Refilling Pool With Shrunk Liner

I recently read the answer to one of your responses about an above ground pool and substantial water lost during the winter months. I to have had this problem, after covering my pool for winter and after a hard freeze and snowfall I noticed that the cover had began to sag, I looked inside to see that almost all of the water was completely gone.

I looked around the sides of what I could see and didn't see water around it, since a small portion of the pool is underground.

Anyway, I have noticed that the pool has started to buckle quite a bit and there is really nothing at the moment that I can do since what is left of the cover on one side still being on the rim of the pool and is totally filled with snow. I guess the buckling is from the shrinking of the liner, so bottom line, is my pool a total lost?

Not happy with this situation, just had my deck build around it this summer past.


It does not sound good if the liner is shrinking enough to cause the wall to buckle. When you can get the cover off, and if you can find the hole and repair it, you might be able to refill the pool. If the liner will stretch enough to refill, the wall should push back out on its own.

The trick to filling a liner that has shrunk is to do it in direct sunlight. The sun on the liner may allow it to stretch back into shape without completely pulling out from under the top rails, or pulling the pool walls down.

If you have an overlap liner you also have the option of resetting the liner. This would mean removing top rails but might mean saving the liner.

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New Above Ground Pool Liner

Hi We just bought an 18 ft round pool above ground. The liner is 3 years old. We are having trouble getting it to fit the whole pool.

Is it true you must by a new liner each time you tear down the pool and put it back up?


Yes, in most cases this is true. A liner that is a year or two old can sometimes be reused but most of the time it is not worth the trouble. Liners lose their elasticity after a couple of seasons, they shrink when emptied and will not stretch back into their original shape.

The way to find out for sure is to unfold the liner and hook up the skimmer. Take the liner and push it into the cove area under the skimmer. Go directly across the pool from the skimmer and push the liner into the cove. With both sides of the liner positioned correctly at the bottom of the pool try to pull the liner over the top. If the area across from the skimmer has plenty of liner to go up and over the wall you should be able to install the liner.

new liner in above ground pool

The drawbacks to installing a used liner, when it is possible, are the wrinkles and footprints that will be unavoidable. A new liner can be installed without footprints and wrinkles. Most of the time they look a lot nicer also.

These pages might help with the installation of a new liner.

Above Ground Pool Liner Installation

Vinyl Liner Replacement

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Refilling an Above Ground Pool

by Frank

We have a 24 foot round above ground Doughboy pool. Everything is in great shape but over the winter (we live in Michigan) our winter cover ripped and the pool water wound up disgusting.

We have drained all the water out and cleaned the liner. The center of the pool is about one foot deeper than the sides. There is now a large wrinkle that goes around the area where the depth difference is and the liner has pulled away from the walls. We started to fill it thinking the water pressure would push the liner back into the walls but after about six inches of water it wasn't happening.

We can't seem to get the wrinkle out. My question is will the liner gradually suck back into the pool walls with the more water we put in and what is the best way to get rid of the wrinkle.

Hi Frank

Let me start by saying vinyl lined pools should never be drained. The liners shrink and, depending on the age of the liner, may not be reusable. Liners that are in their first or second season can usually be drained and refilled without to many problems. This still should only be done if you have to. With liners older than that you must be willing to change the liner with a new one, should things not turn out well, which is usually the case.

Water problems can be taken care of by the use of chemicals and filtration, or in the worst case, draining to about a foot and refilling.

Deep end pools are the worst because the liner shrinks so bad refilling is usually impossible. It is this shrinking that caused your wrinkle and getting rid of it could be tough. If you actually had enough stretch left in the liner for it to fill, without pulling out at the top, you may want to just leave it alone. By draining it again you will be taking more of a chance that it will shrink beyond reuse.

To fix the problem you need to work on a hot day with direct overhead sun. Drain the pool to just below the wrinkle and start to refill. The liner should become pliable in the direct sun and you might be able to hold the wrinkle out while the pool fills. You will have to make use of the weight of the water and the sunshine. The sun should make the liner workable and the water will eventually be heavy enough to hold the wrinkle out. But you will need to be in there for hours before this happens. It takes patience and persistence but, depending on the age of the liner, might be a possibility for you.

If a new liner becomes necessary this page may be useful.

Expandable Liner Installation

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Reusing A Pool Liner

by Evelyn
(Tillsonburg Ontario Canada)

We just recently took down a 27' round above ground pool and we are being told that we can not reuse the liner.

There are no holes in it and it was and is in perfect condition. My question is: Can we still use the same liner??

Hi Evelyn

If the liner is over two years old I would not even attempt it. They shrink, the loose their elasticity and the bottoms become brittle. If the liner is fairly new, you can give it a shot. A new one is always recommended because you will get a much better job out of it, but not always necessary.

With a used liner in usable condition you need to first build the pool. Once the wall is up and the base set you can unroll the liner and start spreading it out. You will first want to install the skimmer and return so that the openings line up and are set. This must be done first or they will never liner up.

You then need to go directly across from the skimmer and pull the liner over the wall and cloths pin it in place. With the liner under the skimmer just barely touching the top of the cove you work your way over to the other side, smoothing the liner as you go. Across from the skimmer the liner should be just off the cove with enough left over to hang over the wall. If this is the case the liner should be big enough to re-install. You would then drop the liner at the point across from the skimmer. You go back to the skimmer area and start pulling the liner over the wall, working in either direction.

A used liner usually means a few wrinkles on the side wall. It may also mean many wrinkles on the bottom of the pool, depending on how pliable the liner is, and how hot of a day you have to do your install. The hotter the better when it comes to used vinyl.

If you are installing the liner over a sand base you can count on a lot more foot prints than if you were installing a new liner, that just comes with the territory. As cheap as online liners are most of the time it just makes sense to order a new one and start fresh.

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Using a Used Pool Liner

Hello I was given a used pool and a used pool liner, both 24 feet, the liner has been out of the pool for a few weeks. It is an overlapping pool liner. Is it possible to have it stretch out enough to reuse it, this is all I can afford.

Thank you.


In some cases it is possible to use a used pool liner, it just depends on the age of the liner. The older the liner is the more it will shrink when emptied and the less elasticity it will have to stretch back out.

Most of the time a liner two years old or younger can be re-used. Anything older than this is probably not worth the effort.

If you have a fairly new liner that seems pliable and you think it might work here is how I would go about installing it.

I would put up the sidewall and spread the sand. Once the sand is smooth you would unroll the liner and hook up the skimmer and return. This should be your starting point because if you don't line the openings up now you never will.

Go directly below the skimmer and push the liner to the cove area below it. Now go directly across from the skimmer, push the liner up against the wall at the bottom and then pull the liner over top of the wall. This will tell you if you have enough liner to work with.

A liner that has shrunk beyond re-use will not be big enough to pull over the wall opposite the skimmer. If it looks OK you drop it down and go back to the skimmer and cloths pin the liner to the wall all the way around. You then center the bottom as best possible making sure the skimmer area is straight and the liner is still touching the wall at the bottom.

You then start some water going and continue work on smoothing the bottom. The hotter the day and the more direct sunlight you are working in the better your chances for success. I stiff brittle liner can become very workable in direct sunlight. In 110 plus degrees they can just about melt into a pool. Outdoor temps make a big difference so choose your work day accordingly.

Comments for Using a Used Pool Liner

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Jun 21, 2021
Can an above ground pool stay empty?
by: Anonymous

We have a 15 x 26 oval above ground pool. The past winter the water drained out when the pump that sat on top of the cover to keep it from sinking fell in. As a root had grown underneath that we wanted to remove before it damaged floor, we left it empty and planned to just buy new liner as it’s more than 5 years old. Unfortunately then covid hit and we can’t seem to find any replacement liners anywhere!! We are told we will have to wait till next season. We tried refilling but the top was caving in and we were afraid it would wreck the frame. The vinyl is no longer tight against the sides. So what do we do? Can it sit empty til next season??

Hi Yes, wait till you have a new liner.

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Installing a Used Liner

by Jason Sproul
(Miramichi, NB)

I am moving a 24' AGP with a J hook liner. My question is, with the skimmer and jet already cut out of the liner, where would the best place be to start so that the holes in the liner will match up with the holes in the wall?

Hi Jason

This page is full of good information about used liners. Liner shrinkage is a big concern with used liners, especially J hook liners, there is no extra liner to use like an overlap liner would have.

You start at the skimmer opening and install the skimmer and return. You would then go to the opposite side of the pool and see if you have enough liner. On a hot day the liner will stretch a little, depending on the age of the liner.

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May 29, 2015
Installing a used liner
by: Jason

Hi Dennis

Thanks so much for your speedy reply. I am installing the pool tomorrow and the weather looks good. The tip to start at the skimmer was what I was looking for. I will post with some feed back after the install.

Cheers, Jason

Best of luck, hope you are swimming on Sunday.

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