Shopping for a pool cover pump?
You’ve come to the right place.
A pool cover pump keeps water from accumulating on your pool cover.
You can get a manual one that you turn on and off yourself or an automatic one that starts and stops automatically based on how much water has collected on the cover.
Why Do You Need a Pool Cover Pump?
A pool cover is absolutely essential if you own a pool. It protects your pool from debris like leaves and dirt, prevents heat loss at night, and the safety pool covers prevent child and pet-related accidents.
Water accumulating on your pool cover can damage it, and this can be water from rain or meltwater from snow.
The main problem is the added weight of water on the pool cover. It strains the cover and can cause it to come apart at the seams. These tears allow debris into the pool and can become a serious safety hazard.
In extreme cases where lots of water and snow collects on the cover, the pool cover can collapse into the pool.
If you have an above-ground pool, the added weight of water on the cover can strain the pool’s frame, leading to expensive damages.
A pool cover pump protects your pool cover, and in extension, your pool.
You could siphon off the water with a hose, but that’s tedious work, and it takes forever to drain the water. A pool cover pump is much easier to use and works faster.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we review and compare the best pool cover pumps you can buy online for in-ground and above-ground pools.
We also explain how pool cover pumps work, the different types available and how to choose the right one for your pool cover.
Best Pool Cover Pumps
- Best automatic
Min water level:
Little Giant APCP-1700
- Best for in-ground pool cover
Min water level:
Little Giant PCP550
- Best for above ground pool
Min water level:
- Best with auto shut-off for above ground
Manual with auto shut-off
Min water level:
- Best budget
Min water level:
Blue Wave Drain
- Best siphon pump
Min water level:
Warranty not specified
The Wayne WAPC250 automatic pool cover pump allows convenient hands-free operation. Once you set it up, it automatically turns on and off, depending on the amount of water on the pool cover.
With its 3000 GPH flow rate, the Wayne pool cover pump works quickly, making it an excellent choice for large in-ground pool covers.
The Wayne WAPC250 is one of the most powerful pool cover pumps you’ll find. It has a max flow rate of 3000 gallons per hour, making it more than capable of handling a large pool cover.
The best part is that it doesn’t require any babysitting. Once you set it up on your pool cover and plug it in, it’ll automatically maintain a low level of water on the cover.
When the water level rises above 2.1”, the pump automatically starts working. When the water level drops below ¾”, the pump automatically shuts off to keep it from running dry.
The drain outlet connects to a regular 1¼-inch garden hose. A ¾” hose adapter is also included. Note that using a ¾” hose will reduce the flow rate.
You also have to be careful not to use a hose that’s too long or place the hose too high compared to the level of the pump.
The Wayne WAPC250 comes with a broad, sturdy base that keeps the pump from tipping over. The base includes a strainer that catches leaves and other debris to ensure the pump doesn’t clog.
The power cord is 25 feet long, and you also get a 25-feet rope that you use to safely pull the pump to shore.
Issues & Limitations
Despite having a debris strainer, the Wayne WAPC250 pool cover pump still clogs too easily, causing it to stop working optimally.
The biggest problem is that the debris affects the operation of the water level sensor. The Wayne WAPC250 uses a sensor instead of a water float valve to detect when to start and when to stop.
Debris sometimes blocks the sensor, causing the pump to come on or turn off when it shouldn’t.
Debris can also block the weep hole, which stops the pump from working.
There are two solutions to the debris problem. The first is to make sure you regularly clean the strainer and unclog any blocked valves.
The second is to wrap the entire pump in a mesh screen that keeps debris from reaching the pump.
The Wayne WAPC250 is best for: Pool owners looking for a powerful and fully automatic pool cover pump. It’s especially suitable for large pool covers.
Avoid if: You have a small above-ground pool. The Wayne WAPC250 is overkill. A cheaper pool cover pump will work fine.
The Little Giant APCP-1700 is another good choice for large in-ground pool covers. It drains rainwater quickly and has a fully automatic on/off function.
One of our favourite features is the built-in handle that makes the pump easier to lift and carry around.
Similar to the Wayne WAPC250, the Little Giant APCP-1700 is a set and forget pool cover pump.
It’s actually better than the Wayne pump when it comes to ease of maintenance. Because the Little Giant pump uses a float instead of a sensor, you never have to worry about debris affecting the automatic on/off function.
This, plus an intake debris screen, makes the Little Giant APCP-1700 a truly clog-free pool cover pump.
As for power, the Little Giant APCP-1700 has plenty of it, though not as much as the Wayne pump. But it can still handle a large in-ground pool cover.
The stated 1700 GPH flow rate (the actual flow rate is a bit lower) quickly empties the pool cover of rain and meltwater.
The pump will automatically start running when there’s 2 inches of water and shut off when the water level goes back down.
Power and hose connections are easy to use. The 25-ft power cord plugs into a GFCI outlet, while the hose connection accepts standard ¾” garden hoses.
As with other pool cover pumps, be careful not to exceed pump head (discharge height) and hose length.
For the fastest draining, keep the length of the hose under 15 feet and position it at the same level as the pump or lower.
Issues & Limitations
The main issue with the Little Giant APCP-1700 is that its flow rate is overstated. The 1700 GPH number is only achievable with a very short 1” wide hose.
Using a standard ¾” garden hose significantly reduces the flow rate. If you drain the water to a slightly higher ground, the flow rate drops even lower.
That said, the Little Giant APCP-1700 still drains water impressively fast.
The Little Giant APCP-1700 is best for: In-ground pool owners looking for a powerful and fully automatic pool cover pump that doesn’t clog.
Avoid if: You have an above-ground pool. Get a smaller and cheaper pump instead.
The Little Giant PCP550 pool cover pump is perfectly sized for above-ground pools. The 550 GPH flow rate quickly empties water from the pool cover.
The Little Giant PCP550 is manual, but on the upside, it’s way cheaper than automatic pumps.
If you have a small above-ground pool, Little Giant makes a smaller and cheaper pool cover pump that’s perfect.
The Little Giant PCP550 has an impressive flow rate of 550 GPH, though this drops to 400 GPH when there’s a 3’ lift and 300 GPH at a 5’ lift.
So, you want to keep the hose as level as possible with the pump or even drain it at a lower ground level.
The Little Giant PCP550 comes with a ½” outlet but includes a ¾” adapter to work with standard garden hoses.
The power cord is 25-feet long.
Pump operation is manual. You have to turn the Little Giant PCP550 pump on and off yourself. That means keeping a close eye on the pool to make sure the water doesn’t get too high or too low.
The intake filter screen keeps the pump from clogging too often. On the occasional days the pump clogs, it’s easy to take it apart and clean out the debris.
By the way, the Little Giant PCP550 is not good for draining your pool cover. You can also use it to drain an aquarium, small pond, or tub.
Issues & Limitations
The main issue with the Little Giant PCP550 is the lack of auto shut-off.
The problem with this is not just the inconvenience (you have to turn off the pump yourself) but also the risk of damaging the pump when it runs dry.
The minimum water level for the Little Giant PCP550 to work is 2.5 inches, which is slightly higher than other pool cover pumps.
Another issue is power. The Little Giant PCP550 is adequate for small above-ground pools. You can also use it in a large above-ground or in-ground pool, but it’ll take hours to drop the water level just a few inches.
If you have a large pool, we recommend getting a bigger pump.
The Little Giant PCP550 is best for: Anyone looking for an affordable pool cover pump for an above-ground pool.
Avoid if: You have an in-ground pool (the Little Giant PCP550 will be too slow), or you prefer an automatic pool cover pump.
The Vivosun 100W submersible pump is another good choice if you are looking for a versatile pump you can use around your home.
The 1,150 GPH pump can drain water from an above-ground pool cover as well as from a pond or a small pool. It also works great for fountains and other water features.
The built-in thermal chip automatically turns the pump off if it runs dry.
The Vivosun 100W submersible pump works in as little as two inches of water, making it perfect for emptying rainwater from a pool cover.
It has a 360-degree intake that drains water faster than other small pumps. It also comes with a 360-degree screen that keeps out large debris like leaves, bugs, and bird droppings.
While it’s not fully automatic, the Vivosun pump has an automatic shut-off feature. A built-in thermal chip detects increased temperature when the pump runs dry and immediately shuts it down.
That said, we still recommend turning off the pump when the water level on the cover goes down to two inches. You don’t want to risk running the pump dry, even if it’s for just a few seconds.
Because the Vivosun pump is submersible, it’s suitable for a wide range of applications, including in aquariums, ponds, waterfalls, and fountains. You can even use it to drain a small above-ground pool.
Issues & Limitations
Because the Vivosun pump is not designed for just pool covers, it doesn’t come with a garden hose connection like other dedicated pool cover pumps.
You’ll need an adapter to connect a garden hose or use smaller tubing to drain your pool cover.
Another issue with the Vivosun submersible pump is the filter screen. It is ineffective against small debris. If sand and other small debris collect on the pool cover, it can clog the pump.
But it’s easy to open it up and clean it.
The Vivosun submersible pump is best for: Anyone looking for an above-ground pool cover pump with auto shut-off protection. It is also suitable for pool owners looking for a versatile pump they can use in a pond, aquarium, and other areas.
Avoid if: You want a fully automatic pool cover pump.
If you are shopping for a budget pool cover pump, the FibroPool pool cover drain pump is one of the cheapest ones around.
It comes as a full kit complete with 22’ drainage tubing, so you don’t need a garden hose.
With a 75W motor and a flow rate of 600 GPH, the FibroPool pump takes several hours to drain a lot of water from a pool cover. But it works, and it’s cheap.
The slow flow rate makes the FibroPool pump best for small above-ground pool covers. The pump is lightweight, so it won’t weigh down on the pool cover.
You’ll receive a complete kit that includes the FibroPool pump and a 22ft drainage tube. That means you don’t need to connect a garden hose.
The pump has a 16ft power cable for easy connection to an outlet.
Issues & Limitations
The FibroPool pump does not have an auto-on or off function. You’ll need to turn it on manually and then keep an eye on the water level to avoid running the pump dry.
If you forget and leave the pump running, it could become permanently damaged.
The FibroPool electric pump is best for above-ground pool owners looking for a cheap pool cover pump.
Avoid if: You want a pool cover pump with auto-off protection.
The Blue Wave siphon pump is a great choice if you prefer a non-electric pump or don’t want to spend a lot of money on an electric pool cover pump.
The siphon pump works using gravity. You start the process by depressing the siphon pump several times until you see water flowing from the tube (the pump comes with a 13ft drain tube).
Make sure you’ve placed the drain where the water is deepest on the cover, and then set up the drain tube to be lower than the drain.
Once the water begins to flow from the tube, you can stop pumping and let gravity take over. As long as the tube drains to a lower level, water will keep flowing out.
And since this is a non-electric pump, you don’t need to worry about the pump running dry. Just leave it and check on it every few hours to make sure it’s still working.
Issues & Limitations
The Blue Wave siphon drain is slow. It takes 1-3 days to drain all the water from the pool cover depending on how much rain and melt water has collected.
If you are in a hurry to drain the pool cover, get an electric pump instead.
The slow drain makes the Blue Wave siphon drain unsuitable for in-ground pools. It’ll take forever to drain water from a large cover, especially if it’s still raining.
The Blue Wave Drain is best for: Above ground pool owners looking for a cheap siphon pump.
Avoid if: You prefer a speedier electric pump.
Pool Cover Pump Buying Guide
What Is a Pool Cover Pump - and How Does It Work?
A pool cover pump is a pump that drains water that has collected on a pool cover. It is used on a winter pool cover, not a solar pool cover.
Rainwater and meltwater from snow can weigh down the pool cover, damaging it or posing a safety risk to kids and pets.
The easiest way to get this water off the pool cover is using a pump.
Some pumps are explicitly designed to drain water from pool covers, while others are general purpose pumps that you can use in a wide range of applications, including draining your pool cover.
A pool cover pump works like any other pump. It pushes water through a hose or tube and drains it away from the pool.
Pool cover pumps have the water inlet set low, so they can work in as little as 2 inches of water. This ensures the pump drains as much water as possible from the pool cover.
Types of Pool Cover Pumps
There are three types of pool cover pumps: automatic, manual, and siphon pumps.
1. Automatic Pool Cover Pumps
Automatic pool covers are the most expensive, but they are also the most convenient to use. They turn on and off automatically based on the amount of water that has collected on the cover.
You plug the pump into an outlet then leave it on the pool cover. It’ll turn on and start pumping when water levels rise past a certain level and turn off automatically when the water level falls past a minimum level.
Automatic pool cover pumps are typically designed for use on in-ground pool covers.
An automatic pump is an excellent choice if you want a hands-free pool cover pump.
2. Manual Pool Cover Pumps
Most above-ground pool cover pumps are manual. You have to turn the pump on when water collects on the pool cover and off when the water level goes down after pumping.
Some manual pool cover pumps have an auto shut-off function that protects the pump from running dry.
A manual pool cover is a good choice if you want a versatile pump that you can use for other things like draining your aquarium, pond, or hot tub.
3. Siphon Pool Cover Pumps
A siphon pool cover pump uses gravity to drain water from the pool cover to a lower point on the ground.
You start the pump manually using your hand, then leave the water to keep flowing by gravity. Although comparatively much cheaper, a siphon pump is quite slow. It can take a couple of days to drain a few inches of water from the pool cover.
A siphon pump is a good choice if you are on a tight budget or don’t want an electric pump.
How to Use a Pool Cover Pump
- Set up your winter cover. Winterize your pool and remove any pool equipment, such as an automatic vacuum or a pool skimmer. Unroll the winter cover over the pool.
- When rainwaterstarts collecting on the cover, place the pump in the section of the pool cover where most of the water has gathered.
- Connect a garden hose or drain tube to the pump. Extend the hose to drain water away from the pool. Make sure you do not exceed the maximum lift for that particular pump. It’s always best to drain water at the same level as the pump or, even better, at a lower level.
- Plug the pump into a GFCI outlet. Most pumps don’t have an ON button, they’ll start pumping immediately when you plug it in as long as there’s a high water level.
- If it’s a siphon pump, pump a little with your hand until the water flows, then leave the water to siphon out on its own.
- With many small above-ground pumps, you can also take advantage of gravity as long as you are draining water to a lower level than the pump. Let the pump run for a few minutes, then turn it off. The water will keep flowing.
- If you have a manual pump, keep an eye on the water level. Unplug the pump as soon as there’s about two inches of water left on the pool cover.
What to Look For in a Pool Cover Pump
Type of Pump
The first thing to decide is the kind of pool cover pump you want. See above for our explanation of the three main types of pool cover pumps and the best one for each different type of situation.
Here’s a quick summary: get an automatic pool cover pump if you have an in-ground pool, a manual pump will do for an above-ground pool, and a siphon pump is the best if you want a cheap non-electric pool cover pump.
The pump’s flow rate – or GPH – determines how quickly it drains water from the cover. The higher the GPH, the faster the pump drains water.
For an in-ground pool, you want a pool cover pump with a high flow rate (at least 1,500 GPH) to drain the water quickly.
A cheaper pump with a lower flow rate is perfect for a small above-ground pool.
Note: The actual flow rate of a pump will depend on the lift. The higher you position the drain hose relative to the pump, the slower water will flow. Draining downhill produces the highest flow rate.
Ease of Setup
Check how easy the pump is to set up. Some pumps have trouble priming, or they need special adapters to connect to a garden hose.
Pool cover pumps that come ready to use are the best and easiest to use.
Make sure the pump has a debris filter or strainer at the bottom. This keeps debris from getting into the pump and clogging it.
But even with a filter, debris will still get in. You’ll need to regularly clean and unclog the pump.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Maintaining a pool cover pump is easy. For most pumps, all you need to do is regularly open it up to check for trapped debris.
Remove debris from the strainer, weep hole and other parts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to drain all the water from the pool cover?
No, it’s not necessary to drain all the water. In fact, most pumps cannot drain all the water from the pool cover. Leaving about two inches of water on the cover is safe.
Can I leave a pool cover out all winter?
It depends on the type of pool cover pump. But most in-ground pool cover pumps are safe to leave outdoors for an extended period. This allows the pump to maintain water at a safe level.
How do I remove snow from my pool cover?
Wait for the snow to melt, then use a pool cover pump to drain the meltwater along with any rainwater off the cover.