When we moved in last fall, our swimming pool was already closed for the season and covered with a tarp-like cover that was weighted down with water bags all around the edge of the pool. Over the winter, rain, snow, and leaves have Opening the pool 1accumulated on top of the cover, so come this spring, we had a large green pool of water on the cover that needed to be pumped off before we can remove it to open the pool.

We started trying to remove the water last fall with a syphon pump, but it was hard to keep the water flowing, so we eventually gave up. We tried to get the majority of the leaves off of the cover before the winter, but that was about all we did. When the snow and ice on top of the cover started to melt this spring, we decided it was time to start thinking about pumping the water off again. This time we started with a small transfer pump that hooked up to a garden hose. The box said it would pump a couple hundred gallons an hour, so we Opening the pool 2thought we were good. We also bought a disposable 100ft vinyl backwash hose from the pool store that we unrolled down the hillside into the bottom of the ravine to help avoid washouts on the hillside. We left that setup running for a couple hours at a time, several days in a row, but we weren’t seeing a lot of results. So, we decided to do a quick calculation of the approximate number of gallons we thought we needed to pump off of the pool cover and came up with nearly 2000 gallons (assuming it was about a foot deep in the middle and we didn’t get any more rain, both of which are conservative).

We messed around with using the smaller pump for a few more days, but eventually got impatient and bought a larger 1/4 hp submersible pump that was still light-weight enough to sit on the pool cover. For a more permanent drainage solution, we also bought some black corrugated pipe to run down the hillside, figuring we would use it for Opening the pool 3backwashing the pool filter as well once we opened the pool for the season. (The disposable hose we started with had burst in a few spots when it got below freezing one night and there was still water pooled in it at places.) The larger pump worked a lot better for removing large amounts of water from the pool cover, but it still took a good 5-6 hours of pumping to get to the point where the cover was starting show in places. Once we got to that point, we went back to using the smaller pump to get the last little bit of water since that pump seemed less likely to get plugged up with leaves.

Overall, it took us a lot longer to get all of the water off of the pool cover than we expected and there was a lot more of it there than we anticipated … I think we now know why the pool company charges $400 to open a pool with a tarp cover, but only $150 to open a pool with no cover. For next year, I think we’ll probably consider getting a mesh cover that’s anchored into the ground all around the pool since that should greatly reduce the amount of effort to open the pool in the Spring – and it should also help avoid all the issues we’ve been having with animals tearing up the water bags over the winter, causing the cover to slide into the pool …

Filed Under: Pool


6 thoughts on “Pumping Water Off of the Pool Cover

  1. jan says:

    We will be installing a pool next year so is it alright if I ask you a couple of questions?

    Do you know what holds the mesh cover in place???? I assume the mesh allows the snow and rain to enter the pool but not the leaves. Does it withstand a small animal (or heaven forbid a small child) standing on it???

    Sorry about all the questions but I’m kind of planning ahead in my head. I don’t trust what salesmen tell you. I’d rather hear it from somebody that has or had one.


  2. Sarah says:

    We just moved in a few months ago and the only kind of pool cover we’ve had is the tarp variety, so I’m no expert on mesh covers. The idea with mesh covers is that they allow the water to pass through the cover into the pool so you don’t have to pump it off the following spring. I think there are a variety of options, though – some are still weighted down with water bags (same as the tarp covers) and others have springs and anchors to hold them in place. Some are called safety covers and say they can hold the weight of animals and children … others are just mesh covers that may or may not be able to hold additional weight. Even our tarp cover, though, can hold the weight of our cat with no problem:

    Kirby on the Pool Cover

    We’d like to get an anchored mesh safety cover for our pool so we can eliminate need for water bags, avoid needing to pump the water off of the cover in the spring, and ensure that the pool is a little safer while it’s closed in the winter.

    1. Sarah says:

      We did end up getting a mesh cover. It’s been on all winter – we’ll see how it works out when we open the pool this spring.

  3. Jim says:

    We bought our first 27′ above ground pool a couple years ago. We got a tarp cover to put over it and last year I tried to use a pump to get the water off the cover buttttt ended up draining the water in pool down to about 18″ deep. It just kept pumping and pumping. Of course I knew it was doing that but kept going because it did seem to be getting the top of covered emptied too. Is there something I’m missing here on how to get the water on top of covered drained without draining the whole pool??? The cover wasn’t cheap but it sure isn’t very stout in my unknowledgeable opinion. Any ideas/help would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Sarah says:

      Most likely, I’d guess this is probably caused by a hole in your tarp cover that’s allowing the swimming pool water to come through to the top of the cover. The easiest way to pump the water off the top without draining the pool is probably to find the hole in the cover and put a floaty under it so it’s not submersed. Good luck!

  4. Fran says:

    I have the same problem when I pump water off the tarp it also sucks the pool water out. The tarps are porous. It’s a real headache. Have to pump all winter and constantly refill pool. Any solutions.

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