Closing Down Pools: What It Means to Have You Covered

To the uninitiated, closing a pool takes a few steps, says Deck and Patio's Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. To get a full picture of what's involved, our team spoke with a pool contractor who works with Bill on a regular basis - Michael Truehart, CSB, owner of True Blue Swimming Pools in Deer Park.
"In climates like the Northeast," says Michael, "the most important reason for closing a pool is pipes and other pool equipment can freeze in cold months. Part of what we do is administer a chlorine shock, or algaecides, or phosphate remover to the pool water. Then the pool/spa equipment is taken apart and cleaned, drained of water, and underground pipes are blown out so no water can freeze in them."
Because our changing seasons cause a lot of falling twigs and leaves especially in the Fall, a pool cover is imperative, says Michael. "We don't recommend a plain tarp cover that sags under the weight of rain collected on it. We suggest a mesh-type cover that allows rain to seep through it. This does require another step: lowering the pool water level to about 12-18 inches below the coping. Then, as rain water seeps through the mesh cover, the pool can accommodate it."
Our own Bill Renter adds that he finds these mesh covers, such as the Loop Loc brand, are also important to help ensure that no one gains access to the pool when it's unsupervised. The mesh covers are very taught he explains. "A plain tarp type cover that holds water on it will collapse if a pet or child walks on it. But mesh covers, with strong straps to hold them in place, allow for water to drain through into the pool."
"These covers are so taught, they act almost like a trampoline," confirms Michael.
Measuring for Pool Covers
Installing and measuring a mesh pool cover that involves freeform shapes, waterfalls, etc., must be exact. A mesh cover is strong because its straps with tension springs are connected to anchors set in the patio. For this pool's water feature area, we also had to drill stainless steel eyelets into rocks where a cable secures it.
Pool/Spa Covers
For this job, because of the number of rocks involved, a separate Loop Loc cover for the spillover spa was required. Also: installing a hose and cord under the cover permits pumping water out later should too much rain fill up the partially drained pool.
Pool Surrounds
A bluestone area (with grass pepping through) forms part of this pool's surround. In such areas where there is no hardscape to secure the necessary tension, little anchors are set into a pipe which, in turn, is set deep into the ground. To secure the pool around the grotto on the left - where the cover wraps inside it - the only way to install that was from in the pool on an inflatable raft.
Gravel Pool Surrounds
Without strong patio masonry to grip, the pool cover straps and anchors for this pool are set in a pipe anchored into the gravel. For all these jobs, the pool contractor used "Image Loc," a special measuring process where taking photos from several views are input into a computer which does the measuring. This system works much like forensic technology.

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  • Virginia Virginia on Mar 13, 2017
    Have a mesh, spring-loaded, pool cover. It has lasted many years-worth the investment. With blowing winds and an oak tree nearby though, debris can be wind-driven under the edges of the cover; small twigs can get stuck into the top of the cover and sediment can get through the tiny holes into the bottom of the pool and accumulate over the winter months. As our cover has aged, some of the 'coating' (for lack of a better word) begins to come off the cover. Best advice? Don't have a tree near your pool! Folding that cover up and storing it is labor intensive each season. A pool is wonderful if you don't mind all of the cleaning, chemicals, dipping debris, 'winterizing' it and the pipes each year and children or grandchildren to enjoy the pool. Otherwise, my next house will be 'no pool'. Labor intensive in caring for it as you age!

  • Some good comments. We'll add that, in our area, a lot of our clients ask the pool company we frequently work with to "open" and "close" their pools. This includes all the things you mentioned. But if that is not an option, yes, these projects can be labor intensive (especially if you have trees near the pool) at the beginning and end of the pool season.