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The Best Pool Cover Pumps For Winter Maintenance in 2021

By Matt Giovanisci | Updated: September 5, 2020

Having closed your pool for the season, you’re taking a break from your rigorous summer pool maintenance schedule. Whoa, don’t get too comfy there. You still need to take care of your pool during winter, especially the winter cover. (You did cover it, right?)

Harsh weather can take a toll on the cover, and if you’re not careful, it will fail, letting all kinds of nasty stuff into your pool, making a mess you’ll have to clean up when you open it.

Not to worry. To keep water from accumulating and damaging the cover, all you need is one small piece of equipment—a pool cover pump. But before you pick one up, make sure you know what features to look for so you can choose the one that will work best for you.

The Best Inground Pool Cover Pump

Our Top Pick
WAYNE Automatic Pool Cover Pump (1/4 HP)

Set it and forget it! The built-in iSwitch technology turns the pump on and off by sensing the presence of water and includes automatic freeze protection to prevent damage during the winter.

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If you really want to be as hands-off as possible, the Wayne automatic pool cover pump is the way to go. The pump automatically turns on when water reaches a certain level around the entirely submersible machine. It has a filter to keep debris from clogging and tipping over the pump, so you can leave it to its own water-removing devices without worrying.

The pump itself can pump up to 3,000 gallons an hour with just a 1.25-inch drain hose. It has a 25-foot power cord and automatic freeze protection technology to protect the motor if you accidentally leave it out in freezing conditions. The kit even includes a 25-foot rope to help position the pump on the pool cover.

The Best Above Ground Pool Cover Pump

Our Top Pick
Little Giant Above Ground Pool Cover Pump

This lightweight pool cover pump removes standing water from above ground pool covers. Includes a removable intake screen for easy cleaning and maintenance, 3/4-inch garden hose connection, and a 550-gallon per hour flow rate.

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The Little Giant pool cover pump is a relatively inexpensive, lightweight, yet durable option for above ground pools. Simply attach a 0.75-inch garden hose, plug it in, and start pumping. The Little Giant has an intake screen to prevent debris from clogging up your hose.

Pumping at about 550 gallons an hour, it’ll take you a little longer to get rid of the standing water. But if you keep a regular maintenance schedule, it’ll still make quick work of standing water. The motor itself is entirely submersible, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not it’s big enough to tackle the job.

Why Do You Need a Pool Cover Pump?

Your winter pool cover keeps rain, melted snow, and debris like leaves and twigs out of your pool when it’s closed. But unfortunately, all those things don’t magically bounce off the cover. (Hmm … trampoline as pool cover? Nah.) They have to go somewhere, and that usually means on top of your cover.

As water accumulates and becomes heavier, it will begin to gather in the center of the cover. Just one inch of rain on a square foot weighs 5.2 pounds. If your cover has a surface of approximately 280 square feet (just a little under a 12 by 24 foot pool), that’s 1,456 pounds of water on your pool cover after just an inch of rain. Leaving three-quarters of a ton of water sitting on your pool cover will speed up the need for replacement.

You also have to plan for opening your pool later. That standing water will have to come off sometime, which means you’ll either have to do it yourself or pay someone else to take care of it if it’s too big a job. That’s if your winter pool cover has held up under several hundred pounds of water for a few months.

Ready To Close Your Pool For The Winter?

Save over $300 by closing and winterizing your own pool in our step-by-step video course. Works for inground, above ground, and Intex/inflatable pools.

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The Pool Winterization Video Course

What Does a Pool Cover Pump Do?

First, it keeps that water and small debris from building up on the cover by pumping it out and into the yard, or wherever you direct it. Second, it keeps your pool from overflowing from rain and melted snow that seeps in past the cover. No pool cover is airtight.

A note about snow: A pool cover pump removes water, not snow. You don’t want to leave snow sitting on your cover and wait for it to melt because it may turn to ice instead, and then you’ll have an even bigger problem. Use a snow removal tool with a non-abrasive foam head that won’t tear the pool cover to gently push snow off your cover to keep it from getting too heavy and causing any damage. Learn more about removing snow from your pool cover.

Manual or Automatic?

If you can splurge, an automatic cover pump is a worthwhile investment. If you’re saving, a manual cover pump will still get the job done, just with a little more effort on your part.

If you choose a manual pump, you’re not going to have to stand outside with a hose on your pool cover, pumping a lever up and down to remove the water yourself. That would be a great workout, but it’s not necessary. Instead, this simply means you’ll have to keep an eye on your cover, and when you see water beginning to accumulate, you’ll have to manually turn the pump on. Forget to check for a couple of days, and you could have a little trouble on your hands.

An automatic pool cover pump is exactly what it sounds like. Left in the center of your cover, it will automatically turn on and begin working when it detects that water has reached a certain level. You’ll still want to keep an eye on things to ensure it’s working properly, but you can rest a little easier.

Drain Your Pool Cover Worries Away

Whether you go with manual or automatic, adding a pool cover pump to your maintenance arsenal can save you a lot of energy, money, and time. Not to mention the peace of mind you’ll get knowing your pool and your winter cover are protected during the harsh weather months.

Plus, used regularly during the off-season, a pump means less cleaning for you when you open your pool. And that means you’ll be able to get back to the fun that much sooner.

Happy Swimming!

Matt Giovanisci is the founder of Swim University® and has been in the pool and spa industry since 1995. Since then, his mission is to make pool and hot tub care easy for everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people with water chemistry, cleaning, and troubleshooting.
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