Empty Vinyl Pool Keeps Filling With Water
So you drained your vinyl liner pool and removed the liner only to discover that there is water leaking in through the walls, floor and cracks in your pool and you want to know how you stop it. The answer is surprisingly easy...you don't. A vinyl liner pool is not built like a concrete pool or a fiberglass pool in that the structure and the waterproofing surface are one in the same. With a vinyl liner pool as soon as you remove the liner itself the rest of the pool structure does not even make an attempt to be waterproof. In fact if you tried successfully to waterproof your vinyl pool walls and floor this would actually be likely to cause damage due to the hydrostatic pressure applied from water trying to find its way into your empty pool.
The structure of a vinyl liner pool is bolted and pieced together and the only reason the pool holds water at all is because of the impermeable liner. When you start asking about how to stop the water from leaking into your empty vinyl pool this shows that you do not yet understand how a vinyl liner pool works. All too often pool owners take matters into their own hands and drain their vinyl pools. Even if the intention was to drain and fill with clean water you can already have caused permanent damage to the liner. You are actually never supposed to drain a vinyl liner pool which you can hear more in this article: how to drain a vinyl liner pool.
Many pool owners who intend to get a new liner installed think that it does not matter if you drain the pool or not since you will need a new liner anyway, however this can also be a costly mistake. The water in the pool protects the walls and slopes from damage that water passing through might be able to cause. For most concrete and vermiculite floor pools this is not a huge problem unless you leave the pool empty during periods of freeze and thaw, or high water tables. For sand bottom pools it is critical that they stay full, with the liner in place, until directly before the new liner is ready to be installed. This is because once you remove the liner from a pool you have removed your only method to stop damage to the slopes from water leaking in. If enough water leaks into your pool, or enough damage is done to your concrete or slopes, you can end up having the whole deep end wash out which involves a total rebuild of your pool to repair.
Controlling Water In Vinyl Liner Pools
With a vinyl liner pool you do not want to stop water from leaking in through the walls and floor. Instead your aim is to control the water that ends up in the bottom of your pool by pumping it out and away from the pool area. If you have a lot of water leaking into your pool then you would run a small submersible pump for a day or more in advance of when you want to change the liner. This should slow the rate of water coming into your pool enough to allow a quick prep and installation of the new liner. Ideally you want to be able to use the weight of the water in the pool as well as the old liner to help protect the pool right up until you are ready to install the new liner.
You want to protect your walls and floor with the current liner, using the weight of the water in the pool to cover all of the slopes and at least six inches of water covering the shallow end floor. This will prevent any further damage to the floors and slopes in most cases. Floor repairs for cosmetic imperfections are normal for when you install a new liner, and you want to do what you can to minimize how much damage you will have to fix. When a pool professional inspects your pool for a new liner they are looking for any signs that the current floor might need a lot of work. If you remove the liner and find the floor is shattered and has cracks everywhere you might need to install an entirely new floor before you can install the new liner. This complicates things in two ways:
1) New floors are expensive, hard work - Whether you install a new floor in your pool or you hire a local company to do it there is no getting around this is a lot of hard, heavy work and it is going to cost you in sweat, or cold hard cash. A vinyl pool that is discovered to need a new floor can double the total price of your new liner installation.
2) Changes in floor height - Mortar for a vinyl pool floor should be 1" to 1.5" thick at minimum or it will break under your weight while cleaning the pool for a new liner, or under the weight of the water in the pool once you fill it up. However, what if you already ordered your liner? Can you add another 1.5" to the floor of your pool and still have the liner fit properly? Usually not. And it would be a lot of work to remove 2" of material from your entire pool floor just to add another 1.5" or 2" back in place. A skim coat of a mortar floor could work, depending on the stability of the substrate, but most likely will also crack under the weight of the new liner. Ideally if you need a new floor in your vinyl pool you have not ordered the new liner yet so you can change the floor profile and order the new liner to fit perfectly.
If you don't work on pools professionally then you might not realize just how often doing a pool renovation ends up opening a can of very expensive worms on you. Pools in particular are unforgiving for this, like in this example of needing a new floor in your vinyl pool. You didn't know you need a new floor until you removed the old liner, but now your renovation price has doubled and you might have a liner that is not going to fit the new pool depth. Pool plumbing is something else that can be unforgiving like this as even a small problem can be extremely difficult and expensive to solve, depending on just where that little problem happens to be located.
Installing a new liner in a vinyl pool is actually pretty easy to do when everything is going right. When things start to be atypical, or something goes wrong like a snapped screw, or a spinning fastener under the water level...these things can be disastrous to someone attempting a DIY vinyl liner installation. I wrote this tutorial to show just how technical of a process installing a new liner is (can be) how to install a new vinyl liner in a pool. If you are already in too deep, drained your pool or need a new floor, or just thought that changing your own liner was going to be easier, then you should take a look at my pool renovation consulting service which can help you have a much higher chance at success with your DIY liner project. Even something as small as when to order the liner, before or after you take out the old liner, is a question that warrants considerable thought to avoid potentially creating more problems (and more expense) for yourself down the line.
How to install a vinyl pool liner
Vinyl pool renovation from beginning to end
Wrinkles in a vinyl liner pool
How long does a pool liner last?
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