Swimming pools typically have a short season of just a few months unless you live in an extremely tropical region. This means that swimming temperatures are not sufficient for swimming anywhere between 6 to 9 months a year depending on your location.
When it is time for your swimming pool to be closed for the off-season, some pool owners leave the pool the same way as if it was still swimming season year round.
Others will drain the water enough so that water will not remain in the filtration pipes and hoses then cover the pool with a swimming pool cover.
This brings me to the big question, how important is it to place a swimming pool cover over your pool during the winter months?
When you close your swimming pool for the off-season during the winter months, I recommend that you place a pool cover over your pool. This will help prevent leaves, grass and dirt from entering your pool when not in use. It will also save you time and money during the next season when it is time to re-open your pool.
When to close your pool for winter?
The first thing you must do is make sure it is actually time to close your swimming pool. You will not want to place the cover over your pool until your pool no longer requires daily or weekly maintenance.
Even when the water has become to frigid to swim does not necessarily mean that it is time to close your pool by placing the cover over the water and call it a season.
If the water in your swimming pool is staying on average above 65 degrees, algae can still grow and live in your water. Placing the cover over your pool when the water temperature is too warm will allow algae to grow beneath the cover until the water becomes to cool for algae to survive.
Wait until the average water temperature is below 65 degrees before placing the cover over your swimming pool.
What about a leaf net cover?
A leaf net cover is a great alternative for a pool cover when you are not using your pool for a period of time, but still haven’t closed it either.
This will prevent leaves from entering your swimming pool. The leaf net cover is quite similar to that of a pool cover except you can see through it, still run your pool pump and if it rains the water will not stay on top of the cover.
These are also great options if you are going on vacation or not going to be using your swimming pool for short or even long period of time and want to stop debris from entering the water. A leaf net cover also will not cause your water to become over heated as that of a regular cover since the water has air thru the leaf net cover not allowing heat to be held in.
I have an article and talk more about closing your swimming pool for the winter months. I recommend you check it out here, I give 9 tips you need to know when closing your swimming pool for the season.
Air pillow or no air pillow beneath the cover on an above ground pool?
Some people place an air pillow under above ground swimming pool covers. An air pillow is an inflatable blow up device that you can purchase in various sizes to fit your pool. Once it is filled with air it is placed beneath the cover and it will float in the center of the water and keep your cover raised toward the center.
The reason to use an air pillow is to alleviate stress from the sides of the pool as rain and snow falls weighting the cover down.
Using an air pillow will help increase the life of your pool cover and reduce tension from the sidewalls of your pool.
You can also use a rubber tire, inner tube or similar item that produces the same affect as the air pillow. If you are little precipitation during the the off-season the air pillow may not be necessary.
On the flip side if you get a lot of precipitation when the cover is on causing several inches of water to remain on top your cover for a lengthy period of time, it will cause the cover to be pushed down in the middle.
As we all know weather is not predictable and I would do the safe thing and place an air pillow under the cover. They are quite inexpensive and can add extra life to your cover and help reduce stress on your above ground swimming pools walls.
Reduces leaves, dirt and grass.
The biggest benefit you as a pool owner will receive by placing a cover over the top of your swimming pool is the reduction in the amount of dirt and grass that gets blown in your pool when not in use.
Until you allow your swimming pool to be uncovered for 6 consecutive months or more, it may be hard to grasp, but your pools bottom is likely to be completely covered in a few months time.
The weather will bring cold fronts, north winds, rain, sleet and snow to much of the region when the pool is not in use. These types of weather events will allow leaves, grass and other unwanted debris to enter your pool resulting in a dirty bottom.
Insects and flying bugs.
Sure, once the weather gets extremely cold, especially below freezing the amount of insects flying around will not be as significant as during the peak of summer, but they still exist.
If you allow your pool water to remain accessible to all these flying creatures, they will enter your water and many times never escape from it. Over time you will have hundreds or even possibly thousands of insects floating within your pool water including flys, bees, wasps, moths and beetles.
Non flying bugs are also likely to enter your pool much more than if it was covered including spiders, tree worms and ants. Even with the cover on you may not completely illuminate all these curious creatures from taking a look in the water, but you will stop the majority of them from doing so.
Keep animals out of the water.
Some pool owners live in an area where there are squirrels and other critters that roam the area day and night.
These creatures do become curious or just thirsty at times and see a great opportunity to a quick refreshing drink. When an squirrel or raccoon makes its way to the pool surface for a drink, it is likely to fall inside the water with no escape path.
If the animal is unable to get out it will drown and you will have to remove it from the water at some point and if you do not realize it in time, it will decompose in your water and create a terrible smell and unsanitary swimming conditions.
At the time the animal was trying to escape the water, it could also damage your liner with its claws causing significant damage and costly repairs at the opening of the next swimming season.
Keep kids and adults out of it.
No matter what, covered or not you should always supervise children when around a swimming pool. However with the cover in place, this will detour most kids, teens and even grown adults from messing with the water or getting into mischief.
With a swimming pool cover over the water it makes everyone aware that it is not open for swimming and not ready to be used and reduces the chance of someone attempting to be a crowd show off when they dive into the water at sub zero temperatures putting their health at immediate risk.
Stop them from skating!
One of the most dangerous stunts people of all ages do every year is attempt to walk across, skate and play on a swimming pool that is frozen on top. This will as well help remove these insanely dangerous thoughts from any risk takers mind.
Never attempt to walk across a frozen swimming pool, the ice may be extremely thin and send you through the ice sending your body in shock and you may become trapped under the ice at the surface.
Final thoughts. . .
When you are no longer going to be performing maintenance to your swimming pool for an extended period of time, your swimming pool is closed.
A closed swimming pool should be cleaned, winterized and covered during this time period to prevent the pool water from becoming dirty, the liner from the becoming damaged and ensuring you have it closed with the safety of wildlife and others in mind as well.
In doing so you will you soon find yourself opening the pool just before the next season with little work, prep or maintenance. Simply add a few chemicals, fill up the water and connect the hoses and enjoy it once again.
If you would like to know the best time you open your swimming pool, check out my post on What is the best time to open your pool for the swimming season. If you wait to late you will regret it!