The wrinkles and creases in vinyl swimming pool liners look unsightly and can cause problems to the floor and wall lining.
Written by and published with kind permission of Rob Cox (www.poolcenter.com)
Wrinkles and creases in your vinyl liner are not pretty to look at, and also causes some vinyl liner performance issues.
Wrinkles in a pool liners can create problems such as:
- Trapping dirt against the folds.
- Making of holes from vacuum brushes, and cleaners snagging the fold.
- It weakens the area that has folded.
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Causes of folds and liner wrinkles:
Here are some of the causes that create wrinkles in your swimming pool liner, and what you may do to solve the problem.
Pool liner wrinkles can be produced by chemicals:
If you keep your pool chlorine level consistently high, or your pool pH level consistently low
Pool liner wrinkles and creases
you could develop puckering in your swimming pool liner. It can be a localised problem, more often due to chlorine coming in direct contact with the liner, or it can be widespread. this is often accompanied by a lightening or bleaching of the vinyl. These are not good signs, and I can offer no solution, other than reducing your daily chlorine levels, and using caution while shocking the pool. Unfortunately, this type of liner wrinkle cannot be reversed, or easily removed. High chlorine and low pH can be very corrosive, and it literally sucks the plasticiser from the vinyl, causing the liner to contract and pucker. Pool owners need to keep there pool water continuously in balance even through the winter as when it comes to summerising the pool water balance is often out.
Pool liner wrinkles can be a consequence of underground water behind the liner:
An unfortunate situation, caused by a rising water table or water finding it’s way in behind the pool liner, with no means of topographical escape for the water pressure beneath the pool. Hydro-static pressure can be so great in rare situations, that it can lift a concrete pool out of the ground – and it can much more easily push up a vinyl liner. It will appear as a bump under the liner, (see image right), like a giant air bubble. When the water table recedes, the liner will come back down to meet the floor or wall, without wrinkles – if you’re lucky. In many cases, however, the liner wrinkles as the water table drops and the liner comes back into place.
To fix this situation, look toward managing the run-off from the surrounding area of the pool. Gutter and down pipe run-off into a soak-away from the roofs is always suspect, so look to redirecting the water coming from these and the downspouts – away from the pool. In some cases, the necessary alterations to the landscape and topography surrounding your pool can be severe to correct the situation. Usually, however, some minor corrections can be made to keep ground water from coming to rest up against the pool.
Pool wrinkles in a pool liner, an after-effect of liner “slippage”:
Slippage, (a made-up word from Rob Cox) occurs on above ground pools with overlap liners. If you don’t have enough coping clips to secure the liner (securely) to the top of the pool wall, it can slip down the wall. First creating wall wrinkles, which work their way to the floor eventually.
Pool creases caused by underground erosion:
Not a common cause, but in pools with a soft floor and active underground water, the floor can become distorted, as the base of the pool slips away under the weight of the pool. In some cases, a high water table leads to a liquefaction of the subsoil beneath the pool, producing all sorts of strange designs on the pool liners. Wrinkles in this case are accompanied by low depressed areas. Hard to keep clean, and the pool floor is ugly to look. at
Pool wrinkles are also an inevitable result of water loss:
When the water gets below 6″ on the pool floor, the liner begins to relax, away from the walls. If your pool loses more water, to the floor – the entire liner will relax wrinkle shrink and will set in. The water loss can be accidental, in the case of a leak – or it can be drained intentionally, to correct poor water conditions. In either case, when the water gets too low in a vinyl liner pool, some care is needed to re-set the liner to prevent wrinkles. When liners are especially old and brittle, resetting can cause the liner to snap or break. It is best to avoid draining vinyl liner pools, especially when the vinyl is showing some age, to prevent the sometimes unavoidable wrinkles or damage to the pool liner.
Pool liner creases and wrinkles when installing a new liner:
This is the most common type of wrinkle in a pool liner. One cause is when a pool liner ordered is deeper than the pool, or too much additional sand was added while prepping the floor of the pool. A primary cause is poor measurement, especially of the hopper bottom, on in ground vinyl liner pools. When installing in ground liners, and in some cases above ground pool liners, using a vacuum or shop vac is necessary to “set” the liner, or suck it tight against the walls and floor, before filling with water. When this step is missed or mishandled, pool liner wrinkles can result.
Overlap pool liners, and in fact all pool liners, should be just slightly above the floor before filling. The best fit of a new pool liner comes from having the liner stretch into place. Not too much of a stretch, or you risk stress and strain on the pool walls and on the liner. Before filling a pool with a new vinyl liner, you should position the liner so that it is off the floor by just an inch or two.
On oval or rectangular pools, having a “twisted” liner can also result in wrinkles while installing a new liner. Make sure to line up corners or the apex of a radius before filling. If you have diagonal wrinkles on the walls, you need to shift the liner in the opposite direction.
How to avoid wrinkles and creases when installing a new liner:
After a new pool liner is installed and snapped into the liner lock (beaded liners), you should work out any floor wrinkles by “banging” them towards the side of the pool. Use a pool brush or push broom, or your hands to slowly work the wrinkles to the edge of the pool. Do this from up above, on the pool deck, or standing on the outside of the pool.
If you are using a vacuum to set the liner, the trick is to hang over the edge of the pool, shown right, and grab up the pool liner in both hands, giving it firm pulls toward the wall. Work your way around the pool, pulling any floor wrinkles toward the side. You may need to turn the vac off and on, while you work out the wrinkles in the liner, pulling them towards the side. It’s best to do this work from outside of the pool, not inside the pool.
How to remove pool liner wrinkles:
If the pool is already full, try first with your feet. Wearing some soft rubber sole shoes can be helpful, but be careful not to kick the liner too hard. The idea is to spread out the wrinkle, into the surrounding area, or toward the wall, where the slack can be picked up in the area between the wall and the floor.
A homemade tool that I have found helpful is a 2″ pvc coupling on the end of a 4′ piece of 2″ pipe. With this “pusher” tool, or something similar ( careful no sharp edges), you can work out the wrinkles. If the floor is sand, the tool can also be used to push wrinkles down into the floor. Then work the surrounding area to slope toward the slightly depressed area where the wrinkle once was but be careful you don’t puncture the liner or it will need a repair.
A last resort is a risk but by lowering the water level down to just above the floor, removing much of the water weight, can be helpful – it makes the wrinkles easier to move. But again, try not to go too low, or you may risk more wrinkles appearing in your pool liner.
Wrinkles are always easier to remove when the water is warm, and when they haven’t been in place for too long. If the wrinkles have set-in for many months, especially under winter water temps, they may be nearly impossible to remove. Not all wrinkles can be removed. Maybe you can live with the wrinkles and creases for a season or two – if not, you may need to bite the bullet and replace the pool liner.