Vinyl Liner Wrinkles

Vinyl Liner Wrinkles
January 18/2019

Wrinkle development in vinyl pool liners is a reasonably common issue.  Whether it’s just one or two small wrinkles in an isolated area, or a liner full of unsightly wrinkles all over the floor and walls, this can be a major source of frustration for pool owners.  Liner wrinkles can diminish the aesthetic value of your pool and can also lead to premature failure of the liner, as wrinkle locations become particularly susceptible to holes and cracking.  Dirt has a tendency to accumulate near wrinkles, making it more difficult to maintain a clean pool.  Additionally, when people or pool cleaners come in direct contact with the wrinkled areas, holes in the liner are easily created, causing expensive pool leaks. Ideally then, it’s best to take precautionary measures to avoid liner wrinkle development altogether.  

Causes of Liner Wrinkles

Research by vinyl manufacturers, chemical companies, and pool industry professionals has determined that there are three main causes to liner wrinkles:

1. Water Absorption due to Pool Chemistry

The number one cause of liner wrinkles is growth of the liner’s dimensions due to the vinyl absorbing excess water.  While typically vinyl should not absorb much water, out of balance pool chemistry can cause it to absorb as much as five times the normal amount.  This causes the vinyl to expand, resulting in wrinkle formation.  Laboratory testing has shown that two pool chemistry factors in particular are the main culprits:

Low pH High sanitizer levels – chlorine or bromine

A properly balanced pool should have a pH level in the range of 7.2 to 7.8.  Research has shown that vinyl immersed in 6.0 pH solutions (low) showed much larger weight and dimension gains than samples immersed in 8.0 pH solutions.  Water with low pH is very corrosive, and in addition to facilitating water absorption in the liner, it is very damaging to other pool equipment such as the heater, pump, and filter.  Low pH is also very irritating to peoples’ skin and eyes.

Excessive levels of chlorine or bromine will also cause vinyl liners to absorb water and develop wrinkles.  While shocking (superchlorination) is an integral element in regular pool maintenance, chlorine levels should be allowed to return to the acceptable range of 1.0 to 3.0 ppm following each shock application.  Use of a non-chlorine shock such as Zap is an even better alternative.

Unfortunately, liner wrinkles caused by low pH or high sanitizer are generally permanent and almost impossible to remove.  Once wrinkles have developed, correction of the pool chemistry will not reverse the amount of water absorbed into the liner.  Draining the pool and allowing the water to evaporate from the liner may provide a temporary solution, but once the pool is refilled the liner will most likely reabsorb the water and reform the wrinkles.  This is a risky procedure anyway, as once a liner dries out it may shrink and not stretch back when refilled, causing significant tearing.  Draining the pool may also cause structural damage to the walls and floor.

2. Wrinkles Caused by Water under the Liner
The next most common cause of wrinkles is water getting between the pool floor/walls, causing the liner to “float”.  The liner is pushed up by the water under it, causing it to shift.  Once the water under the liner dissipates, the liner settles back down but may have stretched and/or moved from its original position, causing wrinkles to form.

Water can get under a liner for a variety of reasons:

  • There may be a hole in the liner somewhere – even a pin-sized hole can cause this
  • Heavy rain can saturate the ground around the pool, forcing water through the pool’s walls or floor
  • Inadequate yard drainage, where the ground or patio slopes towards the pool, rather than away from it
  • Local soil conditions, water table characteristics, and hydrostatic pressure will effect drainage as well

Wrinkles caused by floating liners have a better chance of being repairable than those caused by water chemistry, especially if the liner is less than five years old.  Older liners become brittle and less pliable, making a repair more risky and less likely to succeed.  It is also important to address these wrinkles as soon as possible because the longer they exist, the less likely they will be removable.  

3. Wrinkles Caused Improper Liner Sizing

If a brand new liner has wrinkles, it is most likely due to a defect in the manufacturing or installation.  Most commonly, improper measurements can result in a liner that is too big for the pool, with the excess material forming wrinkles.  It is important to purchase your new liner from a knowledgeable and reputable dealer (such as Breezewood Pools!), which has the tools and processes to properly measure and install a new liner.  In the unlikely event that issues occur, a reputable dealer will work with you to resolve them in a timely fashion, to your satisfaction. 

Liners can develop wrinkles for other reasons as well, such as water loss or underground erosion, but the above three are the primary causes in the vast majority of cases. 

Removing Liner Wrinkles: D.I.Y.

As noted above, wrinkles caused by unbalanced water chemistry will be practically impossible to permanently remove.  For wrinkles caused by other factors, there are a few things a homeowner can try themselves before calling in a professional.

Try going into the pool with soft rubber-soled shoes and gently attempt to move the wrinkle towards the pool wall with your feet or hands.  Be very careful not to kick the liner too hard, and do not attempt this if the liner is old and brittle.     

Alternatively, take a toilet plunger and use it as a suction tool to grip the liner and pull it towards the pool wall, smoothing out the wrinkle.  Do not plunge directly on top of the wrinkle, but rather beside it, gently moving it around.  Other tools such as a pool brush or anything else that is soft, with no sharp edges can also be used to try and shift the vinyl around.

Any attempt to remove wrinkles will work best in warmer water, as it makes the vinyl more pliable.  Turn up your heater to over 90-degrees F, or even attach a hose to a hot water supply and apply the hot water directly on the wrinkle as you attempt to move it.     

Removing Liner Wrinkles: Calling in the Pool Professionals

If the above DIY methods do not work out, or if you are dealing with more than one or two small wrinkles, then it’s time to get help from your pool professionals.  Breezewood Pools will come out, assess the situation, and provide a recommendation on next steps.  

If you decide that you would like us to try and remove the wrinkles, we will start with the above methods (if deemed appropriate).  Failing this, the next option is to partially or even fully drain your pool and reset the liner.  Once the appropriate amount of water has been removed, we will attempt to reset the liner to its original position and remove the wrinkles.  We use high-powered vacuum blowers, specifically designed for pool liner installations, to keep the liner tight to the walls and floor during the resetting and refilling process.  Do not attempt to drain the pool and reset the liner yourself without the proper knowledge and tools, as this can result in further damage to the liner, and even the pool structure.

Please note that while we will make every reasonable effort to remove your liner wrinkles, the results of this process cannot be guaranteed.  Success will depend upon many factors including age and condition of the liner, the nature of the wrinkles, their causes, how long the wrinkles have been there, among other variables.  Even if the wrinkles are removed successfully, there is always a possibility that they will return.  For older liners and those that are in poor condition, there is a risk that the liner could tear and be ruined during a reset procedure.  Please take these factors into consideration when deciding whether to spend money on an attempt to fix the wrinkles, versus either living with them as-is or replacing the liner entirely.  

We hope this information has been helpful.  Please contact the Breezewood Pools team if you have any further questions or would like to book a service call!


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Kelly McInnes: - 07/08/2021
I believe i have a small leak in my inground pool liner. I add maybe 2hours of hose water every two weeks. The liner in the shallow end has a couple of new wrinkles. Can i get a cost estimate for repairs? I live near winston churchill and the 403 in Mississauga.

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