It's easy to install covers for above ground pools but will vary depending on the type of cover. There are three main types of covers available for above ground pools: winter covers, leaf nets, and solar blankets.
1. A winter cover is designed to protect the pool during the winter months when many above ground pools are not in use. It is basically a tarp with grommets around the perimeter and comes with a cable and winch to hold it in place. To install an above ground pool winter cover, you would first want to make sure all of your other winterizing has been completed. This would include cleaning the pool, lowering the water level below the return fitting and skimmer, and adding pool winterizing chemicals. Basically, make sure anything that requires access to the pool water is done so you won't have the hassle of having to remove the cover. If you are using an air pillow under the winter cover, inflate and place it in the center of the pool right before you put the cover on.
2. Now spread out your winter cover and place it over the pool. This will be easier with two people. Winter covers have an overlap which means they are larger than the pool. For instance, if you have a 28 ft round above ground pool, then the cover size would be 32 ft round which gives you a 2 foot overlap all the way around. You'll need this extra material because the winter cover will dip down inside the pool due to the lowered water level and then overlap the pool wall. Adjust the cover as needed to make it even all around the pool.
3. If you are using a leaf net also, now would be the time to spread it out on top of the winter cover. Pool leaf nets are meant to lay on top of winter covers during the autumn months while leaves are falling. Once the trees are bare, you would remove the leaf net and all of the debris it has collected. This will help prolong the life of the your winter cover. In warmer climates where above ground pools stay open all year, some people use leaf nets without winter covers just to catch leaves in the fall. You can do this however pool leaf nets are really designed to lay on top of the winter cover which protects the net from rubbing against the top rail. It is not recommended to use them alone.
4. With your cover(s) in place over the pool, you can now thread the cable through the grommets or loops around the edge of the cover. Insert the cable into the winch and pull it tight to secure the cover. Try to tuck in any extra material that is hanging down to prevent wind from getting up under the cover.
5. "Wind whip" is what causes the most damage to above ground pool winter covers. As the cover keeps flapping due to the wind, the material is weakened. In high wind areas, it is a good idea to take extra precautions. There are a number of handy products to help minimize wind damage. Above ground pool, wall bags are filled with water and lie on top of the cover around the inside perimeter of the pool. These bags have grommets so that you can secure them with the same cable used for your winter cover. Another option is pool cover clips which grip the top rail of the pool and hold the cover in place. You can also try winter cover seal, a tough, plastic-wrap type of material that you stretch around the pool.
6. The other type of cover used on above ground pools is a solar cover, also known as a solar blanket. Unlike pool winter covers, solar blankets are not designed to protect the pool but to retain heat and limit evaporation. If you have an above ground pool heater or solar panels, a solar blanket is an especially wise investment. It will protect your above ground pool from heat loss overnight or any time the pool is not in use. This means your heater will run less, saving both money and energy. Installation is very simple since solar covers simply lay on the surface of the pool and are not attached to the pool frame or deck. You may need two people to put on and take off the cover, especially the larger sizes.
7. Since some people find solar blankets a bit cumbersome, there are products designed to make moving them easier. Solar reels consist of a base with a hand crank and a tube that goes across the pool. For above-ground pools, you would fasten the reel base to the top rail, attach the solar blanket to the tube with a strap kit and then use the crank to either roll or unroll the cover. Most above ground pool solar reels will pivot to swing out of the way when the pool is in use.
8. Another option for removing solar covers is the Solar Saddle, a set of five J-shaped brackets that attach to the top rail of above ground pools. You would drill two holes per bracket in the top rail and secure them with nuts and bolts. Once installed, you can fold up your solar blanket and lift it over the pool wall to rest in the Solar Saddle.
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