Why is there a sticky substance on my vinyl liner and how do I get rid of it?

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.

Robert

pool-goo-pool-tar

 

* 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.

poolgoo

Can I install a vinyl liner in my concrete/gunite pool?

If you own a concrete inground pool and are wondering if it is possible to install a vinyl liner in your pool, the answer is yes, but we don’t suggest it.

Installing a vinyl liner is perhaps the most inexpensive way to fix a leaking concrete inground pool, but converting a beautiful concrete pool into a liner type pool should be the last resort.  We encourage you to repair your concrete pool if you can.

If you decide you must convert your pool, it requires accurately measuring the pool for a liner, installing a bead receiver around the perimeter and then converting the skimmer and other fittings to the liner type that have faceplates and gaskets.

The difficulty of the conversion depends on the internal shape of the pool, whether the contours in the floor are rounded or sharp, and if you have internal steps or other obstacles.

Every job is different so depend on your local pool contractor to advise if your particular installation is a good candidate for a conversion.

Liner wrinkles from rain water

It has rained all season long, your backyard oasis has turned into a pile of mush, and the rain has caused the one thing pool owners don’t want to see – liner wrinkles.

There are two issues here:  how to get rid of the wrinkles, and how to keep this from happening again.

Wrinkles can be caused by ground water, but if the liner looks “pruned,” the wrinkles are most likely due to water absorption. The debate is why did the vinyl absorb water? Is it improper chemical balance or is the material in your particular liner less resistant to absorption than it should be? With a pruned liner, you should always make a warranty claim and see if the manufacturer knows of a any material issue around the time your liner was made, We will talk more about water absorption in another post…

photoDuring periods of heavy rain, if the water level in the ground becomes higher than the water level in the pool, the liner will float.  When the ground water recedes, the liner comes back down.  If there is no vacuum on, the liner will stretch back into place unevenly, creating wrinkles in some areas and a tight stretch in others.  Usually the wrinkles are in the shallow end.

The solution is to drain the water about one foot back down the slope to the deep end, below the floor in the shallow end.  Pull the material back up into place in the shallow end, turn on a vacuum blower (just like during the initial installation) and refill the pool.

There are all kinds of ways to get in trouble here, so this is definitely a job for your pool professional.  If the ground is still saturated with water, the pool walls may collapse under the extra weight.  You may need to wait for drier conditions before attempting to re-seat the liner.  If the liner is more than a few years old, it may be brittle and may rip when you try to get it back in place.  The liner could also tear away from the face plates around the steps and skimmers.

The bottom line:  It is probably a simple and inexpensive fix.  Your contractor just drains some water, re-seats the liner and fills it back up.  Be aware that the liner may fail during the process, but if the liner is more than seven years old, it is about time to replace it anyway.

The second question is how to keep the liner from floating again when you have the next big rain.  You may need to install drains to carry water away from the pool area, or you may want to install a well point and pump to take care of the underground water.  Or you may just decide that this is a once every 10 year event that you can live with.

We have provided several pictures of liners that floated as a result of excess rain water.  You can see the liner wrinkles caused by the floating.

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floating liner 1

 floating liner 2

Solid color pool liner walls between the tile and floor

When homeowners visit our website, www.mcewenindustries.com, they often wonder if the liner pattern pictures they are viewing are true to life of the actual vinyl material.

All of our liners today have the floor pattern coming all the way up the sidewall to the bottom of the tile.  When you look at the pictures of our patterns on our website or on our pattern chart, that’s exactly what you will see in the pool.  Homeowners who purchased liners from McEwen Industries several years back may have purchased a pattern that had a solid blue or white sidewall in between the floor and the tile border.

Today, all of those patterns that had the solid color sidewall have been discontinued in response to consumer preference.  As we started offering more and more patterns with the floor pattern coming up to the tile, the solid color sidewall patterns just dropped in popularity.

Another reason the solid color sidewall patterns were discontinued was that the solid sidewall would sometimes get stretched onto the floor during installation, resulting in a messy appearance.  With the floor pattern coming all the way up to the tile, that’s no longer a concern.

Visit our website and check out our liner patterns – what you see is what you get.

Which pool liner thickness should you choose?

Oftentimes people ask us which liner material is “better:” the 20 mil or the 27 mil?

In reality, there is no “better” liner.  The most important choice is not the thickness of the material, but the liner pattern that you choose.

Choose the vinyl liner pattern that you like the best.  If it comes in 27 mil at no extra charge, take it, but don’t pay extra for it.  You shouldn’t pass on your first pattern choice just to get the thicker material.  In our opinion, there is no meaningful advantage to thicker material.  There is no difference in wear, durability, longevity or warranty.

Liners fail for two reasons.  The ink fades or the material dry rots above the waterline.  Thicker material solves neither of these problems.

Most importantly, choose a vinyl liner pattern that speaks to you.  You are going to be looking at that pattern in your backyard for at least the next seven years.  Ultimately, the pattern you choose should outweigh the thickness of your liner material.  It is what you think looks the best that matters.

Welcome!

Here at McEwen Industries, we are always searching for new ways to educate our dealers and consumers about issues in the inground pool liner industry.  We have developed this blog as an interactive forum between our company, our dealers, and current and prospective pool owners – a place to discover and discuss hints and tips regarding inground pool liners.

McEwen Industries supplies quality pool products to professionals in the swimming pool industry.  While we love working with swimming pool dealers, we look forward to sharing our pool liner knowledge to those not in the industry.  Within this blog, we will concentrate on the homeowners looking to purchase a vinyl pool liner or homeowners looking for tips to maintain or replace their current pool liner.  We take pride in our extensive swimming pool knowledge and expertise, and we want you to be in the know as well.

Please stop by from time to time to check out our latest post.  We will continually update our blog and keep it swimming with an abundance of useful information.  We appreciate your interest in inground pool liners and look forward to keeping you updated.

Please feel free to leave comments and ask us any questions that you might have.

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