Water level on above ground pools with winter mesh covers

IsThisWhereIPutMyName?

Active member
Apr 21, 2016
31
Massachusetts
Hi. I have a Kayak above ground pool with wrap around deck like this. I’ve always used a solid tarp style winter cover. For a while I would drain down to the return jet which is a few inches below the bottom of the skimmer. I didn’t like how the lower level caused the cover to fall into the pool. Water on top of the cover presses down on the pool water causing even more water loss. I was constantly adjusting the cover over the winter and actually have had to add some water to support the cover in the middle of winter.

I then got a skimmmer plate and plugged the return jet. This worked well for the cover and minimized water loss. But the solid cover still requires maintenance to pump off water when possible not to mention the ugliness of the mini swamp sitting on top of the pool.

I’ve been thinking about switching to a safety cover style mesh cover this year. If I do, what should I do about the water level? I’m in New England so we get hard freezes. I guess there are 3 options

1: Leave return jet open to drain rain / snow melt.

2: leave skimmer open to drain

3: close both the return jet and cover the skimmer

1 is probably the safest. 2 saves water but I’m worried about ice accumulating in the skimmer through the icicle effect even though the bottom is open.

With 3 I think I’d still have to drain some water to make sure it doesn’t damage the coping that holds the liner. Lowering the level may not be possible when the top is iced over. Is that a valid concern?

What do you think? How do people with mesh covers make sure the water level stays at a safe level throughout the winter?
 

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,871
NY
Hey ITWIPMN !! There’s a 100 ways to skin this cat. I have an inground but with a mesh cover it’s all the same. We should expect about 3 ft of rain in the Northeast for the off season. I start by draining 18 inches. By the time the freeze comes (or when it should come if it doesn’t) I am full to the brim again and drain another 18 inches. This lasts through the cold period and on the early spring it’s full again in time to open early. You want to do the mid season drain right before the cold snap hits. Once it freezes it must be left alone until it fully melts. Partially melted ice can be sharp and if you cause it to float around it can slash the liner.

I keep my cover tight because it’s supported by the patio but you may want yours loose near the water so the water can support the snow/ice on top. It will melt into the pool and then drain it afterwards. Start the fall tight so the leaves and debris blow off it and then loosen it for the cold part.
 

IsThisWhereIPutMyName?

Active member
Apr 21, 2016
31
Massachusetts
Thanks. At this point I think I’m leaning towards leaving the lower return jet open. The only downside I see is I’ll lose some of the salt and CYA in the water which I can replenish easy enough in the spring. I can plug it up in early spring after the great melt and have a decent water level from the spring rains.

I’m tempted to plug the skimmer and drain if it gets too high but I don’t see how I could guarantee the ice block doesn’t get above the skimmer during a bad snow season. I try to keep remembering to first do no harm.
 
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Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
6,871
NY
There's alot of trial, and even more error. Its really just a big gamble on the weather. Last year was real warm for us in the Northeast, it probably wouldn't have mattered which way you did it. 4 or 5 years ago I had a 2 ft thick ice rink.
 

IsThisWhereIPutMyName?

Active member
Apr 21, 2016
31
Massachusetts
I realized that whichever way I went my old skimmer plate would be useless. So I decided to experiment. I put a hole in the plate and then put in a rain barrel hose attachment. If I block off the return, any water reaching this point will be carried past the skimmer and away from the pool wall. So I think my plan now is to block the return and lower the water a little below the skimmer before the deep freeze when I winterize my bottom drain. I’ll save water while not worrying so much about the high ice level. Plus this should be pretty maintenance free throughout the offseason.
 

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