More and more people are purchasing in ground vinyl liner pools over concrete or fiberglass. They find it ideal to be able to change the look of the pool simply by changing the liner design. For some people I think that they sometimes ignore the importance of properly caring for their liner, or they don’t understand that having a vinyl liner represents a significant investment. Then after a few short seasons they find the need to replace the liner and become upset that it didn’t last very long. I know of this situation first hand. I installed a vinyl liner pool for a customer and by the next year I was replacing the liner. I know that at the end of the initial build process the owner of the company I worked for would go to every customer and talk to them about proper care and maintenance of the pool. In addition to that he would offer classes to every customer in an effort to better educate them on the responsibilities of owning a pool. Now I don’t know if this particular customer just didn’t understand or if she just didn’t take him seriously, but the day I went to replace the liner I showed her the areas of chemical damage and explained the importance of keeping the water well maintained. At that she informed me that had she known that she would have to maintain the water she would have never purchased a pool. The following year she had set up a weekly maintenance schedule with the company that I worked for and when I went out to her house to perform the maintenance in the middle of the day the cover was open and the pump was off and it was full of debris. I still don’t think she understands the importance of proper pool care. That being said I would like to give some basic information on the proper care of a vinyl liner that will prolong its life and allow pool owners to enjoy their pool rather than resent it.
There are several things that you as a pool owner can do to help prolong not only the life of the liner but also the life of the pump, heater, and filter as well. Water chemistry plays a huge role in proper liner care. If your water is all out of whack it can destroy a liner in a relatively short period of time. If the pH in the pool is too low then the water becomes acidic/corrosive and can eat away at the liner. If the pH is too high then it can start leaving calcium deposits on the liner which can also be corrosive. To help prevent the liner from fading you will need to maintain the proper alkalinity somewhere between 80 and 120 ppm. Chlorine levels are very important as well, not only can they cause the liner to wrinkle if too high but if the level is too low then you will start to get algae and bacteria growth. In addition to that too much chlorine can cause your eyes to burn or your skin to itch.
While chemicals are an essential part of maintaining your pool you have to be careful of how you use them. It is a good idea to have the water tested periodically. Most pool companies will test the water for you and they will be able to tell you what chemicals to add and how much of them to add. In regard to adding chemicals it is important that you know how to do that. First you will only want to add one chemical at a time. Don’t just go home and dump a bunch of chemicals in the pool. You will also want to allow the chemicals to completely dissolve before adding another type. Another thing is to make sure that you don’t dump the chemicals directly on the liner. That could result in discoloration or deterioration of the liner. In some cases there may be a stain at the water line on the liner. If this occurs it is important that you not go at it with some type of abrasive household cleaner. There are specific cleaners available that are formulated for use in swimming pools, and those are what you will want to use. Household cleaners may contain ingredients that can ruin the liner or strip the color. If you live in an area where you will have to close the pool during winter months then you will wan to allow the closing chemicals to circulate for at least twenty four hours before covering the pool.
Another thing you can do is brush and sweep the pool once a week. Just keeping the pool clean will go a long way in the maintenance process. I have a couple of other recommendations as well. One is that when purchasing a pool get an auto cover!!! This will allow you to close the pool when its not in use. It will help to keep it free of debris, save you money on heating and chemical usage, and protect the liner from UV rays that can fade and deteriorate the liner. It is also an added safety feature and you will most likely find it to be a good investment. The other thing is that if you have children take the time to teach them a little bit about the pool. Let them know that the liner is soft and can be torn. I installed a pool years ago and two days after it was finished and full of water I was back out to patch the liner after their son had used the vacuum pole as a harpoon a pretended that he was spearing fish at the bottom of the pool. Do you get the visual?
Also I know that some dogs love water. The problem is that vinyl liners and a dogs nails don’t mix well. We have all seen how dogs swim, and if they can’t touch the bottom they will generally go for the side of the pool. When that happens their nails can easily shred a liner. There is also a cleanliness issue with having dogs in your pool. (For more information on that see my post titled “Swimming Pool Safety – Recreational Water Illnesses”)
These are some things that can be done in order to prolong the life of you vinyl liner. With proper care a vinyl liner can live to see many joyful summers to come, and in some cases see an infant grow into a teenager. It all depends on how well you take care of your pool. Please see my other posts for more information regarding vinyl liner in ground pools, and general swimming pool information all together.