The automatic pool cover has come a long way in recent years. From hand crank models to fully electronic, key-operated systems, today's automatic covers are more reliable, durable, and safer than ever before. They are a fantastic solution to protecting your family and your swimming pool, while saving you time and money. They prevent chemicals such as chlorine from evaporating, trap heat, and prevent leaves and debris from entering the pool. The most important aspect of automatic covers is that most of them can handle the weight of a few adults - preventing children and pets from possibly drowning in the pool.
Automatic pool covers are a great "isolation" barrier because unlike fences it literally isolates the swimming pool from its surroundings. This removes the temptation for children to attempt to get in the pool if they are not under proper supervision. Fences and alarms are also great barriers but none of them remove the allure of the swimming pool like a pool cover. Should the child still wish to climb in the swimming pool, automatic covers make it very difficult for them. A few states such as Florida, California, and Indiana even recognize automatic covers as "stand alone barriers" because they count as a horizontal fence and isolation barriers.
A reinforced vinyl fabric runs between a track on either side of the length of the swimming pool. While the cover is open an aluminum roller on either end of the pool houses the cover and tension rope. One end of the roller is attached to an electric motor, which is wired to a two direction switch (open or closed). Automatic pool covers work the best on rectanglular swimming pools but can be adjusted to cater to any size or shape pool. It is no longer necessary to run tracks down both sides of the swimming pool. Standard pool covers are pulled out by hand and locked down with plastic anchors, while automatic covers are rolled out using either a hand crank or powered by a motor.
An automatic cover is great for keeping your swimming pool safe but has some very nice added benefits. They will save money on water, chemical, electrical, and heating costs. The Department of Energy has a web page devoted to the economic benefits of automatic swimming pool covers. Prevention of drownings is the most important benefit associated with covers (although the solid cover must have rain water pumped off to be considered safe, as children could possibly drown in that). The automatic cover will keep your pool free from leaves and wind blown debris but you will need to clean off the cover before opening it. This is usually an easier task than cleaning the pool. Below are some troubleshooting tips to help maintain your automatic pool cover.
We recommend cleaning the cover by panel segments. Standing at the reel end, use a blower or a garden hose and a pool brush on a telescopic pole to push debris towards the opposite end. Roll the cover up one panel at a time, cleaning in this manner. When you get to the last panel, pump off the water and scoop out the leaves.
If the cover is inundated with leaves and/or water, use a leaf rake on the telescopic pole, scooping out as many leaves as possible before rolling the cover back. Similarly, use a cover pump to remove most of the water before rolling back the cover. It is a good idea to treat the cover with a vinyl conditioner such as Armor All once per year.
Broken shear pin?
If you attempt to roll back the cover with too much leaf or water weight on top, or if the cover is hanging up at some spot from maladjustment, you may hear a loud pop, which is likely the shear pin breaking. Shear pins are generally built in to covers to prevent costly damage to the motor and ropes. Your manufacturer should provide you with replacement shear pins and instructions on knocking out the old one and putting in a new pin. If you cannot find the location of the tension that is breaking the pin, call for service.
No power to cover motor?
If you turn the switch or key and there is no response, check the breaker and make sure it is on. Make sure that any GFCI outlets on the same circuit have not tripped. Check the motor to see if there is a reset button on the end. Be sure they key is making contact inside of the key box. You can check the back of the motor to see if any power is reaching the motor. If none of these tips help or you have recurring motor issues, contact your service representative.
Motor turns, but cover doesn't move?
This situation could mean that the shear pin has broken. It could mean that the motor is out of alignment and the cams are not engaging each other. Another possibility is that your rope or spring has broken. Most cover owners become familiar with replacing shear pins, which are meant to break when stress on the cover reaches high enough levels. Other wise, call for service.
Cover not rolling back straight?
If one side of your cover is coming back before the other side, you will need to have adjustments made. Some manufacturers make this a simple wing nut turning operation, while others are a much more complicated exercise of setting cams. Check inside of your packaging for directions as there may be quick and easy fix. If this is unsuccessful call for service.
Owners of covers that are retrofitted (that is, added after the pool is built) with tracks that run on top of the deck may have problems with the vinyl sticking to the concrete while the cover is closed. Placing a leaf blower or a shop vacuum (exhaust side) under the leading edge (opposite end of the roller) will inflate the cover somewhat, breaking the moist seal of concrete to vinyl. The cover can then be opened with less risk of broken shear pins.
Be sure to not roll open the cover too far back. If the sliders (plastic piece where the rope begins) come out of the end of the track near the cover box, it can be a real pain in the you-know-what to push the slider back into the track.
Moisture in and around the motor is responsible for many problems with the cover. Hydraulic systems, although more expensive, have far fewer problems because there is no electric motor in an underground box. Ensure that the cover box is dry and that it drains properly. Likewise, it is important that cover boxes be cleaned annually to keep leaves and debris from clogging up the drains.
Automatic cover repair:
Standard technical service for diagnosis and repair labor is about $80/ hour. Rate is prorated after first hour. Parts additional.
Automatic cover installation:
The price for installing an automatic cover over the deck depends on it's size and location, and the level of automation you desire. Advances in design now allow for retrofitting these covers on almost any size and shape pool. Installation prices range from $3,000 - $8,000.
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