Above Ground Pool Covers: What Are The Options?

by Pool Builders on 10-30-2010 in Articles

There are several types of above ground pool covers available, each one having a specific purpose. The benefits of a pool cover will differ according to the type of cover you choose. For example:

Above Ground Solar Covers

An above ground solar cover is normally used in the early spring and fall, often in conjunction with a pool heater. A solar cover is like "bubble wrap" for your pool. It generally consists of two layers of vinyl separated by pockets of air. During the day a solar cover may raise the water temperature a few degrees, but the real benefit comes at night when the air layer acts as insulation to keep in the heat that was generated during the day. This type of cover is not suitable as a winter cover.

Advantages: Will help retain heat, prevent evaporation and maintain the chemical balance in your pool; easy to put on and take off - often used with a solar cover reel.

Disadvantages: Will not keep debris out of the pool; is not a safety cover - will not prevent drowning of animals or children.

Solid Above Ground Pool Covers

Made from single or multiple layers of vinyl, solid pool covers prevent leaves, twigs and other debris from getting into your pool water. In addition, by blocking out all sunlight, they help prevent algae growth, evaporation and deterioration of pool chemicals. Solid pool covers have a long life expectancy; the better the cover quality, the longer the lifespan. These covers are kept on the pool by means of water bags or other weights, clips or a wrap. The challenge here is to keep the cover on despite high winds or other storm conditions.

Advantages: Provides a closed environment that keeps out debris and pollution, deters the growth of algae and maintains the integrity of pool chemicals.

Disadvantages: These covers will accumulate water that creates a safety and health hazard. Options for resolving this are 1) mesh panels in the cover that allow standing water to drain into the pool or; 2) a pool cover pump. Will not prevent drowning.

Mesh Above Ground Pool Covers

Mesh covers are very popular covers. They are placed on at the end of swimming season and taken off when swim season begins again. They are made from green or black fine mesh and, like solid covers, are secured to the pool by water bags or other weights, clips or a wrap. These covers are specifically designed to keep leaves and other debris out of your pool while allowing rain and melted snow and ice to drain into the pool below. However, it is important to note that these are not strong enough to keep children or animals safe if they fall into the pool.

Advantages: Keep the pool water clean to speed reopening in the spring. Eliminates the need for a pool cover pump.

Disadvantages: Are less effective than a solid cover at preventing algae and evaporation. Will not prevent drowning.

Above Ground Safety Covers

Available in mesh, solid with mesh drainage panels or all solid, safety covers are made from very strong, often multilayer vinyl that is reinforced at regular intervals with webbing straps that attach to special anchors around the pool deck. Above ground safety covers require a self-supporting deck of at least two feet in width around the entire perimeter of the pool. Safety covers perform all the functions of regular pool covers, but because they are suspended above the water at deck height, they provide a seal for the pool that will support an amount of weight as prescribed by the Standard Performance Specification set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). According to the ASTM, a safety cover must be able to support a certain amount of weight, not permit gaps that a child or pet could squeeze through, and remove standing water.

Advantages: Keeps the pool free from debris while providing a safety seal to keep children and small animals from falling into the pool. Safety covers last a long time and can be custom fabricated using Computer Aided Design (CAD) to exactly fit any size or shape of pool. Because of the custom fit they are more attractive than non-safety covers.

Disadvantages: Safety covers are more expensive than other types of pool covers, but when you consider the value of the lives that may be saved and the long life of the cover itself, the cost becomes inconsequential.

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