How to Care for Your Liner
With the proper care, Tara vinyl pool liners can last for many years. Our pool liners are made from the finest virgin USA-made vinyl and are manufactured in a way to make it more durable. We recommend that you follow these steps to increase the longevity of your pool liner.
Staining and Discoloration of the Vinyl Below the Water Line
The most common cause of staining and discoloration of your liner below the water line is secretions by micro-organisms. As these micro-organisms feed, they secrete dyes, which can be one of many colors that stain the vinyl. Although these stains are unsightly, they in no way degrade the performance of the vinyl. These dyes are compatible with the plasticizers in the vinyl, causing the stains to go all the way through the sheet. There is no proven method for removing these stains. They can, however, be prevented. By applying a growth inhibiting barrier to the walls and bottom of the pool before installing a liner, you can prevent the stains from occurring. Stain Barrier is the only product available that is proven to prevent the growth of microorganisms without damaging the liner.
There is a common misconception that the microbial resistant additives used in pool liners will kill the microorganisms in the area adjacent to the liner. Many people believe that there is a "protective zone" near the liner that will not support life. This is not the case. The additive in the vinyl prevents the vinyl from supporting life but in no way does it prevent life in areas adjacent to the liner. Extreme care must be taken during installation to insure that there is nothing behind the liner that may become a food source for these organisms.
There have been cases of stains forming in pools soon after the installation of a replacement liner when there was never a problem with the original liner. Although there is no way that we can say for sure what has happened behind that new liner, it is believed that when the environment behind the liner is exposed to light and oxygen a "rebirth" of microorganisms takes place. If the bottom and sidewalls of the pool are not properly treated, there is a chance that problems may arise.
There can also be changes in the ground water that introduce organisms into an area that had not been previously exposed. Extended periods of heavy rains will often cause significant changes in the microbiology of the ground water. Whenever there is a change in the environment around your pool, there is an opportunity for microorganisms which hitherto were not present to move into the ground water, thereby creating the possibility of staining.
Bacteria and Fungus Stains
Some types of bacteria and fungus found in the soil can actually penetrate through a vinyl liner and cause stains to appear on the liner. Usually they will start off as spotted or cloud-like formations on the liner. Algaecides used in the pool water have little if any effect on the stains caused from bacteria, since it does not get to the source of the bacteria in the soil. If a pool is known to have a problem with bacteria staining the liner, the ground underneath the liner may be treated with a solution of one half household chlorine bleach and one half water. Mix the bleach in the water and mist the floor of the pool with a small garden sprayer three or four times prior to dropping the new liner in the pool. After the last application of bleach solution, wait several hours before dropping the liner; making sure the solution has been absorbed into the ground.
If the liner has been recently replaced, one method which has been used several times is the use of Copper Iron Sulfate (FeSO4) to change the pH of the soil around the pool, therefore killing off the source of the bacteria or fungus. This is not a guaranteed cure in all cases but in the last few years it has had some astonishing results for some of our customers. Best of all, this can be tried without having to drain the pool and replace the liner! Copperas Iron Sulfate is a chemical used by tree nurseries for treating the pH of soil for some iron deficiencies in plants. For an average size pool, say an 18 x 36 rectangle, you need about twelve to fifteen pounds of this powered chemical. Sprinkle it on the ground next to the pool deck on as many sides of the pool as possible. Then turn a lawn sprinkler on the ground for two or three days, long enough to get the ground around the pool thoroughly saturated with water. The idea is to get the powder to soak deep into the ground so it can change the pH of the soil and hopefully kill off the source of the bacteria. Usually results are not seen for a week or two since it has to get deep in the ground to have any effect on the bacteria. The Copper Iron Sulfate has not been known to have any harsh effects on grass and care should be taken when using around delicate flowers.
Wrinkling of Vinyl
Our vinyl manufacturer has invested a great deal of time and money into discovering the causes of and the prevention of wrinkling. Wrinkles that develop in swimming pool liners after installation are caused by the vinyl absorbing water and thereby changing dimensions. Testing has shown that high levels of chlorine or bromine will initiate excessive water absorption into the vinyl liner and lead to wrinkles. Low pH and cyanuric acid stabilizer are also factors in wrinkle formation because the activity level of the chlorine is affected by pH and stabilizer level.
Our experience has shown that the use of trichloroisocyanuric acid sanitizer (Trichlor) and low pH levels can cause wrinkling of your vinyl liner. Alkaline sanitizers (Hypochlorite) and non-chlorine sanitizer systems have been found to be safer to use with vinyl liners.
Pool owners who use an automatic cover should pay close attention to the chlorine levels when the pool is closed. The automatic cover creates a closed environment where gases cannot dissipate. The airborne chemical buildup under the cover can hurt the liner and the cover, causing bleaching and wrinkling. Temperature differentials can increase this effect. Before covering your pool, be sure all chemicals are balanced and have had a chance to dissipate and return to normal operating levels.
Discoloration, Deterioration and "Dry Rot" Above the Water Line
In most cases, these three problems are different stages of the same phenomenon. The causes of these problems are many and varied, but have a universal theme. In most cases, the discoloration (usually brown), the deterioration (stiffening of the vinyl) and then the complete failure of the vinyl, commonly referred to as "dry rotting", is due to the extraction of the plasticizers and stabilizers from the vinyl. (Plasticizer is the additive which gives the vinyl its flexibility, stabilizers give the vinyl its high temperature stability.) Under normal circumstances, the volatility of these additives is very low and the vinyl will maintain its physical characteristics for many years.
Experience has taught us that under certain circumstances the area above the water line can begin to deteriorate very quickly. There are three main contributors to this problem; chemical attack, high temperatures and UV rays. The UV resistant characteristics of pool vinyl are excellent and by itself the UV rays do not present a significant problem. However, acid based vinyl cleaners, when not rinsed completely from the vinyl, exposed to extremely high temperatures and the effects of UV rays, will accelerate deterioration of the vinyl liner. There are however, certain steps that can be taken to combat these problems.
We had found, through laboratory testing, that acid based vinyl cleaners will adversely affect the life of the vinyl. Exposure to sun light and high temperatures will greatly accelerate that deterioration process. From a vinyl standpoint, we do not recommend using any cleaners that contain acid. If you do use an acid based cleaner, you must rinse all traces of the cleaner from the vinyl. If you do not remove all traces of the cleaner, you are creating a situation where accelerated breakdown of plasticizer and stabilizer will take place, thereby significantly shortening the life of the liner. Use alkaline based cleaners. They are more vinyl friendly and they work just as well as the acid based cleaners. In all instances, rinse the liner fully.
Clean your pool often by taking a soft cloth and using the pool water to rinse contaminates from the vinyl. Substances such as body oil, sun tan lotion, baby oil, etc., will collect at the line. These substances, when exposed to the sun and the high temperature that can be found just above the water line, will often times turn brown and be very difficult to remove from the vinyl.
If it is an option, have at least a two foot radius, or larger, corners in your pool. This will lessen the stress put on the vinyl in the corners. Insist that the liner fit properly. Watch the installation of the liner. If it has to be "stretched in", insist on a looser fitting liner. If the liner is too small it will tend to pull away from the wall above the waterline and especially in the corners. On the sun side of the pool, temperatures can reach in excess of 180 degrees Fahrenheit, between the liner and the sidewalls. These areas that pull away are the areas that generate the highest temperatures and are the places that will fail first. Remember: Stressed vinyl is more susceptible to chemical and environmental attack.
With proper cleaning and a properly fitted liner, there is no reason why your liner should not last many years. However, unless you follow these simple rules, your liner's life will be significantly shortened.
- DO NOT allow the pH of the pool to drop below 7.4. **Range 7.4-7.8.
- DO NOT allow chlorine levels to exceed 3 ppm using Trichlor sanitizer.
- DO NOT shock or super chlorinate your vinyl lined pool with Trichlor. Alkaline sanitizers (hypochlorite products) should be used.
- DO NOT continuously heat your vinyl lined pool to temperatures above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water will dissolve Trichlor sanitizer at a faster rate making the water very aggressive to the vinyl liner.
- DO NOT allow true total carbonate alkalinity to drop below 90 ppm when acidic Trichlor is used as the sanitizing agent. Alkalinity range 90-125 ppm.
- DO NOT forget to correct for cyanuric acid level when measuring true total alkalinity. True total alkalinity equals measured total alkalinity minus one third measured cyanuric acid level.
- Failure to limit and control cyanuric acid level could result in the following:
- Low alkalinity
- pH drop or bounce when Trichlor is added
- Increased chlorine demand (more Trichlor is needed)
- Aggressive water
- Bleached and/or wrinkled vinyl liner
- DO NOT add trichlor to a floating dispenser and ALWAYS continuously run the water circulation system 24 hours a day during the pool season when Trichlor is used.
- It should be understood that the absorption of water is a function of the PVC. However, the absorption will not take place with proper care. It should also be understood that the effects of the chemicals on the vinyl are cumulative and irreversible.
- Remember: less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl liner pool.
To understand why the pattern may flake off, there must be a basic understanding of the procedures involved in the printing of your pool liner. The print pattern is applied by a process called "roto-gravure" printing. The inks used are solvent based and when applied to the vinyl they actually bond themselves to the vinyl by "biting" into it. Then a clear "top coat" is applied to increase abrasion resistance and provide an added layer of UV protection.
The cause of ink flaking off the vinyl is low water pH. An acidic environment will weaken the bond by softening the coating and eventually the ink. The more acidic the environment the greater the likelihood of damage. The effect is cumulative and irreversible. Once this softening occurs, the coating and ink are susceptible to abrasion and flaking.
Always keep your pool at the recommended pH of 7.4 to 7.8. Deviation from these levels will adversely affect the performance of your liner.
Color Fading Below the Water Line
There can be many contributing factors that lead to the fading of your liner. All of those factors can be grouped under the heading of chemical attack, however the leading cause is simply over chlorinating. Just as excessive use of bleach will fade your clothes, over chlorinating of your pool water will greatly accelerate the fading of your liner.
From the vinyl's standpoint, any chlorine level above 3 PPM will accelerate the fading process. The use of a chlorine based sanitizing system is going to bleach your liner. There is no way around this fact. The higher the active chlorine level, the quicker the fading will occur.
Be especially careful when shocking, closing or opening your pool. It is critical that you circulate the water for a minimum of 72 hours after any of these procedures. The average shock treatment is going to bring the chlorine level of your water to at least 25 PPM and as high as 50 PPM.
The specific gravity of the chlorine is higher (weighs more) than that of the water. It is therefore critical that you circulate your water long enough to insure that the chlorine will not settle out of the water and concentrate in the deepest part of the pool.
It is also important that you do not cover your pool for at least 24 hours after one of these treatments. The covering of the pool will greatly restrict the chlorine's ability to dissipate, thereby greatly increasing the likelihood of damage.Our experience has shown that of all the sanitizing systems, Trichloroisocyanuric acid has the greatest potential to bleach a vinyl liner. Alkaline sanitizers (Hydochlorite) are much more vinyl friendly and just as effective. No matter what system you use, always use the minimum amount of chemical that will get the job done.
Remember: less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl lined pool.
Termites and Ants
For many years now it has been known and proven that termites and ants will sometimes attack a vinyl pool liner. It is suspected that termites are attracted to the pool area due to dampness in the soil around the pool.
Usually the first signs are very small holes in the liner above the water line. The liner may have dozens of holes in it within a short period of time after they have begun their attack on the liner. Most of the time if the liner is taken out of the bead track and pulled away from the wall you may see trails that the termites have left behind. Usually the holes are relatively small, about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch in diameter and are round or oval shaped holes.
If the pool liner has been attacked by termites or ants, the homeowner is advised to get an exterminator to treat the ground beneath the pool and the area around the perimeter of the pool deck when the liner has to be replaced.
Some of the more likely places for termites or ants to appear are: in the yard which has a stump or a tree removed, where a patio or a walkway has been removed, around wooden flower planters, or a wooden fence around the pool. We average about ten to fifteen reported cases of termites or ants at Tara Manufacturing each year.
Automatic Pool Covers
Automatic swimming pool covers are excellent products for protecting your family, pets and your pool. However, because these types of covers seal off the surface of the pool they can allow for a buildup of heat and chlorine in the space above the pool water and below the underside of the cover. This area of high temperature and high chlorine can lead to increased water absorption into a vinyl pool liner. A high level of water absorption can cause liner wrinkling and discoloration in the same way that it can occur when an excessive level of free chlorine is maintained in the pool water thereby shortening the life of the liner. In fact, the wrinkling and discoloration can occur at a faster rate in the area between the water surface and cover due to the elevated exposure conditions.
With this in mind it is important that automatic swimming pool covers be vented or periodically opened to minimize the heat buildup and increased free chlorine conditions. Without taking these steps wrinkling and discoloration of the vinyl pool liner are likely to occur.
Salt Water Generators
Because salt water chlorine generators provide a consistent dosing of chlorine to the pool water, they can be a very good way to sanitize your pool. It’s important to keep in mind that these systems are producing chlorine and there is a danger of chlorine levels exceeding recommended levels. You should never just “set it and forget it”. The need for diligence in testing and balancing pool water to maintain parameters within the recommended ranges is as important as it is with manual chemical additions.
To maintain a vinyl pool liner and maximize its service life we recommend controlling the water chemistry parameters within the following ranges:
1) Total Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
2) pH: 7.2 – 7.6
3) Calcium Hardness: 200 - 300 ppm
4) Free Chlorine: 1 – 3 ppm
5) Cyanuric Acid Stabilizer: 25 – 50 ppm
Exposure of your vinyl liner to the water chemistry parameters outside of the recommended ranges can result in a variety of negative effects. Some of these include liner wrinkling, liner color loss/staining and stiffening of the liner material which can lead to premature tearing and failure of the liner to hold water. All of these result in a shortened service life for the liner.
Winterizing Your Pool
What is the most vinyl friendly way to winterize a vinyl lined pool? It is fairly simple. Use the absolute minimum amount of chemicals that will allow the desired effect. Do not shock your pool using Trichlor (hypochlorite is safer) and circulate the pool water for 72 hours before shutting down.
Remember: The act of closing your pool is creating a closed environment. The more chemicals you use the more severe that environment will be. Do not chlorinate thinking you are doing good. Less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl lined pool.
Never add chemicals directly to the pool. Dilute them first in a bucket of water and add them to the pool by pouring them into the skimmer while the circulation system is on.
Circulate the pool water for a full 72 hours after the final addition of chemicals is added. Even liquid chlorine can concentrate in the deep end and cause bleaching of the liner.
The chlorine level should not exceed 2.0ppm.
Never drain your pool. For most pools we recommend that you not lower the water below the skimmer. However, in northern markets it's necessary to lower the water below the skimmer mouth. Place a Gizzmo or a weighted plastic milk carton in the skimmer to protect it from freeze damage. Once a pool has been filled with water, the liner begins to lose its stretching properties: therefore, the pool should be kept full of water at all times. The water acts as a protector for the liner and holds the liner in its proper position thus eliminating any re-stretching and drying out of the vinyl. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations concerning the winterizing of the pump and filter.
Use a good fitting winter cover that is sealed around the entire perimeter of the pool. An uncovered pool which accumulates debris, such as leaves and worms risk the potential of staining or bleaching of the liner, since the debris absorbs the chlorine in the pool.
Do not use abrasive cleaning aids, i.e.; steel wool, sharp bristled brushes, scouring pads, etc. We recommend using alkaline base cleaning agents for cleaning the area above the water line. Acid base chemicals can leave a residue which causes the vinyl to dry out.
Opening Your Pool
Most people put off the process of opening their pools until it is time for it to be used. Therefore, when the pool is first uncovered, the pool water is usually an ugly shade of green. So what is the natural tendency? Throw a ton of chemicals in the water to clean it up as soon as possible. This is exactly the wrong way to go about it.
Try to start a few weeks earlier in the season. This allows the correct amount of chemicals to clear water over time. Using fewer chemicals will yield a better result and save money. By using more chemicals you may be able to clear and balance your water more quickly; however, you would be exposing the vinyl to risk. It is better to use fewer chemicals over a longer time frame and extend the life of your liner.
Remember: Less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl-lined pool.