Swimming Pool Guides & Reviews by Certified Pool & Spa Operators
How and When to Replace or Repair Your Inground Pool Liner
Here’s Everything You Need To Know
People have a habit of neglecting their inground pool liners. It is so easy to get preoccupied with adding chemicals to your pool water and balancing its chemistry all the time. But you need to consider that thousands of gallons of pool water are held by the liner. So, how can you ignore its condition?
If you ignore your liner’s condition for too long, it’ll develop very small tears that you can barely see. You probably won’t even notice the tears until they become more noticeable. By that point, even a patch won’t be able to fix them. The only thing you’ll be able to do is to remove the liner and install a new one.
The Elements That Affect Inground Pool Liners
Between the thousands of gallons of water and the various chemicals in the water, inground pool liners must be incredibly strong and resistant to hold them all. It’s not like the pool liner ever gets a break either. It must hold the chemically adjusted water every day.
Unfortunately, the pool liner wears down as time goes on. It doesn’t matter if the liner is made from heavy-duty vinyl material either. There are certain situations which will cause the pool liner to age faster. If the damage or wear is too great, then you’ll have no choice but to replace the liner.
Here are some elements which can hurt the liner.
1) UV rays
The UV rays of the sun may do a good job of warming the water in your pool. But when it comes to the condition of your liner, they are not so great. UV rays will not only bleach your liner in time, but they will cause it to weaken and fall apart as well.
2) Too Much Chlorination
Every pool owner wants their pool water to be clean. That is why pool owners have a habit of adding too much chlorine to their water. This is not good for the pool liner because too much chlorine will slowly weaken it.
3) Flying Lawn Mower Debris
Be careful when you mow the lawn near your pool area. Clear out all objects and obstacles first before mowing. Otherwise, the mower could send any little object straight into your pool area. If something hits the liner, then it could tear it up.
4) Bad Weather
Bad weather can do a lot of damage to your pool and its liner, especially a hurricane, tornado, or thunderstorm. The heavy winds can cause tree limbs, rocks, and all kinds of debris to end up in your pool water. The liner can easily get scraped in the process as the debris sinks to the bottom of the water. Then you could have a damaged floor to your pool as well.
Dogs love to jump into the pool and cool off just like humans do. The only problem is their sharp nails can cause unintentional damage to the liner. A little bit of scratching against the wall is all it takes for liner damage to occur.
6) Expanding and Contracting
All materials will expand and contract when exposed to hot temperatures and cold temperatures, such as concrete or vinyl. That is why pool liner tends to develop weak spots as time goes on.
7) Too Old
Old age reduces the flexibility and strength of inground pool liners. As the years go by, all that pressure of holding the water will stretch out the liner and make it brittle.
On average, a pool liner will last between 5 years and 9 years. But it may not last that long if the liner is lower quality or suffers damage. You could have a liner that is 20 years old with no visible signs of damage or wear. However, you should still replace the liner immediately because there is no telling how soon it will form a leak or worse.
Liner Leakage is Very Bad
The water level of your pool will decrease by between 0.25 inches and 0.50 inches weekly because of evaporation. There are certain external conditions which can boost the rate of evaporation, including warm air, dry air, warm water, wind, and sunlight.
If over an inch of water is lost from your pool each week, then it is a sign of leakage rather than evaporation. If you can find the leak, then you can patch it up to temporarily fix the situation. But you should start looking for a replacement liner as soon as possible before more damage is done to the liner. If you wait too long, your yard, pool structure, and deck will be in jeopardy.
Selecting a Replacement Inground Pool Liner
If you purchased a house which already has a pool installed, then you probably won’t have any knowledge about pool liners or how to go about replacing one in your pool.
Let’s examine some important terms below to assist you in your pool liner education.
In the world of pool liners, virgin vinyl contains 100% vinyl material. There is no recycled vinyl or plastics in the mix. Virgin vinyl is completely new and comes straight from the factory that made it.
If your outdoor temperatures tend to fluctuate regularly, then a pool liner made of virgin vinyl is less likely to develop weak spots because there is more even expansion and contraction taking place.
You can always tell the durability of a pool liner by studying its thickness. Inground vinyl pool liners use “mil” to measure their thickness. Mil is not the same as millimeters. Instead, it is the basic unit of measurement for pool liner thickness levels. A mil is equal to 0.001 inches.
The average vinyl liner has a minimum of 20 mil and a maximum of 35 mil. That would make 20 mil approximately 0.020 inches thick, for instance. To put this into perspective, a dime has a thickness of 49 mil, and a sheet of paper has a thickness of 10 mil.
Certain inground pool liners come with dual mil measurements (e.g. 28/20). The wall section is the first number, and the floor is the second number. The larger number is always going to be the wall, which is the thickest of the two. The wall goes through more expanding and contracting than a floor. The wall and floor come together at the seam, where they’re sealed together.
Thicker is not always better, though. Virgin vinyl is of better quality and can last for a very long time. You’ll even save thousands of dollars too.
The gauge measurement unit is not commonly used with inground liners. The pool industry has not standardized the gauge for measuring inground liners. Sometimes the gauge and mil units are used interchangeably by manufacturers, even though the gauge figure is not accurate. That is why it is better to trust the mil figure instead because it is more accurate.
Prior to purchasing an inground pool liner, see if it has a warranty. Virtually all inground pool liner products come with a warranty. The only thing is the coverage and terms of these warranties are different. You may get a 15-year warranty which only covers a few minor problems. In that case, it is pointless to pay more money to get the warranty.
Conducting Measurements for a New Liner
If you know that you need a new pool liner, then you must take measurements of your pool before purchasing a new liner. You need to be correct with your measurements because the new liner must be trimmed to fit the exact size of your pool.
Certain pool liner manufacturers have apps available which let people record measurements and send them back to the company. It is easy to measure a square or rectangular pool, but it gets harder if the pool is oddly shaped.
So, if your pool has a weird shape to it, then contact a professional and have them conduct the measurements for it. Don’t spend too much money on pool liner if it isn’t going to fit your pool. At least with a professional, you don’t need to do any measuring yourself.
But if you’re still going to conduct your own measurements, you need the following resources:
- Two friends or assistants
- Utility knife
- Telescoping pole
- Two tape measurement tools (100 feet each)
- Optional: template from liner manufacturer
1) Length and Width Measurement
If you have a round-shaped pool, you should conduct straight measurements over two varying locations of your pool for better accuracy. If you have an oval-shaped pool, the length can be measured by going from one round end to the other. The width can be measured by measuring two parallel areas on each side. As for rectangular pools, measure two areas on the long sides and short sides and compare the results.
Make sure the interior of the pool walls is measured because the liner doesn’t go over the coping. Keep the measuring tape extremely tight while you measure the pool. You could even stand in the water to measure more easily.
2) Corner Radius Measurement
Every pool wall has a seam, which is the panel joint in the corner area. Use your tape measure at each joint to determine the distance it takes for them to cross. This is called the corner radius.
Remember that oval pools and round pool will lack corners. That is why a professional might be better for performing these measurements accurately.
3) Three-Depth Measurement
Each end of the pool must get measured. The difference between the measurements will give you the figures for the three depths.
Measure the depth of the shallow end by starting from the upper liner track area and going down to the bottom. Do this for each side. A utility knife should be used to cut open the liner just enough to place the measuring tape in back of it. That will make it easier and simpler to get the measurement. Of course, this is only a good idea if the liner is getting replaced for sure.
Measure the depth of the deep end by placing the telescoping pole directly into the water until it reaches the flat part. Use chalk to mark the area of the pole where it meets the water surface. Take the pole out of the water and lay it down. Measure the pole up to the chalk line area.
Take the shallow depth figure and subtract it from the deep depth figure, and you will get your final depth figure.
4) Four-Length Measurement
Use a measuring tape and extend it across the entire length of the inner pool walls. This will give you the three figures of the length.
Measure the shallow end by first utilizing a telescoping pole to find the beginning of the deep end slope. Use a tape measure to discover the length.
Utilize the telescoping pole to find the end of the slope. Measure the distance of the slope from top to bottom using the tape measure.
Utilize the telescoping pole to locate the area where the upward slope begins with the back wall. The hopper length is determined by measuring the distance between the middle slope and back slope.
The back-slope measurement is determined by taking these three length measurements and subtracting them from the pool’s total length.
5) Measure the Width of the Hopper and Sidewall Slope
To conduct a sidewall slope measurement, the measuring tape must be extended throughout the pool’s back end. Put a telescoping pole into the water along the sidewall and wait for it to touch the bottom. This is the end of the slope. Lie down the pole on the side pool coping. Take another tape measurement tool and stretch the tape from the original measuring tape to the area where the pole touches the edge of the pool. This measurement is the width of the sidewall slope.
To find the width of the hopper, take the sidewall slope measurements and subtract them from the width of the entire pool. This is the width of the hopper.
If you’re new to measuring pool liner and have confusion about this process, then it is better to rely on a professional for conducting accurate measurements. An incorrect measurement will cause you to get the wrong liner because of size differences.
Replacing Inground Pool Liners
You might have accurate measurements and a liner of the proper size, but the installation is important too. If you don’t install the liner correctly, it’ll cause a huge mess. For this reason, you need to hire a professional to perform the installation if you’ve never done this before or have doubts about your ability to do it. The investment in a professional installation will save you more money than the cost of making an installation mistake by doing it yourself.
If you want to attempt the installation, here is what you need to do:
1) Drain Water from the Pool
Your pool must be drained of all its water. But you must do this properly or else the inground pool could pop out from the ground. Research the best way to drain inground pool water before starting this task.
Another thing you must do is redirect the water from your pool to a sanitary sewage system in order to prevent environmental damage or contamination that kills wildlife. Ask the water authority of your local area about the municipal rules regarding this task. If you fail to obey the rules, you can end up with civil fines against you.
While the water drains, collect all the tools that you need to begin.
2) Take Away Everything
Take out the gaskets and faceplates with a screwdriver. The current liner must be trimmed or pulled away from the bead track. Since the liner is heavy, you can cut it up into tinier pieces. This will allow you to remove sections of the liner easily. The remaining strip now gets pulled from the track.
3) Perform the Needed Repairs
If there are cracks in your pool walls, you need to fix them. If the damage is even worse than just cracks, then a professional repair person might need to deal with them prior to the new liner installation.
4) Foam Installation
The foam can be cut into strips with a utility knife to make the installation easier. The strips can be secured to the walls of the pool with a spray adhesive product. Do this in sections by keeping the foam strips lined up to prevent any gaps. If you use wall foam, then there is a greater chance of puncturing the liner.
5) Liner Placement
The new liner must be unfolded in the central area of the pool. Take off your shoes before standing within the liner. Your feet can spread the liner out more easily. Line up the liner floor properly and then go over to the shallow end. The liner should be tucked into the bead track.
6) Air Removal
On the opposite end of the skimmer, use your hands to pull the liner away from the track a couple of inches. Place the Shop-Vac hose into the track and slide it carefully until it’s 3 feet down in there. The hose must have a minimum of 6 inches that is higher than the pool floor.
Secure the hose with duct tape. The entry point will get sealed entirely. Activate the vacuum and use it throughout the pool floor. Alternatively, the liner can be smoothed out by pushing a broom. Keep the vacuum on.
7) Main Drain Installation
Once you have smooth vinyl, the main drain cover and gasket gets installed on the deep end.
8) Fill Up the Pool with Water
There are a few ways you can deliver water to your pool. The easiest way is with a garden hose running water into the deep end. The spigot should be turned on too. When you see 6 inches of water at the shallow end, then you can deactivate the Shop-Vac. Now pull off the duct tape and take out the hose. The liner gets pushed into the bead track again.
9) Faceplates and Gaskets Installation
Once the water is a minimum of 1 foot deep at the shallow end, then the step gaskets, regular gaskets, and faceplates can be replaced. As you fill the pool, the liner gets moved and stretched. That is why you don’t want to install the gaskets and faceplates prior to this point. Otherwise, the liner will tear up.
10) Watch the Pool Filling
It can take over a day to fill a pool with water completely. It depends on how much water pressure you have. Watch the pool periodically so that it doesn’t overflow.
11) Test the Water and Balance If Necessary
Find a premium water testing kit which will give you accurate results and let you know which chemicals you need to apply to the water. Normal test strips are not good enough for this.
Pool shocking is very important. When water comes out of your spigot, it may still have bacteria and algae spores in it. Wait until nighttime and then apply the necessary shocking treatment to your water.
Does all this seem like it’s too much? You may find it easier to begin the process and learn as you go. Just remember to get accurate measurements, even if you need to hire a professional to get them.
After the new liner is installed, you can focus your attention on relaxing in your pool and not on the liner anymore.