Winter Safety Covers – What's the difference?
Winter safety covers are a must in my book. A winter safety cover is the type of cover that looks like a trampoline and will keep kids and critters alike out of the pool during the off season. There are two different types of safety covers. Custom covers and those that are "stock" square covers that come in standard sizes.
Custom covers are made as the name implies, custom to each pool. The shape of the cover follows the shape of the pool and needs as little as 18 inches to 2 feet of concrete on all sides in which to anchor. Custom covers also come with reinforcing built in at stress points like corners and can be made with notch outs to work around water features or slides.
Standard or Custom
Standard covers are great way to save money and typically cost about a 1/2 of what a custom cover can cost.
The down side to a stock is you must have a significant amount of concrete on all sides of the pool so the cover can overhang the contours and still cover the entire pool. Standard covers will not work as well on a pool with a slide or water feature as there is no way to secure it properly. The lack of reinforcing on a standard cover will cause the cover to deteriorate faster and develop holes where it rubs on corners or arches.
Solid vs. Mesh. The material maters.
Whether you choose a custom or standard cover the materials dramatically impacts how you will care for your pool. A solid cover will keep ALL water and dirt from entering the cover over the winter. Nice feature for clean sparkly water in the spring. The down side is you must place a cover pump on the surface of the cover to remove water as it develops during winter. If the pump freezes or stops working for any other number of reasons the water can build on the cover and damage or even destroy it. The pumps typically last 2-4 years and cost around $250. A fiber mesh cover will water to pass into the pool and does not require a pump. The mesh for the most part keep the dirt and debris out but typically there is at least one cleaning needed when you open your pool. IMPORTANT- As long as you properly closed the pool (added shock and pH stabilizers) the water will be clear and clean. If not it is possible you may find your water isn't as clear as should be. Not the end of the world, it just means you'll need a few extra days to treat the water before its ready to sweep and swim.
The final consideration when comparing covers is the webbing. You may have noticed that pools covers have squares on them. Those squares or straps are what give the cover its strength. Some covers have squares that are 3'x3' others are 5'x5'. When comparing winter covers this is factor OFTEN overlooked by pool owners and intentionally omitted by manufactures and vendors. IT MATTERS. The larger the pool the more important the strength of the cover.
The take home is in most cases a custom cover is the best value as it will last longer and is easier to install and uninstall. I personally feel a solid cover is not worth the headache or risk. Pumps failing and ice buildup is a big chance to take for the chance the water might be cleaner in the spring.