The purpose of outdoor and indoor pool covers is to save money. Hundreds of pools across the country are facing budgetary crises and are closing because of income shortfalls. There are two sides to any operational evaluation: (1) cutting expenditures and (2) increasing income.

Pool covers are one of the main solutions to reduce expenses and, regardless of size, all pools need to be covered.

In recent years, natural gas market prices have skyrocketed and plummeted, and electricity and water rates are constantly increasing. For these reasons, thermal covers for outdoor pools and lightweight non-rip covers for indoor pools make financial sense. One study conducted at five indoor pools showed energy savings averaged $237,000 per year for four years. Cumulative savings totaled more than $1.1 million.

Outdoor covers can be single layer, double-laminated, or triple-laminated.  They must have weighted edges.  The colder the climate, the more layers are desirable.

Indoor covers can be single layer similar to the outdoor covers, but without weighted edges. The other option is an ultra-light cover, only recently available or simply a residential grade solar plastic cover that has to be replaced each year or two.


Getting pool covers on and off is all about speed, ease,efficiency, simplicity, reliability, and coverage integrity. But one of the main things to convey is that covering the pool is not an option, but rather, part of the job. It’s too important not to do.Following are a few more essential tips.

  • Covers need to be kept clean, and the people who use themneed to be trained in the proper way to remove and store them, as well as how to cover the pool effectively. Depending on the pool’s size, the preferred storage method is to roll the covers up on a specially designed stainless steel cover reel assembly.

The covers need to be rolled up without folds or wrinkles, and slowly enough for the pool water to drain from them as they are reeled up. If outdoors, the reels with covers need to have some sort of UV cover thrown over the assembly to extend the pool covers’ life span. Indoors, this is not necessary unless the storage spot for the reels allows direct sunlight from a window or door to fall on the covers.

  • Outdoor covers always should be stored out of the sun. If no storage area is available, then a UV protective cover needs to be put over the pool covers stored on the take-up reel.
  • Generally, the goal for the indoor cover is for just one or two lifeguards to apply and remove one “whole” blanket covering the standard 25-yard-sized pool in just a few minutes.


As with any pool equipment, algae and mold can be a problem on pool covers. As soon as signs of growth appear, simply wipe spots off with a high-quality commercial pool vinyl cleaner or a weak solution of bleach and water. Stopping the problem before it spreads is the key. Daily inspection is essential.


The life expectancy of a pool cover will depend primarily on whether it’s being used for an indoor or outdoor pool. Life expectancy for outdoor covers will depend on deterioration as a result of UV exposure. Different geographic locations have different challenges. Indoor covers have a longer life span, but still need to be stored out of the sun.  

Proper maintenance also is a factor. A cover can last 24 months or 48 or months (or longer), depending on how diligent your staff is when it comes to care.

Finally, the rollers/reels usually will outlast the covers, but still need to have rust treatment, periodic cleaning and general preventive maintenance on all moving parts.

About the Instructor

Mick Nelson is the facilities development director at USA Swimming. He and wife Sue formed their own swim club in Danville, Ill., in 1972. Over the next 30 years in Danville, they formed Nelson’s Swim Supply, NSS Inc., WaterWay Therapy Inc. and Poolside Health & Wellness Center. They have presented and spoken at more than 50 national aquatic conventions and, since joining USA Swimming, have helped develop 65+ facilities.