If your home has been subject to heavy rainfall (which if you live in New Jersey, you just received 2-4″+ in under 24 hours) and water has gotten behind the pool walls, you may notice your liner appearing to lift. The photo you see is the worst case scenario and just happened to a customer last evening. Believe me I know its alarming to see, but this can be rectified usually without a lot of damage to the liner, most times with no damage at all.

Water getting behind the pool wall is rare, but it can happen to any pool type, and the effects will vary. While a vinyl liner can “float”, a fiberglass pool can pop right out of the ground! If water does get behind the pool liner, it can lose its seal – this allows wrinkles to form and the liner to develop soft spots. Should this occur, the liner can lift and float, but DON’T PANIC, and don’t start swearing at your pool company- as they have done nothing wrong! Mother Nature is the culprit, and the GREAT NEWS is, the liner is still in good condition and it usually can be put back in place.

It is Important to identify the issue and follow the proper steps to rectify the problem. These steps are:

  1. DO NOT DRAIN the pool. Draining the pool at this time could cause structural damage and/or problems for the pool itself in the future.
  2. Lower the pool water level to the normal operating level (at least to bottom step) as water can get behind the liner if the pool overfills.
  3. If you have a vacuum pipe, locate it, make sure it is unblocked and allow it to self drain the water from behind the liner. If you do not have a vacuum pipe, you may wait for the water to drain on its own (it will eventually) or call in a pool professional whom can drain the water for you.
  4. Using a pool broom, you can gently push the liner back to its original position as the water drains from behind the liner.
  5. Prevent the pool from over-filling and continue to keep the vacuum pipe free flowing to self drain the water behind the liner.
  6. Employ a pool professional to check the liner is positioned correctly after the event.

How this happens:

Pool liners are fastened to the top of the pool, and are held tightly in place by the weight of the water. When a liner is first installed, the air between the structure of the pool and the underside of the liner is usually removed with a vacuum to adjust the position of the liner. Water is then added and it is actually the weight of the water that keeps it in place.

When water gets behind the liner through seepage of ground water, over- filling, heavy rainfall or flooding, the water pressure is equalized on both sides of the liner and this causes the liner to move. It is commonly called a  “floating” liner.  Issues with ground water are not unique to vinyl liner pools only – ground water has been known to lift entire pools out of the ground if the surrounding drainage is not sufficient. Fiberglass style pools and even concrete pool shells have been known to “pop” or move in severe ground water situations.

A “floating” liner is still fastened at the top of the pool, but has water underneath to where wrinkles start to form. The corners of the wall to the floor as well as the deep end will become “spongy” and “soft” when pushed with the pool broom.

Once the water source has been located and removed, the water will slowly drain away, but it is very important to ensure that your liner goes back into the same position during this time. This can be done using a pool broom to very gently move the liner outward towards the wall as the water drains away from behind the liner. This may take days and possibly weeks for the water to self drain away depending on how much ground water is present.

Alternatively, you may remove the water through a “vacuum” pipe, if one has been installed when the pool was built, or better still, call a local pool professional like Elite and they can drain and re-fit the liner correctly, and even advise on fitting preventative measures to avoid this problem in the future.


Q. My liner has gotten wrinkles, what does this mean?
A. This is an indication that there is water underneath the liner caused by ground water or damage to the liner.
Q. My liner has become soft and spongy in the corners, why?
A. This also indicates there is water underneath the liner caused by ground water or damage to the liner.
Q. How do I remove the water from behind the liner?
A. Locate the “vacuum” pipe and ensure it is not blocked, if it does not self drain then you can suck water from this pipe to remove water from behind the liner.
Q. The water has drained, but now I have wrinkles that I cannot move, what do I do?
A. You need to contact a pool professional, as the pool may need to be partially drained and the liner repositioned.
Q. Does the liner moving cause permanent damage?
A. Depending on the age of the liner. If the liner is old and brittle, then as the water is drained away it may cause enough stress to tear the liner.
Q. My liner has water behind it, will I need to buy a new one?
A. No. Most liners that aren’t to old will be able to be re-fitted by a pool professional.
Q. Is my floating liner covered under my warranty?
A. No. The floating liner is not covered by the liner warranty, nor is it the fault of the installation. It is usually caused as a result of extreme weather and therefore may be covered under insurance. Check with your individual policy details or speak with your agent.