It is important to note automatic safety covers are not designed to be pulled taut across the pool; they are made to include slack. A cover that is too tight will pull against the tracks and will not operate correctly. A properly sized automatic cover will come out of the cover track—whether under the coping or on top of the pool deck—then drop down and ride on the water in the pool. Because of this slack, it is normal to see wrinkles or small folds as it crosses the pool.
After an automatic cover system has been installed, it will require routine maintenance. There are four main areas that need to be kept in check:
- Given automatic covers are designed to ride on top of the pool water, it is important to properly maintain the correct water level in the pool. The general rule of thumb is to keep the water level halfway up the opening of the pool skimmer. If the water level is too low, the cover will have much more sag than necessary, resulting in more stress during operation.
- Do not operate the automatic cover if water has pooled on top. When the cover is closed, water can accumulate on top (from rain or sprinklers). Automatic covers that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety standard F1346-91 will include a pump that can be placed on the cover each time it is closed. The cover pump will automatically turn on when water is detected, pumping it off through a garden hose. It may be necessary to open the cover a little at a time to help the water pool so the pump can detect it and turn on.
- Clean the cover tracks and cover box. As dirt and debris collects in the cover track, wear and tear on the cover and ropes increase. Use a garden hose to flush out the track (as needed) to remove any debris. Also, open the cover box and clean out any leaves, pool toys, or other debris that may have collected. While cleaning out the cover box, check to make sure the drain from the cover box is also clear.
- When operating the cover, do not hold the control switch too long as it can slam into either end as it is opening or closing. Instead, stop the cover roughly a foot before it is completely open or closed and then tap the switch to slowly move the cover to the fully open or closed position. This will also help to reduce wear and tear on the automatic cover
Pool cover benefits
Regardless of the type of system that is used to install an automatic pool cover, whether the tracks or mechanism are under grade or on top of the pool deck, there are a number of benefits the homeowner will gain by covering their pool.
First and foremost is safety. Although an automatic cover does not replace the need for adult supervision, it does provide peace of mind knowing there is another layer of protection to help prevent unsupervised use.
Another benefit is savings, which comes fourfold. For instance, homeowners will see dramatic savings in pool operation costs in the areas of heating, chemicals, electricity, and water use.
Covering the pool when it is not in use can reduce water evaporation and heat loss by up to 70 per cent.
A covered pool also helps to keep water chemistry in balance. In addition to heat loss, pools loose chemicals through water evaporation. Hence, an automatic cover seals the water in, reducing chemical loss by up to 70 per cent.
Automatic covers reduce the amount of energy needed for pool filtration. Electricity is required to run the pump and filter. An automatic cover keeps dirt and debris out of the pool, saving up to 50 per cent on electricity as filtration equipment operation is reduced.
Water evaporation is reduced by up to 90 per cent. Keeping the pool covered when it is not in use eliminates the need to constantly top it up.
Do not forget the convenience factor
Time is money. When closed, an automatic cover will keep the pool much cleaner, thus increasing the amount of time the homeowner gets to enjoy their pool by reducing the time spent cleaning it. Automatic covers are custom made for the specific pool they are installed on. In most cases, whether working with a rectangular or freeform design, an automatic safety cover can be installed on any pool.
Kevin Losee is the product manager for automatic and solid and mesh safety covers for Coverstar, a division of Latham Pool Products. During his 12 years at Coverstar, he has worked as an automatic safety cover installer, operations manager, technical support and order-entry manager, and product manager. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.