Pool Liner Shrunk

by Patricia Coldiron
(Houston, TX Harris)

I have a 24x15x5 oval pool with the six support beams. My vinyl liner was installed about two years ago.

The installer did a sloppy job and installed the liner with one side with a lot of overlap and the other side barely over the top cover. Now the short side has shrunk about 2 inches below the top cover. It effects one of the panels.

Is it okay to leave it like that or will it only get worse and water get behind the liner? Or should we drain the pool and stretch the liner?

Hi Patricia.

It sounds like the liner has pulled over the pool wall and is hanging loose on the inside of the pool. This could easily be a problem if water starts to get in behind it. I would try to fix it if at all possible.

You would need to drain the pool and try to shift a little more liner over to that side. The trick to doing this is to make use of some direct overhead sunlight. The temperature and the amount of direct sun make all the difference in the world when it comes to working with vinyl.

Normally this type of shrinkage only occurs when a liner has been emptied, be sure to always keep your vinyl pool completely full of water.

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Refilling a Doughboy Above Ground Pool

by Chris
(Jenison, MI)

We have a 28' round Doughboy pool. We had to drain it, other than the deep end, in order to patch 2 holes that were in the shallow end. Now we are refilling it, and are concerned, as it is pulling the liner taunt from the top edges.

We are scared that it may pull the sides of the pool in. Will the liner automatically expand to accommodate the water?

We did see some wrinkles at the edge of the deep end and attempted to move them toward the shallow end to give extra liner, in case it needs to expand more. Can you tell us if it is normal for the liner to be pulling? Will it just go into place as water fills the pool?

Hi Chris.

Any time you drain an above ground pool you run the risk of having to replace the liner. Had you left at least a foot of water in the pool, made your repairs, and refilled you would have been fine. Or better yet, you could have patched the holes without draining any water out of the pool.

How much the liner has shrunk and how much damage has been done is impossible for me to say. The best chance you have of being able to fill the pool back up is to do it during the hottest part of the day, in direct sunlight. You should also be working the liner to make it as smooth as possible as you fill it.

If the liner is warm, and still pliable, the sides should stretch into place. The older a liner gets the less stretch it will have. You should be watching it closely as it fills. If the liner will not stretch it will either pull out at the top or it will pull the wall down. You need to keep a close eye on it. Normally if you can get a couple feet of water in it you should be fine the rest of the way.

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Save Liner when Moving Above Ground Pool

I am buying a used pool (Approx 18x33 AquaLeader) and am concerned about how to save the liner so that it can be installed in the new location.

Any suggestions?



Unless the liner is less than two years old I would not even consider trying to save it. Even then you are better off with a new liner.

A vinyl liner will shrink as soon as the pool is empty. Even if the pool is drained, moved, reinstalled and filled the same day the liner will still shrink.

Even if the liner seems to be reusable you still have the skimmer and return holes to deal with. These openings are usually at one end of the pool, or the other.

The skimmer and return need to be attached first thing, otherwise the holes will never line up. Now you have to go directly to the other end of the pool and see if you have enough liner to pull over the wall.

Most of the time you will not have enough liner. Just a little shrinkage, over the length of an oval pool, will make a big difference when trying to come up with enough liner to secure over the wall.

What will usually happen is you will spend an entire day messing around trying to install this used liner and still end up buying a new one. It is better to just have that new liner in the box before you begin your installation.

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Liner Pulled From Pool Wall

by Julie
(Glasco, New York)

When I went to uncover the pool, I noticed that the liner was free on two panels, not ripped but just hanging out on its own. Later I discovered that the two side panels had come out of the rubber track.

What do I do to fix it? I covered the pool back up but need some advice!

Thank You, Julie

Hi Julie.

If the liner is an overhang liner the fix should be pretty easy, provided the overhang was not cut off. You would need to remove about four top rails and then remove the rods and coping. Use cloths pins to hold the liner in place as you pull it back up over the wall. It may not got back exactly how it was but as long as there is enough liner to go over the wall you will be fine. Next you re-install the coping, rods and top rails.

If you have a beaded liner the fix could be a little more complicated. You may be able to work the receiver back over the wall without removing top rails, but most likely they will have to come off. You need to get the receiver back over the wall and taped firmly in place. It is possible you will not be able to accomplish this with the pool full of water and some will have to be removed.

The next step is pulling the liner back up and inserting into the bead receiver. Again, it is very possible this will require draining water out of the pool. If you do have to drain, drain just enough water to allow you to pull the liner up, do not completely empty the pool.

At some point the liner should have enough slack to go back into the receiver. If it is being real stubborn it may need a good dose of direct sunshine to loosen up enough to go back into place. If a good deal of water was drained in order to make this repair it would probably be a good idea also to refill in direct sunshine. This will help the liner to stretch so that it does not pull out again as its filling.

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Has My Above Ground Pool Liner Shrunk?

(BERWYN, PA, 19312. USA)

Recently I emptied by above ground pool and scrubbed it clean. The liner seemed OK apart from one small area that appeared to come away from the top, which was easily refitted, hooked over the aluminum lip around the edge.

All looked good until I started filling. I just left the hoses running all night. To my dismay the following morning the liner had detached itself from the upper lip and was "looping" from the top in a few places.

There was too much water in the pool for me to lift the liner back on to the aluminum lip around the edge and consequently had to drain again. I have asked the original liner installer and his first response was that the liner had shrunk and needed to be replaced. However the liner appears to be loose and I was still able to easily reattach the liner over the top lip when it was re-emptied.

The liner is approx 8 years old and was professionally installed. I use Baquacil sanitizer and chemicals in my pool.

The question is, has the liner shrunk or have I not taken sufficient care when refilling. i.e. keep watching the water level and/or should I try clamping the liner to the top lip?

Hi Mike.

Most of the time after a liner has been through a couple of seasons it cannot be completely drained because it will shrink and not be reusable. After eight years I seriously doubt whether your liner will stretch back out. The only way to know for sure is to try filling it in direct sunlight on a warm day. Vinyl will only stretch when it's warm and the amount of direct sun it gets makes all the difference in the world.

Comments for Has My Above Ground Pool Liner Shrunk?

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Mar 29, 2018
Inground pool liner
by: Anonymous

Hi, our inground pool has a tear at the seam on the steps. We had the original installer order a new one but it's been sitting in storage since the summer of 2017. It was never used and never had water in it but my question is what if we wait another year or even 3 years before we install it.... will it shrink?


It will last for many years in the box.

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