Top 3 spa cover problems and how to avoid them

Spa covers are an important spa accessory that protects the spa from getting dirty and keeps the spa water insulated to help retain heat. This article outlines the top three spa cover problems and expert tips on how to solve or avoid them.

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What are the top 3 spa cover problems?

Whether you’re a new spa owner or have been enjoying a spa for a while, it’s important to know the signs of possible issues in your spa and its accessories.

It’s doubly important to keep an eye on the spa cover, as this is your spa’s main protection against elements such as heat or snow and also keeps your spa running costs to a minimum.

Read on to learn about the top three spa cover problems that you may encounter as a spa owner along with expert tips and advice on how to avoid them.

Problem 1: Damaged vinyl on spa covers

The vinyl comprises the external structure of your spa cover, so most problems begin here. Your spa cover’s vinyl may have scratches, holes, cuts or tears from external damage if not carefully taken care of. Dragging your cover on and off the spa can damage the vinyl, which is why we recommend using a cover lifter.

At the same time, if you neglect to use protectants to seal the vinyl and protect it from heat and cold, over time the vinyl may turn brittle and easy to tear.

If you see a tear in your spa, don’t leave it alone. Tears and holes in the vinyl can lead to waterlogged foam cores and compromise the integrity of the spa cover.

Here’s how you can prevent damage to your vinyl cover:

  • Keep a regular maintenance schedule
  • Do not use detergent to clean the vinyl
  • Avoid products containing alcohol, dish soap, or oil
  • Use conditioners to keep the vinyl from drying out
  • Address cracks and tears promptly with a vinyl repair kit.
  • Use UV protectant like 303® Spa Cover Vinyl UV Protectant Spray
  • Keep your cover properly secured using heavy-duty cover locks and straps to protect from strong winds
  • Install an umbrella or other shading solutions to keep your spa cover and spa more protected from sun and rain

Rips in the vinyl outer on your spa cover should be promptly repaired.

Problem 2: Torn or damaged spa cover hinges

The hinge on your spa cover generally takes the form of a strip of vinyl that joins the sections of your spa cover together. On a spa cover with just 2 pieces, the hinge makes it easy to fold half of the cover up on top out of the way so you can access the water.

If you are using a spa cover lifter, the cover lifter sits flush up against the hinge. The hinge is important to allow the cover lifter to pivot correctly and lift your cover off your spa.

When the hinges become torn or damaged, you may have a hard time getting the cover on and off your spa.

The hinge section also acts as a block to seal heat inside your spa between multiple sections of your cover.

A damaged or torn hinge may also compromise the structural integrity of your spa cover as well as reduce insulation. This makes it harder for your spa to maintain its temperature.

Your spa cover’s hinge may have issues because of external damage, or because of stress resulting from a heavy or waterlogged foam. It may also be worn down due to excessive use of force when opening or closing.

Stepping, walking, or standing on top of the spa cover may also damage the hinges and stop it from working.

While a professional can repair a torn hinge if the damage does not exceed 6 inches, it may not necessarily be worth the cost especially if the damage is caused by age or if the vinyl and foam core are also compromised.

If you want to avoid this problem, we suggest:

  • Take care to not use too much force when handling the spa cover
  • Regularly maintain the spa cover
  • Avoid stepping or walking on top of the spa cover
  • Clear away debris such as leaves and branches or snow to avoid having them pile up on top of the spa cover for an extended period

Tears or damaged stitching on your spa cover hinge flap should be repaired promptly.

Problem 3: Heavy or waterlogged spa cover foam core

One of the worst problems your spa cover can have is when the foam core becomes compromised. This can show through different signs such as:

  • Rot or decay
  • Mould
  • Unpleasant odours
  • Leaking or water pooling
  • Increased weight
  • Sagging in the middle

Image: A sagging spa cover with water pooling on top indicates a damaged foam core

Not all signs show up at one time. If even one of the symptoms presented above applies to your spa cover, it indicates the foam core in your cover has begun to absorb water.

Once your cover’s foam core becomes compromised, it typically signals the need to buy a new spa cover. A waterlogged spa cover has no insulation power, meaning it’s not doing its job of keeping heat inside your spa and may even pull heat away from your spa which can rack up your energy bill.

Here are some possible reasons why your spa cover is waterlogged:

  • Poor water chemistry. Water that is too acidic will eat away at the protective outer materials on your cover, allowing moisture to penetrate into the foam core.
  • Dirt and grime cause your vinyl to wear much more quickly, so it will lose its waterproofing abilities.
  • Holes and rips in the vinyl outer allow moisture into the inner part of your cover.

Once your spa cover becomes waterlogged, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mould. Over time, this can cause unpleasant smells and decay to occur inside your foam core.

At this point, it’s best to replace your spa cover entirely.

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How do I avoid a waterlogged or sagging spa cover?

Avoid a waterlogged or rotting cover by:

  • Keeping the water balanced
  • Keeping the cover dry to minimise the amount of water your cover soaks up
  • Regularly replacing the spa water to avoid mould and mildew
  • Regularly cleaning the spa cover to keep the vinyl outer in excellent condition
  • Patch tears and holes as soon as you notice them. (Use a vinyl repair kit)

What are spa covers made of?

Spa covers are often made using vinyl. The inside usually has solid foam cores that are sealed using plastic cases to protect from water absorption, while at the centre there’s a hinge that will allow the cover to fold in two.

The hinge allows the cover to be easily lifted on and off the spa.

Most spa pool covers use 16kg/m3 foam, but spa covers that come with Spa World™ spas are manufactured using heavier duty 24 kg/m3 foam.

The entire construction of our spa cover can be found below:

  • High-density 85Kg rated polystyrene foam cores that provide superior heat retention and durability (Please note: Foam ratings suggest the static weight or the amount of completely unmoving weight that you can put on the cover without causing it damage. The static weight indicated is spread across the panel surface. This does not mean the cover can withstand 85kg at any point or area.)
  • Heavy-duty heat-sealed plastic bag (for the foam core)
  • U.V. resistant marine grade vinyl outer
  • Chlorine-resistant P.E. plastic used to eliminate bleaching
  • Internal foam centre reinforced with aluminium channel
  • 100 to 50mm internal foam tapers to prevent the pooling of water on the surface
  • Reinforced central hinge built to last for years
  • Internally reinforced handles
  • Reinforced adjustable tie downs
  • Locking mechanisms to limit spa access
  • Includes straps and buckles
  • Full-length hinge heat block, not just on the ends like others.

How heavy should a spa cover be?

Generally, spa covers weigh between 20kg to 30kg, but the actual weight varies depending on the size.

Spa covers are made up of individual panels - each panel weighs around 10kg-15kg, so an individual panel is light enough so that it can be lifted by most adults. Larger covers such as swim spa covers may have up to 6 panels, but each panel will still only weigh 10-15kg.

You can look at your spa cover’s specifications to see how much your spa cover is supposed to weigh, but as a general rule spa covers are designed to be easily lifted on and off your spa.

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Can I replace the foam in my spa cover?

Yes, you may be able to find replacement foam inner for your cover if you want to keep the vinyl. However, finding the right size for a specific model may be difficult and replacing it inside the vinyl can be fiddly and time-consuming.

It may also not be worth the cost. Spa foam panels retail at around $200 to $1250 depending on the size and type of foam. This is up to 70% of the price of a brand-new spa cover.

If you need to change the foam, that may indicate that your outer vinyl is worn also, letting moisture into the inner foam core. So your new foam panel may also begin to absorb water quickly.

All in all, if your spa cover’s foam is damaged, it is usually more convenient and cost-effective to simply buy a completely new cover, so you know all the components are in new condition.

How to look after spa cover

Spa covers help protect your spa and keep the heating cost to a minimum by providing insulation. To get the best benefits out of your spa cover, there are a few practices to keep in mind.

Click the button below to find out more about caring for your spa cover with expert advice from long-time spa owners.

How much weight can my spa pool cover hold?

Most spa covers can only hold a few kilograms at most, approximately around the weight of the cover itself. Even if your cover is rated at say a 75kg weight loading, this refers to a total weight spread evenly across the cover, not at one point on the cover. It's best to avoid storing objects on the cover, or sitting on the cover.

Some specially designed spa covers called walk-on covers can be made to withstand the weight of a human being, however, it is still best to avoid walking on top of these covers to keep them in good condition for longer.

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Can I walk on a spa cover?

You can…but that doesn’t mean you should. Spa covers made of high-quality materials tend to be sturdy and durable and some manufacturers will even suggest that you can walk on their product. However, spa covers can at most hold the weight of snow, not a person.

Also, they still need to be properly maintained and protected to ensure that they will last for a long time. If you walk on your spa cover, you can significantly lower its lifespan or even destroy it completely by cracking the inner foam core.

In case the spa cover fails to hold your weight, you may even hurt yourself. For this reason, we suggest you avoid standing, sitting, or walking on your spa cover. Keep animals off the cover also as the weight of an animal can also damage the cover.

If you need something to rest or step around your spa, you can invest in spa accessories such as spa steps that can withstand those activities.

Can I use Armor-all® on my spa cover?

Armor All® Protectant products are a type of car care designed to protect, clean, and add shine to rubber surfaces. They are not suitable for use on vinyl which is what spa covers are made of.

As a general rule, we suggest avoiding any protectant or cleaning product containing alcohol or petroleum as these are likely to damage your vinyl cover.

Instead, use specialised vinyl cleaning products and protectants like 303® Spa Cover Vinyl UV Protectant Spray together with 303®Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner - Trigger Spray which are specifically formulated for vinyl products.

When do you need to buy a replacement spa cover?

Some spa cover problems can be easily solved, but there comes a time when buying a replacement may be inevitable. You can tell when a spa cover needs to be completely replaced when the insulating foam has taken on water.

In this case, the cover will no longer provide proper heat retention for your spa, and will likely be too heavy to handle with ease.

Once your spa cover sags from the middle or if you notice a pool of water on top even if it didn’t rain, it’s a sign that the internal structure of the spa cover has failed and no repair is going to solve it.

When your spa cover pools water on top, this can also indicate that the cover may be leaking into your spa while absorbing water from the spa. At this point, it will be more cost-efficient to replace your spa cover instead of trying to buy a replacement foam.

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In Summary

A spa cover is crucial for spa protection and heat retention. Keeping your spa cover in excellent condition will ensure that you can enjoy your spa for much longer as well as keep your running costs to a minimum.

To avoid encountering problems with your spa cover, here are our top tips:

Keep your water balanced Avoid sitting, standing, or walking on top of your spa cover Observe a regular cleaning schedule for the vinyl outer on your cover Use a cover lifter

Got more questions?

Talk to us on live chat, or email us your spa questions and we'll be happy to help!

DISCLAIMER: The following registered trademarks are owned by companies not affiliated in any way with Spa World™ or Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd – the parent company of Spa World Ltd: Armor All® Protectant trademark is owned by Energizer Holdings, Inc. 303® Spa Cover Vinyl UV Protectant Spray and 303® Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner - Trigger Spray are registered to Gold Eagle, Co.

Affiliations: Spa World™ is a trademark owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd.

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