Last Updated: June 16, 2021

How To Remove Pool Liner Wrinkles

Written By: Pool Care Guide

Vinyl pools are inexpensive to install, but those savings come with a cost. That cost presents itself through the extra maintenance of periodically replacing the vinyl liners and removing pool liner wrinkles. Since you're here, it's probably safe to assume that your vinyl liner has developed a few wrinkles. 

In this guide, we'd like to help you with that. That's priority number one. When we've addressed how to fix the wrinkles, we will move onto what caused those wrinkles to form, and more importantly, how to prevent them.

How to Smooth Pool Liner Wrinkles

When pool wrinkles develop in vinyl liners, stretching the liner taut will generally solve the issue. The wrinkles become a problem when they sit for extended periods. The fabric accustoms to the shape, and the unbending wrinkle collects dirt, grime, and anything else that makes its way into its crevices.

There are several approaches to removing pool liner wrinkles, and we want to give you those options as well as a few tips. None of these approaches will be complicated, but you might need to try a few of them to get the job done. Shall we get started?

Turn on the Pool Heater

Vinyl liners shrink and stiffen in the cold. Warmer waters make them more pliable. If you turn the pool temperature up to a minimum of 92°F (33°C), you will make this whole process easier on yourself. However, before you run and crank up the heater, you should know that draining the pool might eventually be necessary to fix difficult wrinkles.

Is Your Water Low?

Evaporation can drain a pool faster than most people realize. Depending upon the location and weather cycle, pool water depth will reduce between 2 millimeters and 2 inches per week. That can be a lot, and it can reduce the water pressure by hundreds of pounds per week. Water pressure is a big part of what prevents vinyl liners from shifting and wrinkling. 

If your pool water is low, the best approach might be to refill the pool. As the water rises, use one of the methods to press out the wrinkles closest to the waterline.

Method One - Use a Toilet Plunger

If you are as germophobic as any sane person, you'll buy a brand new plunger. If you press that new plunger to the area next to the wrinkle and use it, the suctioning power of the plunger might be able to pull that wrinkle flat.

If the wrinkle is too large to be suctioned, draining some pool water could make the wrinkle easier to manipulate. Our recommendation is to bring the water down until only one to four inches of water press against the wrinkle. Once the wrinkle is smoothed, refill the pool.

Method Two - Soft Rubber Shoes

Sometimes, it is possible to shift the vinyl by kicking it with soft rubber shoes. To clarify, don't kick the wrinkle. Vinyl liners are weakened when they are wrinkled. You want to kick the area around the wrinkle and only away from the wrinkle.

Method Three - Use a Squeegee and Press out the Wrinkle

Lots of wrinkles form from water becoming trapped between the liner and the wall. Sometimes, you can push that water out with a squeegee. Place the squeegee at the base of the wrinkle, and push it across the length of the wrinkle. If the wrinkle is pliable and you can direct the trapped water, continue to push the water from the wrinkle through the edge of the liner.

Method Four - Empty the Pool and Use a Shop-Vac

Before trying the following method, be aware of the risks. As vinyl liners continue to age, they become increasingly susceptible to damage from dehydration. Dehydrated liners can become brittle and useless. Through this whole process, do not let your vinyl liners dry out. Otherwise, removing wrinkles might turn into replacing pool liners. Also, don't forget to turn off the heater and pump, so you don't damage your equipment. Okay, now let's talk about this method.

The worst wrinkles often require a complete draining of the pool. When the pool water isn't pressing down, adjusting the liners becomes much more manageable. If the earlier methods aren't working out for you, this might be the way to go.

You can use the shop-vac to suck out the wrinkles. If you lift part of the liner and place the vacuum nozzle between the liner and the pool shell, the shop-vac can often suck out the wrinkles. 

If that doesn't work, try reversing the flow. Use the shop-vac to push air between the liner and the pool shell. Typically, the liner will lift, and you'll remove the wrinkle. After that, reverse the flow again, and the vacuum will suck out any air trapped underneath the liner. If everything looks good, refill the pool, and you should be good to go.

Call a Pool Service

Sometimes, a job requires more than we can give. In those times, we can send up the bat signal and call in for some professional help.

What Caused the Pool Liners to Wrinkle?

There are a number of reasons that a vinyl liner might develop some wrinkles. The list below might help you figure it out and hopefully prevent the wrinkles from reappearing in the future.

Floating Liners (Fluctuating Groundwater Levels)

The water that flows beneath the ground rises and descends throughout the year. Much of the time, this rise in water levels is caused by heavy rainfall. When this happens, the rising groundwaters seep between the liner and the shell. When this happens, the liners can lift off of the shell. If you've ever come across the term "floating liners," this is what it means. If this is the cause of your pool's wrinkles, bubbles will likely be present on the floor of the pool.

How to Prevent in the Future

You'll need to invest in a dewatering system. There are several options, so you'll need to do a bit of research and weigh the pros and cons of each. To get you started, we can list of few of them. However, delving deeper into this subject would breach the confines of this article's subject matter.

  • Option 1: Install a storm run-off around the pool to redirect the water. If the water is not allowed to soak into the ground, the groundwater will be less likely to press its way between the pool shell and the liner.
  • Option 2: Install a drainage pit, sometimes called a dry well. You can make one of these by excavating a hole and filling it with gravel. Once you have your gravel pit, you can direct groundwater into it with a trench and a sump pump.

Bad Installation

Installing vinyl pool liners is generally a pretty straightforward process. Measure, cut, secure, and remove any wrinkles that you see. While the basics are simple, there are plenty of opportunities for an installation to go wrong. We have no advice to give other than to double-check your measurements before you cut. Also, if you're going to hire a company, be careful who you hire.

Incorrect Size

When vinyl liners are improperly sized, it is rather obvious. If they're too large, they look bunched up and ruffled. If they're too small, they won't reach from top to bottom.

If your pool has been around for decades, be aware that its dimensions may have slightly altered over time. You might need to make small adjustments to ensure a properly sized cut.

Chemistry

The pool's chemical balance is a tightrope act. If poorly maintained, there are dozens of potential problems that might sneak up on you. For vinyl pool liners, the problems appear when the pH is too low or the chlorine is too high.

The highly acidic and highly chlorinated waters attack the surfaces of the liners, and eventually, the liners start to absorb the water. As the liner absorbs the water, it grows, shifts, and produces those pool liner wrinkles that you noticed. If your pool liners are puckering or bleaching, chemicals are probably causing the wrinkle problem.

You can prevent this from happening in the future by scheduling your maintenance and testing your pool water once a week.

Poor Quality Liners

Pool liners often look similar, but they can be composed of very different materials. Those differences in materials change how well they can stand up against low pH waters and how easily they absorb them.

Because the materials make such a notable difference, generally speaking, your best option will be to purchase American-made pool liners. Many of the liners purchased from China generally use filler ingredients. Many of them substitute the plastics and resigns found in domestic products with chalky calcium carbonate.

The differences in these materials have been measured. On average, a domestic liner that has absorbed water will expand by roughly 3%. The liners that contain calcium carbonate can expand up to 25%.

The Pool Water Is Too Low

Clasps and water pressure are what keep pool liners in place. When a pool's water level descends, and the pressure reduces, the liners become more prone to repositioning. The obvious solution to this problem is to keep your pool water at the correct level.

If you are having trouble maintaining a consistent water level, you might want to invest in a water leveler. They cost somewhere between $50 and $80, and there are plenty of them on Amazon.

Common Pool Liner Questions

Is it Bad to Have Wrinkles in the Pool Liner?

They're frumpled dirt collecting eye-sores, but they generally don't pose a great risk to your pool. Those wrinkled areas of the liner are weakened. If a weakened portion of the liner allows water to seep through, the pool's frame might slowly rust from galvanic corrosion.

How Much can a pool Liner Stretch?

It will depend on the product materials. Most of the time, you can expect to be able to stretch a liner by about 3 feet.

Why is the pool liner fading?

When your pool liners start to fade, there are two likely culprits. It’s either being bleached by the sun, or your chlorine levels are too high.

Will a pool liner shrink?

It depends on what you mean. If the liner is in a pool filled with warm water, it is unlikely. Typically, that indicates that the pool liners have shifted and pulled away from their clamps and correct positions. If the water is cold, yes, the cold may have caused the liners to shrink.

Finally, pool liners can absorb water, and that causes them to expand. When a pool is drained of water, the liners will also release their water and shrink in the process.

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