
Mesh and Solid Safety Covers
Mesh and solid safety covers are seasonal covers that are manually put on your pool. Because they typically take an hour or two to put on, they’re not very convenient for every day use but are perfect for the off season when your pool is not regularly being used.
A solid safety cover is a solid durable cover that blocks most of the light, thus helping to conserve water and energy over the winter. Because it is solid, however, pools of water can collect on the surface especially during rain storms or in the early spring when the snow begins to melt. A cover pump is required to pump off excess water as it accumulates. Remember to monitor your cover pump so that you do not accidentally drain an excessive amount of water out of your pool.
A mesh safety cover is a cover that allows water to drip through. As a result a pump may not be needed for a mesh safety cover.
Both are excellent alternatives to an automatic safety cover and aren’t too inconvenient.
Installing a mesh or solid winter safety cover is a fairly quick process that is best done by a pool professional. First, an independent Latham builder will measure your pool and any features you have surrounding the the pool. Then, they will:
- Position the cover
- Drill anchors (which can retract into your deck when the cover’s not in use)
- Secure the pool cover to the anchors so that it’s taut
Once installed, only simple regular maintenance is needed for your safety cover. Just maintain a proper water level, avoid standing or playing on the cover (even though it can support you) and occasionally check to make sure it’s taut.
All in all you really can’t go wrong with an automatic, solid or mesh safety cover. Each will protect your family and investment. The most difficult part will be deciding which type of cover will be best for your family’s needs. With winter just around the corner it’s time to consider how you will protect and care for your pool this off season.
Editor’s note: Originally posted 9/2015. Updated for relevance and clarity.