Paradise Pools and Spas has been involved with vinyl liners and vinyl liner replacements in the Jackson, MS area for over 30 years. In that time we have learned a thing or two about how to make them last longer and what truly makes them the most affordable pools on the market today. Here’s some of the questions we answer daily and what years of experience has taught us.
How long should a vinyl liner last?
The industry says that a vinyl liner should last about 6 years. However, we have found that you can get 8-10 years out of a vinyl liner in Jackson if you have a number of factors in your favor.
First, you need a good fit.
Your pool should be measured properly to make sure that a liner is ordered to fit YOUR pool. In this industry, it is a common thing to ‘short’ liners in material so that there are no wrinkles. “Shorting Liners” is simply the practice of measuring a liner short of the actual measurement (ex: measuring a deep end as 8’ when the actual measurement is 8’4”). However, this can lead to stretching the material too thin and thus resulting in liners that do not last as long as they should.
Another common practice is the use of “stock” liners. Someone will come out and measure the pool for length, width, and depth and then go pick up or order something close to those specifications from a warehouse that has that liner “in stock”. The problem with “stock” liners is that the specifications of those liners hardly ever, if ever, match the FULL specifications of YOUR pool. Thus you are not getting a good fit. In most cases, a stock liner will result in wrinkles due to excess liner or the liner will be stretched too thin. Neither scenario is a good one when it comes to the longevity of your pool liner.
WHAT WE DO: To make sure you get that good fit, we send a qualified tech out to measure your pool completely. A typical pool will require between 15-30 measurements. A free form pool will require more. NO STOCK LINERS ARE EVER USED. A form detailing all measurements is submitted and verified by the manufacturer. Typically seven to ten days later your liner is usually delivered to our store. Thus we have a liner custom made to fit your pool and only your pool, ensuring a good fit. This is just one of the things that makes us the leading vinyl liner replacement company in Jackson MS. .
A second factor that affects how long a vinyl liner last in a pool is water balance. That’s right, water balance.
MYTH: If the water is clear everything must be okay.
FACT: The water being clear does not indicate that everything is okay. Clear water can actually be the result of the water being so acidic that nothing can live in the water. Once the pH gets that low, algae, bacteria and mold may not be able to live, resulting in clear water. However, the surface of the pool (i.e. vinyl, plaster or fiberglass) and the pool’s equipment is being damage severely by the hour.
By keeping your pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels within the correct parameters, your pool water will avoid becoming acidic, which is the most common problem that damages vinyl liners in Jackson, MS. Moreover, it is especially worthy to note the importance of calcium. The water that comes of our tap here in the Jackson area is very low in calcium. Thus if we do not add this much needed element to our water on a regular basis, we will be having vinyl liner replacements made in our pools on too regular of a basis. If you are one of those that have only gotten 3-4 years out of a vinyl liner, then you very well may have been a victim of calcium deficiency in your pool water. Maintaining this part of the water chemistry keeps the vinyl liner fresh and maintains its ability to stretch. If you do not maintain calcium at the proper level a vinyl liner will get hard, lose its ability to stretch, become easy to tear and readily form holes.
Incidentally, if you are using chlorine (or salt, which generates chlorine), then it is important to keep the chlorine level within the proper parameters. Running a chlorine level too high (consistently over 5 ppm) all the time can adversely affect the pool’s surface. In addition, it is strongly being considered in the industry that salt pools, which are acidic, may be having an adverse effect on pool surfaces. However, this is still up for debate.
[Side Note: The oldest vinyl liner replacement in Paradise Pools and Spas history was 22 years old. That certainly is not typical. But it does help illustrate what can be done if you take proper care of a vinyl liner.]
WHAT WE DO: To make sure your vinyl liner will last its longest, we not only teach you the importance of water balance, but we teach you how to keep your water in balance. In addition we offer free in-store water testing where we can test your pool and offer customized directions to assist in keeping your pool balanced and your water clear. Our overall goal is to help you develop and maintain an easy schedule (5-10 minutes a week) so your pool is always ready to swim.
A third factor that can adversely affect vinyl liners in Jackson MS is the manner in which pool chemicals are added to the pool.
The number one issue is chlorine being added to the pool improperly, i.e. broadcasting granular chlorine or throwing chlorine tablets directly into the pool, thus allowing them to come into direct contact with the vinyl liner.
To prevent your vinyl liner from being damaged by chemicals, every manufacturer representative we talk to suggest the same thing. Premix or pre-dissolve the granular chlorine before adding it to your pool, regardless of the directions on the package. This suggestion comes from years of experience. Too many times customers have broadcast granular chlorine over their pools per label directions that state the product will dissolve “in just a few feet of water” or before reaching the bottom of the pool. Yet the product not only makes it to the bottom of the pool, it bleaches, discolors and damages the vinyl. (Incidentally, granular chlorine can also damage other pool surfaces, not just vinyl liners.)
Chlorine tablets should always be put in chlorinators, floaters or skimmers according to manufacturer’s directions and never be allowed to come in contact with any pool’s surface. Most chlorine tablets have an extremely low pH (acidic) and thus cause severe damage to the pool’s surface very quickly. Vinyl liners will discolor, wrinkle and become brittle when chlorine tablets are allowed to come in contact with them for any extended period.
[Side Note: Just a word of caution about chlorine floaters. Many customers have filled their floater with chlorine tablets, thrown it over into the pool, only to later discover that the floater is at the bottom of the pool, where it has not sat for an extended period. The liner is usually damaged beyond repair, being discolored and wrinkled Thus, our suggestion is to never leave a floater unattended for long periods of time. Floaters should be checked and examined periodically for cracks and not left to linger in “dead spots” of the pool.]
Does the thickness of vinyl matter?
In different parts of the country you are going to get different answers to this question. So here you are going to get what our experience tells us about vinyl liners in Jackson MS and surrounding areas. The thickness of a vinyl liner can help it last longer under certain conditions, while others seemingly have no bearing. For example, if “wear and tear” is the issue perhaps due to an abrasive surface under the vinyl liner, then thickness can greatly aid the vinyl liner in lasting a longer period of time. However, if chemical damage or UV (sun) damage is the issue of concern, then thickness really does not have a bearing on longevity of the material.
WHAT DOES OUR EXPERIENCE TELL US: Today many manufacturers designate certain patterns or prints on which they provide thickness upgrades at no charge to our customers. Our opinion is that if a customer can get this thickness upgrade at no charge in a pattern he/she likes, then take the extra protection. While the jury is still out, so to speak, we feel that the thicker vinyl liner will most likely give some length of life and benefit to the customer, especially in the “wear and tear” department.
[Side Note: Customers may find that the thicker vinyl liners do not fit as snug in corners or coves of the pools as the thinner 20 mil vinyl liners. According to the manufacturer this in normal. The 20 mil material is able to stretch and bend easier, contouring itself to the shape of the pool surface better. The thicker material does not do so as easily and thus sometimes leaves small voids and coves. For this reason, as a company we prefer to us the thicker material on straighter shapes such as rectangle and Grecian pools, while using the 20 mil material on rounded shapes such as ovals, kidneys, lagoons, etc.]
Are there different types and quality of vinyl?
YES, absolutely. And this is the case whether we are talking about vinyl liners in Jackson MS or anywhere in the world. Now we could get very technical and very long winded for this part of the discussion. However, that would also probably get very boring. So, for the sake of this discussion and in the interest of trying to avoid the “boring” trap, only two types of vinyl liners will be considered here. We will put them in two categories: “North American” Vinyl and “Off-Shore” Vinyl.
North American Vinyl – Produced in North America, primarily Canada and USA. This material is manufactured using a process known as calendaring. This process can be described perhaps by picturing a huge series of pasta machines, in which the raw vinyl material enters and is pressed down by means of rollers. These rollers press the material flat like pasta over and over again until it becomes the desired thickness. During this process, all the air is pressed out of the material. Thus the material becomes dense and heavy, having no voids. In addition, there are no additives. The end product is a virgin vinyl liner, with no additives that is heavier and denser than its “Off-Shore” counter-part. It is usually a more expensive product that last longer.
Off-Shore Vinyl – Produced in other countries than North America, primarily China. Most Off-Shore material is manufactured using a process known as extrusion. This process can be described perhaps by picturing your old Play Doe set. Remember when you put the Play Doe in the machine, pushed the lever, and out came the desired shape? That’s what they do with the vinyl. They put the raw vinyl material into a machine and it pushes out a flat sheet in the desired thickness. In addition, additives are put into the machines and mixed with the vinyl. Talc, chalk, and other powder are used to make the vinyl produce more material. In addition, this process allows air to be trapped in the vinyl, thus allowing microscopic air bubbles to be trapped throughout the sheet of vinyl that is pressed. The end product is a vinyl liner that is still termed virgin vinyl but has additives and is lighter and less dense than its North American counter-part. It is usually a less expensive product that does not last as long. (It can still be termed “Virgin Vinyl” because it is not made from reprocess material.)
Side Point – There are certainly different grades of vinyl, in both North American and Off-Shore vinyl. In addition, we have found a great deal of difference in the quality of workmanship in the manufacturers we deal with.
WHAT WE DO: We have worked very hard to align ourselves with manufacturers that use the best of both materials, North American vinyl and Off-Shore vinyl. We use both materials because we recognize that not all customers have the same wants and needs. When we talk with customers about their projects we explain the difference about both materials, tell them about the cost differences and let them make the best choice for them and their families. In this manner, those with cost concerns are able to save money, yet get a good quality product. While those customers who are interested in the best quality vinyl liner in Jackson MS are able to obtain that, and still get great deals.
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