No matter what the manufacturers say or savvy pool installers tell you, vinyl pool liners are never to be reused. Once a vinyl pool is drained, even if just for a day then it’s already time to replace the entire thing.
What happens to pool vinyl liners?
Once pool vinyl liners dry out, they turn brittle and they start to deform. This happens because vinyl liners have plasticizers in them that will initially allow them to stretch when first installed. After prolonged UV exposure and pool chemical exposure from daily use, these plasticizers will essentially be released from the liner. Even in a period as short as six months (so NEVER drain a vinyl pool unless you’re planning to replace the liner) the vinyl is no longer as pliable as it was when it was first installed.
But my vinyl liner still looks okay!
Even if your vinyl liner seems alright after draining the pool. The risk of the vinyl line failing completely is not worth it. Remember, there are weak points that may not be visible and they can be actually the main points of failure. What are these points? There’s your coping (where they’re secured to the ground), you also have your cuts and holes where they’re attached to the skimmers and return jet, basically any location in your vinyl liner that’s attached to anything else.
Vinyl failure can lead to leaks, small at first but will grow worse over time in the best case scenario. Worst case scenario? A total failure that can turn a seemingly well functioning pool into a disaster!
If they’re so delicate how do they work?
Well, the simple fact is, as long as vinyl pools aren’t drained, the weight and the moisture of the water is holding the vinyl liner in place! Even if the liner is no longer pliable, the water prevents the vinyl from shifting and moving, so even if it’s not as pliable as when it was first installed, they’re at no risk from failure.
Can I move my vinyl liner pool?
Well, no. As we mentioned above, once a vinyl pool is drained then there can already be structural issues with the liner itself. Even if you manage to move your inground pool to somewhere with the exact dimensions, your liner would probably be already creased up and damaged by then! So either you keep your existing vinyl pool where it is, or just consider upgrading to a cement pool. Moving an in-ground vinyl pool really isn’t worth it, it’s basically like installing a new one, or even more expensive depending on the labour involved!
What about vinyl damage or small tears?
The good news is that small tears (from sharp objects or from wear and tear) can easily be repaired with a vinyl patch kit! No need to drain your pool or replace the liner completely. Patch kits are really cheap and they can work underwater, allowing you to fix up small leaks and tears in just a few minutes. The only thing we can say though is that you should always keep a patch kit or two on hand to be able to fix up minor tears before they get worse.
I’m not going to use the vinyl pool for a while!
Even if you’re not going to use the pool, never drain it. Think about it this way. The expenses you’re trying to save in terms of water and pool chemicals is very low when compared to the cost of getting a new vinyl pool liner plus installation!
Signs that you may need to replace your pool vinyl liner
Over time, vinyl pool liners will need to be replaced even if it's being used properly. This is one of the things why many pool builders don't recommend using them unless the budget really leaves no other choice. Here are the signs to look out for that may indicate that it's time, to replace your pool's vinyl liner:
- Fittings starting to become loose - this is a sure sign that your vinyl is wrinkling, slipping, or stretching too much. There's nothing really to be done to repair this.
- Leaking - If you can't find the tear or your pool is losing water at an alarming rate, then it may be time to replace the pool vinyl liner.
- Cracking - Unlike tearing caused by sharp objects or accidents, pool vinyl liner cracking is a systemic issue that indicates that the liner is nearing the end of its lifecycle.
- Staining - While this isn't a structural issue, many pool owners will opt to change their vinyl liners when thhere's significant staining or discoloration. Why? Aesthetically speaking, swimming in a pool with a faded or discolored liner isn't as refreshing or enjoyable as one that's blue or has crystal clear water!
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Happy swimming :)