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In-ground Vinyl Liners Steps and other attachments

Oklahoma City Area Edmond Yukon Mustang Moore Norman Piedmont Midwest City Del City El Reno

 This page is about steps and other features related to your in-ground vinyl pool liner.  Some features are built into the liner, some are attached.  Either way, they need to be accommodated correctly, because...

 

                                                          It's not just a pool....  It's Your pool!

 

Swimming Pool Liners with Steps and Other Attachments

 There are basically two ways that steps and other attachments are handled built into in-ground pool liners.  Either they are built into the liner, or they are attached to the liner.  For attached steps and features, there is a trim piece that is removed, and underneath it are lots of screws which hold the the faceplate to the to the gasket and step mating surface, with the liner sandwiched in between.  This is the same way as with skimmers, returns, lights, main drains, and any other feature that must pass through the liner.  As  with other pass-through features, the step section is cut from the line after the liner is completely attached.  You really only get one shot at this.  Usually, we vacuum the liner in place before we attach the steps, because it is a pretty big area, and if you get it wrong, the liner can have wrinkles that cannot be removed, or even worse, the liner can be so overstretched that it will pull loose.  Sometimes, this doesn't happen right away, but even years later.  So, of course, proper alignment is pretty important for the life of your liner.  Some installers use a form of silicone behind the liner, to make sure there is a good seal, but be careful about that, for two reasons.  First, too much silicone can glob up, actually preventing the liner from sealing.  Also, the silicon gets into the screw holes, and acts like a lubricant.  This can make it easy to strip the screw hole out. leading to leaks.  If the screw hole does strip out, you can, up to a point, use a larger screw.  Then put the drill away and get a hand screwdriver.

   

Plastic steps attached to liner  Plastic steps attached to liner

Vinyl Covered Stairs

    On some vinyl in-ground pools, there are steps made into liner.  made to very precisely fit a the exact shape of the stairs, and to conform to them closely.  Sometimes, the material is heavier than the rest of the liner, and also may be textured.  Usually, there are sleeves in the liner, on the underside, where the stair treads meet the risers.   A fiberglass rod slides through this sleeve on each step.  There are notches cut out in the sleeve, so that rod clips can be installed to hold the tread firmly against the riser.  Covered sit-outs are done the same way.  There are also internal stairs and ledges, which may or may not use retaining rods.  In either case, care must be taken to insure that the liner is placed - and held - precisely according to the manufacturers design.  Sometimes, the slots in the rod sleeves will not be in the same place as the old liner, so you can either use the slots already cut, or cut new ones.  You have to be very careful in cutting new slots, because it is easy to accidentally cut through the liner.  Sometimes, the slot is right in the center of the step, and you can't put a new metal clip in, because they are made to slip into the crack between the tread and the riser.  In this case, you have to either cut a new slot, or use  loop fasteners, which attach with screws.  Either way, you have to be extremely careful when installing vinyl covered stairs.

Vinly covered step in liner  Vinyl covered steps made into liner

 

Swim-outs and Sit-outs

     Swim-outs and sit-outs, really are no different from steps, except that they are often in the deep end of the pool.  Because of this, they can be a challenge, because the weight of the liner in the deep end tends to pull the liner away from the wall.   Like steps, sit-outs may be either made of plastic and attached wit gaskets and a face trim, or they may be made into the liner.  If the sit-out is not made into the liner, we use a jig made from plywood and a 2x4 with a piece of liner track attached.  The plywood closes off the top of the step, and the track supports the liner as if the sit-out were not even there at all.  Then, the liner can be vacuumed into place, and attached just like the step.  I prefer not to ever shut the vacuum off again after the liner is attached,  until the water is about a foot deep in the shallow end of the pool.  That just insures a good, even stretch on the liner.  If the sit-out is made into the liner, there are sometimes rods in sleeves that hold the liner in place.  If there is not a rod pocket system, it is usually a good idea to add it.  There is no extra charge for the sleeves to be made into the new liner, and the rod and clips are only about $30.

Liner covering swimout  Vinyl covered swim-out

 

Main Drain Attachment

     Main drains attached with a ring, known as a frame, with a gasket both under the liner and one above.  We usually use a silicon based adhesive to attach the casket to the main drain, smooth it down well, and then hold the gasket in place with 2 of the main drain screws.  That helps us to make sure we don't miss the holes when we attach the frame.  We unscrew these screws through the liner, and they cut their way out.  Using those holes, we attach the frame along with a second gasket on the inside of the liner.  We use the second gasket on top because the frame is narrow, and it doesn't have ridges on it.  One important thing that you should remember to do is to clean out the screw holes before you put the liner in.  If there is too much debris from cleanup in the screw holes, the screw will bottom out and strip.  You can use bigger screws if this happens, but you want to try to avoid it.  Man that I am, I can't fix that problem under 8' of water!  also, you will want to make sure that the main drain cover (dome) is of the newer type, compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, which is designed to avoid entrapment of bathers.  While most main drain attachments are standardized,  there are still a few unconventional ones out there, so you want to make sure that you have the correct gaskets and other parts on hand before you replace the liner.  One part that should always be replaced, is called the frame.  The frame sounds like a much bigger deal than it is, it is the ring that holds the cover on.  This is what actually seals the liner to the main drain body, you might say that it is like the top piece of bread in a sandwich.  Over time, these become brittle, and may crack when installed if the old one is used.  Sometimes this doesn't  even happen immediately, but later, after the pool is full.  It can be done, but it is difficult to replace this simpl, inexpensive part under 8 feet of water!

Main drain attachment  Main drain before cutout

Return Fittings

    Return fittings are pretty easy, there are just four screws that hold the faceplate in place.  Before you can remove the faceplate, you have to remove the "eyeball" which consist of three pieces.  Often these unscrew together, but sometimes the retaining ring will unscrew all by itself, and the ball comes out separately.  If this happens, you don't want to use "Channel Loc" pliers to get it out.  The more you squeeze, the tighter it gets.  But then, the whole assembly costs about 5 bucks.  Any way, there is a tool for that: SP1419T.  It is basically a flat piece of plastic. There are slots on the inside of the fitting,  the tool slides into the slots, and you can now turn the tool, (even if you do need a wrench).  If you don't have access to one, you can sometimes use a needle nose pliers and spread the tips into the slots, or, what I sometimes have used is my wire strippers. (don't use your good ones, if you bend them they don't strip wire as well.)  We only use one gasket on return fittings, it goes behind the liner, again adhered with silicon based adhesive.  Don't overdo the adhesive, just a thin coat is all that is needed, and make sure it is smooth.  As with other gaskets, we secure them with two screws.  We only use one gasket on returns, because they are soft rubber, and there is a ridge on the back side of the faceplate.  Don't over tighten the return fitting -  if they are wavy, they are too tight. They need to be snug, but not over tightened,  if they are too tight, as they age, they will crack and leak.

Skimmers

       Unlike returns, which are bulkhead fittings, the outside body of the skimmers are attached to the wall using two screws.  On some pools, the skimmer body face protrudes through the wall, and the gasket goes directly against the face.  this is the least troublesome type.  Normally, for the narrower skimmers, the faceplate has a ridge, so only one gasket is needed, behind the liner.  For some reason, the wider skimmers have no ridge, so we use a gasket on each side of the liner. 

      The other installation style may need a little extra attention.  Though still attached using two screws, these skimmers do not protrude through the wall.  This can be worrisome, especially if the wall is rusted.  The wall is sandwiched between the skimmer and faceplate, with a gasket on the back side.  You can't change the back gasket, so what do you do?  (....Run!!! ) Actually, there are a couple of solutions.  We use a product called Anderson Leakmaster.  You could also use  Permatex Form-a-Gasket  or a number of other sealants, but silicone is not the right thing, and certainly not latex.  If the gasket is intact, leave it alone and just supplement it with a light bead of sealant around the edge.  If there is any separation between the wall and skimmer body, you will need to loosen the two screws that hold the body on, and get some liquid gasket material in there. Then reattach the skimmer body, and put the faceplate on snugly but not tightly to spread the sealant.  You can then take the faceplate back off and proceed as normal.  As insurance, after the liner is installed, you can  go around inside the skimmer body and seal the joint between the skimmer body and the faceplate.  You can also put a small amount of sealant in each screw hole when the faceplate is installed for the last time.  Silicon is fine for that, because it will allow the screws to come out the next time the liner is changed.

Lights

    Lights are pretty much like all the other fittings, at least the ones that look like big old fashioned car headlights are, so I'll try not to be redundant.  When we take the old liner out, we disassemble the light fixture, take out the bulb, and put the socket back into the niche, taping it in place if necessary.  We glue the gasket in place and put in our two orientation screws, and smooth the gasket down.  One of the most common leaks in a vinyl lined pool is where the cord goes through the niche.  Often the conduit going back to the equipment area is rusted or damaged, so we always seal it.  Basically, I take my silicone gun, with the tip cut fairly small, and push it down alongside the cord in the conduit.  I keep squeezing the trigger until it will take no more (and then I squeeze it some more).  Leave the cord undisturbed until the silicone has a chance to cure, and that should prevent any leaks.  We always replace the bulb and the gasket. If the light sealing  ring is in good shape, it is reused, because it costs about a hundred bucks.  you can tighten a light sealing ring as tight as you are man enough.

     Another type of light that is common is the no-niche, or flush mount light, like the AquaLumin by Pentair.  It has a metal mounting bracket that attaches to the wall, and the light attaches to the bracket.  These lights have to be completely removed.  Disconnect the light at the transformer, and use an electrician's fish tape or other type of cord attached to the light cord, so that when you pull the cord out, you have a way to pull it back through the conduit after the new liner is installed.

     Also common now is the fiber optic light.  These lights are installed in a fitting similar to a return fitting.  Usually, you can just take the faceplate off, install the new gasket, and you're done.  This might be a good time to clean the lens and the end of the fiber optic cable.

 

 

A-Pro Services, Your pool and spa service company, offers Pool Repair Spa Repair Pool Service Spa Service Pool heaters, Pool liners, inground liners, in ground liners above ground liners, safety covers, spa parts, spa motors, spa controls spa diagnostics, pool equipment, pool pumps, spa pumps, pool motors, heaters, In the Oklahoma City Area, including Bethany, Edmond, El Reno, Mustang, Moore, Yukon, Warr Acres, and Metro OKC.    zip codes include:  73003, 73008, 73013,73034, 73083, 73036, 73059, 73064, 73090,73099, 73064, 73101, 73102, 73103, 73104, 73105, 73106, 73107, 73108, 73109, 73110, 73111. 73112, 73113, 73114, 73115, 73116, 73117, 73118, 73119, 73120, 73121, 73122, 73123, 73124, 73125, 73126, 73127, 73128, 73129, 73130, 73131, 73132, 73134, 73135, 73136, 73137, 73139, 73140, 73141, 73142, 73143, 73144, 73145, 73146, 73147, 73148, 73149, 73150, 73151, 73152, 73153, 73154, 73155, 73156, 73157, 73159, 73160, 73162, 73163, 73164, 73165, 73167, 73169, 73170, 73172, 73173, 73178, 73179, 73184, 73185, 73189, 73190, 73194, 73195, 73196, 73197, 73198,