For most of the country, other than the lucky ones in South Florida and Southern California, use of the swimming pool is seasonal. Every fall triggers the end of the pool season, which means people across the country must begin the task of closing down their pools.
Winterizing the pool, as some refer to it, includes preparing the water and pool equipment for the winter as well as covering the pool. Ensuring debris stays out of the pool during the off-season will reduce cleaning time during the task of opening the pool for the next season. Selecting a pool cover to protect the pool from the harsh winter is an important part of closing down the pool.
There are two main types of winter pool covers: 1) A solid vinyl cover and 2) A mesh cover. Solid vinyl covers come in varying qualities with different thickness and warranty coverages available. Mesh covers typically come in one standard quality.
Solid vinyl covers tend to be heavy, depending on the thickness and size, and usually require two persons to install and remove. However, they work well to keep out debris, sunlight, and water. Keeping out sunlight is critical in that it prevents the growth of algae in the pool. Keeping out water is good in that it keeps out dirty water that has mixed with the debris on top of the cover. These covers do create water pooling on top of the cover which will require draining. An equalizer air pillow and submersible pump are the usual accessories to go along with a solid vinyl cover. The pillow will make it easier to remove pooling water and debris. When your pool water freezes, it will also compress to relieve the pressure on your pool walls from the ice expansion as well as prevent the vinyl pool cover from freezing by lifting it off of the water. A submersible pump is typically used to remove pooling water off of the pool cover.
Pricing of solid vinyl covers tends to go hand in hand with durability and longevity. A wide range of solid vinyl pool cover options are available varying by price, thickness, and warranty for any given size. The standard thickness options are 8 mm, 12 mm, and 16 mm. Warranty coverage on these pool covers vary based on thickness with the minimum typically a 8 year limited/1 year full warranty and a maximum of 20 year limited/3 year full.
Mesh covers are lightweight, which allows them to be installed and removed typically by a single person. Additionally, they allow water to slowly flow through them thus preventing water pooling on top of the cover. This is one of the main benefits of a mesh cover because it eliminates the need for a submersible pump to remove the pooling water. An equalizer pillow is a recommended accessory for mesh pool covers in places where the water will freeze. A downside to a mesh cover is that when it allows water to pass through to the pool, it allows dirty water to pass through to the pool that has been mixing with the debris on top of the cover. This may result in the pool water needing serious attention and cleaning when it is time to open the pool.