A pool can be a great luxury, but it also comes with its share of expenses. In addition to routine maintenance and cleaning, repairs will be needed after a while. It’s just part of the normal wear and tear of a swimming pool.
Pools come in two types: above-ground and in-ground. While the maintenance routine for both is similar (water treatment, algae control, filtration systems, etc.), each type will have its own particulars when it comes to repair.
Because of the work involved in digging a huge hole in your yard and then filling it in with the proper materials and equipment, an in-ground pool is an expensive prospect. Repairs are usually best left to a professional, but with regular maintenance, they are few and far between.
Vinyl Liner Repair
While some concrete in-ground swimming pools don’t have any liners, many pools are lined with a thin coating of vinyl. A vinyl liner can be a great choice in a swimming pool because it is affordable, smooth to the touch and is nonporous, which means that algae won’t grow on the material. Some of the repairs for a vinyl pool liner include:
Tears – Vinyl liners are susceptible to rips and snags. If these are very minor, they can be quickly and easily repaired using a patch kit. These can cost less than $20.00 as a DIY project or up to $200.00 for a professional to complete the job. However, major problems with the existing vinyl liner may lead to a complete replacement, which will cost substantially more, around $1,700.00.
Popped bead – The vinyl liner is held in place by a bead around the edge of the pool. The liner is pulled and stretched to fit neatly into this bead. An incorrectly fitted liner can pop out of this bead. Also, through expansion and contraction from weather conditions, the bead can weaken or lose its elasticity. An old bead can stretch out with age and lose its ability to hold the liner. With some patience, a popped bead can be repaired by the homeowner at no cost other than time, but a replacement bead can be purchased for as little as $129.00 for 150 feet.
Sun and aging – Most liners fail above the water line. The sun beats down on the water and reflects up against the exposed part of the liner. Chemical imbalances in the water can also cause failure if left untreated. Once this happens, it’s the end of your liner. A protective shield can be installed to extend the expected life of your liner. This can cost $530.00 for 150 feet.
Fiberglass Liner Repairs
Fiberglass liners are another popular option for swimming pools. Fiberglass liners are constructed off-site, which helps to speed up the installation process. Like vinyl, fiberglass won’t encourage mold growth, but fiberglass is much stronger and tends to need fewer minor repairs over time. If there are any dings, scratches or cracks that need to be addressed, the entire liner has to be resurfaced. This is done with a refinishing gel coat that essentially needs to be painted onto the affected area as well as the rest of the pool. Although this takes time and requires the pool to be emptied, it is often an affordable repair that comes in under $300.00 barring any serious complications.
Spider cracks – These thin cracks usually form when pressure is exerted on a weak part of the fiberglass. This weakness can be caused by improper construction, damage during shipping or installation, or pressure from the backfill.
Bulging walls – Walls will usually bulge if an improper backfill is used. Sand, for example, will become heavier than water when it gets over-saturated. If the fiberglass isn’t strong enough, it will bulge if it doesn’t crack. The best solution for this is prevention; use gravel instead of sand.
Fading color – Over time, hopefully a long time, the gel coat will fade in color. When this happens, your pool will have to be repainted. This can be a DIY project or it can be done by a professional for around $700.00 for a basic 500 sq ft pool. Either way, the pool will have to be drained. For most professional services, the painting process includes patching small cracks and other minor repairs.
Plumbing leaks – These are often caused by using sand as a backfill. Even if a contractor does his best to settle the sand, it will settle even further with time. This will put pressure on the plumbing and cause it to bend or break. The best solution to this is to use gravel instead of sand.
Cracks in Concrete or Gunite
Concrete pools and gunite pools are some of the most common types of in-ground swimming pools in the United States. Concrete pools are poured on the site into wooden forms, a process that can be labor-intensive. Gunite, a material made from a mixture of cement and sand, is also poured on the site, but it is poured into a framework built from steel reinforcing rods. Both gunite and concrete pools may be tiled, painted or left plain depending on personal taste and budget.
Repairs for these pools are often related to cracks, hollow spots, and popping up. In most cases, repair can involve essentially sanding down the entire pool and replacing the plaster coating. Small patching can be completed as a cheaper, temporary fix. Popping up of the pool, however, is a much larger job with no temporary fix.
Cracks – Most cracks that you see in a concrete or gunite pool are actually in the plaster coating. Repairing this involves draining the pool and resurfacing. If the crack goes all the way to the gunite or concrete, the crack must be widened a bit and then filled in with caulking before being resurfaced as above. Large cracks, those running for more than a foot, are usually best left to a professional and can cost about $65.00 per linear foot.
Hollow spots – Hollow spots happen when the substrate separates from the pool. The backfill can shift away and leave the section completely unsupported. They can look like divots or bulges, or some can look like spider web cracks or crow’s feet. Repairing this involves refilling the hollow spot and resurfacing the pool. This will cost from $700.00 to $1,000.00 for a basic 150 sq ft pool.
Popping up – Where the water table is high, such as along a coast, hydrostatic pressure can build up beneath your pool. This can force your pool to pop up out of the ground if you need to drain it. Once this happens, your pool has had it. The damage can climb into tens of thousands of dollars. Often, your only option is to demolish the pool and build anew. Prevention is the best medicine in this case, and installing a hydrostatic pressure relief valve when having your pool installed is your best option. They cost around $14.00.
Leaks in the Pool’s Plumbing
Sometimes the problem that needs to be repaired is not with the main pool structure itself, or even with the liner, but with the plumbing. In-ground swimming pools require a main line to feed water to the pool, a return line to take it away, a pool filter pump and often even a heater to keep the water at a pleasant temperature for swimming.
Although repairing a leaking line is possible, most homeowners simply choose to replace the line altogether, which is often reasonably priced. The major cost for this type of repair is not for the materials but for the labor involved. Even if owners know there is a leak somewhere in the plumbing, finding the exact leak takes time and effort as well as specialized equipment to determine pressure in each pipe. Expect to pay around $1,000.00 to have a professional repair the leak, which is highly advised.
Finding and Fixing a Pool Leak
If homeowners are certain a leak is coming from the swimming pool itself, rather than the pipes or the plumbing, then they will have the somewhat daunting task of determining where, exactly, the leak is coming from. In some cases, the leak will be obvious, but that is unlikely. Most of the time, pool owners will have to actively seek out the leak by watching water movements, diving in the pool with goggles to look for abnormalities or even using food dye to see the direction of the water in the pool.
A small leak can often be repaired with a patch kit. These generally cost around $20.00, and instructions must be followed to the letter to ensure that the patch holds properly.
When the leak simply can’t be found, hiring a professional to come in and find it will be best. This generally costs around $350.00, but it often also includes patching up the leak once it is spotted. To prepare for the arrival of the professional and to ensure that a leak is spotted, some key steps should be followed:
Make sure the pool is completely free of pool toys and other things floating in it.
Scoop up any debris in the water.
Ensure that the water is clear and safe to swim in.
Above-Ground Swimming Pool Repair
Some of the least expensive repairs involve above-ground swimming pools. These pools are typically less expensive to begin with, so even total replacement won’t come close to the price of a concrete or gunite swimming pool.
The biggest problems with above ground swimming pools tend to be leaks in the liner. This might mean that the pool is never completely full or that water leaks out onto the ground and damages the surrounding area. The easiest fix for a leaking liner is an adhesive patch that is installed over the leaking area. Patch kits can cost between $10.00 and $20.00. If the tear is so bad that the liner needs to be replaced, expect to pay around $300.00 on average.
The walls of the pool are supported by a framework that is very dependent on solid ground for stability. Floods and earthquakes, even high winds, can cause this framework to buckle and collapse. This damage might be covered by your insurance, so read your policy carefully. Age can also cause the framework to weaken and collapse.
When replacing the wall, it is important to know what model your pool is as well as the height and circumference of the pool. This is so that all of the other parts will fit properly. The cost of a replacement wall for many pools is between $1,300.00 and $1,700.00.
For some pools, the metal frame is the part that failed. Replacement parts, such as vertical posts and connectors, can cost from $12.00 to $30.00 each.
Swimming pools are a fun and relaxing luxury for your home. Though they do come with their fair share of expenses to keep them looking and performing at their best, a little effort and preventative maintenance ensures many summers of good, wet, cool fun!