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5 Above Ground Pool Winter Cover Tips

Above ground pool covers face many challenges during the winter months. From heavy snow to strong winds, they are frequently at risk for damage. Properly installing an above ground pool cover is the first step to lowering the chance of it being ruined. Haphazardly placed covers are a sure-fire way to shorten the lifespan of the cover and possibly your pool.

Below we discuss five ways to make your above ground pool cover more effective, and keep your above ground pool safer during winter.

air pillow

Winter Pool Cover Tip #1: Use Air Pillows

Above ground pool owners will be relieved to know that most of these tips involve very simple and affordable solutions, perfectly exemplified by air pillows. Winter cover air pillows are used to keep a solid ice sheet from forming on the surface of your pool water.

Place air pillows in the center of the pool, with the pool cover pulled tight over the pillow to press it into the water. Pool pillow pal is an inexpensive accessory to hold the air pillow in the center of the pool. Tip: Inflate your air pillows in seconds with a Shop Vac. Bonus Tip: Since water expands 9% when frozen, buy enough air pillows to cover about 10% of your pool surface area.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #2: Beware the Wind

wall bag

Wind is possibly an above ground pool cover’s worst enemy. Above ground covers can be trashed if the wind gets under the edges and begins to whip and flap the cover.

Secure the winter cover cable tightly with the wench (included with all above ground winter pool covers). However, that’s not enough to stop strong wind. Some folks weigh down the cable with milk jugs or use our wall bags, which is fine for moderate winds.

The best options to keep out heavy winds are either cover seal or cover clips, both made for this purpose, with the added benefit of keeping your cover taut and smooth all winter. And there's one more: the spider winter cover saver, five long bungee cords connected to a center hub that keeps your cover (and your air pillow) in place.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #3: Mind the Water Level

above ground pool with water on top of cover

It’s important to keep an eye on your pool’s water level. If it drops more than an inch, it can stress the cover and the pool. If the pool loses 6-12" of water, with rain water pooling on top of the cover, it will damage the cover and possibly the pool. Fix leaks before closing, or add water under the cover if needed.

It's also important to mind the water level on top of your winter cover. A small bit (1/4"-1/2") of rain water is OK, but more than that could stress the cover. And 6-12" of water will push pool water over the edges, lowering pool water.

Pump regularly with a pool cover pump, like a manual or automatic cover pump or a non-electric cover-saver siphon pump.

Pump the water away from your pool, and don't pump out pool water through holes in your winter cover! If the cover has small holes, place the pump far from the holes.

leaf rake

Winter Pool Cover Tip #4: Remove Leaves

Leaves on the pool cover can get really messy, really fast. Trying to remove leaves and sticks with a skimmer net or pool brush is not effective. Instead, use a pool leaf rake to scoop it off as it's much more effective, but not easy, definitely not fun, and sharp sticks could damage a pool cover.

If your pool has large trees within 50 feet, take a look at our leaf nets for above ground pools. Place this over your pool cover when closing, and remove it after all the leaves have fallen.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #5: Check Cover Periodically

tighten above ground pool cover

If you are like me, once you winterize, and you know you’ve done it right, you probably try not to think about your pool until the spring. I’ve learned that this is a huge mistake. Tending to your above ground pool is essentially a year round responsibility.

You can’t just set it and forget it. You will need to visit your pool cover regularly, not just for dewatering and dredging activities, but to tighten up the cover to pull out slack, correct wind gaps, and readjust the air pillow(s). It only takes a few moments a couple of times a month to run a quick check. The money you save via damage control is worth the effort.

Now You're Ready to Close the Pool!

These above ground pool covering tips are affordable, simple, and do not require much of your time. As a pool owner, the cheapest, quickest path isn’t always the best path.

An above ground pool winter cover is an investment that protects a much larger investment: your pool! Spend a few extra bucks for a good cover, and spend time to do things right, along with the right winter cover accessories, and you can avoid mid-winter cover disasters!

In addition, check out our Above Ground Pool Winterization Hacks.

In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.