Pool Liner Maintenance
One of the great benefits for those of you who winterize your pools with a safety cover is that it keeps your liner out of the sun and chlorine-free for perhaps six months of the year. A liner is a big investment, and you want it to last as long as it can. Properly winterizing your pool and using a safety cover can greatly extend the life of your liner.
A Safety Cover not only keeps your liner out of the sun and chlorine free, but it keeps your swimming pool free of the debris that would otherwise create a mess in an uncovered pool. Protecting your pool from debris will also save you money on costly seasonal maintenance such as re-painting and re-plastering, and eliminate the need for messy spring clean-ups.
Below is a breakdown of our safety cover materials. You can also click here for more information on safety covers.
SAFETY COVER SELECTION CHART
The answer is yes, many people do just that, but you can get in trouble if you don’t run your pump runs 24 hours a day. We would not recommend putting tablets in your skimmer if you operate your pool on a timer and you can also get in trouble if the power goes off.
The chlorine tablets are concentrated and they have a very low ph. When your pump is running, the water going through your skimmer is constantly eroding the tablet, adding chlorine to the water which quickly makes its way through your filter system and into your pool.
If the pump goes off, now that tablet is sitting in just a few gallons of water and the chlorine level rises and ph drops. Now you have a skimmer full of highly chlorinated/acidic water and when it sloshes out of the skimmer and back into the pool with the regular movement of the water in your pool, that caustic water runs right down the face of the wall and can burn your liner as shown in the photos below. This will damage and permanently discolor your liner.
As a general rule, once a liner is installed, the pool should never be drained. You may get away with it in the first few years but after that, the liner starts to lose its elasticity and you run the risk on the liner ripping or tearing when you try to refill the pool. This is the same problem you encounter if the liner has floated and needs to be reseated. Our advice would be to always clean a pool while still full of water. Fish out the big debris and then let the filter and the chemicals do their job. If it’s just dirty, the chlorine will burn up the organic stains, given time. If you have metallic stains, click here to see our previous post on how to identify and address those.
I had a new liner installed last summer. The liner keeps coming out of the coping track in several places. Why is this happening and how do I stop it?
Thanks for that question and it’s one of the easiest problems to solve. Typically the problem is with the track and not with the liner. Plastic coping tracks deteriorate over time and cold weather will make the bead contract and it’s more prone to popping out. The inexpensive solution is to get the bead back in the track and then use a plastic strip called liner lock to fill the gap between the liner and the track so the bead can’t pop out. First you need to get the liner bead back into the track. You can stretch it back into place but you may need to drop the water level a bit or you may need to pour warm water on the bead to loosen it up. Once it’s back in the track, just push the liner lock into place and you may never have this problem again.
You have purchased a pool liner, which is a big investment. You have now decided to purchase a safety cover to extend the life of your liner and protect your pool. Your next decision is whether you are going to install the cover yourself or hire a pool professional to do the job for you.
Installing Safety Covers is Not a Weekend Project!
Many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing a safety cover online and attempting to install the cover themselves. While buying a safety cover from an internet-based company may seem like a good idea, the benefits of professional installation will long outweigh any perceived benefits of an internet-bought safety cover.
Installing swimming pool safety covers is not a simple task, and patching misplaced holes in your deck can be time consuming and ruin the look of your pool. In the photo below, you can see what might happen if you purchase an oversized rectangle cover and install it on a custom shaped pool.
In order to maintain the safest and most visually appealing installation, it is essential that you bring in a pool professional to accurately measure and install your safety cover. A liner is a big investment, and you want it to last as long as it can. A professional safety cover installation will not only maximize the life of your pool liner, but ensure a beautiful pool for years to come.
Click here for more information on safety covers.
Every pool dealer has their own “best” method for winterizing vinyl liner pools. It varies greatly by region, so I recommend going with whatever method your local dealer uses. While there are several different types of Winterizing Kits, I think it’s always best to winterize without chlorine if you can. Algaecide is not really necessary when winterizing your pool given that algae does not grow when the water is below 60 degrees or so anyway. Also, remember that ph is the most critical issue of all, so be sure to close the pool with the ph at 7.2 or higher.
There are a few things that you don’t want to do. The following information comes from a vinyl liner manufacturer.
WINTERIZING THE POOL
- Never add chemicals directly to the pool! Dilute them first in a bucket of water and add them to the pool by pouring them into the skimmer, while the circulation system is on.
- Circulate the pool water for a full 24 hours after the final addition of the chemicals. Even liquid chlorine can concentrate in the deep end and cause bleaching of the liner.
- The chlorine level should not exceed 2.5 ppm.
- Do not lower the water below the skimmer. Place a gizmo or a weighted plastic milk carton in the skimmer to protect it from freeze damage. Once a pool has been filled with water, the liner begins to lose its stretching properties; therefore the pool should be kept full of water at all times. The water acts as a protector for the liner and holds the liner in its proper position, thus eliminating any re-stretching and drying out of the vinyl. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the winterizing of the pump and filter.
- Use a good fitting winter cover that is sealed around the entire perimeter. An uncovered pool accumulates debris, such as leaves and worms. The debris absorbs the chlorine in the pool, leaving a potential risk for staining or bleaching of the liner.
- Do not use abrasive cleaning aids, i.e: steel wool, sharp bristled brushes, scouring pads, etc. We recommend using alkaline base cleaning agents for cleaning the area above the water line. Acid base chemicals can leave a residue which causes the vinyl to fade out.
How can I prevent my pool liner from having discoloration, deterioration and “dry rot” above the water line?
We recently had a homeowner ask a question in response to our blog post, What are the causes of discoloration, deterioration and “dry rot” above the water line on a pool liner?
My pool is doing all three of these and it is only six years old. How can I prevent this from happening again?
As our blog article states:
There are three main contributors to this problem: chemical attack, high temperatures and UV rays. However, the UV resistant characteristics of pool vinyl are excellent and the UV rays themselves do not present a significant problem.
Clean your pool often by taking a soft cloth and rinse the contaminates from the vinyl using the pool water. Substances such as body oil, sun tan lotion, baby oil, etc., will collect at the water line. These substances, when exposed to the sun and the high temperate that can be found just above the water lines, will oftentimes turn brown and can be very difficult to remove from the vinyl.
We should have added that chemical attack means high chlorine and/or a low ph. The two things you can do here are to not over chlorinate and to keep your ph at 7.2 or higher. These are the two most critical things you can do to prevent dry rot.
The other issue is high temperatures. Your pool vinyl is not intended for use over 80 degrees. On the hottest summer days, you can direct your return nozzles up so that the water shoots up out of the pool. This will cool the water overnight. If you have a heater, don’t set it too high.
I would also add that covering your pool during the off season can significantly increase the life of the liner since it’s out of the sun and without chlorine for much of the year. I think this is why liners always last longer in NY than they do in Texas.
I would also add that this homeowner’s liner made it six years and the average life is seven. It failed a little earlier than expected, but not by that much.
Hope this helps!
This is a friendly reminder from McEwen Industries to take care of your vinyl pool liner throughout the summer.
Always maintain a proper water balance. pH should fall in the 7.2 – 7.6 range, total alkalinity should be at 100-150 ppm, and calcium hardness should be a 200 ppm minimum.
Avoid allowing your pH to drop below 7.0. This can cause your liner to form wrinkles.
Remember to maintain free chlorine residual between 1.0 and 1.5 ppm. If free chlorine drifts below 1.0 ppm, algae and bacterial growth can hold more easily and may cause staining of the vinyl liner. Chlorine is quickly absorbed by sunlight. For this reason, it is recommended that all vinyl swimming pools be stabilized with cyanuric acid and that a range of 25-100 ppm be maintained.
Have a safe and happy summer!