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an old pool liner

Knowing When A Problem is Fixable and When It’s Time to Kiss Your Old Liner Goodbye

Your vinyl pool liner is one of the most important components of any pool, but the time will eventually come where you need to explore the possibility of having it replaced.

How Long Do Pool Liners Last?

The average life expectancy of your vinyl pool liner will ultimately depend on whether you have an in-ground or above ground pool. The liner for an above ground pool will last anywhere from six to 10 years. In-ground pool liners don’t last quite as long, usually around five to nine years. If you keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance, your pool liner can even last up to 20 years!

However, certain factors like age and premature wear can shorten your liner’s lifespan. This article will explain the average life expectancy of a pool liner, the signs to look out for that could indicate your liner is nearing the end of its lifecycle, and the factors that can speed up the process.

Factors That Can Shorten Your Liner’s Life:

1. Excessive Use

Although we all want to get the most out of our swimming pools by using them as often as possible – especially on those particularly scorching summer days! – there is actually such thing as “too much of a good thing.”

Excessive wear and tear on your pool’s liner can cause it to age prematurely, and using your pool too often can make your liner more susceptible to scratches, rips and tears. To avoid water leaking into the soil around your pool, you should always repair rips and tears as soon as you notice them.

2. Unbalanced pH levels and Excess Chlorine

Obviously, your swimming pool will need chemicals to keep it safe and sanitary. However, you must always be careful when using chemicals and ensure you’re putting them in properly. Failing to do this will significantly reduce your liner’s lifespan by causing premature fading or even degrading the vinyl. The two main players here are pH and chlorine.

Before adding chlorine to your pool, measure it carefully and dilute it by dissolving it in a bucket before adding it to the pool water. You should never introduce the chlorine directly to the pool, because if it were to come in direct contact with the liner without being dissolved, it would bleach and begin eating away at the material. On the other hand, if your pool does not have enough chlorine, the liner will wrinkle and shrink, eventually losing its shape.

The second element, pH, refers to the acidity of your pool water. Proper water chemistry will keep your pool liner healthy, and can be tested with chemical strips. Your pool should have a pH level of between 7.4 and 7.6; anything above 7.8 will cause calcium to form and stick to the liner.

3. Neglect

As with any other investment, you must maintain your vinyl pool liner to keep it in ship shape. Without performing regular cleanings and maintenance checks, problems with your liner can go unnoticed and worsen with time. As the problems get worse, the price of repairs will go up as well until eventually you’ll have to just replace the entire liner.

You should clean your pool liner thoroughly once a week and test your pool’s chemistry levels up to three times a week. Your pool should be “shocked” every 2 weeks (more often with more use) to avoid algae buildup. Every so often, check your liner for tears, bleached spots or wrinkles – this can easily be done while you’re enjoying a swim. These simple maintenance tasks take very little time and will go along way in extending your pool liner’s lifespan.

4. Completely Draining Your Pool

You should never completely drain your vinyl liner pool, especially if it’s in-ground. This can damage the integrity of the liner by causing it to bow and crack, losing its shape. When you go to refill it, you risk causing bubbles and wrinkles. This will make your liner more susceptible to tearing later on. Instead, the best practice is to partially drain your pool one third at a time.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Pool Liner:

Fading, Staining & Discolouration

Faded spots on your vinyl pool liner is a major sign of UV and chemical damage. This can be caused naturally by the sun, but most commonly fading is caused by improper use of chemicals. While most pool liners today will resist fading from UV, it still happens over time. As the coloured finish of your pool’s liner begins to fade, it will become brittle and pliable. If you notice that your vinyl liner is badly faded, be sure to check it frequently for cracks or rips and check for potential leaks.

Rips and Cracks

Rips and cracks in your pool liner cause leaks, which in turn leads to a host of other problems. It’s safe to say that it would be in your best interest to repair rips and cracks as soon as you see them, before the problem becomes too serious to repair. However, if you begin to notice your liner ripping and cracking more frequently than normal, that probably means that your liner has become stretched or brittle. In this case, it’s probably best to just invest in a new one.

Wrinkling, Slipping, and Stretching

In some cases, your pool liner may begin to stretch over time. This happens most often in areas with groundwater issues, and can cause wrinkles to form in the liner or even pull it out of the track at the top of the pool. It can also happen after completely draining and refilling the pool.

If you notice the liner beginning to slip out of the top track of the pool, it’s fairly easy to just pop it back in. Heating the liner with hot water to make it more pliable may make it easier to place it back in the track. If the problem persists, you should replace your pool liner as soon as possible. In these cases, the problem most likely cannot be solved and will only worsen as time passes.


A leaking pool can cause a variety of issues, no matter what type of pool it is. However, swimming pools with vinyl liners are especially susceptible to leaks.

If your pool is above ground, a leak can cause your yard to flood. It can also cause the earth around your pool to become wet and soft, which poses the risk of your pool beginning to tilt or sink. If you have an in-ground pool, the leaking water can settle into the earth surrounding your pool. This can cause it to shift, crack or even in extreme cases to collapse.

To test your pool for leaks, try the bucket test. Fill a bucket with pool water and place it gently inside your pool in a shallow area so that the water level in the bucket matches the water level of your pool. Then monitor the water level of your pool and the bucket. If your pool has a leak, the water level in the pool should be going down much more quickly than the water level in the bucket. Natural evaporation would cause the water levels to go down at the same rate.


You may have noticed by now that most of the pool liner problems we’ve covered are interconnected. By keeping up with regular cleaning and maintenance, you can avoid the seemingly small problems like rips and stains that will eventually turn into more overwhelming issues such as leaks and stretching.

Pool maintenance is part of being a responsible pool owner. It won’t take up much of your time, but the benefits of having a healthy, sparkling swimming pool will more than make up for it! With a little liner TLC, you’ll be able to enjoy your pool for years to come.