An elegant vinyl liner with clean lines and soft colors is a beautiful way to show off your inground pool. They are affordable, comfortable for swimmers, and easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for many pool owners.
Vinyl liners, however, do have their quirks and are a bit easier to damage than their fiberglass and concrete brethren. So, if you have a vinyl-lined inground pool or are looking to install one, strap in for some helpful tips to increase the life of your liner and protect your investment for years to come.
#1. Low pH Can Damage Vinyl
There are many reasons why your pool water’s pH may have dropped: high chlorine, leaves and other debris falling into your pool, or perhaps a recent thunderstorm.
Constantly low pH can cause your pool water to become acidic and damage vinyl liners. An acidic pool will lead to your vinyl liner becoming brittle, fading in color, and eventually, falling apart entirely.
Below pH neutral (7.0), pool water can become corrosive and start to eat away at your vinyl liner. As you probably already know, the ideal pH range for any pool is 7.2 to 7.6 and the same goes for vinyl-lined inground pools.
Pro Tip: Keeping your Total Alkalinity (TA) around above 80 ppm (parts per million) is a great way to buffer and help stabilize your pH levels at all times.
#2. Use Bleach, Chlorine, and Shock With Care
Vinyl liners are soft, bright, and beautiful. They are an excellent choice for pool owners today but do need a bit of extra care when it comes to the typical pool chemicals that are necessary for a clean and happy pool.
Liners today are much hardier than in the past and are made stronger now to resist fading from the chlorine in your pool water. That having been said, it is still a good idea to keep an eye on your chlorine levels and not allow them to rise too high.
The use of bleach, frequent shocks, and consistently high chlorine levels in your pool water can corrode the vinyl liner, making it brittle and causing its colors to fade. Test your water frequently to keep chlorine levels where they need to be (between 2 and 4 parts per million).
Try to keep shocking your pool to a minimum. Every 4-6 weeks is plenty and make sure to always pre-dissolve shock in a bucket of water before adding it to your pool.
#3. Always Repair Leaks Quickly
It’s not rocket science to know that a leak in your pool is bad news and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. But there are some very important reasons why this is such a big deal, especially with vinyl-lined pools.
Leaking water can damage practically anything it touches, including eroding stone and concrete, and rusting any metal it comes in contact with. If too much water leaks and exposes the vinyl liner in the shallow end, the liner can actually pull away from the floor and walls. This is why you should…
#4. Never Drain a Vinyl Pool
Gravity and pressure are your best friends with a vinyl-lined pool. You should never drain your vinyl pool for the same reason that fixing leaks ASAP is so important. A vinyl liner relies on the pressure of the water to prevent it from rising, bubbling and shrinking.
When the water level falls below 6 inches above the bottom, the liner can start to relax and pull away from the edges. When this happens, you might start to see some wrinkles or bubbles start to appear.
If an unforeseen leak or necessary draining takes place, you may need to reset the liner to prevent wrinkles. An older vinyl liner, however, may be too brittle to reset, causing it to break apart during the process.
#5. Staining Can Happen
If you own a vinyl-lined pool, you’ve probably encountered some stains from time to time. These are not the end of the world but definitely detract from the beauty of your backyard oasis. Here are some of the most common stains you may see and how to get rid of them.
If your tap water (and therefore your pool water) has high concentrations of dissolved metals present, they may start to form stains on the sides and bottom of the pool. The most common of these are copper, manganese, and iron, with copper leaving a telltale bluish-green film behind.
The best way to combat metal stains is to keep your pH balanced at all times. Using a hose filter whenever you need to add water to your pool will also help to drastically reduce the metals from your tap water from being introduced into your pool.
Life is organic and can get messy. If you have trees or flowers in your backyard that shed leaves into the pool or have recently resolved an algae outbreak, the organic material will leave its imprint behind. Organic stains can also come from pollen, bacteria, pollution, and rainwater.
When organic matter of any kind is introduced into your pool, the effect will always be a shift in the pool water chemistry. Your best bet to avoid stains is to remove these intruders right away, clean out your skimmer basket regularly, and keep your pool water pH balanced.
Typically these stains are super easy to remove and will come clean during your routine pool maintenance regimen.
Pool stains caused by mineral deposits come in many different colors. Aside from the metal stains that we’ve already talked about, other mineral stains you may encounter include calcium and sodium salts. These kinds aren’t the end of the world since they’re white and not very noticeable, but are definitely something you want to be aware of before they get out of hand.
Frequently checking your calcium hardness levels is a great way to prevent these types of stains. However, if you do see any starting to develop, you can use a pH decreaser or vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to remove these types of stains by hand.
The More You Know (About Vinyl Liners)
Caring for your vinyl pool liner doesn’t have to be a hassle. The knowledge of how to treat your liner and consistent TLC will go a long way to preserving your investment in your backyard oasis.
With proper pool care and a vigilant eye to your pool’s pH, you can keep your vinyl liner looking and feeling its best for years to come.