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How to Remove Wrinkles in a Vinyl Pool Liner

Nothing starts your day off on the wrong foot like discovering that your favorite work shirt is full of wrinkles. But, as long as you have an ironing board and a few extra minutes, there is a quick and easy fix for that dilemma! However, not every wrinkly situation is as minor as a wrinkled shirt. Wrinkles in your vinyl pool liner not only ruin the aesthetic of your beautiful outdoor area, but can also seriously damage your pool. In this post, we will discuss a few tips and tricks to help you sort out any wrinkled liner woes.

What Causes Wrinkles in a Vinyl Pool Liner?

Vinyl-lined pools are great options for first-time or veteran pool owners due to their affordability, simple maintenance, and customizable options. However, one common downfall of vinyl-lined pools is their propensity for wrinkles. The thin vinyl material is susceptible to warping and wrinkling, especially if they are not well maintained. The most common causes for wrinkles in a vinyl pool liner include:

Wrinkles in vinyl pool liner

  • Incorrect liner size: This is one of the most common and frustrating causes of wrinkles in your vinyl pool liner. Precisely measuring the pool and corresponding liner is crucial when installing the liner. If the vinyl liner is too big, the excess material will collapse and wrinkle. Unfortunately, this can only be remedied by removing, remeasuring, and reinstalling a new liner.
  • Poor installation: Poor installation goes hand in hand with incorrect sizing. Upon installation, the liner should sit flush against the floor and walls of your pool. If you see wrinkles or creases in your vinyl liner during installation, notify the installer.
  • Low pH level in pool water: A low pH level in your pool — below the recommended range of 7.4–7.6 — means the water is acidic. Over time, this acidity can deteriorate and shrink your vinyl liner, causing it to wrinkle and even tear.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Chlorine and shock granules that don't fully dissolve into the water can settle on the bottom of your pool and weaken or wrinkle the vinyl liner.
  • Water under the liner: An elevated water table from rain or flooding can cause the liner to bulge in the pool. Once the water table decreases, the extended liner will contract and may wrinkle.
  • Pool water loss: Whether due to a pool leak or intentional draining, a lowered water level can result in the vinyl liner drying out and wrinkling or cracking.

How to Get Rid of Wrinkles in a Vinyl Pool Liner

Not only are vinyl liner wrinkles unattractive and bothersome, but they can irreversibly damage your liner if left unattended. The longer wrinkles sit on your vinyl pool liner, the higher the chance the liner will crack or rip, requiring major repair or a complete replacement. Here are a few easy ways to remove wrinkles in your vinyl pool liner.

1. Check the Water Level

Like we mentioned above, a lowered water level exposes the vinyl liner to the sun and elements, which will dry it out and cause wrinkles. Keep your pool's waterline at the necessary level, typically in the middle of the skimmer opening, to keep the liner protected. If your pool water volume is insufficient, use a garden hose to add fresh water, then test and balance your pool water chemistry.

When draining is required, either to correct water balance issues or when closing the pool, use extreme caution, and don't lower the water level too much. We typically only recommend draining about a foot of water at a time before refilling. In all circumstances, always refer to your pool builder's or manufacturer's instructions for best practices in removing water from the pool.

clean pool floats

2. Smooth out the Wrinkles by Hand

This is the most hands-on way to remove wrinkles in your vinyl liner. Gently stretch out the edges of each wrinkle with your hand until it flattens. If the wrinkles are underwater, slip on a pair of soft water shoes and manipulate the wrinkles with your feet. For more stubborn or hard-to-reach wrinkles, use a soft, nylon bristle pool brush to roll out the creases.

3. Use a Toilet Plunger

This should go without saying, but please use a new, clean toilet plunger for this one! Place the plunger on the sides of the wrinkle, and gently press up and down. This will lightly stretch the liner and can help release the wrinkles.

keep your pool warm to avoid wrinkles in vinyl liner

4. Warm up the Pool

Cold temperatures cause most things to contract and condense, and your vinyl pool liner is no different. If exposed to frigid air or water, the liner may tighten and pucker, resulting in wrinkles. Warm up your pool with a heater or solar cover, then use your hands, feet, or a plunger to work out the wrinkles.

5. Blow out the Liner with a Shop-vac

Blowing out your vinyl liner with a shop vac is a last resort. Using a shop vac to blow out your liner wrinkles requires you to drain the pool first, which is no small task and can leave you at risk for damaging the liner further. Before you resort to this step, we strongly advise speaking to a certified pool service professional.

Once your pool is drained, place the shop vac between the vinyl liner and frame, and use the lowest setting possible to blow air into the gap to push out the wrinkles. Then, set the shop vac to suction, and suck out the excess air between the liner and frame.

PRO TIP: Draining your pool can cause serious, sometimes irreversible damage if done incorrectly. Use your pool's main drain or a submersible pump to slowly drain the water. Check out our blog post, Pool Draining 101, for more information, or stop by your local Leslie's to ask about our pool draining services.

6. Get Professional Help

If there are still wrinkles in your pool liner despite your best efforts to remove them, it's time to call in the professional reinforcements. Constantly struggling with vinyl liner wrinkles could indicate your liner needs to be professionally mended, or even replaced altogether. And routinely draining your pool to mend wrinkles is not only bad for the environment, but can wreck havoc on your pool.

How to Prevent Wrinkles in Your Vinyl Pool Liner

Proper installation is the first line of defense for preventing wrinkles in your vinyl pool liner. Whether you're putting in a new liner, or you've had one for years, verify it is the right size and shape for your pool. An ill-fitting, or poorly installed liner will cause endless problems down the road.

Maintaining a proper pH level of 7.4–7.6, and keeping your pool water warm with the help of a heater or solar cover, will help hold wrinkles at bay. Additionally, locating and repairing any cracks or tears in your vinyl pool liner can help stop wrinkles in their tracks. Check out our blog post, How to Patch a Vinyl Pool Liner, for some quick and easy patching tips.

Wrinkles in your vinyl pool liner shouldn't put stress wrinkles on your face! There are many simple ways to do a DIY wrinkle resolve, and get your pool looking its best again. If you have any questions about repairing your vinyl liner, or about ordering or installing a new one, stop by your local Leslie's and speak with one of our pool experts. We offer vinyl pool liner solutions for both inground and above ground pools.

Essential Products

Vinyl Patch Kit

Patch Kit

Vinyl Adhesive

Vinyl Adhesive

Above Ground Pool Liners

Vinyl Liners

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Leslie’s makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and Leslie’s assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Leslie’s assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.