Floating, insulated under-cover needed for the winter!

Toddunder

Member
Jul 19, 2019
10
Pittsburgh
So this isn't exactly "under construction" but I think this is the best forum.

Here's the situation: We live in Pittsburgh, PA and have a relatively new in-ground gunnite pool that is partially indoor and partially outdoor. The pool extends into a heated/conditioned poolhouse. There is a Cover Pools cover and there is a glass garage door that covers the gap between the pool house and the outside, sealing (hopefully sealing) against the pool cover.

On the inside portion we have a perpendicular (sideways) facing endless pools fastlane and would like to be able to use that in the winter.

The plan is to continue to heat the pool (covered outside, open inside) during the winter in order to be able to use it in november - march or so.

My question: in order to avoid going broke and hastening climate change we would like to not only cover the pool but insulate underneath the pool cover and thereby minimize the heat loss from the outdoor portion of the pool. What floating, insulating material should we use for that? (I have some ideas, but I'm actually interested in casting a wider net to see if I'm thinking about this correctly).

Additionally: are there other things we should know about this wacky, unreasonable project?

Thanks!

t
 

homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
120
Sunrise,FL
Hmmm. That sounds like a pretty sweet setup!

My .02: I would get a FRP- skinned piece of foam (FRP=Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) and have it made to cover, at a minimum, 1' of the coping beyond the edge of the pool. This would help with keeping the tile line relatively warm so nothing even thinks of freezing there. A rubber door-style seal could help seal it against the garage door. The material should be able to handle snow load, but that depends upon how it is supported on your coping.

Plymouth Foam/Pacemaker Building Systems in Gnadenhutten, Ohio should be able to make you whatever you want. They make structurally insulated building panels for homes as well as FRP skinned spa covers. They have made me spa covers in the past.

Good luck - and take pictures!
 

Geebot

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2013
895
I'm having a hard tome visualizing your cover. I'm assuming it's automatic (Cover Pools). Does it cover the whole pool when it's closed or does it only cover the exterior portion? That would be my greater concern because if you're stopping it partway closed then you may have issues with snowload (they're not meant to stay partially open/closed under heavy load).
 

Toddunder

Member
Jul 19, 2019
10
Pittsburgh
I will take pix soon. The cover is automatic and can cover up to the whole pool but during the winter I believe we will just leave the exterior portion covered, but not the interior portion (unless we're able to use the Plymouth Foam/Pacemaker Building Systems solution described above to cover *over* the cover instead of *under* it the way I was thinking).

Regarding the Plymouth Foam/Pacemaker Building Systems: what R value are we talking about here? I should probably just contact them with dimensions and ask for some help but that is a very excellent referral. Thanks!

Anyone else have other ideas? I'm always happy to consider more.
 

homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
120
Sunrise,FL
A 5" thick panel is about R16; a 12"-ish thick panel can be up to R48.

They makes homes (mainly exterior walls) out of these things. Their capabilities are pretty amazing and panels are available from 2’x8’ to 8’x28’
 

Toddunder

Member
Jul 19, 2019
10
Pittsburgh
Complete strike out at Plymouth!

They deny that they make any such products at all and say that they will not sell to the general public. I even read the above reference word for word and Connie told me that they do not make spa covers, only manufacture for other companies, and do not coat any foam at all. I'm on the hunt for who might make such a product.

Anyone else have other leads? Anyone have experience with permatherm?
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,834
Portland, Oregon
Wow! Really nice pool! Thank you for showing us.

What about some foam board insulation, maybe the kind that's used to insulate pool bottoms or walls and just float that on the water outside under the cover?
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
519
MA
I assume you have a auto cover on a track? I would not risk putting any foam under that for the possibility of snow damage. My first thought would be to just cover the entire surface with just ridgid foam, custom cut so you just have 1/2" clearance to the tile. The whole trick will be to get it thick enough to insulate but not so thick you can not handle it or be able to store it. I would do strips 1/2 the width of the entire pool so it will be easy to install with 2 people (one on either side of pool). Get a few 2" thick panels to experiment with. You can cut and glue them together to figure out the best thickness and size for 1 person to handle. Then order what you need custom cut. I would think anything more than 4" might get too bulky. If you get a lot of leaves then you might need want a leaf net cover but otherwise I do not think you would need any cover at all over the foam.
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
519
MA
Or perhaps you could just get away with a few solar blankets on there with a leaf net tarp over them... :scratch:
 

Rich D

Bronze Supporter
Aug 3, 2018
519
MA
On third thought..... I would think any type of cover like that would have a huge safety risk of someone swimming under the cover and getting trapped.... Might want to re re-think this one....
 

frogabog

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2010
2,834
Portland, Oregon
I assume you have a auto cover on a track? I would not risk putting any foam under that for the possibility of snow damage.
I don't know the first thing about auto covers, so can you explain why floating insulation not attached to the cover under the cover would be an issue with snow? Seems to me that floating buoyancy under the cover would help with a heavy snow buildup on a cover. I want to understand better.
 

jmhjgh

Well-known member
Oct 20, 2011
185
Minnesota
I like the idea of custom cutting/gluing polystyrene foam to fit under the cover. The 2" foam is R10 and will float. The sheets are 4x8 and could be easily glued two layers thick and moved under the cover.
With that said, you will be heating a lot of water the entire winter for a relatively small space indoors .
 

homegameroom

Bronze Supporter
Sep 23, 2015
120
Sunrise,FL
Geez - I'm sorry you struck out at Plymouth! I used to deal with them years ago and they were pretty good back then. I don't know anyone there anymore. :-(
 
I remembered this thread where the owner bought a different cover to insulate better. It’s mentioned toward the end.

 

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
370
Spring Valley, NY
Cover, no cover I'm having an issue using a pool such as this partially covered. To me this is a dangerous situation. How is it safe. If someone swims to the covered portion and can't come up what can happen. Is there a barrier in the water so you can't swim past a certain point.
 

bmoreswim

Mod Squad
Gold Supporter
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 16, 2012
5,394
Central MD
That's a tough one. Clearly there is a safety issue, but that aside, have you considered an inflatable dome over the pool? Beautiful space by the way.

The simple approach might be the pink Owens Corning FOAMULAR 150 2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. R-10 Scored Squared Edge Rigid Foam Board Insulation Sheathing-45W - The Home Depot which I think were mentioned above. I'd close the cover then slide them under.

I don't think snow load is going to be an issue. No insulation is going to keep the pool heat from rising sufficiently to not melt most of the snow in time. It may accumulate but then will melt fairly quickly (I think). And a heavy snow could be dragged off with some implements. Though if the snow does stay somehow, it will also help to insulate.