How To Patch A Pool Liner? Okay, so you head out into the backyard, all set to take a nice cool swim.
But just as you’re about to dive in, you notice the water level is just a couple of inches lower than it should be.
Well, okay, it’s been hot out there so it’s probably just evaporation.
Or is it?
There’s a chance that your pool has sprung a leak.
Can we add like dun da music?
Like, really dramatic stuff.
That’d be cool.
Well crap, now what?
You need to keep calm and you need a patch that leaks.
And I’m gonna explain how, right after this.
All right, quick disclaimer, everyone has their own way to maintain a pool, but in the end, we all just wanna make sure that your pool is clean and clear.
If I miss anything or if you’ve discovered a more efficient way to patch your pool liner, please leave a comment to let me know and to help your fellow pool owners.
If your pool is losing water it is most likely due to evaporation, especially if temperatures have been high.
And more especially, if it’s hot out and you don’t cover your pool when you’re swimming.
I mean who covers their pool while they’re swimming?
A loss of about a quarter of an inch to a half of an inch of water every single day is fine, but more than an inch of water a day, well (groaning) oh boy.
So before you start lining your pool with duct tape, and I actually don’t recommend that you ever do that, you need to confirm that you actually have a leak in your pool and to do this you need to use the bucket test.
And by the way, everything I’m about to tell you applies to both in-ground and above-ground pools, but if you have an Intex pool.
So, let’s talk about the bucket test.
You’re gonna need a 5-gallon plastic bucket that you can find at your local hardware store.
And either, a king-size black marker or a roll of duct tape.
And don’t worry, as I said before, we’re not gonna use duct tape to patch your pool liner.
You wanna place a five-gallon bucket in the water on the second step of your pool and if you don’t have steps, you just wanna make sure that the bucket isn’t fully underwater.
At this point, you wanna fill the bucket with water until the water level inside the bucket matches the pool water level.
And this is where you can use the marker or duct tape to mark the inside level and the outside level, so you wanna make sure that both the inside of the bucket and the outside of the pool are the same water level.
At this point turn off the pump, wait 24 hours and then compare the pool’s water level to the water in the bucket.
If both the pool and the bucket have gone down, but remain even, well then, your pool is just losing water due to evaporation and that’s great.
However, if the pool level is now lower than the level inside the bucket, (sighs) I’m sorry to say that you probably have a leak.
So to narrow down the possible source of the leak you wanna repeat the test for another 24 hour period, but this time with the pump on.
If the water level in the pool is even less than the first test, then the leak is most likely somewhere in your pool’s filter system or plumbing.
Now, if you found that your pool does have a leak, the next step is to locate it so you can patch it.
The good news is fixing the leak and the filter system is pretty easy, you just find the leak and replace the parts if needed.
If it’s not in your filter system inspect the area around your pool.
If the ground is wet where it shouldn’t be, well then, your pool is likely leaking somewhere near that area and the water is seeping into the ground.
Once you know the general area of the leak you can pinpoint it.
Now you’ll either need a leak finder dye or really dark food coloring.
And if you use food coloring instead of dye, make sure that it’s liquid food coloring and not that paste, you wanna save the paste for making cakes.
I’m a rapper, you can find an old video of me rapping about pool care.
Yes, that is a thing that exists. Yes.
Also, food coloring isn’t going to be as accurate as a leak finder dye because it will dissipate in the water.
So leak finder dye is actually made to stay together in the water.
So if you have time to get it, it’s definitely the better option and I highly recommend it.
Or you can just keep some on hand just in case.
Now, to find the leak the water needs to be as still as possible.
So turn off anything that’s moving the water around, like your pump or any water features, a slide, a fountain, anything.
Go to the edge of the pool, don’t get in the pool, just go to the edge of the pool in the area where the ground was wet.
Holding the dye or the food coloring container, whichever you decide to use, as close to the water as possible without touching it.
Slowly begin to pour the dye into the pool.
Watch it closely.
If you’ve found the general area of the leak from testing the outside of the pool you should see the dye float right towards the hole
that’s causing the leak.
And you wanna mark that spot so you can come back inside the pool to patch it.
Now before you actually fix the leak, you need to stop the water from leaking out your pool and turning your yard into a marsh.
Stopping the leak will give you time to gather the materials you need to patch the leak and you can use waterproof tape or a peel and stick vinyl patch, both of these can be used underwater so there’s no need to drain your pool any more water than you’re already losing.
Speaking of which.
You wanna avoid draining a vinyl liner pool anyway, even a little bit.
If the liner dries and it is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, it can wrinkle and become brittle and you don’t wanna have to fix that because you may actually just need to replace it at that point.
However, if the water has already leaked out to the level of the leak then it’s okay to patch it dry.
Now let’s patch this sucker up!
You’re gonna need a vinyl patch kit or vinyl adhesive, a dauber applicator, or a craft stick if you’re using adhesive.
A pair of scissors, a nonabrasive scouring pad, like a Scotch-Brite pad will be fine.
A weight, you sand in an airtight ziplock bag, should work well.
Or a brick in an airtight ziplock bag.
You don’t wanna just add brick to your vinyl liner, just make sure it’s wrapped in plastic.
You wanna use goggles if the leak is below the waterline and patching vinyl if you’re not using a patching kit.
Any algae, sunscreen, or other stuff that’s stuck to the pool wall will make it hard for the patch to adhere, so use the non-abrasive scouring pad to gently clean around the leak.
Now, I need to stress this, you need to be gentle if you’re using that Scotch-Brite pad because you don’t wanna make the hole any bigger, that would be bad.
If you’re not using peel and stick patches, cut the patching vinyl into a circle, at least two inches larger in diameter, than the hole.
For example, if the rip is three inches long the patch needs to be at least five inches in diameter.
And if you’re using a peel and stick patch, you wanna remove the paper backing and place the adhesive side over the tear.
Otherwise, make sure the patching vinyl is free of debris, and then use the dauber or the craft stick to apply a generous amount of adhesive to the entire surface so that it’s completely covered all the way out to the edges of the patch.
Now, this is very important, here’s how we’re gonna patch the pool.
You’re gonna take your patch, right?
You got the adhesive all on one side and you’re gonna fold it in half, and I don’t know if you can hear me, you’re gonna fold it in half like a taco and then you’re gonna submerge it underwater and then you’re gonna hold the patch over the tear and you’re gonna slowly and gently open it up while smoothing it on to the liner, right.
You wanna press out any air bubbles.
Then (sighs) get comfortable because you’re gonna need to hold that patch there for at least two minutes to let that adhesive cure.
And don’t pull on it to check to see if it is, you know, actually stuck to the vinyl because then you’re gonna have to start all over again.
Okay, now this won’t work if the patch is on the pool wall, but if it’s in a spot where you can place a weight on top, you can leave it there for 24 hours, and that way you won’t have to stand there.
Okay, hopefully, that was helpful in patching your pool liner but like I said earlier in the article , what if you have an Intex or another soft-sided pool?
You can find special patch kits for these types of pools.
They include three types of patch material, either clear vinyl for top ring repairs, blue vinyl for the interior repairs, and laminated PVC for exterior repairs.
But Intex also makes peel and stick patches which might be easier to use.
Patching a soft-sided pool uses pretty much the same procedure I’ve already explained, but the one difference is patching the top ring if you have one of those blowup pools.
And to do this you need to fully inflate that top ring and you wanna mark the hole, apply adhesive around the hole, and then use the clear vinyl patch or just the peel and stick patch and apply it right on there and just make sure that you hold it there for a few seconds to make sure that it actually sticks.
Then deflate the ring so that the adhesive can cure just a little bit longer without all of that pressure and then you can reinflate the
right after about 12 hours.
Okay, at this point you should feel pretty proud of yourself after you patch your vinyl liner, but don’t get too comfy because patches are only a temporary fix.
Some of them will last for years, but only a few years and if you get a decade out of a patch well then, you are tempting fate.
You are tempting fate.
Plus the bigger the tear is the more likely the edges of the patch will get snagged up and curled up and just pull away eventually.
So when that happens you can get meta and repair the repair by following the same procedures, but the thing is you will eventually have to get a new liner so start saving up for that as soon as you start seeing the first signs of a leak.
Now you should also know that the bucket test and the dye tests are, well, not the most scientific methods to find a pool leak.
They may be perfectly fine, but depending on where you live in how bad your leak is, you may wanna find another alternative and at this point, I would recommend calling a pro.
I think it’s better to call a pro than to have your backyard declared a wetlands habitat.
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