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Thread: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

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    Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Hey folks,

    I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger on an automatic pool cover. Heard from a friend of a friend though, that all of his friends that had one have had issues with them. He said they break down often and require expensive repairs.

    Is that general statement, generally true?

    Thanks!
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

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    jjslinger's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    I've had mine for only 8 months. No problems of any kind.

    There is an adjustment you need to do every once in awhile for "skew" (one side opens a little more than the other). I have found that it's impossible to make that perfect, but the manual says that 3" is okay, and that's about what I usually end up with.

    Don
    16K gal IG 16'x28' pebble since 2011; Pentair Easytouch; Sta-Rite Intellipro VS pump; Sta-Rite 400 sq. ft. cartridge (System 3); 6 Heliocol Solar Panels; Aquamatic Cover; Legend pressure-side cleaner with Hayward booster pump; TF100 Test Kit.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Automatic pool covers as a class tend to have some reliability issues. There are a number of ways for things to go wrong and repairs tend to be expensive. Instead of thinking of an automatic cover as being a one time expense, think of it as costing $1000 to $1500 per year, averaged out over many years. That said, it isn't like they break a couple of times a year, or anything like that. You can often get a couple of years out of one without any problems, and some of the things that do come up are minor and easily resolved.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Well this certainly makes the decision more difficult. Thanks for the heads up!
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    This is my 4th season with my autocover and I have not had any problems. (knock on wood).
    15,000 Gallon IG 15x30 fiberglass
    CoverStar auto safety cover
    SWG Aqua PL-PLUS
    Cartridge Filter
    240,000 LXI Heater

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    I had a pulley "freeze" after about 10 months, replaced under warranty. Convenience always comes with a price. I wouldn't be without one, pool stays much warmer and cleaner.
    DONE, 20 x 40, inground gunite, 30" raised bond beam with 3 12" sheer descents, 8' diving board, pentair 420 cartridge filter, vs-3050 pump, intellechlor ic-40, auto cvr, Tahoe blue pebble tech, 6ea 4' x 12.5' & 2ea 1' x 12.5' helicol solar panels, legend robotic cleaner.

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    harleysilo's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    What brand are you considering? I just got a Coverstar auto cover installed. The owner of the Coverstar branch came out to show me how to operate it and we talked in detail. I also talked in detail with the installer. Here is what I learned....

    I can contract with them to have "service" once a year for $3XX. Here is what they will do...
    1) Clean cover- Spray cover down with a Orange Citrus cleaner (get at HD)
    - Scrub cover with Pool brush (bristles are not to strong)
    - rinse cover with hose, use cover pump to get rid of dirty water
    2) Put old towel on pool brush, dry cover
    3) Spray cover with their own version of 303 Aerospace Protectant
    4) Rinse out tracks with hose
    5) vacuum out cover pit, ensure drain works
    6) Grease all grease points in pit (gears/pulleys etc.)
    7) Adjust rope if needed
    8) Visual inspection of all parts

    The owner, installer and pool builder all stated that the most important thing i can do is keep Pool Chemistry in check, and use the cover. I cannot over use the cover.

    The one thing you never see in pictures of covers is the pump/power cord/hose you need to leave on them if rain is expected....

    18'x43' Sport Pool
    19,000 Gallons Vinyl Liner 3'-3.5'-4'
    SWCG and D.E. Filter
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    When we built our pool in '05 we had a Coverstar automatic cover installed. If I were going through the process again, I would absolutely install the cover.

    With that said, it hasn't been without hitches & challenges:
    • 1) We had one of the ropes break a couple years ago. Some small rodent moved in to the cover pit over the winter and destroyed the rope by tearing out fibers to build a nest. The ropes are a nylon cover over a kevlar core, only available from the mfr, and cost well over $150.
      2) In our yard, it it next to impossible to keep it looking clean. So those nice, shiny covers you see in all the brocure pictures? Don't get used to it... Unless you like to spend a few hours every couple of weeks scrubbing dirt & dust off. I learned to appreciate the dirt as an artistic expression.
      3) It does take a some maintenance; occasional lubing and rope adjustment. Rope tracks and pulleys need debris hosed/powewashed out, etc. It's not rocket science, and is very doable if you are reasonably handy.
      4) The cover fabric has a limited lifespan (our pool builder told us 5-7 years), which is dictated by your installation. Ours is on its 7th season, and is definitely showing the age.


    Like any component you add to your pool, it will require a little mainenance. I think the trade-off is well worth it. Keeping the pool balanced is easy-peasy, it keeps a LOT of junk & debris out of the water, and evaporation losses are minimal.
    Greg R.

    12,000 gallon fiberglass in-ground, Aqua-Rite SWG, 1 HP single speed Hayward Super Pump, Hayward 200# top valve sand filter, 150K BTU Natural Gas heater, automatic cover, Blue Diamond robot, and lots of noodles.

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    jjslinger's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    I will add that I too am very happy I decided to get the cover, even though there may be some trouble and expense down the road. Where I live, without the cover, the gates to our backyard would have needed to be modified to swing out rather than in, and the doors in the house facing the pool would need alarms. With the cover, none of that is necessary, and I feel much better about kids or critters not being able to sneek into the pool.
    16K gal IG 16'x28' pebble since 2011; Pentair Easytouch; Sta-Rite Intellipro VS pump; Sta-Rite 400 sq. ft. cartridge (System 3); 6 Heliocol Solar Panels; Aquamatic Cover; Legend pressure-side cleaner with Hayward booster pump; TF100 Test Kit.

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Quote Originally Posted by jjslinger
    I will add that I too am very happy I decided to get the cover, even though there may be some trouble and expense down the road. Where I live, without the cover, the gates to our backyard would have needed to be modified to swing out rather than in, and the doors in the house facing the pool would need alarms. With the cover, none of that is necessary, and I feel much better about kids or critters not being able to sneek into the pool.
    Good point, we don't have a fence either, which was required without the cover.
    DONE, 20 x 40, inground gunite, 30" raised bond beam with 3 12" sheer descents, 8' diving board, pentair 420 cartridge filter, vs-3050 pump, intellechlor ic-40, auto cvr, Tahoe blue pebble tech, 6ea 4' x 12.5' & 2ea 1' x 12.5' helicol solar panels, legend robotic cleaner.

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Surprised about the whole pump thing. Wonder why they didn't just go with a mesh cover...
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

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    jjslinger's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Quote Originally Posted by NullQwerty
    Surprised about the whole pump thing. Wonder why they didn't just go with a mesh cover...
    I think the idea is that if you don't want your water diluted when it rains (so that you don't need to perhaps add calcium, CYA, chlorine, adjust TA, etc.) then you just pump the rain water off with the cover pump. Of course, if you want the rain water added, you have that option. My cover has a mesh with a zipper; if there is just a little rain collecting, you can open the zipper and then slowly open the cover; the mesh will filter leaves, etc., and the water then goes into the pool. You can then clean the mesh by hand when the cover is all the way open.
    16K gal IG 16'x28' pebble since 2011; Pentair Easytouch; Sta-Rite Intellipro VS pump; Sta-Rite 400 sq. ft. cartridge (System 3); 6 Heliocol Solar Panels; Aquamatic Cover; Legend pressure-side cleaner with Hayward booster pump; TF100 Test Kit.

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    I've had my automatic cover for 7 years now; it was installed with the pool and I have had no problems with the cover at all. I have just replaced the cover, due to rips and tears that were mostly caused when I had a leak in the pool 2 years ago in the winter and the cover was heavily laden with snow. Due to the low water level, there was no support for the cover and it compromised the integrity on the sides.
    I definitely recommend an automatic cover; it was a costly initial investment, but pays for itself with keeping heat and chemicals in the water when it's not being used, as well as the added safety features.
    Intex AG, 7,610 Gal, cartridge filter

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    As I note in this post, the cover has needed replacement every 3-4 years in the past and some hardware (including the pickup reel) needed replacing after 7-8 years so I figure on an average $350 annual cost for pro-rated repair/replacement including annual maintenance where they come out and adjust the cover. I just look at this as the price I pay for the tremendous convenience.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    I've started looking into a solution from Pool Cover Specialists. Instead of it coming with a motor and requiring an electrical hookup, you use a cordless drill to open and close the cover. Sounds kludgey and clumsy and at first I was put off, but the sales person mentioned that with this option there's a lot less maintenance required and a lot less that can go wrong. In general it has less issues. Just kills me to think that I'd spend thousands on a system and it requires a cordless drill to operate it. But on the flip side it's thousands cheaper than the "flip the switch" option and is less likely to break down.
    18 X 36 In-Ground Vinyl Pool, Hayward 1 HP SuperPump, Hayward SP270T 350lb Sand Filter, CompuPool CPSC48 Salt Chlorine Generator, Hayward H400FDN 400 BTU Natural Gas Heater, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, No Main Drain

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    NullQwerty,
    I'm just about to pull the trigger on a new inground pool with automatic pool cover. Have you continued to use the cordless drill method to open and close your automatic pool cover?
    12K gal, IG plaster, 1-1/2 HP pump, sand filter, gas heater, SWG, automatic cover

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    This will be my 10th season with my Coverpools automatic Safety cover. These covers are great if you have little kids (piece of mind) and they do save $ on chemical costs, heating and cleaning. I remember the first year I used it as the winter cover (I wouldn't recommend if you get a lot of snow) and when I opened the pool in the spring it was spotless. When we're not swimming, the pool cover is closed. The pool is always clean. I've since bought a regular winter cover being the next year we did get a lot of snow and the tracks pulled out from the weight. That being said, even using it properly, it does require maintenance. My tracks are under my coping and yes, they do pull out occasionally. These are the things I have to do every season:
    1. First of all the motor is always frozen every spring. Turn the key and nothing happens. I use a wooden dowel and a hammer and manually turn the pulleys and clutch just a little to free it up and it works.
    2. I vacuum out the box it stores in when retracted. It gets FILLED with debris which will cause problems like tears.
    3. I clean it once a year (sweep it weekly) just so it looks nice. What the heck, lasted 10 years so far.
    4. The end pulleys especially get clogged with sand (paver patio) and have to be removed and cleaned.
    5. Adjust the pulleys yearly.
    6. Grease the fittings yearly
    7. It does help to pressure wash the tracks once a year to keep them clean. Again, I have a paver surround so I get the paver sand in everything.
    8. And I tighten the track screws every year.

    I just replaced the gliders this year, They finally broke. Easy to replace, bought them online for $120. Some people like to remove the aluminum cover box plates these covers come with and replace it with whatever there coping is so everything matches. I wouldn't recommend this as you do have to get into the cover box frequently. My brother in law removed his and replaced with 2' x 6' limestone slabs. His coping is limestone. His wife thought it would look nicer LOL. The weight of the limestone weighed down the brackets that were designed for the light weight aluminum cover and one of the brackets was pressing against the cover. When his kid went to open the cover it put a rip in it the whole length of the cover. $4,000 just to replace the cover material.

    You will need a cover pump. I'm on my second. They tend to only last 5-7 years. The best part about having the cover is when I do open the pool in the spring I close the automatic cover under my winter cover. This makes removing the winter cover (by myself) very easy because it rests on the auto cover. I can just release all the springs and fold it up right on the auto cover. I like having one.

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    h2ctpdjl's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    This is my 8th season with my AutoGuard Automatic Pool Cover. I keep the tracks hosed out, I clean out the hopper every spring, and I give the cover a good cleaning three times a year, starting in the spring. One thing I cannot stress enough is to give your cover a good scrubbing each spring, let it dry, then follow up with a good coating of 303 sealant. My last coating is put on in the fall at closing time. I use a good squirt of good old dish soap, let the hose run on the cover to give it a layer of water and scrub away with my old pool brush. I use my pool cover pump to syphon off the dirty water, then the rinse water. My cover has had just a couple of issues so far, but is definitely starting to show its age around the one side of it where the sun beats down on it all day long. When the time comes, I will replace the material, as I think my cover is worth every penny. I also use my automatic cover as my winter cover and have had no issues whatsoever doing so.
    18,000 gal, 18x32 IGP, vinyl liner, 3 to 5.5ft depth. One inlet/skimmer (Aqua Genie), one main drain. Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter w/filtration rate of 20 GPM/FT, Two-Speed Pentair Whisperflo 1 HP pump, Natural Gas Hayward H200 pool heater, Aquabot T2 (200 Series) Robotic Pool Cleaner (my best friend), Automatic Electric Pool Cover (2nd best friend).

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Automatic Pool Cover Reliability

    Reliabilty ofthe covers will have more to do with the original installation. The more knowledgeable and experienced with whatever brand you go with the actual installer is will mean alot. We have been doing covers for 20 years now and attention to the small details will make a big difference.
    Over 30 years in the pool business
    We build vinyl, fiberglass, stainless steel pools
    Certified in Hydraulics

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