Find out how to winterize your pool. Get tips on custom-ordering a self-draining pool cover to protect your irregularly shaped pool
LESLIE: Ray in Arizona needs some help with getting his pool ready for the winter season . What can we do for you?
RAY: We have a six-year-old pool. It’s a play pool, so it’s about 12,000 gallons.
RAY: It’s Pebble Tec; it’s not smooth plaster.
TOM: So it’s above ground or is it inground?
RAY: It’s inground. It’s built into the landscape, so it’s got an infinity edge and a separate spa but it’s combined.
RAY: So, we have some major repairs that we need to do and we thought we would decommission it for the off-season and then shop for the parts while it’s – we’re getting the best prices and then bring it back online next season.
TOM: Right. Well, that makes sense. So are you talking about major mechanical repairs, like replacing pumps and that sort of thing?
RAY: We had a chlorinator that was making the chlorine out of salt and that went out. And we have three pumps. We’re probably going to replace all of the pumps and the sand filter.
TOM: Well, there’s not much left to winterize if you’re going to replace all the mechanical systems.
TOM: You got all the water out. Obviously, it’s a good time to check the structural condition of the pool and make any improvements that are deemed necessary there, to restore any cracks or any other deterioration of the structural surface: the liner and that sort of thing. But what, specifically, can we help you with?
RAY: We’re just wondering what we should do – could do – to protect the surface of the pool. Should we cover it with tarps? Is there a coating we should put on it? What steps might we take to just – to best preserve the Pebble Tec?
TOM: So you don’t have a cover for this inground pool, then, do you?
RAY: No. It’s a play pool, so it’s an irregular configuration that is, like I said, built into the landscape .
TOM: The self-draining pool covers are really the best kind and they’re usually custom-ordered for a shaped pool like that. And the nice thing about self-draining covers is that they don’t hold water, obviously, and even more important than that, if God forbid somebody was to fall in the pool, it can support a person. So, if you put …
LESLIE: I mean we’ve had deer walk across ours.
TOM: Oh, yeah, yeah.
LESLIE: It’s amazing.
TOM: And they’re super-strong. And because you’ve got the cover of the pool then, of course, you’re keeping the sun off of it and that stops the UV degradation that can impact the finishes and so on, so …
RAY: So then when it comes time to use the pool, with an irregular shape and it being a smaller 12,000 gallons, does retracting and the cover present any challenges, as far as flexibility?
TOM: No. You, essentially, take it off.
RAY: Oh, OK.
TOM: You put it on and you take it off.
LESLIE: Ours is stored in like a giant – it’s not gigantic; it takes up a little corner of the garage at my parents’ beach home. But the cover goes right in there. It goes on really easily, it comes off really easily and it really just protects the patio around – the surround. It protects when – because we keep water in it year-round, so it protects the water, it protects from debris going in there. And again, where my parents have their home, lots of deer and crazy wildlife and they walk right across it and there’s never been an incident, knock wood.
RAY: So it doesn’t float on the surface of the water; it’s separate from the water surface.
TOM: That’s correct. Well, that’s correct. It sits just above and there are fasteners that are embedded into the decking, in the concrete around the outside edge.
LESLIE: Into the concrete.
TOM: And they – and then when you don’t need them, they drop down flush. So you pull them up …
RAY: Oh. So what should I Google to shop for that?
TOM: Well, any – I’m sure any pool-supply company is going to sell these but just – it’s called a self-draining pool cover.
TOM: And usually like a mesh or pool – sometimes it’s called a safety pool cover or a mesh pool  cover.
RAY: Excellent. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.