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As pool covers evolve and the demand continues to grow in South Africa, the local pool cover market is starting to see numerous small scale producers start up by offering cheaper products but not offering the same quality. When it comes to life or death situations like child safety, the details really do matter and, when faced with a drowning hazard, your pool owner will be glad that the tough questions have already been answered.
“Cutting corners is just such a risk for pool covers. In fact, it can be called neglect as it really can lead directly to loss of life. We have been covering pools for nearly 30 years, and as such, we have a clear understanding of what goes into a quality pool cover and a perfect installation. Unfortunately, with the market growing at the lower end, pool owners are being blinded by smaller operators offering low prices. They just aren’t asking the right questions and are therefore learning the hard way. Every week we are asked to re-do a cheap bargain,” says Andrew Crafford of PowerPlastics Pool Covers.
A new pool cover will always look good on installation day but fast forward a year and will it still meet the brief and tick the boxes on performance, longevity and appearance? These are some of the questions that designers and architects should be asking the pool cover supplier before accepting any quote.
Solid Safety Covers for child and pet safety
- What is the weight tolerance, and have they done adequate testing? Can they share verified data or case studies?
- Does the cover comply with the SABS Standards SANS 10400-D and SABS 10134?
- Could a child release the cover’s fastenings / ratchets? Could an object measuring 9cm fit under the edge of the cover (the size of a child’s head)?
- Does the solid cover have drainage holes to prevent water pooling on top of the cover (a drowning risk)? Is the cover completely water-free 10 minutes after rain?
- Is the installer accredited by an industry expert or body?
- Is the PVC material stabilised for the UV environment? And is it 600gsm? Does it have a strong internal scrim? Or is it without structure?
- Is there a good colour range, allowing the designer or architect a chance to blend the outdoor area’s aesthetics?
- Are the finishes up to standard? The smallest design element can also have an aesthetic impact. For example, adding rubber end caps to the aluminium batons on a solid safety cover can look unsightly, besides which they are not needed.
- Are the aluminium batons specifically manufactured for solid safety pool covers?
Thermal / bubble covers
- What shape is the bubble? Early thermal material used round bubbles but the bubble had inherent stress points which was a design issue. Any round bubble cover today is likely to just be packaging material dyed blue and will disintegrate into blue confetti. Delamination is also common in cheap covers. The industry has moved on and GeoBubble is the new standard, with a figure 8 / dog bone bubble shape. There has been significant investment in the award-winning GeoBubble technology.
- Do the performance figures add up? Make sure the test-house data stands up and has an academic body behind it.
- Do they state that a thermal cover can protect small pets from drowning? A pool cover lying on the water is not load-bearing and it is not sealed off on the sides. Many animals drown because their owners think the thermal cover supports them. Only a solid safety cover gives absolute peace of mind.
- Does the cover come with care guidelines? Correct cover maintenance is critical to longevity. If the supplier has not given this any thought or can’t advise you, walk away.
Slatted automatic covers
- Is there a technical team and design team overseeing the installation as opposed to a pool builder just modifying the pool according to dimensions? Cutting corners on automatic slatted systems can get extremely expensive in the long term. It pays to use an international brand such as Roldeck. Insist on a fully accredited team before, during and after installation.
Taking all this into account, it quickly becomes clear that cheap is risky on several levels.
“A reputable pool cover supplier is one that stays on top of trends and tweaks design all the time. It also invests in training and quality checks. Unfortunately, the small one-man shows don’t always have access to such resources. It is one thing to copy a design but the finish, materials and workmanship such as PowerPlastics Pool Covers’ can’t be compared. We are able tick all the above items.
“By tackling this at an architectural and design level, we hope to raise awareness about pool cover quality. A parent will not be pleased about a great pool cover deal when her toddler finds her way to the pool and is able to lift the cover and slide under it,” concludes Crafford.
PowerPlastics Pool Covers has developed a comprehensive range of pool cover solutions. Designs and aesthetics are continually improved and every installer undergoes extensive training. For more intricate pool designs, the PowerPlastics Special Projects division is available to work with design professionals to design a perfectly covered pool. The range is available nationwide and in the online store.
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