Pool liner repair is something that every pool owner is faced with at one time or another especially if you've owned a pool for a number of years. The idea of repairing minor issues with your liner is a lot more appealing than spending money on removing and replacing the entire liner with a new one. In most cases you should be able to simply repair the liner if has a rip or tear but in some cases you will need to replace it, but we'll go over all the options when it comes to repairing or replacing your pool liner.
If you have a damaged liner it could be caused by any number of reasons but the most common culprit is improper installation. If the liner wasn't fitted properly and has air pockets unfortunately its a matter of time before a tear or sagging will occur. The best time to deal with this issue is before damage occurs or when it's small enough to be repaired. If the damage is extensive we recommend hiring a pool service professional trained in pool liner repair and they will also be able to advise you if the problem is beyond fixing and you need a replacement liner.
A liner should last 10-20 years with regular usage before it starts to fade or break down. A properly balanced pool with chemistry that's been maintained properly will help extend the length of the liner and keep it looking as good as new with little or no fading. A yearly cleaning or as often as necessary, will also extend the life of your liner in addition to keeping your pool clean and healthy.
The most common repairable issues pool owners encounter are wrinkles and sagging edges which are a symptom of an improperly sized or installed liner. Another common issue is a rip or tear in the vinyl fabric that is often caused by a sharp object or stress on the liner. Pool liner damage often occurs in the corners or edges where the liner is stretched the tightest leaving it susceptible to damage.
The first step is to determine the exact problem and decide if its something you want to try fixing yourself. After reading this you should have a good idea if you want to tackle it yourself but if you have any doubt we recommend hiring a professional as it can end up costing you more in the long run if the repairs aren't carried out properly.
The most common fixable problem with vinyl pool liners is when the liner has shifted and created folds or wrinkles. They can occur in almost any pool especially if you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures changes, a lot of direct sunlight or your water level has fluctuated. It's common for pool owners to discover wrinkles in their liner during spring pool opening after winter when the pool water level was lowered and ice formed due to freezing temperatures.
If you also notice folds or overlap in the vinyl you may need to reset the liner by emptying your pool and reinstalling the liner. If the wrinkles or folds are minor the best way to remedy this is to use a toiler plunger or a device that creates suction without damaging the liner. You can try to manipulate the areas around the wrinkle or fold. This method is relatively safe to try on your own and will work with minor wrinkles and folds in your liner.
Sagging edges are a common pool liner repair problem occur most often in the corners or along the top edge of your pool along the coping edge or track. You will have a lot more success if you wait for a hot day and preferably after the liner has been exposed to some direct sunlight. If you want to give this a try follow the guidelines below for fixing sagging edges in your vinyl pool liner. If the liner wasn’t set properly during installation it could be bearing too much weight and will be difficult to fix without reinstalling the liner with the pool emptied of all water.
A vinyl liner will be much easier to work with and can be stretched to a certain degree when it is warm and pliable. If the liner is cold it will be very hard to maneuver and could cause damage to the liner. The goal is to get the liner as warm as possible and this can be done by pouring hot water on the liner in the area where it needs to be stretched or you can use a hair dryer or something that blows hot air.
If you use a hair dryer make sure the dryer doesn’t make contact with the water to avoid electrical injury and don't get too close to the vinyl or you could cause a hole or weaken the fabric. If you are using scalding hot water on the liner exercise caution when pouring and make sure to leave an area above the sag so you can pull the liner from the top edge.
After you have heated the area of the liner that needs to be stretched pull up on the edge so the material passes beyond the track. You should have enough slack that when its released it remains along the track with a bit of extra overlap. If you can't get the liner stretched far enough you may have to apply more hot water or heat a larger area to increase the pliability. If that still doesn't work you can try lowering the water level of your pool by 3-6 inches.
Once the liner is stretched up and in place it’s time to set the bead into the track. This is easiest to do by starting at one side and working towards the opposite side of the area being repaired. The grooves should line up and effectively snap or hold snug into place.
As you work along the bead and groove you will find that the liner wants to slide out as you go. You should use a liner bead wedge that will keep the bead secure as you work along the track. You can also try using a popsicle stick or paint stirrer that you have at home. After you have secured the length of liner back in the track and secured it with bead wedge you should have a secure liner once again.
The most common pool liner repair problem is fixing a rip or tear. A good guideline to follow is if the rip is smaller than 3–6 inches it might be repairable but if it’s longer than 6 inches you may need to replace your entire liner or consult a pool service professional. A professional will also be able to advise you if there is an underlying problem that caused the rip in the first place.
If you have a matching piece of liner left over from your initial liner installation you should use it for color matching and you will get the best seal if you use the same material. There are often extra pieces of vinyl left over after a liner installation left over from cutouts from the water lines and skimmer area. If you don’t have a matching piece of liner you can try your local pool supplier or contact the manufacturer of the liner.
If the rip is small and hard to see but you suspect a leak you can use food dye to determine if there is any water escaping your pool. You can do this yourself by turning your pool pump system off and waiting about an hour. After the water has settled squirt dye next to the suspected rip and if the dye is drawn to it then you have a leak and it needs to be repaired. If a leak is present you can place a temporary patch over the leak made of plastic or rubber.
After you have confirmed you have a leak and the rip is smaller than 6 inches we recommend purchasing a vinyl pool liner repair kit. These patch kits are specifically designed to patch and repair small rips or tears in vinyl pool liners and can be carried out by any handy pool owner.
There are several vinyl pool liner repair kits available that are designed to work on dry or wet applications. We suggest purchasing a kit with color patches that match your liner the closest to minimize the visibility of the repair. If you have matching patches from your liner installation you will only need to purchase an adhesive.
Cut the patch into an oval or round shape making sure to avoid any square corners as these will tend to peel off over time. The size of the patch should have about 3–4 inches of overlap in all directions. You should use sharp scissors or something similar that will create a clean edge.
The first thing you should do is clean the area around the tear to ensure proper glue adhesion. Apply glue to the patch and the area around the tear where the patch will be placed allowing for a bit of overlap. If the tear is underwater keep the patch folded to prevent glue from washing off and then open right before applying the patch to the tear.
As you apply the patch make sure to apply pressure at the center of the patch and work outwards to prevent formation of air bubbles and to ensure a proper seal. After the patch is set and you are satisfied with the coverage and seal, allow 24 hours to dry and inspect for proper seal using food dye. If you still have a leak we recommend trying again or contacting a pool professional that specializes in pool liner repair.
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