Automatic pool covers are extremely convenient. You can easily open and close them as needed, and you don’t have to worry about where to store the cover when it’s not in use. But what about adding one to an existing pool — can it be done, or does it need to be installed with the pool from the start?
It’s certainly possible to add an automatic pool cover to an existing pool. By using a pool cover, you’ll not only have a cleaner pool overall, but also reduced energy costs. Chemicals in the pool will also stay balanced for longer with a cover in use.
Let’s take a closer look at the process of adding an automatic pool cover to an existing pool, including what kind of covers are available and the advantages of going ahead with the addition.
Why Should You Consider an Automatic Pool Cover?
There are quite a few advantages to using an automatic pool cover, including the following:
A Cleaner Pool
Adding a pool cover can help to keep your pool clean. Pools require a lot of maintenance, as bacteria in the water can throw off the chemical balance and promote the growth of algae.
You need to make sure the pool is kept clean, which means scooping out the debris where necessary and keeping an eye out for algae on the walls and surface. You will also need to shock the pool on occasion.
You can reduce all of this maintenance with an automatic pool cover. It makes it easy to close the pool while it’s not in use, making it much harder for debris and bacteria to get inside. This is especially important during rainstorms, where more debris than usual might be swept into the water.
You’ll still have to clean your pool and shock it every now and again, but you’ll notice that the time you need to spend doing this is drastically reduced.
Chemicals Stay Balanced for Longer
Anyone who owns a pool knows that keeping the chemicals balanced can take some time. The pH must be kept at the proper number and the chlorine balance must be safe enough for swimmers but also enough to fight the bacteria growth. And you need to use a simple kit like this (on Amazon) one to test the chemicals frequently.
If you keep your pool cover closed when the pool’s not in use, you’ll spend less time having to balance the chemicals.
The reason is mainly the reduced sunlight. Sunlight tends to eat up the chlorine in the water, meaning you have to use more. It also means you can keep the pool protected from rainwater, which can throw off the pH.
Rainwater in the US is acidic and corrosive, and while a little rainwater in your pool won’t matter too much, heavy rain can force you to spend a lot of time correcting the chemical balance of the water.
If you’re paying to heat your pool, you already know it can take quite a bit of money to keep it at a comfortable temperature — especially if you have your heat pump running all year round.
Fortunately, using a pool cover can save you quite a bit of money in this regard because it can lock in the heat and reduce the need to keep a heater running. It can also save water costs since the water will evaporate more slowly.
What Are the Pool Cover Options for Existing Pools?
There are a few options when it comes to pool covers, and the best option largely depend on personal preferences. Consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.
If you want to hide the pool cover beneath the coping of the pool, the tracks can be built into the sides which means the pool cover will be less obvious. For those more concerned about aesthetics, this is a good option. It is, however, easiest to put one of these in a pool during the time of installation rather than add it later on.
Are you looking for an easier option that can be added to an existing pool? On-deck track covers are more visible since, as the name suggests, they’re added to the tracks of the pool. Nonetheless, they’re a great and easy option. They also tend to be more budget-friendly than hidden tracks.
Once you’ve chosen whether you want your cover tracks hidden or on the deck, you need to decide if you want a cover that’s manually powered or electric.
Manual-powered covers are simply pushed across to cover the pool and then pulled back when necessary. They’re best for smaller pools, as the manpower needed for larger manual-powered covers can be quite a bit. They’re also cheaper than electric.
If you have a bigger budget or a larger pool (or, ideally, both) electric covers are a smoother option. You can simply open and close the pool by pressing a button or flicking a switch. A professional should install one of these, as it can get complicated and you don’t want to mess it up.
What Are the Cons of Having an Automatic Pool Cover?
There are a few disadvantages to having an automatic pool cover that are important to consider before you decide to invest.
As with most worthwhile additions to a pool, automatic pool covers aren’t cheap. A good cover is likely to run you a few thousand dollars, and that’s a cost that will increase if you choose an electric cover. The good news is that you can upgrade from manual to electric at any time.
You should also consider the maintenance. Every few years you’ll have to replace some parts, and you should also remember that there may be times the cover needs repairs too. Make sure it’s within your budget to take care of cover-related emergencies!
You do have to consider that you’ll have to clean an automatic cover to make sure any debris it collects doesn’t get into the pool. However, you’ll already be saving time normally spent cleaning the pool, so this likely isn’t too much of an issue.
You can also hire professionals to come and do pool maintenance every so often if you can afford it and think you’ll forget to do it. They can take of the cover too.
Limits on Customization
If you have an unusually shaped pool or something like an infinity pool, you’ll have a much harder time finding an automatic cover. It may be very expensive or simply impossible. Make sure you consider your specific pool shape and size before researching a cover.
That said, in most places, customization options have improved in recent years. You should be able to find something that suits you, though it might take some research to get to that place.
Is an Automatic Pool Cover Worth the Added Expense?
As we mentioned above, automatic pool covers can be pricy. Costs can range from a couple of thousand dollars in the initial installation to a lot more, and there are a lot of factors that can affect the price. You also have to consider repair and maintenance costs.
At the same time, you’ll be spending less on chemicals and cleaning, and you may even save your pool from some expensive repairs because you’re protecting it.
This is especially true if you live in an area that has a lot of rainstorms or you get a lot of use out of your pool.
Whether it’s worth the added expense will depend mostly on you. If you rarely use your pool and live in an area with mild weather, it may not be worth the cost.
However, if you live in a place that has a lot of storms (meaning a lot of debris in the pool), a lot of acidic rainwater, and you use your pool a lot, that automatic pool cover might just pay for itself.
How Long Does an Automatic Pool Cover Last?
When you’re weighing up the pros and cons of an automatic pool cover, one important thing to think about is just how long it will last. That mostly depends on you and how you use and care for it.
Over time, you may find that your cover gets some wear and tear. Fabric may rip and the weather may damage it. The best thing to do is get these repairs dealt with before they get any worse, as this will prevent you from having to deal with expensive repairs or replace it completely.
As long as you take care of your automatic pool cover, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last for ten years or more — but if you don’t take care of it, you’ll have to replace it a lot sooner.
Ultimately, whether or not an automatic pool cover is worth it will depend on you and a few factors. Consider what your budget is, how much you use the pool, and what the weather in your area is like. If you can’t stand how often you have to clean the pool, it’s likely a good idea to get a cover.
You should also remember there are plenty of pool cover options so if you’re simply worried it won’t fit in your budget, shop around. You might be surprised at what you can find — and you can always upgrade the cover later on.