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Vinyl Pool Liner Problems - Repair or Replace?

Some of you might be wondering if the old vinyl liner can make it another season. The pool above will certainly need a new pool liner. Inground liners may last longer than above ground liners, but at some point all vinyl liner pool owners will face a decision to repair the vinyl liner or to replace it.

Faded Pool Liners

faded vinyl pool liner

Over time, the sun will fade some of the bright or darker colors of your vinyl pool liner, especially on the top steps and at the waterline. Chlorine can also bleach a liner in localized areas from undissolved pool shock or all over, if chlorine levels have been very high for extended periods of time.

For bleached or faded liners, we have no dye that you can just throw in the pool, and there is no such thing as pool liner paint. For waterline fading and small tears or rips at the waterline, one solid repair could be to install BorderLines, an adhesive strip similar to a wall paper border, that you affix to the top 6 inches of the liner. It can really brighten up faded pool liners!

Leaking Pool Liners

Sometimes you can have a leak in a vinyl pool, which continues to leak after plugging the lines, so you know it's in the vinyl, but where? Finding a hole in a vinyl liner can be a little like looking for a needle in a haystack. If the water stabilizes at one particular level, look for a small patch of debris stuck onto the vinyl that has been sucked into the hole.

The best method to find a pool leak may be (if the water is warm enough), to use a diver's mask and snorkel to search the entire pool closely. You can use colored dye in a small bottle to dye test suspect areas, which should include the cutout areas around the steps, returns, skimmers and lights.

Most leaking vinyl pool liners are fixed without a need to replace. In cases where there are dozens of leaks, from ice or animal damage, or from kids using the pool pole to pole vault into the pool, you may need to buy a new pool liner.

Ripped or Torn Vinyl Liners

ripped vinyl pool liner

Small tears, 1-2 inches in length, can be easily patched with a vinyl liner patch kit. Patches tend to have the best success when they are small, not in a corner, or too close to the bead or "cuts" to the vinyl. Vinyl repairs on the wall are usually successful, if the vinyl is not overly stretched and stressed in that area. If it's high on the wall, patch it dry; low wall or floor patches are usually patched wet, or underwater.

Large tears, those of several inches to several feet, can also be patched using larger pieces of vinyl, but the long-term success of the patch may be doubtful. Many people would also rather not have a patchwork quilt for a pool liner and may prefer to replace when budget allows.

There is likely no need to replace the vinyl pool liner for just a small tear, or even a large one. But if the overall condition of the liner causes tears and rips, there will soon be many more, and at some point, it's time to plan for a pool liner replacement.

Wrinkles in a Vinyl Liner

wrinkled vinyl pool liner

Don't feel bad if you have a wrinkle or two; many vinyl pools have wrinkles. Wrinkles can be part of a miscalculated liner installation, or they can be a result of erosion under the liner, or the vinyl can pucker in certain corrosive water conditions.

Wrinkles not only look bad, but they also form a weak spot in the vinyl pool liner and a spot vulnerable to being snagged by pool cleaning tools or automatic pool cleaners. Numerous wrinkles will also trap dirt against the folds, which can help bacteria and algae grow.

Once wrinkles have been under the weight of water for any length of time, they become hard, if not impossible, to fully remove. There is usually little one can do to repair a wrinkled liner.

Stained Pool Liners

It's not uncommon for spring to bring some odd colors to pool liners and steps. If balancing and shocking the pool doesn't remove liner stains, you can renew the hue of your liner with our stain removal chemicals for vinyl liners.

In the old days, stains on a vinyl pool liner were not easy to remove, but with so many specialized stain removers, there is usually no need to replace a pool liner because of staining.

If this year is the year for a new vinyl pool liner, check out our selection of inground liners and above ground liners, and vinyl liner installation accessories.


In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.