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Winter Pool Cover Tips

Winter covers are an essential part of winter pool maintenance, and they're something that every pool should be equipped with. Great for use in all types of climates, winter covers protect your pool during the long off-season months when no one will be swimming.

Winter covers help keep dirt and debris out of your pool, while keeping the water and chemicals in. They also block sunlight and UV rays, helping prevent algae growth while the pool goes unused.

Let Leslie’s help you find the winter cover that fits both your pool and your budget. We'll also help you out with a few helpful winter cover tips to make installation a breeze.

Types of Winter Pool Covers

As we mentioned earlier, there are winter pool covers for nearly every type and size of pool available. For starters, there are covers available for inground pools and above ground pools. It's also easy to shop for pool covers by shape — round, oval, or rectangular. No matter which type of pool you have, or what the shape is, chances are you'll find one that fits the size dimensions of your pool.

Some winter pool covers are thick and designed to protect the pool from light debris. Other covers are lightweight and built for easy installation and removal. Thicker covers are likely to carry a longer warranty from the manufacturer, but are usually more expensive than their lighter-weighted counterparts.

winter pool cover on above ground pool

Sizing a Winter Pool Cover

Before purchasing a winter pool cover, you need to make sure you're purchasing the correct size. For rectangle and oval pool shapes, measure the length and width of the pool. For round pools, measure the diameter across the center of the pool.

Winter pool covers are designed to have a bit of overlap. As an example, let's say we're buying a cover for a 15'x30' rectangular swimming pool. When looking at all the available winter covers, you'd want to purchase a cover labeled as 15'x30'. In reality, if you look at the product description, you'll discover that the cover is actually about 4–5 feet longer on each side to allow for overlap. In the case of our example, the cover you'd receive would actually be around 19'x34'. At Leslie's, we label our covers according to pool size to make it easier to shop for the correct cover.

BONUS TIP: Got a pool that's between sizes, and you're having trouble finding the right cover for it online? There are a couple of options. The first would be to choose the next size up. If you have a uniquely shaped pool, your best bet might be to consider purchasing a safety cover. They're a bit more expensive, but have a much longer lifespan than winter covers, and you have the option of getting a custom fit for your pool. If you'd rather stick with a winter cover, stop by your local Leslie's to see if we can help you find any other sizes.

Tips for Installing a Winter Cover

When you're finally ready to put the winter cover on your pool, these tips and tricks will help the process go more smoothly. Keep in mind that installing a winter pool cover is much easier with TWO people.

Inground Pool Tips

  • After pulling the cover across the pool, anchor each end with several water bags.
  • Drape the cover over the entire pool, and tuck the cover flat against the pool walls and water surface at a 90º angle. DO NOT allow the cover to drape down at a diagonal.
  • Use water bags or winter cover blocks around the edge of the cover, placing them 18 inches apart. If you live in a particularly windy area, it's often best to place the water bags end to end.
  • Be sure to not fill the water bags completely full — only fill them between ½ and ¾ full. This prevents the bags from rolling around or splitting open if the water freezes.
  • After the winter cover is installed, Leslie’s recommends installing a leaf net over the top of the winter cover. Leaf nets catch all large debris for simple removal, making spring opening even easier.
  • Remember to use a cover pump for solid pool covers.

Above Ground Pool Tips

  • Install an air pillow on the pool surface, underneath the cover. Air pillows are designed to protect your pool walls against freeze expansion from the layer of ice that forms at the pool's surface.
  • Only inflate air pillows halfway to prevent bursting from ice pressure. Ropes may be tied around the pool edge and through grommets located on the air pillow(s), or you can use a Pillow Pal to keep them in place during the winter.
  • When securing the cover, it's important to get the cable and winch assembly snug, but not too tight. You want to make sure the cover stays put, but you don't want to risk damaging parts of your pool wall or the vertical supports from over-tightening.
  • If you're having trouble keeping the cover in place with a cable and winch assembly, other options include cover clips (sometimes included in lieu of a cable and winch assembly) or a cover seal (which resembles shrink wrap for the top of your pool).
  • Remember to use a cover pump for solid pool covers.

If you have any questions about finding and/or installing a winter cover that is right for your pool, simply call or visit your local Leslie's to speak with a trusted pool expert. Don't forget to check out our large selection of winter pool closing products to protect your pool and spa through the cold off-season.

Recommended Products

Winter Pool Covers

Winter Pool Covers

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Pool Cover Pumps

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Leslie’s makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and Leslie’s assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Leslie’s assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.