Minor pool problems can often be fixed in a DIY project – as long as you know what you are doing. Each pool material requires a different approach: Here’s what you need to know to get started.
If you have a concrete cast pool, that pool will eventually develop weak spots that you need to find and repair to avoid widespread damage and pool failure. Fortunately, concrete flaws are easy to find: They develop as cracks, chipped-off areas, hollow spots, and similar conditions.
With the pool drained and dry, it’s time to carefully wash the concrete surface and look for any problem areas. Light cracks or small abraded areas can be dealt with quite quickly – you’ll need to brush away all loose material and use a patching compound or caulk sealant to fill in the damaged area. Remember to follow the instructions for your patching compound closely. You should then cover the entire area with an epoxy sealant to help protect it. If necessarily, you can texture the repaired area or wash it with an acid mixture so that it matches the rest of your pool
Large cracks and more serious problems take extra work. The common procedure is to use a grinder to remove that section of concrete and start a far larger patching project. But if a crack is that bad, the integrity of your pool may be threatened, and it’s a good idea to call out a professional to take a look and offer some advice or an estimate.
Fiberglass is another common option for home pools, particularly because it tends to age well and doesn’t develop the cracks and flaws of concrete. However, while the base layer of a fiberglass pool is made of tough plastic fibers, the top is formed of a gelcoat designed to provide more comfort and add color to the pool. That gelcoat surface is not permanent – it can be scratched, fade, stain, or develop other problems.
If a part of your gelcoat has been damaged, you can fix it by using the same type of gelcoat to repair the damage. This is why it’s very important to know exactly what type of gelcoat your pool was made with – guessing at this point can lead to poor decisions for your pool. After thoroughly cleaning the area, you can apply a new layer of gelcoat and let it set to help restore the surface.
However, some problems hit the entire gelcoat at once, especially fading and damage due to old age. If this is the case, you need to have your fiberglass pool recoated, another job that is best left to a professional. However, you can still choose the new coating, so take a look at some of the current gelcoats on the market and what advantages they offer. Epoxy paints and other types of coatings may be suitable alternatives as well.
Many concrete pools are covered with a thin layer of plaster to help improve the look and feel of the pool. If you have a plaster layer, there are several problems that can develop. Over time the plaster will dissolve, leading to spalling or rough, chipped spots that make a great breeding ground for algae.
There are two ways to deal with this. First, you can repatch once specific problem area with plaster. You can mix your own patching compound out of Portland cement, white sand, water, cement bonding chemicals, and cement dye, but it may be a lot easier to buy pool patching materials already premixed for the job. Wet the plaster and spread the compound carefully over the area, making sure there are no air pockets. Smooth the plaster at two or three intervals to keep it smooth.
The other common problem with plastic is a hollow spot where the concrete behind the plaster has crumbled away. These can be hard to find and hard to fix – you can find them by tapping on the pool surface, but to repair them you have to remove all the surrounding plaster and crumbled concrete, then caulk and patch the entire area. Remember also that you will need to fully replace your plaster layer every 10 years or so.
Repairing a Pool Liner
Repairing a pool liner isn’t too tough given the right attitude. Vinyl pool liners are another popular option because they tend to be durable and offer a high degree of protection. However, vinyl liners can rip under stress. As a general rule of thumb, if the tear is only a few inches long you can patch it, but if the tear is longer you probably need to replace the entire liner.
For small rips, get a vinyl patch designed to be used on pool liners, and then sand the area around the tear to create a rough surface for the adhesive. Use solvent cement or other recommended adhesive on the liner and patch, and then cut the patch to size before applying. If you notice any odd bulges or lumps in the vinyl, call in a professional to look for leaking problems.