Patch an Above Ground Pool Liner in 9 Easy Steps

Welcome to the third part of a 4-part series on above ground pool liners. In this one, we talk about patching your pool liner

  1. Installing a Pool Liner
  2. Getting Wrinkles Out of a Liner
  3. Patching a Liner (this page)
  4. Repairing a Liner

A lot of people have an above-ground pool that is usually made of vinyl. These are affordable and it does not take too much effort to install them. They are a source of great joy and family frolic during the summers.

But one of the most common problems with vinyl pools is that these pools can fall victim to tears and holes quite easily. And if there is a leak in your pool liner, you should fix it immediately so as to not lose water.

Otherwise, it takes all the fun out of having a pool in your backyard. It can also cause soil erosion in the area and also destroys the pool wall rather spectacularly. Luckily, checking for a leak is not a tough job. And neither is patching that hole.

You don’t need to call anyone to get it done. All you need is a pool patch kit and a pair of underwater goggles to spare a few minutes to get in there and fix it.

Why You Should Know This

Apart from soil erosion, there are a few other problems that are caused by leaky pool liners. If the leak is somewhere near the top of the pool wall, you might not lose too much water but if it is near the base, imagine the amount of water wastage? It could also lead to the pool collapsing and destroying your yard.

All pools should ideally have 66 percent of water above the skimmer. This ensures that the skimmer inlet system is able to push the right amount of water into the filter and the cooling unit.

If you lose water below the skimmer line, the entire framework of your pump is at risk. You will notice that more air than water will get sucked in and the pump gets overheated and will shut down.

You will also notice that a leak messes with the pH levels of the water. This is maintained by the alkalinity and acidity of the water in the pool for sanitation reasons. The chlorine keeps in clean and alkaline agents are kept to keep the chlorine at levels that are safe for humans using the pool. When there is a leak, the chlorine slips out and algae growth increases. The chlorine also destroys whatever plants you have surrounding the pool.

Pool leaks are often caused by weak skimmer assembly. The skimmer usually takes the debris in and keeps them away from the filters so that they can circulate the water in the pump efficiently. The skimmer also has a suction line and if that breaks, the pool pump and its ability to circulate water in the pool gets affected. That kind of plumbing leak should also be investigated.

So, how do you figure out what the problem is and how to fix it? Take a look.

First, you need to know if the water is evaporating or it’s a leak. Typically, pools lose about one-fourth to half an inch of water on a daily basis due to evaporation. But if you see that your pool is losing more than that, it’s probably a leak.

Make sure to look for the leak by using the bucket test. Using the ink method, locate the leak and patch it.

How to Find the Pool Leak

As mentioned before, you can start by noticing the water levels in the pool. But sometimes, you might miss it. To avoid such a situation, there are a few other tell-tale signs to look out for.

If you see green-ish growth in the water even though you have kept up regular treatments, it is possible that the chlorine is slipping out of a crack. Also, check the deck for cracks and for dampness around the pool.

Testing for a leak starts this way. Get a five-gallon container and place it on the steps of the pool. Fill it with water to match the level of water in the pool. Switch off the recirculating pump for a day (that’s 24 hours) and compare the water levels. If the pool water is lower than the level of water in the container, you’re probably looking at an underground leak. This is called the bucket test.

Now that you know there is a leak, get your equipment. To patch the leak, you will need basic items like a pool patch kit, a pair of scissors and swimming goggles.

How to Patch a Pool Liner

Once you have the right tools, it is time to get started. You know that there is a leak. You have determined it using the bucket test. Now, you must locate the leak. You can do that using the ink method.

Step 1: Get your leak-finding kit or just some dark food color agent. You must also do a manual check to have a rough idea of where the leak is.

Step 2: Put on your underwater goggles and go towards the area of the leak. Drop a little ink or food color near the leak and see how it moves. If there is a stream moving in a specific direction, that’s where your leak is.

Step 3: Now it is time to pick the right kind of patch. This starts by determining the size and area of the leak. For small leaks, a little waterproof tape and a patch (the peel-and-stick kind) will do. But if it is a bigger leak, you will need a proper patch kit.

Step 4: You know where the leak is and what kind of patch you need. Now it is time to prepare the area so that you can stick the patch to the liner properly. Get a pool brush, a scrubbed pad or a rag and remove the debris from the region.

Step 5: You have determined the kind of patch for the leak. Cut it to the right size and make sure it overlaps your waterproof tape. Bring it to the leak. Double check to see that the patch is bigger than the tear or the leak.

Step 6: Sometimes, pool owners like to add an extra step by applying a vinyl adhesive for extra safety. If you are going to do this, remember to add it behind the patch and not on the pool liner.

Step 7: Once the adhesive is placed, place the tape or patch over the region where there is a tear or a hole. Press it gently with your fingertips so that there are no bubbles and so that the seams are smooth.

Step 8: Find something that can hold the patch in place and put pressure on it for the first 24 hours so that it sticks well. This will make sure that the adhesive is completely cured and that your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Step 9: Some pool owners also like to go for double patching. This happens 24 hours after the first level of patchwork is done. It is optional but if you want, you can place another patch on top of the first one for extra safety. If you do this, make sure that the diameter of the second patch is larger by two more inches.

Wrapping Up

One of the things that those who own above-ground pools must remember is that sharp objects must never be placed anywhere near the pool liner. This includes jagged plastic baskets and stepping stools.

And if you are using tape to fix the leak, make sure that it is industrial grade because regular ones just won’t do the trick. They don’t have the ability to fight the water pressure.

Patches are a temporary fix to the problem. A pool liner is a line of defense so other parts do not get destroyed while you look for a solution. Invest in a quality above ground pool liner to protect your pool!

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