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Above Ground Pool Cover Hacks

A few weeks back, we looked at above ground pool solar cover hacks - and this week we look at the best ways to buy, install and maintain an above ground winter pool cover.

Best Above Ground Winter Pool Cover?

That can be a hard one to answer, because we have such variety. But to help you make an informed decision, winter pool covers are broken into 3 groups: solid, mesh, and a solid/mesh combo.

Solid Covers

Winter covers are stronger than the standard pool cover. Made with a tight weave and scrim, solid winter covers are thicker and more resistant to the elements. In The Swim offers 5 winter cover options, with warranties ranging from 8 to 20 years. We have covers to match every winter budget.

Mesh Covers

mesh winter cover

We offer two types of mesh covers for above ground pools: mesh winter covers with the 3 year warranty, and the patented Micro Mesh winter cover with an 8 year warranty. The more expensive covers usually last longer and are less likely to tear from wind, tree branches, or heavy ice.

The Ultimate 3000 is a heavy duty solid cover, the same fabric and construction as our 20-yr Solid Winter Cover, but it has a mesh strip sewn into the middle to allow rain and snow melt to drain into the pool. In addition, only the Ultimate 3000 attaches to the pool walls with heavy rubber straps and brackets. No cable and winch or Cover Clips needed!

TIP: Mesh Covers and Ultimate 3000 allow rain and snow-melt to pass into the pool, so you do not need a cover pump to remove water from the cover. But, won't your pool over-fill under the cover? Yes, in most cases you will need to lower the water level during winter, unless you leave a return line hose connected to drain the water automatically.

Air Pillow Hacks

air pillows

Air pillows perform an important job during winter, keeping the pool from freezing over solid. Without an air pillow, your entire pool surface will freeze solid, placing immense pressure on the walls and uprights. Air Pillows absorb ice expansion, which is why they are sometimes called Ice Equalizers.

  1. Tie-off air pillows with twine: Ever wonder how to keep your Air Pillows from migrating? Run twine between the edge holes, and tie them off on each side.
  2. Inflate with wet/dry vacuum until 80% full: You can also use a hair dryer on the cool setting. But be careful not to over-inflate, which may encourage air leaks.
  3. Use soapy water to find leaks: Speaking of air pillow air leaks, you can find them with soapy water (look for the bubbles).
  4. Patch leaks with silicone or liquid vinyl: Liquid vinyl like EZ Patch 28 or Anderson's Flexible Sealer.
  5. Duct tape air valve closed after filling with air: The air valves are prone to leakage, even when they seem fully closed. After filling, cover-over the air valve with strong tape.

TIP: Since water expands about 9% when it freezes into ice, use enough air pillows to cover about 10% of your pool surface area.

Cover Pump Hacks

cover pump

A pool cover pump is a small, submersible pump with a garden hose connected to discharge the rain and snow-melt. More than an inch of water on your cover puts stress and may damage your cover, or contaminate a clean pool, growing algae and staining surfaces.

  1. Frisbee trick: Place an upside-down Frisbee® on your pool, and set or secure your cover pump for greater stability and reduce clogging.
  2. Air locked plug: Certain Little Giant pumps will not start until the air is sucked out of the small white tube on the side of the cord end plug.
  3. Clogged pump: You can solve heavy leaf problems by placing your cover pump inside the deep/tall B-37 basket. Or install a leaf catcher over your pool cover.
  4. Weigh down the cover pump: If your cover pump is small, like our 350 GPH models, it's not heavy enough to draw water. Add a Ziploc® freezer bag with a handful of gravel, zip-tied or twisty-tied to the pump cable.
  5. Run discharge hose downhill: If the cover pump hose runs uphill, remaining water will freeze inside the hose and could damage the pump.

TIP: Tighten the pool cover during winter, to allow the water to flow more easily toward the cover pump. Also, clean your pool cover with a leaf rake, to prevent a clogged cover pump.

High Wind Hacks

cover seal

High wind can be a problem for above ground pool covers. If the cover is not properly secured to the pool, it can come off the pool and rip.

  1. Cover Clips: 4" long plastic cover clips hold the winter cover to the outside top rail edge. You could use office binder clips, but these are easier and won't rust.
  2. Cover Seal: Cover seal is like a giant roll of heavy-duty Saran Wrap®, but in a cool blue color. Wrap around your pool 2 or 3 times tightly, and you've got an excellent wind block.
  3. Spider Cover Saver: The Spider is a 5-spoke bungie cord, with a heavy center hub. Stretch it out over the pool and lock in place, and it will secure air pillow and cover.
  4. Wall Bags: Wall bags are weights for your cover cable, with loops to run the cable thru. You can also use them on the inside of the pool. Much classier than using milk jugs!
  5. Ultimate 3000: The Ultimate 3000 cover attaches to the lower part of each upright post, using strong rubber straps. Reviewers say it holds well in strong winds.

TIP: A small amount of water on the cover can help hold down an above ground pool cover in high winds. But remember, deep water will stress and damage a cover, and a frozen ice sheet can have sharp edges as it thaws.

Can't get enough, and want more above ground cover info? See our post from a few years back: "5 Above Ground Pool Winter Cover Tips".

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.