How to Fix Rusted Pool Wall

by Yves Caron
(Boucherville, Quebec, Canada)

Can I re-install the sidewall for an above ground pool upside down?

I will have to plug the holes of the skimmer and the pool return and make new ones.

What is your opinion about this?

Hi Yves

I would not even consider installing a pool sidewall upside down. There are several reasons for this so lets start with the most important. The liner needs a strong, clean and healthy wall to be folded over. A rusty wall could easily tear the liner. There is also a certain amount of downward pressure put on the wall as the pool is filling. If the pool sidewall is not sound it will not hold the liner. Installing coping and rods onto a wall that is not in good shape can be very difficult and they tend to come off easily. A badly rusted or damaged sidewall would make pulling the liner over and finishing the pool very hard or even impossible.

My other big concern is the skimmer opening at the bottom of the pool. The farther down the pool wall you go the more pressure is exerted onto the pool walls by the weight of the water. A hole the size of the skimmer would have to be patched in some way that would not compromise the integrity of the sidewall.

If rusting is an issue with your sidewall you could get a roll of either 24" or 36" aluminum flashing and run it all around the inside of your pool. Simply pull back the pool cove and insert this metal into the bottom rails. You would then hold the flashing in place at the bottom with your pool cove and on top with duct tape.

More information about repairing a sidewall is on this page.

Pool Wall Repair

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Rusted Hole in Above Ground Pool Wall

by Allison
(Maryville, TN)

I have a couple of rusted areas on the wall of my above ground pool wall. The area around the skimmer, I read on here how to repair with galvanized sheet metal. But I have another area about 3 inches or so from the bottom of the pool. I can't get the sheet metal between the liner & the inside pool wall without replacing the liner which is NOT an option right now. So here are my questions:

1. Can I patch the wall from the outside for the bottom rust hole? If so, since I can't use rivets or nuts/bolts what can I affix the sheet metal to the outside pool wall with? Should I seal around the edges of the "patch" too?

2. After sanding all the rust, scraping with metal brush, rust converter, rustoleum etc, if there are no other holes there is no need to patch those areas that were rusted, but not through the pool wall enough to be an actual hole. Correct?

Hi Allison

I'm not real sure there is a safe way of patching a pool wall from the outside, at least not without rivets, or nuts and bolts.

There are some pretty strong metal adhesives that might do the job. I can't say for sure but it might be worth a try. The only for sure way I know of doing it would be to pack dirt around the pool. The dirt would pack solid and hold the patch in place. But this is a maybe, it would depend on the dirt and how high it was packed.

From the outside of the pool you have no idea how thin the wall is. So you have no idea how much needs to be patched. So to be safe, patch every area in doubt.

Just keep in mind the risk you are taking. When a wall bursts from a wall rusted near the bottom, the wall will split wide open, and so will the liner. This will dump thousands of gallons of water in a matter of a minute or two. So you have to consider where this water will go, if let loose all at once.

Consider also who will be using this pool. If young children are in the pool when it breaks open, it might not be a good thing.

So, without draining the pool and properly repairing the wall, I don't have much positive to offer.

It is possible, however, to drain the pool down to about six inches, make the repairs, and refill the pool.

To avoid liner shrinkage you need to do this fast, and on a hot, full sun day. You would drain the pool just far enough for one person to hold the liner back, while another person was doing the repairs. In most cases this is a possibility.

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Side Wall Rust

by Phil Callis
(Greenbrier tn, u.s.a)

I have a lot of rust on the side wall at the bottom. In a couple spots its rusted thru. I was told I could flip it over. The top is fine and I could repair the new top. I would like to know if you can just buy the sheet metal wall, and if so, where?

Hi Phil

I would not turn the wall upside down. Most walls have holes in them for skimmers and returns. You would not want to have to patch a hole that large on the bottom portion of a sidewall. Also, the liners can put a lot of downward force on the sidewalls as they are filling with water. A weak upper section of wall would probably not hold up well at all.

It has been my experience that buying a new sidewall from the pool manufacturer is a very expensive way to go. It is usually possible to find a good used pool for less money.

If the holes aren't too bad I would try reinforcing the wall you already have. You could go to a hardware store or a shop that sells aluminum awnings and get a roll of 12 -16 inch flat stock aluminum. This can be taped into place around the entire perimeter of your pool. The pool cove needs to be pulled back and the flashing should be inserted into the pool bottom rails. Duck tape around the top of the flashing will cover any sharp edges.

It is also a good idea to sand and paint the wall before installing the flashing. This can slow down any future rust.

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Pin Holes in Pool Wall

by Dennis
(Capon Bridge, Wv)

I'm in the middle of replacing the liner and adding more sand, when I noticed the pool wall has some pin holes and some rust spots primarily around the return and the bottom of the wall.

Should I sand and rustolium the spots and hope for many happy more seasons, or replace the wall? If the wall needs replaced where do I start.

Hi Dennis

It might be helpful to have a look at this page.

Pool Wall Repair

Pin holes in the wall of an above ground pool should be sanded and painted. Holes that are up high on the wall can usually be patched over with just duct tape, if they are not too big. There is not a lot of water pressure up high so these are fairly easily taken care of.

The holes down low need a little more work because of the extreme amount of water pressure pushing against them. When a wall blows out it usually happens when it's full of water and starts from rust areas in the lower parts, near the coving.

I would use 12" aluminum, or metal, coil stock and reinforce the lower areas. If it is just a few holes here and there cutting the material into 12" squares and taping over the area would be fine. If the holes run pretty continuous around the entire pool, near the bottom, then a long roll of material can be used as reinforcement. When doing this I pull the sand back away from the wall and insert the coil stock directly into the track. I run it around the entire circumference of the pool and tape the top edge. This added protection does wonders for getting a few more years out of your pool.

When it does come time to change your wall you might consider replacing the whole pool. Walls alone are extremely expensive and an entire used pool could be bought for less money. For slightly more than the cost of a wall a new pool only package can be purchased.

This page might be helpful also.

Used Above Ground Pools

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Rust Hole in Pool Wall

I just started opening my pool and we found a rust hole about the size of a quarter in the wall. The pool is not leaking. Is there anything I can do besides draining the pool and fixing this from the inside? I'm afraid that we will find more problems.


Finding more problems is exactly what you should be doing. Where there is one rust spot there are probably more. But no, there is no safe way of patching your hole from the outside of the pool.

Comments for Rust Hole in Pool Wall

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Jun 16, 2015
Bottom curve rails falling apart.
by: Jerry

I have a 12x24 oval above ground pool. The bottom aluminum rails on one end have fallen apart also a large rusted hole in the bottom wall. It looks like the rails are oxidized only on the curved rails at the skimmer & return end. 5 rails need replaced. The bottom wall in that area is pushed out of the damaged track. How difficult is it to replace the bottom curved rails on the one end? Also repair a large rusted out area of Bottom wall. About 3 foot length area of bottom. I have the liner removed and the bad area is only on the one end. I would like to extend the life of the pool for another three or four years if possible. Do you thank this pool is salvageable? Thank You


Just about anything is repairable but be sure you do a good job of it. The rust holes at the bottom are most dangerous, that's where all the water pressure is.

Jun 18, 2015
by: Asnonymous

What size rivets do you use for adding sheet metal over old skimmer wall?


I'm not sure it really matters. I always just used duck tape. Be sure the patch is on the inside of the wall.

Aug 24, 2018
Pool Base Below Soil and Just Above Soil Level Shows Rust But No Holes. Should I repair it or leave it alone?
by: Anonymous

This year we decided it was a time to replace the thinning rocks around our pool and put down a new weed guard below them. When I started working I noticed a significant amount of rust around the base and realized the discoloration I had previously given little thought to is likely the stained residue of rust guard sprayed by a previous owner. I began to dig away the soil built up around the bottom of the pool with the intention of spraying the base all the way to the bottom, around the entire pool, with Rustoleum. As I started to trowel away the soil some of the rust started flaking away and I stopped working since I did not want to accidentally create a hole. My husband thinks we should stop removing soil and just landscape in a way to keep water from soaking in around the base (my thought was a ring of 24" gutter splash guards around the outside). What do you think?

Should we leave it alone or do we need to address the issue below the soil level. There are no rust stains on the liner and it does not appear to be rusting upward past where the rust guard was sprayed. How long should rust guard work? I don't know when the previous owners sprayed it - we have been the owners about 3.5 years- or what brand they used but I started going over the rust again with clear Rustoleum around the visible areas and Rustoleum rust converter below the soil level.


I would do all you can around the outside to prevent further rust. When you finally need to do a liner replacement a much better assessment of the wall condition can be made. Needed repairs can be made at that time.

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