How to Patch Up Your Pool Liner

Kids laughing and smiling while hanging on the side of an above ground pool

After a summer of swimming, splashing, and fun, your pool might be a little worse for the wear. It’s not uncommon to get a tear or rip in your vinyl pool liner. Left unrepaired, this can cause extensive leaking and damage to your deck or backyard.

Luckily, it’s easy to prevent these problems. Use the steps below to seal up any holes in your pool so it will be as good as new.

1. Find the Leak

A rip in the pool liner with a small leak

In most cases, it’s easy to find the leak with a visual inspection. If you don’t see the tear inside the pool, walk around the pool to look for water that’s leaking out onto the ground.

If you can’t find where the tear is, you’ll have to use a leak test kit to find it. These kits include a harmless dye that goes into the pool. As water leaks out, the dye is drawn toward the hole, giving you a good idea of where you need to patch.

2. Prepare Your Repair Kit

Pool liner repair kits

While there are several ways to repair your liner, the easiest way is to buy a liner repair kit. These come with waterproof glue and replacement vinyl. Unfortunately, the vinyl is often in a long strip, so you’ll need to cut it down to the right size for your tear.

As a general rule, you’ll want to cut the vinyl at least five times as long as the diameter of the hole. This way, you’ll ensure that you’re covering the entire rip — especially if it starts to spread after being patched.

If you just have a small tear, you may be able to use a vinyl patch instead. These are basically stickers you place on top of the hole. These offer less customization, though, and if you put the patch in the wrong place, you won’t have any extra adhesive to fix it.

3. Apply the Adhesive

Applying the pool vinyl adhesive to the clear pool liner patch with latex gloves on

If you’re using a repair kit, once you have the vinyl cut, apply the adhesive on the back. Now isn’t a time to be stingy; make sure to coat the entire back surface of the patch with a generous amount. You need to make sure it’s completely covered, or you may get bubbles in the patch.

4. Place the Patch

Placing the patch over the tear in the pool liner

Now comes the most important part: actually putting the patch on the liner.

Above-Water Tears

If your tear is above the water level, this is easy. Just center the patch over the hole and firmly smooth it down, working from the center outward. Press down on all sides so that all of the excess adhesive squeezes out. Use one hand to keep the patch securely in place as you smooth down the edges with the other.

Below-Water Tears

If the rip is below the water level, things will be a little trickier, as you’ll have to dive underwater to place the patch. While it might seem like a good idea to drain the pool so you can access the tear easier, don’t do this; it can cause the liner to slip or wrinkle, which you won’t be able to fix on your own.

We recommend using goggles so that you can see what you’re doing. Once you’re ready, dive down and follow the above steps for pressing the patch on top of the hole.

5. Wait for the Patch to Dry

The patch placed over the tear on the pool liner and ready to dry

The hard part is done! Now all you have to do is wait 24 hours to make sure the patch dries correctly. Come back and check it the next day. It should be just like you left it. If you notice the edges are peeling up, you’ll have to gently pull the patch off and try the process again.

6. Keep an Eye on the Patch

Keep in mind that liner patches are not intended to last forever. Chances are you’ll have to replace the patch every few years to keep water from leaking again. Do a periodic check of the patch to make sure it’s still in good shape. Even if you have to buy another patching kit, it’s far cheaper than buying a whole new liner.

Swim and Splash Without a Care

Getting a hole in your pool liner doesn’t mean you need to replace the whole thing. By putting in a little effort to patch up your liner, you can save thousands of dollars and enjoy splashing with the kids or lounging on your pool float for years to come.


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