Typically, above-ground pool owners will wait until the last minute before changing the liner out. Many will put up with a leaking pool, keep finding leaks and patching them, or look at a sagging liner for way too long.
Other people will get a new liner for their above-ground from a minor issue of looks or just do it every few years regardless.
Many times, pool owners won’t know if it’s time to change their liner. As stated above, some wait too long and some don’t wait long enough.
Here are the 11 reasons why an above-ground pool liner needs replacing from most to least common.
Keeps Leaking From Age
This is the most common reason to change out a pool liner. A liner goes trouble-free for a few years or longer, and then the pool starts losing water.
The pool owner finds a leak in it and easily repairs it. A couple of weeks later, the pool is losing water again. The second leak is found and repaired, but a month later, the pool is losing water once again.
Usually, after finding three separate leaks at three different times, the pool owner will realize it’s time for a new liner. Many people won’t know why their pool is starting to get holes in the liner. “It was fine for years but now it keeps getting leaks. Why?”
When vinyl liners get older, they start to get brittle. It might look good and still have its printing, but over the years in the water and exposed to the sun, the material has broken down.
Older, brittle liners should not be limped along and patched again and again. The reason – Because they will only get worse. They will only start leaking more and more. A new liner becomes inevitable.
The only thing that is truly covered under a liner’s manufacturer’s warranty is a seam separation.
Above-ground pool liners are not made from just one piece of vinyl. At the least, the liner will have two pieces but usually has three or more. There is always at least a piece of vinyl for the wall of the pool and a piece or two for the bottom.
Where these pieces of vinyl are fused together, make a seam. And these seams can separate. This is strictly a manufacturer’s defect and not the result of a pool installation.
When a seam(where the two pieces of vinyl are fused together) separates, patching it is only a temporary fix at best. The reason – because the seam will continue to open up and the hole will get bigger and bigger.
When an above-ground pool liner has a seam separation, it must be replaced. Period.
95% of all seam separations will happen within the first couple of weeks of the liner getting installed. This is good because the liner manufacturer will give you a new replacement liner.
They won’t pay for the other cost associated with changing the liner though, but at least you’ll get a new liner for free.
Cannot Find the Leak
It’s not easy to find a leak in an above-ground pool. Some are almost impossible to find.
If you can find the leak in the vinyl, then it’s super easy to patch. Finding it though is the trick. Many times, people will never find the leak in their pool and will have no choice at that point but to replace the whole thing.
Don’t feel too bad if you cannot find the leak in your above-ground pool. I have been working on these for 35 years and cannot find many leaks. So I stopped offering the service of trying to find them because it wasn’t worth it. I couldn’t charge people for looking for their leak but not finding it, so I stopped all together.
If you are looking for a leak in your above ground read this
Physical Trauma to the Pool
Common examples of this are tree branches falling into the pool or a wind storm blowing something big and sharp in the pool and cutting the liner up.
Over the years, I’ve replaced a few liners from gunshots and a cross-bow. I’ve also seen large swimming dogs destroy pool liners and once replaced a liner because a cow fell into a guy’s buried 12×24 oval pool. He had to use his backhoe and a strap to get it out.
Small tears or holes can be easily patched in vinyl above ground pools. Bigger rips and holes usually cannot be successfully patched and the entire liner will need replacement.
Repairing the Pool’s Wall or Bottom
Anyone who works on above-ground pools for even a few years will realize a few things. One of those things is that when a pool has to be drained for any period of time, you have to replace the liner.
Sometimes above ground pool walls need to be repaired for one reason or another. That almost always requires draining the pool and at least peeling back the liner out of the way. If the liner is without water for more than an hour or so OR if the liner is more than two years old, I will recommend replacing it.
There are times when the pool’s bottom will need some fixing and the same thing applies with this. The general rule is (for someone who knows what they are doing) that if the pool has to be drained down all the way for more than a few minutes, then you change the liner.
It really sucks to have to spend extra money for a liner replacement when there was an issue that had nothing to do with it and the liner is perfect, but something sucks even worse than that.
And that is when you have re-filled your pool and it’s now leaking or has horrible wrinkles in it and you wind up draining it AGAIN to this time replace the liner.
The Liner Pattern Bleached Out
No one may really know why some liners will turn white prematurely, but when it happens, some will just replace it.
If their pool isn’t leaking, most won’t replace their liner just because it turned white. Some really like the way a fresh liner looks with its decorative pattern and will replace it when it turns white.
Keeps Coming Out of the Bead Track
This isn’t a common issue, but some beaded liners will pull down and out of the bead channel when they get older.
Newer beaded liners may come out of their tracks because the bead receiver (track) is too wide or has widened over the years. With this, the liner should NOT be replaced because the problem is with the track and not the liner.
Bead channels made of resin usually grab better than those made of metal. There have been many times when I’ve had to add coins in certain areas of the bead track so the liner will stay in.
Some older liners will just stretch out and not want to stay in place anymore. When that happens, it’s time for a new liner. I’m not a fan of getting a beaded type liner. Here’s why.
Taking Down and Moving the Pool
As stated above, when an above-ground pool is emptied for more than just an hour, the liner will need to be replaced. So, when you are taking your pool down to move it, then yeah, it’ll be empty for a while and you’ll need to replace the liner. Period.
Some will disagree with me here. For years, I’ve heard these stories of people successfully re-using their pool liners after moving the pool. And the story is always the same. “ I re-used my pool liner and had no issues at all. There were a couple of wrinkles afterward, but other than that, it was fine”.
This story of re-using a liner is always one told a day or week after the pool goes back up. You never hear about what happens a month later when they decide to replace the liner because it looks horrible and is leaking.
As a professional, I would never even think of installing a pool with a used liner. This is because I’m being paid to do a job correctly and that job should last years because that’s why you are paying a professional. Do you get what I’m saying here?
Wanting a Different Liner Pattern
Some get tired of the way their pool looks and want to give it a facelift. Replacing the liner with a different pattern will most certainly change the way it looks.
I changed a liner last year for a lady who had her grandchildren coming down from up north, so she wanted to have the liner pattern with fish in it.
Waterline Damaged From the Pool Not Running for a Long Time
If a pool doesn’t run or have any chemicals put in it for a long time, the water will eventually turn black (or some dark green color that looks black). And when the water turns like a lake, the water’s surface will deposit all kinds of things onto the waterline of the liner.
If not cleaned for a long time, the liner at the waterline will be permanently discolored and look very ugly. Some will change the liner for this reason.
Selling the House
Every year, I install at least a couple of liners because the pool owners are selling the house and want the pool to look good and not have any issues.
Most of the time when people change a liner because they are selling the house, they buy the cheapest liner they can. Something to keep in mind if you are buying a house with an above-ground pool that has a new liner.
WHEN IN DOUBT, REPLACE THE LINER
Your pool should be an oasis and have the least amount of stress attached to it as possible. Dealing with a leaking pool is never fun especially when you can’t find where it’s losing water.
Other stresses that can be fixed like a bumpy bottom or rust in the wall may be expensive and require a new liner, but how nice will you feel if they were repaired?
Also, leaking pools usually don’t stop and if left unfixed can cause some long-term issues with rust or corrosion. And it’s a lot harder to chemically balance swimming pools that have leaks and need water added to them all the time.
Most pools are luxury items that people get and want a lot of joy from. If yours is just causing you stress and is just a new liner away from being fun again, don’t hesitate. Just replace the liner and get to enjoying the pool. Oh, and make sure and get a heavy gauge liner when replacing. It will be worth the extra money.