So. after years of battling water, ice and debris on my solid cover, during the winter season, I figured I'd share some experiences. This is mostly thinking out loud type material.....
Pumps: The heart of a clean cover...
- I've gone back and forth between leaving my pump stationary and attaching to the end of a long skimmer pole. In recent seasons I pretty much use the pole method exclusively as I can place the pump wherever water collects. Unfortunately my cover has 2-3 spots which hold water separately. I leave the pump/pole setup where the most water collects and move the pump to other spots when needed. This typically removes most of the water but nothing's perfect.
I've gone through many pumps over the years and haven't found the perfect configuration. The trade-off with pumps is that if you want to drain nearly all the water off the cover the pump bottom needs to be very close to the cover surface. Problem is the pump will adhere to cover through suction and effectively seal itself off. If a pump is used that has thick base then you leave quite a bit of water behind. None seem to be 100%.
-Next issue was attempting to have the pump actuate automatically. I've tried several configurations but none were very effective. The best method for me is utilizing a wireless remote switch and turning the pump on (from the comfort of my home) when I see the water level getting too high. I can just as easily turn off remotely when the water is evacuated and prevent the pump from running continuously and burning out. The one pain is I have to listen from a window to determine if the pump is indeed on or off as the remote doesn't always effect a change without a few button presses. I may rig a light of some sort so I can visually determine pump operation.
-Leaves and other debris are a pain, even during the winter. I use a wide broom at the end of the long skimmer pole and pull to the edge and discard. No big deal unless there's alot of water/debris or if everything is frozen solid. I try to let freezing temps work to my advantage by tossing a knotted rope to the center of where the water collects on the cover before temps get too low. When the water freezes I use the rope to pull the entire block of ice (complete with debris) to the side and discard. Works 90% of the time.
The cover: Solid or Mesh?
After many years of using the same solid cover it's close to replacement time. The reinforced vinyl has become brittle and cracks are appearing. What type of cover to use next? I'm really leaning towards a mesh style next time around. Yes, I've uncovered the pool in the spring and discovered sparkling clear water. But other times I still had alot of cleanup...so why bother with the issues as mentioned above? Also, my solid cover is so heavy that it's a nightmare to install. I'm thinking a mesh cover will help alleviate some of the burden.
Where to buy? Well I bought my cover from a company that (at the time) charged a fraction compared to the the highly marketed brands. Why? I had to take all the measurements myself, as per their instruction, and provide so that they could manufacture the cover. Overall I'm extremely happy with the cost/quality level.
I'll stop here and add other thoughts as they come up.....
Feel free to share any feedback, tips or experiences. I look forward to hearing them.