Pool owners in need of a replacement liner often wonder when the best time is to replace and install their new pool liner.
If you choose to replace your liner in the spring, the key is to pick your day carefully. It has to be warm outside, but the sun also has to be shining. It is the sun beating down on the vinyl on a warm day that loosens it up and allows the material to vacuum into place properly.
We used to suggest installing liners on a day no cooler than 60 degrees and sunny for 20 mil liners. Today, we suggest 70 degrees and sunny for 27 mil liners.
If you choose to change your liner in the fall, your pool will be ready to go on the first day of spring. This prevents any waiting in the spring to get on anyone else’s schedule or for the weather to break.
There can be many contributing factors that lead to the fading of your liner. All of those factors can be grouped under the heading of chemical attack, however the leading cause is simply over chlorinating. Just as excessive use of bleach will fade your clothes, over chlorinating of your pool water will greatly accelerate the fading of your liner.
From the vinyl’s standpoint, any chlorine level above 3 PPM will accelerate the fading process. The use of a chlorine based sanitizing system is going to bleach your liner, there is no way around that. The higher the active chlorine level, the quicker the fading will occur. Be especially careful when shocking, closing or opening the pool. It is critical that you circulate the water for a minimum of 72 hours after any of these procedures. The average shock treatment is going to bring the chlorine level of your water to at least 25 PPM and as high as 50 PPM. The specific gravity of the chlorine is higher (weighs more) than that of the water. It is therefore critical that you circulate your water long enough to insure that the chlorine will not settle out of the water and concentrate in the deepest part of the pool. It is also important that you do not cover your pool for at least 24 hours after one of these treatments. The covering of the pool will greatly restrict the chlorine’s ability to dissipate, thereby greatly increasing the likelihood of damage.
Our experience has shown that of all the sanitizing systems, Trichloroisocyanuric acid has the greatest potential to bleach a vinyl liner. Alkaline sanitizers (Hydochlorite) are much more vinyl friendly and just as effective. No matter what system you use, always use the minimum amount of chemical that will get the job done.
Remember: Less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl lined pool.
*The information provided comes from one of our liner manufacturers.
What are the causes of discoloration, deterioration and “dry rot” above the water line on a pool liner?
In most cases, these three problems are different stages of the same phenomenon. The causes of these problems are many and varied, but have a universal theme. In most cases, the discoloration (usually brown), the deterioration (stiffening of the vinyl) and then the complete failure of the vinyl, commonly referred to as “dry rotting,” is due to the extraction of the plasticizers and stabilizers from the vinyl. (Plasticizer is the additive which gives the vinyl its flexibility; stabilizers give the vinyl its high temperature stability.) Under normal circumstances, the volatility of these additives is very low and the vinyl will maintain its physical characteristics for many years.
Experience has taught us that under certain circumstances the area above the water line can begin to deteriorate very quickly. 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.
* The information provided comes from a vinyl manufacturer.
We do not recommend using floating chlorine dispensers in inground liner pools. They are great until they get caught in the step or skimmer area or sink to the floor of the pool, laying chlorine right onto the vinyl.
Below, you can see the chlorine damage to a vinyl liner caused by a floating chlorine dispenser.
To the left is another example of chlorine damage from a floating chlorine dispenser. The floating chlorinator got caught under the solar cover against the wall and bleached the liner.
We recommend always introducing chlorine into the water though the skimmer or automatic feeder. Be careful with your vinyl and don’t ever put chemicals directly in the pool or in a floating chlorine dispenser.
Do you automatically adjust the “shrink factor” on your pool liners during the colder months so that I get a full cut liner with less stretch? If not, can I request a “winter cut”?
When we make a pool liner, we create a drawing that shows the dimensions of your swimming pool. In the design process, we reduce certain dimensions to provide for just enough stretch so that the liner will fit without wrinkles, but also without stretching the vinyl too much.
Those of us who make the best liners and who are most confident in our ability to make great fitting liners use minimal shrink factors. This is why good measurements are so critical and why you should always pay a pool professional to measure your swimming pool. We do not adjust the length and width so that your liner will have the same perimeter as your pool. Most of the time we only adjust the depth dimensions by a few inches to provide the proper amount of stretch. We will also occasionally adjust the slope dimensions as needed.
This is how we make “full cut” liners that fit so well. We do this year round. In the old days, some manufacturers would make a “full cut” pool liner only in the cooler months. In the summertime, they would shrink the dimensions more than normal, maybe even shrinking the length and width. They knew that the hot summer sun would loosen up the vinyl, kind of like warm butter, and help it stretch into place.
Today, we make a “full cut” liner year-round, even on the hottest summer days. No adjustments are necessary based on the season.
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:
TERMITES AND ANTS
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.
We often hear pool owners question whether they should be able to see the seams in their liner.
The answer is yes. Every liner has seams, at least every six feet, and they are more visible on some patterns than on others. In the old days, when all patterns were on blue base film, you could not really see the seams since there was less ink coverage. Today, when most all patterns are on white base film, the seams are more visible, but the less ink there is, the less noticeable they are.
We advise that you wait until the pool is filled before you worry about the seams. While they are always there, they are much less noticeable under three feet of water.
The liner pictured below (pattern: Robertson) is a good example of visible liner seams on a properly manufactured liner. The seams on the floor are barely visible. The vertical seam is razor thin, perfectly straight and the tile is matched almost perfectly at the top.
Bottom of pool (below):
Pictured below is Morrison, one of our most popular patterns. If you look closely, you can see two liner seams in the shallow end of the pool. The Morrison pattern has one of the most visible liner seams out of all of our patterns. That being said, you will notice that the seams are barely visible, especially if standing 10 feet away and if the pool is filled with water.
In the picture below, you can see a seam across the bottom of an unfilled pool (pattern: McDowell).
Below, we present you with the McDowell pattern again in a pool completely filled with water. From this viewpoint, it is impossible to notice any liner seams.
Pictured below are two more examples of highly visible liner seams on properly installed pool liners.
Homeowners often ask if there is any difference between a replacement vinyl liner and a liner installed with new pool kits.
There is no difference between a liner that is made as a replacement and a liner that ships with a new pool. The materials and method of manufacturing are identical.
We make liners every day for both new and existing pools and we never ask the dealer if the order is for a new or existing pool.
As for the thickness of the material, you can order a 20 mil liner or a 27 mil liner for either a new or existing pool. Both are available; it just depends on the pattern or thickness you choose. For our comments on which material to choose, read further: Which liner thickness should you choose?
We recently had a homeowner ask us the following question: If given the model number, can you match a pool liner pattern to a Foxx pool?
This is a great question. We do have standard drawings for Foxx brand pools and we make them every day. We cannot use the model number, but we can use the drawing number if you have that. Give us whatever information you have, and we will be happy to locate a drawing if we can.
In the same way, we actually have hundreds of drawings for pools by most manufacturers dating all the way back to the 1960s. The problem is, how do you know if your pool was built to the plan? This is especially true with Kidneys, Lazy Ells and Freeform shapes. The length and width may match, but what about the size of the radius turns? Even on a rectangle pool, you have to check diagonals to make sure that the pool was built square.
Another problem is that years ago, we made liners by hand, and dealers would routinely over dig the pool to make the liner fit tighter. Today, with auto-cad technology, we make liners with very little “shrink” factor. Even if a stock liner fit years ago, that does not necessarily mean that it will fit today.
We often tell our dealers that the fastest way to lose a few thousand dollars is to order a liner per an original drawing without taking your own measurements. This often entails using the AB method to triangulate the perimeter.
The original drawing can be a good reference tool, but don’t order by it. If you do, you may be looking at liner wrinkles in your backyard for the next seven years. Always pay your local pool professional his fee to measure your pool and be responsible for getting you a liner that fits properly.
Here’s a question that just came up today. One of our dealer’s reported that a homeowner’s pool turned green with algae in August, so he added algaecide. All the algae turned brown and fell to the floor, like it is supposed to, but when he vacuumed it up he had brown stains left in certain areas. The stains are the same light brown color as the dead algae but appear to be glued to the liner and are rough to the touch. He tried scrubbing and rubbing, but nothing would remove these stains. As soon as I saw the photo (see below) it confirmed what I suspected. Pool Goo or Pool Tar. I recognized it because the same thing happened to my dad’s pool a few years ago.
The good news is that “pool tar” is not a big problem. It will resolve itself given time. As you can read below in a report from a vinyl manufacturer, plasticizer has come out of the vinyl. It is a sticky, gooey substance that attracts whatever dirt is in the pool and over time, under normal operation, the material is re-absorbed into the vinyl and the stains appear to vanish. I think it may have taken six months to clear up on my dad’s liner, but it does go away. I usually hear about this showing up when the pool is opened in the spring. That makes a lot of sense in that most winterizing kits contain algaecide, and that combined with a high chlorine level seems to create the problem. Do not try to remove the stain aggressively; this may permanently damage the liner. Just give it time.
* The following article comes from the Technical Manual of Canadian General-Tower Limited, a manufacturer of the vinyl sheet used to make pool liners.
Sticky Substances on Vinyl Liner commonly referred to as “Pool Tar” or “Pool Goo”
The consensus in the pool industry is that there are several sources of sticky substances, often referred to as “pool goo” or “pool tar” that adhere to and coat portions of the vinyl pool liner.
Some of these sources are:
1. Algaecide-humate or Quat-humate formed from the interaction of quaternary ammonum compound used in some algaecides and decaying organic material such as leaves, grass, insects, etc.
2. Interaction of quat algaecides with other substances. Even chlorine can interact with quats to form sticky material if both chlorine and algaecide exceed the recommended dosage levels. Quats can easily come in contact with high chlorine levels in automatic chlorinators, resulting in a gummy material gradually being fed into the pool, where it eventually precipitates on the liner. Many quat containers are labelled with cautionary notes warning against mixing with pool water having high chlorine concentrations.
3. Chlorinator goo can form when organic material from cosmetics, tanning lotions, etc. are oxidized by high chlorine concentrations resulting in a beige, waxy material.
4. A light coating of vinyl plasticizer may exude to the surface of newly installed liners during the first idle period of winterization. This material is clear and only turns dark if contaminated with dirt. It is attributed to lack of circulation, since it has never been observed in a pool that has been circulated over the winter. It will almost always re-absorb in two or three weeks if the water is allowed to warm up and is circulated and shocked with chlorine every couple of days. The problem is not known to occur more than once in the life of a liner and always the first time the pool is re-opened after winterization.
5. Pool scum is a ring that forms aroudn the pool at the water line and is made up of soil, contaminants from suntan lotion, environmental pollution, and organic materials from bather load, etc.
The following procedure has been recommended by experts in the pool industry as being effective in eliminating “pool goo” or “pool tar” problems.
1. Stop using quaternary algaecides.
2. Reduce and maintain pH at 7.0 – 7.2.
3. Superchlorinate every other day to 6.0 – 8.0 ppm.
4. Use heater to speed up warming of water, if available.
5. Continue to circulate water and monitor pressure on filter.
6. Backwash filter as often as required.