Can ants or termites attack a vinyl pool liner?

When an inground pool with a liner is leaking, there are only about five things that can be wrong:

1. Your liner may have a split seam.

2. There may be a hole poked or ripped in your liner.

3. There may be a leak in your pipes.

4. There may be a leak in the face plates of the steps, skimmers or return fittings.

5. Your liner may have been attacked by ants or termites.

In trying to find and correct the source of your leak, it’s helpful to look for the most common possibilities first and then to eliminate these possible problems one at a time.  I will try to address each of these problems with a different post over the next few months.  Let’s begin today with the least common of the potential problems: ants or termites attacking your liner.  I have only seen this happen a few times in 30 years.  It makes sense that these bugs, thirsty for water, come up through the ground and chew their way through the liner, causing leaks.  These attacks seem to happen more in arid regions, regions with lots of termite activity, or in periods of drought when insects are desperate for moisture.

I am told that if you look from the backside of the liner, you can actually see the “teeth marks” in the vinyl.  I am also told that you can see the “trails” they leave in the sand or vermiculite floors, much like you would see in an ant farm toy.


* The following article was written by a liner manufacturer:


For many years, it has been known and proven that termites and ants will attack a vinyl pool liner.  It is suspected that the termites are attracted to the pool area due to the dampness around the pool.

Usually, the first signs are very small holes in the liner in the area above the water line.  Quite often, the liner may have dozens of holes in it within a short period of time after they have begun their attack on the liner.

Most of the time, if the liner is taken out of the bead track and pulled away from the wall, you may see the trails that the termites have left behind.  Usually the holes they make in the liner are relatively small, about an eighth of an inch in diameter and are round or oval shaped.

If the pool liner has to be replaced as a result of termites or ants, the homeowner is advised to get an exterminator to treat the ground beneath the liner and around the perimeter of the pool deck.

Here are some of the more likely places for termites and ants to appear:

  • A yard where a tree has been removed
  • A yard where a patio or walkway has been removed
  • Around wooden flower planters
  • Around wooden fences

Although this is not a widespread problem, it should be taken seriously.  An average of ten to fifteen cases a year are reported to us.

5 Responses to Can ants or termites attack a vinyl pool liner?

  • I have the same question. My pool man told me our tiny pinholes have to be cause by a damaging insect.

  • Yes, ants living on the sides of wood wall pools can put holes in the liner. They do not eat the liner but make ant trails.

  • Hi Ken:
    Thanks for visiting our blog and for making your comment. How do the ants make holes in the liners? I have always understood that they actually chew their way through the vinyl to get to the water inside during dry conditions. If they dont eat their way through, how do they make the holes. Also, is this only on wood walls? How often do you see this problem?

  • I am sorry to say that we are attacked by termites all over our backyard and they have eaten through our 11 month old above ground pool liner. This happened two weeks ago once the weather got warmer here on Long Island, NY. All winter the self draining cover worked great and all of a sudden it sunk about half way down the pool. I refilled the pool twice and it drained out to the same level. Our pool man said it was due to ants and suggested to put down cat litter under the new liner when we replace it. I am really upset about this and I am worried that when I replace the liner that it will happen again.

  • We have noticed recently with two above ground liner replacements, that ants or termites were harboring in the foam cove. Tiny pin-holes were noted along the wall/floor area.We actually gave a piece of cove that had obvious damage to a local exterminator who identified the damage to termites. We now remove all foam cove and use the traditional banking of sand to make the cove.

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