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A POOL COVER CAN GO A LONG WAY to keeping your maintenance levels low when the pool isn’t in use. There are several types of pool covers and just as many reasons as to why you’d want one.

From simple pool covers that snap on to the latest high tech retractable cover, pool covers serve an important purpose. First, they increase the safety of a pool, and most fixed designs can withstand the weight of a person accidentally falling on it – a great feature for a household with pets or small children where it’s impractical to have a pool gate. In some parts of the country, pool covers are required for when you close the pool for the season, but they have much greater benefits than that, and can be used even in temperate climates. Pool covers keep out debris and are an excellent choice for tree lined back yards where leaves constantly fall into the pool creating a maintenance chore. Also algae needs sunlight to really flourish, and putting a pool cover on when the pool is unused will go a long way to making your sanitizer work much less harder and your pool stay cleaner. They also help with another problem peculiar to warm climates – evaporation – by keeping the water contained where it belongs – in the pool.

The types of pool covers range from ultra low tech all the way up to motorized units. A good entry level pool cover is a solar cover, nothing more than a large sheet of what appears to be bubble wrap material, except for it’s loaded with UV inhibitors and is made of much thicker material. Of course, depending on the size and shape of your pool, this cover might be a chore to put on and take off, but at least the price is right.

Vinyl covers are a little more robust and heavier, and are usually applied by a team of two, one on each side of the pool. These covers usually have reinforcing ribs sewn into them so that they don’t sag or bow into the pool, and they usually have snaps located in strategic locations to affix the cover to the pool. They can be a little unwieldy due to the size and weight, particularly in large pools.

Taking this concept to the next level is the addition of a reel system so you can (in theory) deploy the pool cover at the touch of a button. In practice, an electric reel still needs user intervention since the side being reeled needs to have tension applied to it in order to feed correctly. A reel is still a convenient place to store the cover, however.

Hard covers and full motorized covers round out the most expensive yet convenient options. These types of pool covers are usually designed into the deck of the pool and run on a track built into the sides of the pool, which effectively seals the pool to unauthorized use. These systems are not unlike a garage door opener, with a motor and track, and are really the only true push button system out there.

Pool covers have some slight disadvantages, however, one of the main ones being that they may require you to run your pool heater more often. If you previously haven’t had a pool cover, and felt like your water temperature was acceptable without using the heater, a pool cover may be a shock to you next time you take a dip. This is because the sun has been heating your pool all this time and putting a cover on it put a stop to that, causing the water to be unusually frigid.

Weigh the advantages of pool covers, which are many, and consider getting on to take a load of your maintenance.

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