How to Use a Pool Cover Winch

Written by Michael Dean
May 8, 2024

pool cover winch

Pool covers can be quite cumbersome to deal with, so tools that make it easier to secure and remove them as you please can come in super handy. A pool cover winch is one such tool that can save you a lot of time and effort.

If you aren’t familiar with a winch, don’t worry. In this article, I will cover everything from what a pool winch is to how to use it correctly for above ground pools and more.

Main Takeaways

  • A pool cover winch helps to secure and install pool covers over the pool. It can also be used to remove a pool cover.
  • Pool cover winches are typically used to secure a winter pool cover to ensure that the cover is tight and secure enough to last the winter months.
  • Some tips for using a pool cover winch include checking faulty cables and winches, ensuring all eyelets in the pool cover are used, and using good-quality cables and winches.

What is a Pool Cover Winch?

A pool cover winch is a small tool used to help secure and loosen pool covers. It’s similar to a simple crank or rachet. In many pool cover manuals, these winches are often referred to as cable tighteners. They’re usually made from heavy-duty metal that does not rust.

Not only does the pool cover winch assist with removing and installing pool covers, but it also ensures that the cover is properly and evenly tightened, eventually prolonging the life of the pool cover itself.

How To Use a Pool Cover Winch For Your Above Ground Pool

Here is my handy step-by-step process on using a pool cover winch for your above ground pool and some additional tips that can be useful.


One of the most common uses of a pool cover winch is to assist in securing the pool cover over the pool. This is typically done when the pool will not be in use for a long period or just before the start of winter. Because the pool cover needs to be secured extra tightly to protect the pool from the winter weather, a winch can tighten more effectively than using your bare hands.

Step One: Prep the Pool

Before you can even start putting the winter cover on the pool, you need to prepare the pool itself. As it will be covered for an extended period, you want to make sure your pool is healthy. To prep the pool, clear all debris from the water. You can do this by using a combination of a net, a vacuum, and your pool’s filtration system.

Step Two: Prep the Pool Water

Once the pool water has been cleaned, you will need to prep the pool water, too. The water level needs to be dropped by at least 4 inches beneath the pool skimmer. You want a small gap between the water surface and the pool cover.

Then, it is important that you check the chemical levels of your water. Make sure everything is up to par, and I also highly recommend using a pool closing kit, which you can find in any pool store.

Step Three: Place the Pool Cover Over the Pool 

Carefully stretch the pool cover across the top of the pool surface. Most pool covers will be slightly larger than the pool frame, with an overlap of material of about 2 feet or more. This overlap of material, along with the winch and cable, is used to secure the cover. You need to make sure that all the extra material hangs evenly around the pool.

Be sure that when you stretch the pool cover across the pool, it does not catch or rip on anything sharp.

Step Four: Weave the Cable Through the Pool Cover Eyelets

The first step in using the winch is to carefully weave the cable in and out of the eyelets on the perimeter of the pool cover. The best method to ensure that each individual eyelet has been used is to practice an under-and-over pattern, like stitching a thread.

Step Five: Weave the Cable Through the Winch Eyelets 

Next, you will need to pull the cables in through the pool cover eyelets until they are tight. Start with one end of the cable and weave it through the right eyelet of the winch until it is tight. Then, weave the other end of the cable through the left eyelet, completely overlapping with the right, and pull tight.

You will notice that some extra cable length is hanging out of the winch. Do not weave it back through the eyelets, as this will only get it tangled and prevent the winch from working. Just let the cable hang loose.

Step Six: Tighten the Winch 

Once the winch is all set up, begin twisting the winch handle clockwise. As you’re twisting the winch handle, be sure to periodically check that all sides of the cover are even and that the wire is under the rail of the above ground pool.

Depending on the pool size, it should not take very long until the cover is tight enough. You’ll know when the cover is tight enough as the handle of the winch will be difficult to keep twisting.

Using a pool cover winch is relatively easy once you have the pool prepared beforehand and the cables threaded correctly.

Tips On Using Pool Cover Winches

To make the most out of the pool cover winch, here are some of my top tips to keep in mind:

Check Faulty Cables And Winches

Over time, even the most durable cables and winches can erode, break, or become weakened. Be sure to always inspect the cables and winch before using them. Old cables and winches can snap when caught by strong winds. To prevent this and provide extra safety, use plastic clips to hold down the edges of the pool cover along with the frame of the pool.

Check All Eyelets In the Pool Cover Are Used

Always check that the cable has been weaved through each individual eyelet on the perimeter of the pool cover. If any have been missed, this can cause the cover to be tightened unevenly, damaging the cover.

Use Good Quality Cables And Winch

Make sure that the cables you use are of good quality, preferably coated with a protective layer like plastic. The winch should always be made of sturdy materials like aluminum alloy and stainless steel. Ideally, it will also be waterproof and rustproof.

How To Remove a Pool Cover Winch After Winter

So, you know how to install the pool cover winch to secure the winter cover, but now you need to know how to remove the winch after winter. Thankfully, removing it is just as simple as installing it.

Step One: Clear Debris Off Your Pool Cover

Before you can start the process of removing the pool cover winch, you must first clean your pool cover of any debris or dirt.

Step Two: Loosen the Pool Cover Winch

To remove the pool cover winch, you will need to loosen it first. To do this, press the lever found at the top of the winch. This lever will allow for the cable to become loose.

Step Three: Twist the Winch Handle 

Now that the cable is loose, you can start twisting the handle of the winch in an anti-clockwise direction. As you twist the winch, you will notice that the cables will become looser, and the pool cover will start to sag into the pool.

Step Four: Remove Cables From the Winch 

Once you have completely loosened the cables, you should be able to pull the cables out of the winch eyelets, and your winch will be free from the pool cover.

To finish up, gently and carefully remove the cable from the pool cover eyelets. When both are safely removed, be sure to keep the winch and the cable in a dry, safe location until the next time you need to use it.

Once the winch has been removed, you can remove your pool cover as well, so that you can enjoy your pool once again!

Need Some Maintenance Help?

Send me a message! I can answer any of your pool maintenance, equipment, or other questions.

That’s It!

If you are still deciding on what type of pool cover to purchase, let me help you with my guide on the best pool covers that I have found!

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