Pool covers are essential pool equipment that can protect your pool water and keep maintenance costs low. They are so ubiquitous to pool owners, which is why many are concerned about how long one should last in case they need a new one. This is difficult to answer because a pool cover’s life expectancy depends on many factors.
How long a pool cover should last depends on the quality, type of pool cover, amount of sun exposure, and if you perform any maintenance on it. No matter what type of pool cover you have, they will all get affected by wear and tear and eventually need to be replaced. Assuming you are taking proper care of it, you can expect most pool covers to last around 3-8 years before needing to be replaced.
You likely still have many questions. For example, how can you ensure your pool cover lasts as long as possible? How do you know when you should replace a pool cover? In this article, we will be answering these questions in more detail so that you can maximize your pool cover’s life span.
Why you should replace a damaged pool cover
For those still unaware of the amazing benefits a pool cover provides, it can reduce evaporation, trap heat, keep rainwater out, and keep debris and insects from falling into the water and clogging up your filters.
By keeping your pool covered up when it’s not in use, you can also preserve the chemicals used so that they do not get destroyed by sunlight or evaporate. In the winter, this handy piece of pool equipment will insulate your pool until it’s pool season again.
Many owners don’t realize that a pool cover can significantly extend their pool season by allowing you to open your pool in early spring and close it early autumn. With a solar pool cover, you can keep your water 10-15°F warmer than without one, allowing you to swim in water that is much more agreeable with your core body temperature.
If your pool cover were to be damaged, it would not be able to provide all of these crucial benefits to you. You may not realize just how much of a luxury it is to have a reliable pool cover until it gets torn and suddenly you lose these benefits.
Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to tell when your pool cover is about to give out.
When should you replace a pool cover?
As mentioned, there are many factors that can affect a pool cover’s lifespan. The three main factors are quality, material type, and sun exposure. Whether you have a vinyl, mesh, or automatic cover, all of these will suffer wear and tear and have a limited lifespan. As mentioned, you can expect most pool covers to last anywhere from 3-8 years.
But if you aren’t keeping track of how long you had your pool cover for, or perhaps unexpected circumstances occurred that may have worn down your pool cover rapidly, then what are some signs that a pool cover needs to be replaced? There are a few things you can do.
Examine your pool cover fabric
You could hire a professional to do this for you, or you can try to determine the damage yourself. Sometimes the damage isn’t so obvious like a rip or tear.
For instance, feel the material in your hand and look for any stiffness or brittleness that you don’t recall being there.
Or if the material feels fine, but you can see an obvious discoloration, that can be signs of stains or mold and you need to do a better job rinsing it. The bacteria lingering on the stained parts could wear down the material as well as transfer to your pool.
If you notice a small tear or rip, you may still be able to patch it up using a pool cover repair kit. If the tear gets too large, then it’s too late to save your pool cover.
Should your pool have any of these symptoms, it may be a sign to look for a new pool cover. If it has been years since you purchased a pool cover, then this is well within expectations and you are due for an upgrade.
What kind of environment do you live in?
I mentioned earlier that your pool might suffer rips and tears occasionally. This can happen for a variety of reasons.
For instance, it could be that the family dog or cat just likes to nibble or scratch at the pool cover. It could be a wild animal gnawing or scratching it at night. It could be kids running around with sharp objects and accidentally poking a hole.
A very common reason for a tear is a branch falling onto and puncturing your pool cover. On windy days, pay close attention to your pool cover and clean off any branches that fall on it.
If there is a storm, I would recommend you actually take the pool cover off. A storm is powerful enough to rip the pool cover off, or at the very least damage it. There’s no point leaving it out there just for it to fail to protect your pool anyways.
Even the sun, with its harsh UV rays, can eventually wear down the pool cover, making it brittle and weak. If you notice cracks, peeling, or tearing, you should set your sights on a new pool cover instead of trying to extend your current one’s life. It doesn’t have long left.
Check the webbing
Your pool cover is held together by stitches, also referred to as webbing, and if these are damaged, then unsurprisingly your pool cover will fall apart.
The webbing on your pool cover needs to be sewn tightly and cleanly. If you notice a lot of loose ends or areas where the webbing has frayed, broken down, or warped, it is a sign that your pool cover does not have much time left.
You can test the integrity of the webbing by pulling on your pool cover gently. Do you feel that the webbing is holding up strong, or do you notice webbing separating from the cover? Do you notice any damaged areas?
How to ensure your pool cover lasts longer
Get the right cover size
When you look at pool cover sizing, the dimensions listed are for the largest possible pool size the cover will fit. A common mistake people make is they get a pool cover that just barely fits their pool.
When a pool cover has a tight fit over your pool, it can eventually stretch and tear open. With small tears open, dust and algae can enter into your pool. Covers that don’t last very long are ones that are too small for the pool and need to be stretched to fit.
Ideally, a cover should be completely loose over your pool so that it won’t get stretched out. In other words, when in doubt, size up instead.
Be careful around high chlorine levels
You need to shock your pool before closing it, but chlorine can deteriorate pool covers. Thus, if you’ve shocked your pool recently, allow at least 1-2 days for the shock to wear off before covering the pool up.
Non-chlorine shocks won’t deteriorate your pool cover, so you don’t need a waiting period before closing your pool.
Another concern are chemical cartridges which are often included in winter kits. If the cartridge causes a high concentration of chemicals to accumulate in one spot due to lack of circulation, then that particular area on the cover can deteriorate.
Rinse your pool cover weekly
Every one or two weeks, consider giving your pool cover a rinse with freshwater. Nothing fancy required, just hose it down and try it with a towel. This can keep algae from growing on your pool cover and can contribute to the overall cleanliness of your pool.
By occasionally evaluating your pool cover and taking steps to prevent it from being damaged, your pool cover should last a long time and you should be well aware of when it’s about to give out. Then you can quickly replace it before it starts causing any problems, and your pool season can continue swimmingly, as it should.