Safety covers (also known as “secure covers”) are winter pool covers designed specifically to be stronger, safer and better looking than the traditional tarp style winter pool covers. For this reason, they have become increasingly popular with pool owners over the last few years. Not all safety covers are created equal, however. Today, we will give you our top tips to ensure that you get the best safety cover for your pool. But first, why buy a safety cover in the first place?
Why Buy A Safety Cover For Your Pool?
Ask any pool owner what their least favourite thing to do is and they will likely say either opening or closing their pool. For many, the reason for this is having to deal with traditional tarp style cover that they use to cover their pool for the winter.
Simply put, tarp style winter covers are a pain to use. They require large and awkward water bags to hold them in place, are difficult to work with, look ugly, and they never seem to last more than 2-3 seasons. They are also unable to support much weight, which poses a real safety concern, especially if there are children or pets in your household.
Not only are safety covers better looking than other winter pool covers, they’re also much easier to install, last much longer and are much provide a much higher level of safety. They’re made up of squares of material that are sewn together with reinforced straps to increase the strength of the cover and then cut to custom fit your pool.
Unlike tarp style winter covers that rely on weights to hod them in place, safety covers are anchored to the deck of your pool with specialty brass anchors. This provides enough strength that even a baby elephant can walk on the cover without falling in the pool!
Safety Cover Buying Tips
Now that you know why you should get a safety cover for your pool, the question becomes which safety cover you should buy. Here are some tips to help you buy the safety cover that will work best for your pool.
1) Mesh Or Solid?
When choosing which safety cover to buy, one of the most basic questions you need to answer is whether to go with a cover made of solid or mesh material.
What’s the difference? Simply put, mesh safety covers allow water and sunlight to pass through them and solid covers do not. Which is better? Let’s quickly look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Solid Safety Covers
The advantage that solid safety covers have is that they don’t let any sunlight through them. This means that your pool can be closed longer without the water turning green.
The disadvantage of solid safety covers is that they don’t let water through them. Any snow or rain that you get after the pool is closed will sit on the cover and will need to be drained before you can open the pool. Leaves, dirt and other debris will also collect on the cover, quickly turning it green or even black in the spring. Between the two of these factors, opening your pool in the spring can be a real pain with a solid safety cover.
Mesh Safety Covers
The advantage of mesh safety covers is that they allow water to pass through them while larger debris like leaves stay out of the pool. Any rain or snow that falls on your pool simply refills the pool for spring and any leaves that fall onto your pool will just blow off. This keeps the cover clean and makes opening your pool in the spring a very simple process.
The disadvantage of mesh covers is that they let sunlight into the pool water, which causes the chlorine in the pool to be used up more quickly than it would with a solid cover. While the best safety covers only let around 2% of sunlight through them, this can cause the water to go green slightly quicker than it would with a solid winter pool cover.
Overall, we recommend going with mesh covers as they make opening the pool much easier in the spring. It is also very rare that a solid safety cover will open clear where a mesh safety cover would have opened green; assuming that you follow the best practices of opening your pool early and closing it late.
If you are planning on opening your pool later in the spring, you can also shock the pool water to prevent it going green by dissolving some shock in a bucket of water and adding it to the pool through your mesh cover (rinsing the cover afterwords).
2) Pay Attention To The Number Of Anchor Points
Safety covers are typically sold in either a 3′ or 5′ grid. This means that the squares of material that make up the cover are either 3′ squares or 5′ squares. While this can seem like a minor difference, the difference in cover strength can be significant. This is because the 5′ grid covers have fewer reinforced straps and anchors keeping them in place.
While 5′ grid safety covers are less expensive than 3′ grid covers we usually recommend going with 3′ grid covers, especially for pools that are oddly shaped (like a kidney shaped pool, for example). The extra anchor points in a 3′ grid cover not only increase the strength of the cover, they also help to keep it from sagging so any debris caught on the cover can properly dry out and blow away.
3) Ask About The Stitching
Since safety covers are made up of smaller pieces of material stitched together, the quality of that stitching is crucial to the long term lifespan of your cover. How can you tell if the stitching is good or not? Here’s a couple of things to look for:
- Triple stitched seams. Well made covers will have three rows of stitches on each seam.
- Box stitches on stress points. These stitches will look like a square with an “X” through the centre and provide added strength to key areas of the cover, such as where the anchor straps meet the edge of the cover.
4) Make Sure You Get A Raised Rub Strip
One potential stress point for safety covers is the part of the cover that sits on the coping of your pool. As the cover moves and stretches over time, this part of the cover will rub up against the coping which can cause wear on the material and shorten the lifespan of the cover (especially if you have stone coping).
To combat this potential wear and tear, make sure that your cover has a raised “rub strip” around the edge of the cover. This lifts the cover off of the coping and prevents it rubbing on the edge of the pool, ensuring a long life for your safety cover!
5) Get Your Cover Professionally Measured & Installed
Unlike other winter pool covers, safety covers require expertise to measure and install. While there are some online guides available to make it easier for less experienced people to measure for their new safety cover, they’re simply not as good as real world experience.
Safety covers are custom made to fit your pool. For this reason, any wrong measurements can really affect the fit of the cover to your pool. This can lead to problems like safety covers that don’t fully cover the pool, anchors being placed in spots without a solid foundation, or rub strips sitting in spots where they can’t properly do their job.
At best, a safety cover that hasn’t been properly measured will fit awkwardly on the pool, at worst they will wear out more quickly or may not even work at all! For this reason it only makes sense to have your safety covers measured and installed by people with the experience to get it right the first time!