What Does An Air Pillow Do For A Pool?

Kevin Pflug

We’re here today to talk about pool air pillows – the unsung hero that protects your above-ground pool over the harsh, cold winter.

A pool pillow can make the somewhat daunting process of protecting your pool over the winter a whole lot easier.

So, grab a warm drink, and let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how an air pillow can keep your pool in tip-top shape.

What Is A Pool Pillow? The Inside Scoop


Simply put, it’s an inflatable device that sits on the surface of the water in an above-ground pool.

It’s typically made of a durable and resistant material such as vinyl.

As simple as it seems, it’s an extremely effective tool.

What Does A Pool Air Pillow Do? The Lowdown On Why You Need One

The main function of an air pillow is to protect your above-ground pool from the damage caused by the accumulation of rain, snow, and ice over the winter months.

This is accomplished by placing the air-filled pillow under the pool cover, creating a void between the water and the cover.

This helps turn the pillow into an ice compensator: when the pressure builds up due to the pool freezing, the ice expands inward towards the pillow instead of outwards into the pool walls.

If you didn’t use a pillow, the pressure from the ice pushing on the walls could damage the cover, liner, and the walls themselves.

In other words, using a pool air pillow can save you from costly repairs and replacements.

It’s cheap insurance that’s well worth having.

How To Use A Pool Pillow: 5 Easy Steps

Adding a pool air pillow to your winterizing routine is a task worth tackling.

Here are the steps to get it done properly:

  1. Inflate the pillow to around 70% of its capacity (if filled up all the way, it won’t be able to compress).
  2. Tie string to the grommets that are located on the edges of the pillow.
  3. Position the pillow in the middle of the pool (use a broom if necessary) and secure it there by tieing the other ends of the string to the edge of the pool (we usually tie it around the rail caps). NOTE: Make sure there is some slack in the string, as the string will snap from the weight of the cover if the string is too taught.
  4. Place the cover on the pool making sure to trap the pillow underneath it (you may need some help for this step).
  5. Secure the cover.

All done! You’ve just protected your pool from major damage.

Let’s now discuss which air pillow you should use for your pool.

Choosing The Perfect Pool Air Pillow: What To Keep In Mind

First things first, size matters.

While most people would suggest pillows in a bigger size (such as 4’ x 8’ or larger), we take a different stance on this.

If you use a large pillow, you will have to have a bigger sized pool cover since you have to cover more surface area.

A smaller 4’ x 4’ pillow will do a fine job of protecting your pool, while at the same time, you won’t need a larger pool cover.

Next up, materials.

Most pool pillows are made from durable, heavy-duty vinyl. They are not easy to puncture.

This is why it’s essential to use an air pillow and not a typical pool float. Pool floats are made of a much softer material that punctures far more easily.

Next up, let’s get into the importance of pool pillow positioning.

The Art Of Pool Pillow Placement: Why It Matters

You might be thinking that positioning your pool pillow is just a matter of plopping it in the middle of the pool and calling it a day, but trust us, it’s not that simple.

The placement of your pool pillow can make a huge difference in how well it does its job.

Positioning your pillow in the middle of the pool will distribute snow and ice evenly and protect your pool liner and walls all winter.

It also helps to keep debris from accumulating in the middle of the pool cover.

When you have a correctly positioned pool pillow, leaves and water will fall to the pool’s outer edges, making clean-up easy, and preventing big chunks of ice from forming.

Final Thoughts

A pool air pillow is a must-have tool for any above-ground pool owner.

It’s an inexpensive and easy way to protect your pool from damage caused by rain, snow, and ice during the winter months.

And not only does it protect your pool, but it also makes the process of winterizing your pool much easier.

Overall, investing in a quality pool air pillow is a small price to pay for the protection and peace of mind it provides for your pool all winter long.

If you’re experiencing any trouble this winter with your cover or your air pillow, be sure to give us a call at 631-472-6275 or sign up for our winter watch service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t use an air pillow in the pool?

When the temperature drops and the water begins freezing, some serious problems could occur. The ice will expand out into the walls, damaging the liner, or even the walls themselves. It will also be much harder to pump off water and remove debris since it will all collect in the middle of the pool.

Does an air pillow have to be in the center of the pool?

The air pillow will still do a good job of preventing ice damage if it isn’t in the center of the pool. However, it certainly is not ideal. All the water from the rain and ice will gather in the center of the pool, making it harder to remove. Any debris will also collect in the middle of the pool.

How do I keep the air pillow in the center of my pool?

You must be sure to keep the pillow in the center of the pool when tieing the string to the edge of the pool. Be sure to leave slack in the line so the cover doesn’t snap the line.

Do you fill pool pillows with water or air?

You fill pool pillows with air.

How full should the pool pillow be?

Pool air pillows should be filled about 2/3 of the way with air. Do not fill to max capacity or the pillow will not be able to compress.

Can you use a float as a pool pillow?

You can, but it is very likely to puncture throughout the winter season. The vinyl is not as durable and puncture-resistant as the heavy-duty vinyl used in air pillows.

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Kevin Pflug
Kevin joined Romanelli & Son Pool Service in 2021 and hasn't looked back since! He enjoys eating his wife's delicious homemade meals and bowling with his family.

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