Tag Archives: Pool covers

How to Make 2012 the Year of the Energy Efficient Pool — Part 1 of 4

Go Green and Save Green

Now is the best time to start thinking about how to improve the energy-efficiency of your backyard swimming pool.  Operating and maintaining a pool using older, less efficient equipment sucks up energy and money, leaving your pockets empty at the end of each season.

Making your pool more energy-efficient really only requires a few changes to your existing set up.  You can choose to implement all of suggestions offered here at one time, or you may find that changes are easier to swallow by taking them one at a time.  Either way, this series of 4 posts will offer some helpful suggestions for how to make your pool more energy-efficient in 2012 and beyond:

1. Solar Pool Covers

First, use Solar Covers, also known as solar blankets, to cover your pool. Solar Pool Covers or Blankets resemble enormous sheets of bubble wrap. The bubbles trap heat from the sun and convey the heat to the pool, keeping the water temperature warm and comfortable. The solar cover also helps to trap the water’s heat and prevents heat loss in the cooler air at night or on cooler days.

Solar covers float freely on top of a pool without the need for tie-downs or anchors to hold them in place. Solar covers are usually folded and stored or rolled up in a large roll and wheeled out of the way. Solar Blankets are perfect for use in sunny climates because the more heat they can trap, the longer they can extend the swim season. Solar pool covers can increase water temperatures by as much as 10-15 degrees.

Besides offering energy savings, pool covers also do the following:

  • Save water by decreasing the amount of make-up water needed by 30%-50%;
  • Reduce the pool’s consumption of chemicals by 35%-60%;
  • Reduce cleaning time by preventing dirt and other debris from entering the pool.

Pool Covers and Solar Covers

In my next post, I’ll offer a second suggestion for how to make your pool more energy-efficient in 2012.  Remember, choosing to be more energy-efficient is not just about taking steps to reduce our negative environmental impact, it’s about saving money, too.  Being green means saving green!

New Year’s Resolutions for Pools

Now that 2011 is coming to a close, have you started thinking about what your New Year’s resolutions will be?  If you own a backyard swimming pool, will any of those resolutions include a plan to open up your pool sooner in 2012 rather than waiting until the swimming season has long begun?

Part of what makes this kind of resolution successful is to start planning early for opening the pool.  Take the time now to check your existing stock of pool chemicals, and keep an eye out for off-season sales so you can nab these necessities at the best prices.

Take a look, too, at your pool equipment to evaluate whether it may be time to replace or upgrade items like the pool pump, pool heater, or pool covers.  Test your pool alarm while you’re at it to be sure that it is still in good working order.

New Year’s resolutions like these can be accomplished easily and with little stress involved, especially if you enlist the help of family members.  Make a short list of tasks you’d like to accomplish in order to get your pool opened in a timely fashion, and stick to it.  Before you know it, the warm weather will return, and you’ll be ready to relax by the poolside instead of scrambling to complete pool-opening tasks.

Relax by the Pool

Preparing Your Above Ground Pool for Winter

Above Ground Winter Pool Cover

The end of swimming season is near, and it’s time to begin preparing for winterizing the above ground swimming pool.  Here is a handy guide for preparing your pool for the winter season:

Step 1
Before closing your pool, make sure the water is chemically balanced. Adjust the chemical levels if necessary. Chemically balanced water protects the pool from corrosion or scale buildup that can occur while the pool is not in use. Your chemical levels should be as follows:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6
  • Alkalinity: 80 – 120 parts per million
  • Calcium Hardness: 175 – 250 parts per million
  • Chlorine: 1 – 3 parts per million

Step 2
Remove all deck equipment, including ladders, stairs, etc.

Step 3
Brush down the sides and floor of your pool and then vacuum.  This step prevents staining, which can occur if any dirt or debris is left to sit in the pool.

Step 4
Add winterizing chemicals by broadcasting them into the deep end of the pool.  These chemicals help protect water quality during the off season months.

Step 5
Clean the filter, skimmer, and pump basket. Remove all unused chlorine product from the chlorinator. Cartridge filter elements and D.E. grids should be cleaned and stored. If you have a sand filter, backwash it.

Step 6
Some people insert a skimmer guard into the skimmer and plug the return line. Others lower the water in the pool below the returns (where the water jets into the pool) and the skimmer. Either method is fine — the choice made is based on personal preference. NEVER COMPLETELY DRAIN A POOL! This can cause your above ground pool to collapse.

Step 7
If your pool is plumbed with detachable, flexible hoses, remove them and store for the winter. Remove all drain plugs from the pump, filter tank, and any other pool equipment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific equipment. Place all drain plugs in the pump basket for storage.

If your pool is hard plumbed, use an air compressor or shop vac (attached to the blower side of the vac) to blow water out of the system by forcing air down the skimmer and through the plumbing.

Step 8
If you are using an air pillow, inflate it by using a shop vac. Tie the air pillow at two places and position it in the center of the pool. Tie strings to the pool wall so the pillow will not move during installation of the pool cover. Air pillows are commonly used, but not absolutely necessary. They are a good idea in colder climates in case the water freezes and expands. The water will freeze inwards on the pillow instead of outwards which can potentially damage the pool wall. Pillows are NOT used to create a dome-like effect to keep rain off of the cover.  Rain water will always settle around the pillow.

Step 9
Place an above ground pool winter cover over the pool surface, black side down.  Some homeowners who have children or pets prefer to cover the pool with a safety cover over the winter.

If covering your pool with a winter cover, place the cover over the pool, then thread the cable through the loops or grommets. Use the winch provided with the cover to tighten the cable.

If your above ground pool has a deck, place wall bags end to end around the edge of the pool. Fill the bags 3/4 full with water.  Do not over-fill because the bags could burst when the water inside freezes.  Never use bricks, concrete blocks, etc. to secure the cover because they can damage your pool cover or your pool.

Step 10
Place a cover pump in the center of your pool cover to drain excess water accumulation.  Too much water on top of the cover can cause the cover to rip, or it can pull the cover and wall bags into the pool.  Either way, you’re in for a messy cleanup effort.

Planning now for winterizing will help make the process go faster and easier once the time to winterize has arrived.  Until then, though, enjoy the remaining days of summer warmth in the refreshing comfort of your above ground pool.

Prevent Autumn Leaves from Turning into Springtime Mess

Now is the time to start thinking about getting a leaf net, if you don’t already have one.  What is a leaf net? Leaf nets are lightweight covers made of an open weave material that fits over your winter cover or solar cover and helps you avoid accumulations of wet, heavy, saturated leaves and twigs on top of your swimming pool. Leaf nets ensure faster removal of leaves and help prolong the life of your winter or solar cover.

Leaf nets can be used in any season, but they are especially helpful in autumn when leaves are the most problematic for swimming pools.  The open weave allows water to pass through the net but will block twigs and other natural debris. Leaf nets make spring pool cover removal much easier and less messy.

Not Too Soon to Prepare for Winterizing

Yes, summer is still with us, and thinking about winterizing the pool right now probably seems premature.  But, now is actually the best time to make sure that your winter pool cover is in good shape and that you have all the necessary accessories to keep your above ground pool properly protected over the winter months.

Once the pool water has been prepared properly for winter and you are ready to top it all off with a winter pool cover, there are really only three winterizing accessories about which you should be concerned.

Air Pillows

If you live in a climate where winter air temperatures drop below freezing, the first accessory you’ll need is an air pillow. Air pillows absorb the pressure created by freezing water and protect your pool’s walls and liner. As the water in the pool freezes and expands, it will freeze inward on the air pillow rather than outward on your pool walls. Air pillows are placed under the winter pool cover on top of the water in the center of the pool. To ensure that the air pillow doesn’t move out of place over the course of the winter, you’ll want to use durable string to tie it to two sides of your pool wall.

Cover Pumps

Next, you’ll want a pool cover pump to drain the water that collects on your pool cover throughout the winter months. If accumulated water is not regularly removed by a cover pump, the weight of that excess water can damage your winter pool cover or pull the cover into the water below. Either way, you’ll have a messy situation to clean up. Cover pumps are available in manual models and automatic models. Manual cover pumps require that you monitor the pump’s progress and unplug it when the water is drained. Automatic cover pumps, often preferred by pool owners, sense and automatically start when water is detected on the cover and turn off automatically once the water has been drained.

Bags, Seal, or Clips

Finally, you’ll want to consider how to keep your winter pool cover from being blown around on breezy days, exposing your pool to the elements and ruining the hard work you put into winterizing. There are many options available for keeping a winter pool cover in place, including pool cover wall bags, winter cover seal, and cover clips. Pool cover wall bags are designed especially for above ground pools and are positioned around the inside perimeter of your pool, fastened to your pool cover’s cable. Wall bags should be filled only three quarters full with water to make room for the water to expand should it freeze. Winter cover seal is another way to keep your pool cover in place, and while it looks very much like a large roll of plastic wrap, it’s really a tough poly blend film packed with UV inhibitors. Winter cover seal is wrapped around the covered pool several times to create a tight seal, which prevents wind as well as dirt from getting under the cover and causing damage and premature wear and tear. Cover clips are a third option for securing your winter pool cover. Cover clips are exactly that — handy fasteners that hold your pool cover in place. They grip your top rail like a clothes pin and hold securely throughout the winter season.

Are you all set for winter?  Then, go out and enjoy the rest of those hot summer days in the pool!