Prep Work for a New Liner
To avoid Winter wear and tear, new liners are traditionally installed in the Spring. Also stirring at this time of year, wasps and hornets are drawn to pool post caps, elevated decks and rails as their proximity to water make them ideal nesting sites. Great care must be taken when you first dismantle an above ground pool.
Take the new liner package into the house a day prior to installation. The warmer you keep vinyl, the more workable it becomes.
Before you remove the old liner, examine the top edge of the vinyl for loosened areas, where the liner has pulled, or threatens to pull, itself out of the liner lock. Vinyl fails most often because either the height of pool walls are under estimated or natural settlement is not considered and the vinyl material must stretch to make up the difference.
Understand that new vinyl is reasonably forgiving and will stretch under the weight of water. Quality 28+ ply vinyl remains stretchable for 5-9 years; cheaper 20 mil, much less. Assuming the new liner has the same general dimensions as the old liner, it too will loosen as the vinyl loses its stretchability. By building up the floor in these areas, you'll avoid this imminent failure.
First, check the levelness of the pool supports. You can do this before you drain the pool by cutting a slit in the liner at each post and marking the level with an all purpose pen or with a water level after the liner is removed.
Start at the skimmer, using a Phillips head (+) screwdriver to remove the skimmer face plate and gasket. Move to the return jet(s) and remove the face plate and gasket. If there is a main drain, remove this face plate and gasket, also. On each side of the skimmer panel, remove both post caps and rail. The liner should pull easily from the liner lock. Replace the rail and rail caps. By reassembing the pool as you remove the liner, you maintain structural integrity. In other words, the frame doesn't flop around.
If you have one, a small fountain pump comes in handy to remove the last little poolings of water. But if you have no further plans for the liner, jabbing holes and allowing any remaining water to spill out onto the ground is quicker and just as effective. Roll up the old liner and toss it out of the pool.
In Florida, most pools are built on or in sand. Each post should be firmly based on a 12"X 12" patio stone and adjusting the elevation of these posts is simple shovel work. (upper right) This particular pool features in-pool steps and imprinting the base helps maintain its position after the pool is refilled.
Now inspect the floor of the pool for gullies, imperfections, rocks and weeds. Ideally, the original pool floor would have been cleared of rocks, sticks and weeds so that clean sand covered the area for a depth of at least 3". Rake the floor to a flat plane, whether it slopes to a deep end or maintains a consistent depth for the entire surface. Cementeous floors can be patched with Sand Mix cement or a mixture of 33% gray cement to 66% Perlite styrofoam beads. Mix cement in a small bucket and pour into place. You can work it smooth with a trowel, spatula, bit of wood board or damp sponge. Allow the repair a day or two to set.
(above,left) Avoid divots in the sand base by using these 'Florida Sand Shoes', pieces of cardboard torn from the liner box.
Inspect the walls of the pool. Small dents and dings can be patched with 2- part pool putty, auto repair Bondo or, if they're very small, covered with Duct Tape. (right) Take a close look at all the metal seams and cover exposed screw or bolt heads with Duct Tape.
Rusty areas should be sanded and coated in a good rust preventative primer. Large holes can be covered with sheet metal riveted over the original panel. When an entire panel is in danger of failure, you can cover the entire span in marine plywood or WonderBoard (a water and weatherproof cement/ wire construction panel).
Vinyl pool manufacturing companies seem to come and go as quickly as concrete pool contactors. Fortunately, most liner pools are so similar that many parts like the liner lock, post covers, panels and rails are, if not immediately interchangeable, at least readily adaptable.
With the structure of the pool prepared, you're ready to install a new, long lasting liner
Vinyl liner and other pool repair procedures are explained with color photos, drawings, graphs and simple text in the 690 page Pool School PRO CD
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