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Vinyl Liners


A vinyl liner pool has a custom made sheet of vinyl between the water and the pool structure. This is in contrast to a gunite or shotcrete pool which uses plaster as its waterproofing membrane. Vinyl liners typically lock their top edge, called a bead, into a track located on the bottom of the coping, which is at deck level. Underneath the liner is a sand or cementitious floor, specified in dimension to the "cut" of the liner that is to be used. The floors come up to meet the walls, which are commonly 3 ft by 8 ft panels made of galvanized steel or thermoplastic. These walls are supported from behind so that they won't bow out against the weight of the water. All of the wall panels are secured together to make up the perimeter shape of the pool. For this reason, there are some limitations to the possible shapes of a vinyl liner pool.


Vinyl liner pool sales seem to be regional. Many areas of the country seem to have nothing but vinyl liner pools, whereas in other areas you'd be hard pressed to find even one. In our (Wash D.C.) area, there is a nice mix of vinyl and gunite pool builders to meet consumer demand for either products. I won't get into a large discussion on vinyl versus gunite, however, generally speaking, the vinyl liner pool can be built cheaper than the gunite (concrete) version. If you already own a vinyl pool; here are some service tips from our vinyl help file:


Vinyl Liner Repair


Liner bead coming out of the track?


Liners are meant to fit tightly into the shape of the pool. If the liner was installed slightly off center, or if the liner is too large or too small for the pool's shape, you might experience the bead popping out of the track.


With the use of a heat gun or blow dryer and a lot of elbow grease (eat your wheaties), the liner can be stretched and locked back into the track. I was also informed by a pool tech recently that boiling hot water works well when you need to stretch a liner.  If this is a continuing problem, the use of liner lock can help in keeping the bead in the track. It is best to consult a professional for this problem, to avoid over stretching or melting the liner. I also caution about the use of electrical equipment (heat gun) around water (pool).


It's usually a lot of pulling and pushing to get a liner back into the track. In some cases you'll need to lower the water level a foot or more if it is out very far. Better to put back in small areas than to wait until you have to lower the water. Use of a small hair dryer (blow dryer) can heat up the liner, making it more stretchable, and easier to get back into the track. Be careful, keep the dryer moving and not too close to the vinyl! I once heated a hole right through a brand new liner using this trick! Also, if you drop the dryer into the water, don't reach in to grab it, you could become electrocuted. When the liner is put back into the track (it can be exhausting work, I'm telling you) consider using liner lock, pennies or popsicle sticks to help hold it in the track.


Liner losing its color?


The original color of your liner will fade with the use of sanitizing chemicals and the effects of ol' Mr. Sun. Harsh chemicals and high concentrations of such are to be avoided. This will remove the plasticizers which give liners their resiliency, leading to brittle vinyl, which leads to new liners. The chemical makeup of modern vinyl allows manufacturers to create liners that are now much more durable and resistant to chemical, solar and algae problems.



Vinyl liner leaking?


Not an uncommon problem. Liners are typically manufactured in 20 mil thickness (28-30 mil option). Although resistant to can happen, and will happen. Especially as the liner ages, losing its resiliency. If you are fortunate enough to see a small hole in the liner, simply patch it with a vinyl liner patch kit. If underwater, buy a "wet" patch kit. If the source of the leak isn't readily apparent, go to our section on Leak Detection.  


If you are adding more than one inch of water to your pool per week, discounting splashed-out and backwash waste water, you probably have a leak. Do not allow leaks to go unchecked. Leaks can washout supporting back fill behind the walls, corrode the walls, and may wash away sand on the floor, creating large sinkholes.


It is not advised to drain your vinyl liner pool, or allow it to leak out below the level of the walls. The water in the pool holds the liner tightly against the walls and floor. If the water is removed, the liner must be reset with a vacuum to suck the liner into place while filling. Otherwise, large wrinkles may appear when filling a loose fitting liner. In addition, an empty liner pool may allow rain water to seep in under the walls, washing away and destroying the specifically contoured shape of the floor. There also exists the risk of a wall collapsing or caving in. Consult a professional for assistance in these areas.


Never add undiluted granular chemicals, specifically pH de-creaser and Calcium Hypochlorite (shock) directly to the pool. These particles will settle to the bottom, "bleach" the vinyl, and compromise it's strength and resiliency.


Resetting your vinyl liner: If the liner has been drained, or leaked out on it's own, it will need to be "sucked back" into place with a vacuum device to remove the air between the liner and the pool shell (walls/floor).


The vacuum will be in place until the water level is at a predetermined point on the wall. The vacuum is then removed, and the pool continues to fill. This is necessary to ensure proper fit, and reduce or eliminate wrinkles in the vinyl. Prices will vary on labor and trip costs involved, but expect a few hundred dollars when it's all said and done.


Vinyl liners are not limited in colors and patterns as they used to be. Changing this will dramatically improve the visual effect of your pool.  The cost of the liner will depend on it's shape, size, thickness, and pattern choice. As an example, a 17' x 35' oval, with a Rockcliffe print, 28 mil thickness, will cost in the neighborhood of $1200.00. 


In Ground Vinyl Liner Installation


The labor involved in replacing a vinyl liner begins with the measuring of your pool for the...  (continued.....)

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