Removing Leaves and Water from a Winter Pool Cover

Atlanta is known for its trees. We are blessed to live in one of the most heavily wooded major American cities. But with all those trees come millions of leaves. And this time of year, all of those leaves are coming off the trees. They fill our yards, driveways, and sidewalks. They make huge piles on our lawns and fill bag after bag of yard waste. So, of course, our pools are not spared from the onslaught of falling vegetation. If you have a solid winter pool cover, you almost certainly have a considerable spread of leaves all over it. To make matters worse, autumn rain means puddles or even one large puddle of water on your cover. The combination of leaves and water can seem like a challenge to remove. But removing leaves and water from a winter pool cover is a critical part of winter pool maintenance.

The Importance of Removing Leaves and Water from a Winter Pool Cover

It may seem like an unnecessary chore. After all, the whole point of a winter pool cover is to keep debris out of your pool. If you just have to clear the water and leaves off of your pool cover, why not just forego the cover altogether? You could just as easily remove the leaves from the pool directly.

However, clearing a winter pool cover is still easier and more beneficial than having no cover at all. We’ll see that clearing off a pool cover is actually not that hard. It takes a little time, but it only has to be done occasionally. If you left the pool uncovered, you would have to clean it every other day, just like during peak swimming season. So using a pool cover can save you many hours of hard skimming, brushing, and vacuuming.

It still may seem appealing just to let the water and leaves sit on your cover until it’s time to reopen the pool in the spring. Then, before you open the pool, you can take care of all the mess at once and be done with it. That would also be a bad idea. First, it would be a huge job after a winter of disregard. But more importantly, the more water and debris that gathers on your winter pool cover, the less effective it is. Too much accumulation could actually damage the cover.

The other issue with letting water accumulate is that water is deceptively heavy. Even a few inches of water across the surface of your pool can add up. One inch of standing water on a small residential pool just 10’x20’ adds up to nearly 125 gallons. That’s over 1,000 pounds of water.

Removing Leaves and Water from a Winter Pool Cover [infographic]

Remove Leaves and Large Debris First

If your pool cover were totally dry and covered in just leaves, it would be pretty easy to clear off. You could use a brush, a pool cover rake (specifically made not to damage the pool cover), or even a leaf blower. But let’s talk about a more common and complicated situation. Most often, you will have some combination of water and debris on your pool cover. Wet leaves are much harder to remove from your pool cover because they tend to stick to it. So the first thing you want to do is to remove as much water as possible. But before you can do that, you need to get as much large debris out of the water as possible. Leaving it there could clog a pump or vacuum.

You have a few options for cleaning large debris out of water that has pooled on top of your pool cover. The simplest method is to break out your skimming net. Attach the net to the end of your telescoping pole, and start collecting leaves. It’s similar to skimming your pool. Because you skim your pool cover less often than you would skim your uncovered pool, there will be more leaves. This can actually make your job easier. Just dip your skimmer into a puddle of water full of leaves and start scooping.

If you’ve already removed all the leaves you can with a skimmer, or if there aren’t enough leaves to scoop, you can use a pool cover rake. Never use a standard garden rake on a pool cover. It can damage the material.

Once you’ve gathered leaves, don’t put them directly into a trash or yard waste bag. Instead, use a plastic trash bin with holes in it or a mesh bag so the water can run out.

Removing Water from a Pool cover

Once the large debris has been removed, you can go ahead and start to remove the water. The simplest way to do it is to use a pump specifically designed for solid pool covers. You can find these at any pool supply store. If you have a solid pool cover and plan on using it for a while, it’s worth the investment. Decent submersible pool cover water pumps are available in the $30 range.

If you want to go with a cheap and mechanically simple method, you could siphon out the water. This works best if your pool is on the slope of a hill or a raised area. The key to any siphon is making sure that the final destination of the water is lower than where the water starts. To siphon water off of your pool cover, you will need a long hose or piece of plastic tubing. Submerge the tube in water so that it fills completely with water, then cover one end with a finger to keep the water in. Place the other end in the water on your pool cover. Weight the tube down if necessary to keep it as low in the water as possible. While still holding the end of the tube, bring it to an area that is lower than the pool cover, either downhill or down a few steps. Let your finger off the end of the tube and watch the water start to flow.

The advantage of a siphon over a plain drain is that, if done correctly, water can actually flow uphill through the tubing, as long as the end is lower than the beginning. The advantage over a pump is that it is very cheap and requires no electricity.

Removing Leaves from A Winter Pool Cover

Once the water has been removed, you can go about removing the remaining leaves. If you can, let them dry a bit. It is much easier to remove dry leaves because they don’t stick to the cover material like wet ones.

The two tools to use for wet or damp leaves are a brush and a rake. For a brush, you can use your regular pool brush. In a pinch, any large broom with nylon bristles will do. If the pool cover is sunk slightly below the pool deck, just try to get all the leaves into a pile at the edge of the pool. You may have to get in there and remove the pile with your hands. For a safety cover that is taught and level with the deck, you should be able to sweep them right off. If you use a rake, try to get one made for pool covers. They aren’t that expensive, and they protect your cover, which is much more costly. In a pinch, you can use any rake with plastic tines. The less sharp, the better. The main danger is from tears.

If your leaves are completely dry, you can use a leaf blower to direct all the leaves off your cover. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to clear your pool cover. However, it is only effective when the leaves are really dry.

Help Cleaning A Winter Pool Cover

The Pool Butler offers year-round service. Even when your pool is closed, we’re here to keep it healthy and safe. That means regular pool cover cleanings. We have all the tools and the know-how, and you can leave the whole process up to us. Contact us today to learn more and receive your free estimate.

The Pool Butler