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How to Get Wrinkles Out of a Pool Liner (And What Causes Them)

Just found wrinkles in your pool liner and want to know the best way to get them out?

As great as vinyl pools are, their susceptibility to wrinkles can make them a bit of a nightmare to manage under certain conditions.

This article will cover the likely causes of wrinkles in your liner, the easiest methods for smoothing out pool liner wrinkles, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

What Causes Pool Liner Wrinkles?

A number of things can cause your pool vinyl liner to wrinkle but they can really be grouped into three main categories:

1. A Bad Installation

Wrinkles can happen as a result of the liner being the incorrect size or shape, or simply having been installed poorly. In any case, the wrinkles will be immediately noticeable even prior to filling the pool.

Most installers won’t mention a wrinkle due to the significant amount of additional time and money required to fix the issue, so you’ll need to be vigilant and point out any inconsistencies during this process.

Overall, if your vinyl liner is relatively new and you’ve just discovered wrinkles, you can’t rule out the possibility they were caused during the initial liner installation and you simply failed to notice them.

2. Water Behind the Liner

Wrinkles are also likely to appear if water manages to get behind the liner as this will cause the liner to shift and pull away from the wall. There are a few different ways this can happen, so identifying the exact cause can be tricky.

A hole or tear in the vinyl liner will slowly leak water behind the liner, so carefully checking the liner for damage is a good place to start. If you’re losing more water than evaporation can account for, it’s probably a leak.

Otherwise, it’s possible you have a high water table, which means there’s too much water in the ground surrounding your pool; usually a result of heavy rain over an extended period of time.

Finally, water can find its way behind your liner via the perimeter of your pool, especially if your caulking (the sealant between your pool deck and pool coping) is compromised.

3. Bad Water Chemistry

If you’ve ruled out a botched installation and water behind your liner, the only reasonable explanation left is your water chemistry. Unfortunately, this is also the worst-case scenario as it can often be unrepairable.

The first major culprit is low pH, which, if below 7 for too long, can cause the vinyl to absorb water and essentially grow in size. This usually results in a high number of smaller wrinkles that are evenly spread throughout the liner.

If it’s not pH, the next likely culprit is high sanitizer levels. A high amount of chlorine or bromine, especially if it’s consistently above shock level (30 parts per million), will have the same absorbing effect on the liner.

For the same reason, undissolved chlorine granules or chlorine tablets making direct contact with the vinyl liner can also cause it to swell.

How to Remove Wrinkles in a Pool Liner

Before attempting any of these methods, you first need to identify what caused the wrinkles and take the appropriate steps to resolve them.

  • If you have a bad installation, that means communicating with the installers to let them know about the wrinkles, giving them a chance to correct any sizing or fitting mistakes.
  • If you have water behind the liner, that means finding and fixing any leaks, repairing compromised pool caulking, installing a ground dewatering system to lower the table index, and blowing out the liner to remove any excess water.
  • If you have a chemical imbalance, that means testing the water to make sure it’s properly balanced, especially when it comes to your pH and sanitizer levels (though it may already be too late).

Important: Wrinkles caused by a bad installation or chemical imbalance are much harder to fix and you may find none of the below methods have any lasting effect. In that case, a replacement liner is your only option.

Fill the Pool (If It’s Empty)

Vinyl pool liners often rely on the weight of the water to prevent creases and keep them smoothed out.

For that reason, completely filling your empty pool with water might be all it takes to get the wrinkles out, especially if those creases only appeared after the pool was drained.

Even if that doesn’t work, most of the other methods below—aside from the pool vacuum method, potentially—can be implemented without having to drain the pool again.

Walk the Creases Out

Smaller creases and wrinkles can sometimes be worked out of the vinyl liner by simply walking across it to apply pressure with your feet.

Standing directly on a wrinkle will often force it down and cause the vinyl to redistribute, especially if the wrinkles are reasonably new (wrinkles harden over time, making them a bit more stubborn).

This process can be quite tedious if you have a lot of wrinkles in your liner, but it can be used in combination with other methods.

Use a Plunger

A household toilet plunger can also help you get the wrinkles out of your liner, albeit through a slightly different process.

Where walking directly on a wrinkle will force it to smooth out, a plunger allows you to pull the surrounding area, effectively yanking on the excess liner to redistribute everything.

Again, this approach can be quite slow and tedious but it’s one of the cheapest ways to get it done aside from using your feet.

Use a Pool Vacuum

A pool vacuum serves a similar function to a plunger when it comes to removing wrinkles from a vinyl liner, as it applies negative pressure to the surrounding areas of the winkles.

This method has been known to work better when the pool is empty, so you might consider draining it as a last resort.

Be aware, though, vinyl liners don’t fare well under dry conditions. They usually shrink and lose their elasticity once the pool is emptied, which can cause it to break once filled up again. These effects are even more drastic for older liners.

If All Else Fails, Replace It.

Most pool wrinkles can be worked out with enough time and the right technique, though the cause of the wrinkles plays a large role.

If you’ve tried everything and just can’t seem to get the wrinkles out, you’ll have to get used to the idea of having wrinkles unless you want to go through the trouble of having your liner replaced.

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