How do I know when to replace my pool liner?

Vinyl liners are used in most swimming pools on the consumer market today, because of its several benefits in use. In most cases, when one wants such a pool type, they often have to make an informed decision. This means that you have to consider various potential problems associated with using such a structure.

Vinyl pool liners are not of the same quality as in the past. Going back a generation or two, vinyl liners could last for well over two decades. However, good luck getting anywhere near to that king of lifespan with a pool liner which was produced recently.

So, what exactly happened? Is it just because of a throw-away habit, whereby products are made to be as affordable as possible? Well, yes, but also because pool liners are not what they used to be – and this might be good.

How is This Good?

If you want to improve the longevity of your pool liner, you might have to add some chemicals to the vinyl, which are not suitable for human life. In the past, vinyl liners used to have more chemical additives than the liners made today. These additives not only increased the longevity of the pool liner but with a significant compromise. it’s at the expense of the safety of the water and people who use it.

It’s a complicated subject, which you should consult your doctor about, and not a resident pol user. As far as using the pool goes, several chemicals are used in making vinyl sheet products. Usually, these products are heavily regulated.

This guide goes in-depth into some of the top pool liner problems and the proper solutions for the same.

Common Inground Pool Liner Problems

Wrinkles in Vinyl Layers

Most pool experts will tell you that poor water chemistry can easily compromise the quality of a vinyl liner. The most common vinyl liner problem would be the “pH wrinkles,” which occur as sudden and permanent wrinkles all across the pool. The wrinkles occur due to the chemical changes in the vinyl material used to make the liner. Thus, this causes the pool liner to absorb more water than normal.

Then, the physical size of the pool liner increases. Remember that the pool liner is designed to fit the pool, and the weight of the water stops the liner from shifting. As a result, wrinkles form in response to the increased size of the pool liner. The main issue with this is that once the wrinkles occur, they are difficult to remove, and the pool liner is the only solution.

Causes of Pool Liner Wrinkles

Low pH – this has conventionally been the leading cause of permanent wrinkles in pool liner materials, due to the ever-increasing levels of water absorption. However, even if the pH slips below 7.0, you can always adjust it back to normal levels. The main issue occurs when there are sustained levels of high acidic pH, which can cause significant pool damage. If the pH level decreases significantly, then it’s likely that wrinkles will form around the liner.

High sanitizer – using high levels of sanitizer can also compromise the chemical structure of vinyl liner materials. In fact, sanitizer can cause changes that lead to the absorption of more water. Similar to the wrinkles that occur due to low pH, water absorption caused by high sanitizer levels will not reduce once you address the water chemistry problem.


The good thing is that wrinkles like this won’t occur, especially if the pool pH levels are correct. Usually, the wrinkles occur when the pool liner temporarily floats, especially when there is water under the liner. The water might come from elevated groundwater tables that are close to the pool, or even a leak in the pool structure.

Ugly Steps and Benches

The main issue with vinyl liner pools relates to their design aesthetics. Why? Many consumers complain that these pools look cheap, and this is often true with the conventional pool liner.

More so, this is why this guide focuses on the techniques of preventing a pool liner from appearing cheap. There are specific steps that can help solve this issue. Usually, the steps and benches on pool liners are made using white plastic. The benefit of using plastic is that it has a durable structure but often does not match well with colored liners.

Also, the benches and steps usually have a 3-5-inch-wide lip that fits flush to the top of the patio. Thus, this might make them conspicuous from different angles. However, this might appear unsightly, primarily if you invest lots of money into a patio.


As of recently, a significant number of builders are using the “vinyl overstep” method. It’s an approach that involves placing benches and steps into the structure of a wall panel. Then you have to cover it using a vinyl liner for convenience. Even though this approach has a lot of costs, it improves the color uniformity of your pool. This way, the pool becomes fully functional and appealing.

Ugly Coping

In most liners fpr pools, the coping structure usually features an aluminum C-track. The reason why it’s popular is because it’s simple to install, and also makes it easy to pour concrete. However, the issue with this is it leaves a white rim around the edge of the pool, which can be somewhat unsightly. More so, it might appear unappealing, mainly because the color clash is usually noticeable, and can compromise the appeal of your project.


There are two leading solutions you can consider when you want to remove an ugly coping on your liner pool. The first is that you can pour a cantilever concrete edge. While this approach is not easy to use, the aesthetic difference is night and day, when you contrast it to the structure of the aluminum coping.

Another option is to use a brick or paver coping structure. Again, this technique is costly, but looks appealing, and will easily enhance the design of your swimming pool.

Metal vs. Polymer Walls

In the past, most, if not all, vinyl liner structures were developed using woods. Just as you can imagine, this approach was not practical, as it only served as a short-term solution.

With the average lifespan of wood material being 13-15 years, most companies started making metal walls as an alternative. The newer materials included galvanized steel panels and alloys, which offered many benefits over wood.

That said, the main issue with metal is that it tends to oxide over time, especially when you leave it in the ground for many years. Such an effect increases, especially with the surge in saltwater pools across the world.

There is no denying it – every vinyl liner will experience wear and tear at some point. Thus, the pool water makes contact with the panel structure of the pool, which can lead to various issues. The leaks and drips might occur in sections where the liner has been cut. Sections such as the skimmers and return fittings prove to become key problem areas at such a point.

How does a metal panel react to constant exposure to salts and water over time? Well, aside from rusting, the metal material also degrades. If it oxides all the way through, it may become a significant problem to repair.


A significant number of vinyl companies are opting for polymer wall panels, as the main structure for pools. It’s a highly effective approach of construction because these panels are almost entirely “damage resistant.” You are sure of years of reliable performance with vinyl liners, and they are also easier to manage than metal products.

Liner Longevity

Perhaps the most significant concern for most pool owners face when buying a vinyl liner relates to the longevity of the material. It’s important because the average liner replacement process, especially when done professionally, is costly. More so, the average lifespan of vinyl liner averages at ten years, but there are certainly cases where it might last for less. The most significant factor to consider is to invest in vinyl products from renowned service provider.


While the information on improving the lifespan is endless, consider these key mentions:

  • The correct maintenance of the water chemistry

  • The correct installation of the liner by the builder. A significant number of people might overlook this perspective.

  • The type of water sanitizer used. High levels of chlorine are likely to damage the quality of liner. This is why salt and non-chlorine systems are much easier on the structure of your pool liner

Floating Liner

In areas that have high water tables, the water pressure is likely to cause the pool liner to float. When it happens, the pool liner might have an inflated appearance, and with the consistency of a water bed when you walk on it. Usually, such an issue won’t necessarily damage the pool liner, but might lead to wrinkles in the pool liner. Such a problem might be exacerbated when the water level recedes, and the pool liner becomes more exposed.


To fix the Groundwater issue

Get a dewatering system and place it around the pool. This will help ensure the groundwater around the pool stays at a minimum. Plus, it will also help ensure the liner never floats again.

Drain the Pool and Set the Liner

However, this is a delicate process. If the pool still has some groundwater, it could easily make things a mess. Also, remember that liners that have been in use for many years are likely to become very frail fast. Thus, it’s best if you leave this process to people who have experience in using vinyl liners.


Your inground pool is a good investment, and you need to take care of it correctly to ensure the best results. This guide identifies some of the leading inground pool liner problems you should consider. Once you can target these problems, you will find it easy to improve the longevity of your pool. While this list is not exhaustive, it goes in-depth into some of the leading pool problems you should consider. Taking all these issues into perspective will make it easy to manage your pool, and also help you save up on cash for your needs.