Poolside Chat Episode 54: Do I need an air pillow under my pool cover?

PSC Ep. 54: Do I need an air pillow under my pool cover?

In today’s episode of Poolside Chat, Rob and Matt tackle another common swimming pool question:
  • Do I need a winter cover air pillow?

I’m about to winterize my above ground pool. Do I need to place an air pillow under my winter cover? 

We strongly recommend using an air pillow under your winter cover. The first reason to install a winter cover air pillow is to protect your pool from expanding ice. When you don’t use an air pillow, the cover sits right on top of the water and the ice will want to expand outwards. That’s not good because that’s going to affect your pool liner.

Your pool will respond like a soda can in the freezer; the walls begin to bulge. With the air pillow in place, the water will freeze but exert it’s pressure inwardly onto the winter cover air pillow.

The second reason is a water weight distribution. The air pillow prevents water from pooling in the center of the cover. Instead, the weight of the water is evenly distributed around air pillow.This weight distribution can prevent the cover from sinking or tearing. It also makes it easier to pump out sitting water.

19 thoughts on “PSC Ep. 54: Do I need an air pillow under my pool cover?

  1. I did not like them. No matter what we did the wind would blow them over to one side.. We got this drain that you put in the center of your cover and attach to the return opening. When the water fills it up it drains outside of your pool into the yard.

    1. Marie, where di you get the drain? That sounds like an excellent choice for me here in California where I have no snow but winter rain when we aren’t in a drought! Thanks in advance!

      1. I got one last year that worked great. Got it at my local pool supply store. It’s like a mini-sump pump. You attach a garden hose to the end of it. It’s electric so need to plug in to outside plug and then run the pool over the edge of deck. It would automatically stop when water went down. I would have to bring it in during extreme cold but personally I think air pillows are for extra money and not really helpful. Sorry just my personal opinion.

        1. I thought that too but I’ve haven’t use a pillow for a few and now my liner is straight anymore doesn’t lie flat inside! So I just always use in a pillow
          Now!! Before it gets worst

  2. There has got to be a better way! Every pool pillow I have paid good money for, centered in my pool and covered has popped or deflated before the ice even starts! Waste of money, they’re not made very strong. Have used an inner tube, but would like to have something that works as it should. Suggestions?

    1. Tom

      I put a string of one gallon plastic jugs (Bleach jugs work great) about half filled with stones to make them sink about half way. Run a line through them and tie off each jug then run the jugs length wise down you pool and tie each end of the string to a rock. Close your cover. If your pool freezes the jugs will collapse and absorb the pressure. Been doing this for years without a problem.

  3. I’ve had really good luck using a blow up exercise ball. They are pretty sturdy. I’ve used the same one 3 years in a row.

  4. I don’t know how they were made back in the days, but today’s pillows are just a scam. $5 or $25 ones act the same: they pop or deflate before the weather gets really cold. Is it possible to replace the pillow by a floating ring made of a dozen of empty jugs for example?

  5. My pool pillow broke already. First time in 9 years this happen. It’s only November in Illinois should I replace it?

  6. Pool pillows are a scam. How are they to prevent the ice from expanding outward against your pool wall when they float on top of the water?? When the rain and snow accumulate on top that pool pillow will not prevent the cover from sinking, just where the water may be. I have not used one in Wisconsin on 28′ above ground with no problems.

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