Replacing your pool liner has a cost. This is probably what makes you hesitate. Be aware, however, that waiting can cause you more damage than you think. Over time, a damaged liner will require more repairs, which will significantly increase the final bill. So when to change your liner: when is it essential and how to prolong the life of the new liner you are about to install?
Cracking of your liner
One of the most obvious signs that a pool liner needs replacing is when it begins to crack and tear. Over time, liners – which are PVC pool coatings – deteriorate both from UV radiation from the sun and from chemicals poured into the pool for its maintenance. This can make the liner brittle. When your pool liner becomes brittle, it begins to crack and tear much more easily, which then leads to water leaking into your pool. These types of cracks usually form on or very close to the surface of the water, as they are the most common type of UV damage. If you notice your pool liner starting to crack or tear around the waterline, chances are you will need to replace it in the very near future.
Just because your pool liner has a small leak doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace it. Some can be repaired with special kits. On the other hand, if you notice that several cracks are forming in the same place, or if tears continue to appear all over the pool, you absolutely must replace your liner as soon as you can.
Not all cracks and tears are easy to spot, especially if they are below the surface of the water. That’s why it’s a good idea to monitor how much water your pool is losing, especially if your liner is over 10 years old. If you think your pool might be losing water due to leaks, you can perform a simple test to find out for sure. Simply place a bucket on the entrance steps to your pool and fill it with water to the same level as your pool water. Water in the bucket will evaporate at the same rate as in the pool, giving you a way to see if the pool is losing water in some way other than evaporation. After a few days, check the water level in the bucket against the water level in your pool. If the water level is lower in your pool than in the bucket, you have a leak; otherwise, the water you lose is purely due to evaporation.
Whitening your liner
Another sign of UV and chemical damage is discoloration. While most pool liners today are resistant to UV bleaching, not all are. Over time, the liner’s colored finish begins to fade, and with it the plastic elements that make your liner springy. It is the deterioration of these elements that makes pool liners brittle, meaning that a discolored liner is a sign that it is becoming brittle and will likely soon begin to crack or tear. So if you notice that your liner is very discolored, check regularly for any cracks or tears and do the bucket test to check for potential leaks.
Wrinkling of your liner
In some cases, your pool liner may begin to wrinkle after installation. If you notice that your liner is starting to slip off your pool’s top rail, you can try putting it back in place. To do this, first heat the liner with hot water to make it more flexible, then try to lift and place it correctly. If it does not return or the problem persists, replace your pool liner as soon as possible. In this specific case where the liner reveals creases, the problem is difficult to solve. It usually gets worse over time, so replacement is the only option.
When is the best time to replace your pool liner?
Generally speaking, fall and spring are the best times to replace your pool liner. The process of replacing a pool liner usually takes at least 2-3 weeks. Replacing your liner in the fall or spring means you can still enjoy a full, uninterrupted swimming season. Pool stores will generally have better deals during these months, as they are not as busy as during peak pool season. If you plan to replace your liner in the spring, it’s important to start the process early. Most people looking to replace their pool liner in the spring begin their buying process in March or April. By then, however, many pool professionals have already scheduled a number of liner replacements and cannot install them until mid-summer. To make sure you get your liner replaced before the start of swimming season, make a decision as soon as possible, no later than the end of January.
How long do pool liners normally last?
Most pool liners today have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. However, several factors can increase or decrease this lifespan. For example, poorly balanced water can considerably reduce the life of your liner. Low pH or alkalinity can cause creases to appear. Or if your liner isn’t the right size, it won’t last as long.
How to extend the life of your pool liner?
Balance your water. Keeping your water balanced slows the natural deterioration of your pool liner surface. A good water balance also keeps the surface soft and supple so it doesn’t crack too easily. Of course, make sure you buy the right size liner. Correct small leaks immediately. When the liners leak, water enters behind them, rusting the metal structure behind. And, you let it leak too long, it damages the concrete bottom of the pool. The longer you wait to fix a small leak, the more likely your pool’s structure will be damaged. You also run the risk of a small tear becoming a large tear. Finally, always use protection for the winter: cover your pool. Not only does this prevent debris from entering your pool, but it also protects your liner from the sun’s rays.