3 Alternatives to Using an Air Pillow
An air pillow is, without a doubt, the most common method to keeping your pool walls protected in the winter months. Some homeowners have their methods that have worked better than air pillows. Other pool owners are disappointed in an air pillow that may have lost air or popped during a prior winter. If you want to go your own way and break away from the air pillow crowd, we found a few alternatives for you.
The 3 Alternatives to an Air Pillow
1. What Floats?
Are you one of those pool owners that are tired of continually buying things for your pool? Does the thought of a new air pillow, all the winter chemicals, the winter pill, and that new pool cover you have been putting off get you a bit stressed about closing the pool? Many pool owners use a float under their cover instead of an air pillow.
The plus side to using a float is that you likely already have one lying around. The downside is that they are often not as strong as an air pillow. It’s unrealistic to put a float from the dollar store under there and expect it to hold up throughout winter and a few deep freezes. If you have something that you think is sturdy and can hold up for the entire winter, then by all means, give it a try, but sure to watch it closely.
2. Homemade Specialty
Plenty of pool owners have made their own air pillow alternatives. Perhaps one of the most interesting that we have found is a plastic bottle homemade air pillow. To create this alternative air pillow, plastic bottles from pool chemicals or bleach were saved throughout the season. Once you have a decent number of containers (with their caps on), you string them together. When strung together, it will make a large plastic bottle ball.
The good thing about this method is that it is almost free. You can make it with supplies that you should have lying around at the end of the season. If constructed right, the plastic bottle ball will also not break or pop, leaving you a mid-winter’s project that you almost certainly want to avoid.
The downside to this method is the time it takes to put together as compared to just ordering an air pillow and having it delivered the next day. You also have to make sure that everything is secured together well. When bottles start separating and floating all around on their own, it can be kind of a mess. It works best with one central group of containers.
One smart pool owner came up with an idea to use foam insulation instead of an air pillow. He bought thick sheets of insulation at a Home Depot, taped them together, and then wrapped them with plastic. This creates a foam square that floats very well in the center of the pool.
The great thing about the foam square is that it will last many years without having to be replaced. If you need to wrap the plastic after a few seasons, that is a quick and simple fix, but the foam should still be intact.
Downsides to this method would include the cost, but if you are someone who is replacing air pillows every year, this might end up being a cheaper method. For more information on how to construct this foam alternative, you can click here.
Why Do I Need an Air Pillow?
When closing an above ground pool for the winter, it is imperative to use an air pillow. If you have some deep freezes during the winter, your pool water will freeze.
As pool water freezes, the water will expand. When the water expands, the sides of your pool will be under tremendous stress and could quite possibly break.
Placing an air pillow in the middle of the pool under the cover will help to reduce some of the stress on the pool walls. It is a straightforward, quick, and easy option for preventing something that could cause a ton of damage to your pool.
Does My Air Pillow Need to Be In The Center Of The Pool?
Many pool owners think that a perfectly centered air pillow will help keep the cover of your pool clean. They believe that having it in the center helps dirt and water flow to the sides for more natural cleaning. Although this could technically happen, it is not the purpose of the air pillow.
As long as you have an air pillow in, it will work fine, even if it is off-center. Throw it in, put the cover on top, and if it’s a few feet off, don’t lose any sleep over it.
What Are the Downsides to Using an Air Pillow?
From a pool maintenance and care perspective, there are no downsides to using an air pillow. That being said, some homeowners will get frustrated with an air pillow that pops or bursts during the year. This is a problem and will cause quite a bit of work. Some people feel that using an air pillow is unnecessary, and other options work just as good.
What Happens If My Air Pillow Pops?
This is a tough problem, and there are sometimes a few different solutions. If you know for a fact, there will be no more deep freezes; you can chance just leaving this situation until you open your pool in a few weeks.
Most likely, you are going to have to remove part of the cover and get another air pillow to fit under, so you don’t risk ice damage.
Another trick that seasoned pool owners will do is place two air pillows under their cover at the start of the winter. If one goes down, you should technically have a backup. They could both end up breaking, and then you are left with a problem, but this isn’t a bad preventative measure to take.
An air pillow is a great solution. It saves you from losing your pool entirely. Although alternatives exist, they have to make sense for you and your pool situation. If you have been using an air pillow for years and have no issues, just keep using it. It is likely not worth your time to invest in other models.