Advanced Wall Repair on an Above Ground Pool

Advanced Wall Repair for an Above Ground Pool

I have observed over three decades that the average decent quality above ground swimming pool lasts between 10 and 20 years. Sometimes pool owners will replace their pool because its top rails are too rusty or some of the uprights and pieces of bottom track have rusted out. Mostly though, people decide that their pool is dead because it has a rusty or corroded wall. And this is what makes an above ground pool no good anymore as it’s the wall that holds all the water.

Most of the time, a rusty pool wall is noticed when a liner is changed. The pool gets drained and then the existing liner is removed which exposes the interior wall. A sinking feeling is experienced when you see that the interior wall is rusty. You’ve already bought a pricey replacement liner. You start to ask yourself, “Is this normal? How bad is it? Can I fix this? How do I fix this?” As you climb out of the pool to go look for that can of Rust-Oleum you bought two years ago, you wonder how bad this rusty wall really is and instead go search on the Internet.

You’re Going to Have to Do Some Poking Around

This blog post is about advanced wall repair for above ground pools, but before I can tell you about that you must find out if you need it. Most of the time the discovered rust on the inside of the pool wall is just surface rust and not much of an issue. With surface rust you can maybe get some sandpaper, sand the rusty areas smooth, and then use that can of Rust-Oleum you found and the wall is good to go.

What if it’s more than just surface rust? Maybe the rust is falling off in small pieces and looks pretty bad and deep. What’s important here is the wall’s integrity. The wall of an above ground pool wall has to hold thousands of pounds of water so if the rust has eaten its way deep into the steel or aluminum, it may no longer be strong enough to hold the water. A wall can look pretty bad and still be fine, but if there are spots where it has rusted all the way through then that is bad and cause for alarm. To find out, take a medium-sized screwdriver and poke at the rust. Scrape off any loose pieces of rust and firmly poke those areas. If the screwdriver pokes completely through the wall, then that’s not good. It may not be the end, but it’s not good.

Some Holes Are Worse Than Others

So you’ve poked around the rust and the screwdriver went all the way through in a couple of spots. That’s always bad, but you may still be OK. A small rust hole that’s located high up the pool’s wall is usually alright.In that case I will cut a small square of roofing tin or some kind of sheet metal and use duct tape to secure it in place over

is there rust on my above ground pool
I found the hole!

the area. I do this only to protect the new liner I’m about to install from the rust as this repair adds no strength to the wall.

If the rust holes are closer to the bottom of the pool’s wall, then that’s worse and should possibly require more than just a simple patch job. The reason a hole lower down is concerning is because the water creates more outward pressure there at the bottom. A rust hole at the bottom of the wall is much more likely to tear open under pressure and cause a “blowout” than one nearer to the top. In most cases a small hole towards the bottom of the wall won’t cause a blowout. I usually tell the pool owner about it, tape some tin over it, install a new liner and it holds. Though, there is always the possibility that it won’t hold and I leave the decision up to them. I’ll show them the concerning rusted area, give them the odds of whether I think it’ll hold or not, and let them tell me either to proceed with the change of the liner or wait and get it repaired. Worst-case Scenario

Worst-case Scenario

It has come down to this. Let’s say you have a lot of rust toward the bottom of your pool wall and it has rusted all the way through. What now? Well, there are three options at this point. You can tape over the rusty areas with some kind of sheet metal, install a new liner, fill the pool back up and hope for the best. This is a viable option for many as they have already purchased a replacement liner and don’t have the money for a new pool. Many times this is the best decision for them as the wall holds up and they get to have their pool. Though, with this option, you may not be so lucky, because if it doesn’t hold, you’re out the cost of the new liner, the installer (if you didn’t do it yourself), and all the lost water and chemicals.

The second option is not to take the chance and get a whole new wall. Or at least that’ll be what you think you’ll do until you try to find a replacement wall. It’s not easy to get just a replacement wall for an above ground pool as manufacturers don’t like to provide them for models which are more than a couple of years old. That’s OK though as you would soon find out, because if you do get lucky and find a replacement wall it’ll be way expensive. At that point in the story, people usually opt to get a whole new pool as the price is just slightly more than for just a wall.

The third option is to repair the wall. This is rarely done, though. The reason for this is not because it’s too expensive, looks bad, or doesn’t hold. Repairing a rusty above ground pool wall is rarely done, because there are not many people who know how to do it. Over the years I have learned by way of trial and error that there is only one true way to repair a wall and that is to add a new piece of wall from top to bottom.

The Only Guaranteed Way to Repair a Rusty Wall

Over the years I’ve tried to repair damaged pool walls in many ways. It was easy to experiment as people facing an apparent pool replacement would take a chance on my repair. I started by just duct taping some rigid steel sheeting over the holes and some failed. Then I would bolt the pieces of sheet metal to the existing wall all the way around the rust holes. Some failed. Then I tucked bigger pieces of sheet metal into the pool’s bottom track and upward to cover the holes and bolted them. Still some fails.

I finally realized that I needed to reinforce the damaged wall’s integrity from top to bottom and not just in the local bad spots. So, this is what has to be done:

  1. Get an entire piece of above ground pool wall.
    This may be the hardest part of the above ground pool repair for the do-it-yourselfer. The two ways to get an entire piece of pool wall are from an old pool that has been taken down or by buying a piece from a pool maker. The wall piece should be at least 4’ long or long enough to cover all the bad areas of your pool wall.
  1. Get at least 30 stainless flathead steel bolts and nuts and four pieces of metal steel channel.
    You’ll use these to bolt your new piece of wall to your existing pool wall. 
  1. Place the new wall piece against the pool’s wall on the inside.
    You’ll have to move away the bottom cove in that area so the wall piece can fit right up against the existing wall from top to bottom.
  1. Line up the metal channels to the edge of the wall piece and drill holes all the way through.
    You’ll be drilling holes from the inside of the pool through the inside and outside steel channel, the wall piece, and the existing wall from top to bottom.    
  1. Bolt everything together through the drilled holes.
    Make sure the nuts and bolts are nice and tight.NOTE: If I’m not making sense here, you can look at the way the pool wall was bolted together orginally and do the same thing with this.
  1. Use duct tape to fasten the bolts on the inside from top to bottom.
    Do it like they did with the pool’s existing wall bolts.
  1. Replace the coves at the bottom and you’re done.

Now you’ll have a piece of wall covering the bad place in the existing wall. And it’s bolted from top to bottom on both ends so the wall cannot split open when filled.

This is not an easy repair, but works well when done right. If you have a pool wall that has rusted away badly, my advice is to get a new pool to replace the wall and frame completely. If you don’t have the cash then try this. It may save you money, if you do it right.

128 thoughts on “Advanced Wall Repair for an Above Ground Pool

    1. Thank you Dan for providing such valuable info in such a no-nonsense way. You really have saved the day, as I was about to rip the whole thing apart. My hole was 1/4″ but the screwdriver found good metal around a 3″ hole, just a foot below the water level. My local pool store effectively told me I was screwed. All I needed was a nice panel of 26 gauge galvanized steel (for HVAC) from my local home store, fixed for $20!

  1. I have a pool that is only 2 months old. While mowing my grass I kicked out a rock and put a small hole about 3/4 of the way up the hole is smaller than a dime. I drained past the hole pulled back the liner and pushed the damaged wall back outward. Now the hole looks more like a crack. I then put jb weld followed by jb welding a piece of medium Guage stainless steel over hole. Also ensuring the metal was large enough to reach beyond the nearest upright. Then I covered entire piece with duct tape. I also used clear silicone on the outside of the pool to limit water behind liner. Do you feel this would be a recommended repair?

    1. From Dan:
      Yes this sounds like you did more than most. This hole is no big deal at all. Making sure it doesn’t become a starting point for major corrosion is the important part.

      1. I was mowing and I hit a piece of copper wiring and put a hole in my pool about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down I patched my liner but my concern is the steel wall what do you suggest to do to stop it from corroding thanks

        1. Here is a reply from Dan, our above ground pool specialist: There’s not a lot you can do but you are probably ok. Sand the exposed steel inside and out, paint it with some rust inhibitor and cover with a tape a small piece of tin or something inside and out and it should be fine.

          1. I dont have any holes in my pool but I’ve gotta big wrinkle on the lower half I just bought it
            It was used but I’ve gotten new pump filter liner and all and didnt see the wrinkle because the metal wall was rolled up I had a company come out today to install it and once then seen yur big wrinkle they said they cant install it like that so is there anything I can do for that I’m not finding any replacement walls online what so ever

  2. If i only have a small half inch hole mid way on the wall, do i have to put top to bottom tin sheet or just a smaller sheet 4 inches by 4 with duck tape?

  3. had some yard excavation done and the corner of the bucket of the tractor brushed against the pool, which is only a month old. it caused a hole in the wall about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down, about an inch or less wide. surprisingly the liner was not damaged at all and there has been no water loss. as we are on a well and its very costly to fill we did not want to drain that much out since liner is ok.. we were able to get a thin coating of rubber padding between the liner and the wall, in this spot, so the liner is not resting directly on the metal. is the pool safe with the small hole? will epoxy putty work to safely patch it until a more permanent fix can be done (prob when liner eventually gets changed out)?

  4. Hi , I have a deck around my pool and when I crawled under the deck to secure the cover I noticed one whole panel of the wall from bottom to middle has a lot of rust. I noticed water on ground at that area . I touched a rust spot and water seeped out a little ! The rust is from ground to 3/4 up wall and half the wall panel also has rust spots . How can water be coming out the wall . Oh I do have the cover on pool which has rain on top and is making cover sink into pool water . Their was not a hole in the liner when I covered the pool . But how can water come out the wall ?

    1. It’s hard to answer this. Water is one thing and moisture is another. If you felt moisture, then it could’ve been from splashing, taking the cover off, morning dew, ground moisture(if it’s close to the ground),or the last rain. Moisture can hang out for a long time especially under a deck.

      It’s more than just moisture and water is seeping out of the wall, then the water is coming from somewhere. If not from splashing, then probably from a hole in the liner somewhere or (if you have a beaded liner) coming down from the top. Doesn’t matter much anyway if your wall is rusted through. You may have bigger problems than a leak.


  5. A tree has fallen and crushed 2 panels around 1/3 of the way down. Have you heard of just those panels being replaced or is it a total loss?

    1. Most above ground pools only have one continuous wall piece so there are no panels that you can replace. You may be able to pound to wall back upright and replace any framing that is broken/too bent to be reshaped as long as the wall didn’t fold too badly. I would have to see pics to give a better opinion.

    1. Most above ground pool top caps snap on and off. If you know the make and model of your pool, or can read a part number on the top cap, you should be able to find replacement parts.

      Can you send in pictures of your wall pattern, upright, top cap, and top ledge to ( With those pictures, we can try to match your pool and replacement parts.

  6. Was cleaning snow and caught the wall of above ground pool with a barried shovel. Tore a hole in the wall and liner about 3″ x 3″. The pool is frozen so the liner has the same size hole.\
    I will replace the liner, can i just patch the wall with a 12″ x 12″ aluminum flat stock. Rivets and then cover with several layers of duct tape over the edges???

    1. You can try that and it may hold. It may not though as the rivets may be no match for the outward pressure from the water. Rivets are good at keeping two pieces of metal together but only provide some overall wall integrity. This is from my observations and not just theory.

      Keep in mind that the lower the wall, the more outward water pressure(as the water weight is pressing greater downward as well). So, the lower the tear, the less likely it will hold. The only way to repair with 100% surety is to bolt a piece of metal from top to bottom. Find you where your pool wall bolts together to see what I mean.

      1. I tree branch fell on my pool as well. Can i send you pics so you can tell me if the integrity of the pool is compromised?

  7. I have an above ground pool with bent and creased wall around the shimmer. I believe that the cord the holds the winter cover on may have been around the skimmer and put stress on the wall around the the skimmer. there is a small tear in he wall about an inch long near the skimmer opening.
    Can i release the liner from the section of the wall without emptying all the water from the pool?
    Can the wall be straighten by hammering it back into shape?

    1. Hi, we recently put in an above ground pool (24×52) , finally got it filled and have been enjoying it. Today we had someone grading around our backyard and they poked a hole in the bottom of our brand new pool. Luckily the liner is not punctured, my husband got his pliers and turned some of the metal away from the liner and then stuffed something between the liner and hole. My question is can this some how be fixed without draining the whole entire pool? What would you recommend?

  8. OUr pool is rusting around the skimmer and the water had dripped down the wall and not the wall is showing rust and the base is rusted in that area, crumbling. We had to replace the skimmer a few years back and the seal was never the same. There is a small hole on the opposite side of the pool about halfway up that we had noticed. now it rusted right through and the water started coming out. Apparently there had been a hole in the liner. Can this pool be repaired with a sectional metal wall and a patch? Or is it time to get a new pool? Where could I hire someone to do this repair? Where can I get the replacement pieces? It is so upsetting. I do home daycare and i so rely on the pool in the summer!

    1. Your pool may be repairable if you can find the right guy to fix it. There’s not many of us that know how and you don’t want someone experimenting on your pool especially if you are responsible for small children. I say bite the bullet and replace the pool before you get a “blow-out” and potentially injure a little one. Raise your rates a little to pay for it.

  9. Carol
    Our above the ground pool seems to be bowing inward. We noticed that the sides flex when pool is in heavy use.
    Is it a fixable issue. Pool about 8 years old.

    1. Not sure it can bow “inward” if it is full of water. You may have some of the frame of the pool rusting and allowing the pool wall to move. Look around for rust and then make some determinations based on that. It may be fixable or it may be time for a new pool. Hard to say without looking at it.


  11. Any suggestions on who to call to hire out to repair small rust holes on the upper section of pool wall? None of the pool stores in the area are willing to help. I highly doubt that i would be able to pull the liner back in order to try to repair the damage and get the liner back in place correctly.


    1. Probably won’t find a real pool guy to do it. Maybe a handyman or someone like that. You can always read my blogpost on how to find an installer. Maybe you can get one to do the repair during the off season.

  12. Hi,
    I have a 54” 24ft round pool with steel walls. Due to a hole in the liner the wall rusted and developed a hole. The hole is in the shape of a circle with a 10 inch diameter. It’s near the top (like where a skimmer would be) with ½ the circle at and under the water line and ½ above the water line.
    My thought is to get a large enough piece of galvanized steel maybe 48 x 24 inches. Slide it in the track and bolt it on both sides from bottom to near the top (above water line), then also bolt it across the top. Pool is built into a deck, and I can’t take off top rim of pool easily without taking deck apart. I have a beaded liner so can replace the liner without taking top rim off.
    Think this will work ?
    Also how think should the sheet metal be ? 25mil ? I was going to paint it with Rust-o-ilium pain (both sides, a few coats) is that good enough to protect it ?


    1. Ok, after some more research I found that galvanized sheet metal uses GA and G ratings.
      Interesting is that low gage = thicker. This seems to be opposite of pool liners.
      I’ll be looking for GA14 [thickness] and G(90)[zinc amount] – I could try to find G(235), but it may be harder to find and a few coats of Rust-Olium should help.

  13. My pool is rusted around the skimmer and right below it. I got it up and running now the water is seaping below the skimmer what do I do or can I save it by making new hole with a new piece. Trying to make it work just this year

  14. Dan, we have a 15×30 oval pool.. 16 tYears old, aluminum sides, decking and rail. I noticed our pool going down about a month ago and blamed it on liner that has leaked and we have repaired many times. So could not find leak but assumed was more underneath and bought new liner to a week. I was cleaning out our stuff under pool deck and found a couple of smal holes then saw water coming out of one.. a little rust and down at the bottom but thought it could be repair and started checking online.. also found some more corrosion in next panel but no rust… why is water coming through the hole?
    This area is on same side as skimmer right behind where ladder…stays moist due to no sun exposure.. rest of pool from outside looks fine. based on what I read, If these are the only holes with some rust, but about 3 more dime size corrosion I am wondering how bad is the intregty of the pool.. what is best way to repair. I did fine rolled aluminum online but how would I know if would work for pool.. this pool has a 30 year warranty based on the heavy duty extruded aluminum. I thought because it does not rust??? Help…

    1. Sounds like you have a regular wall aluminum pool. They corrode too so the same goes with it as steel ones. You getting corrosion all the way thru the wall usually means it’s time for a new pool. You may find someone to repair it but it is doubtful. Read more of my blogposts on the subject and get more info.

  15. I bought a new liner and while filling with water I had 2 sections on far side of the pool bowing inside and one section bowing outside of pool. There is no rust. How can I fill my pool?

    1. This sounds like you either didn’t set the liner evenly around the pool OR the pool is out of shape(egg shaped if round). Some liners fit super tight too so it may be that although I’m guessing it’s from one of the first two reasons mentioned or both.

      I would need to know more or see a couple of pics to determine what to do but my instinct says that if it’s not bowing too bad, just keep filling and it’ll work itself out with the outward weight of the water. Depending on how much water you have put in and for how long it’s been, you may not have a choice of doing anything else.

  16. Our pool has a large hole(4″) that encircles the return hose near the top of the pool. Is it safe to top off the water and use the pool?

    1. Any situation where a large spot of the pool wall has rusted thru, there is always a chance that it won’t hold water or water activity and split open. So no, not safe.

  17. Dan,

    Does the metal channel need to be a certain shape?

    Also what thickness sheet metal? Where can the materials be purchased?

    Thanks for the great advice

  18. ALISSA
    June 4, 2017 at 6:29 PM
    Hi, we recently put in an above ground pool (24×52) , finally got it filled and have been enjoying it. Today we had someone grading around our backyard and they poked a hole win the bottom of our brand new pool. Luckily the liner is not punctured, my husband got his pliers and turned some of the metal away from the liner and then stuffed something between the liner and hole. My question is can this some how be fixed without draining the whole entire pool? What would you recommend?

  19. You can pay a sheet of stainless steel 5’x8′ cut it to size and cut the old section out at the support uprights and over lap two inches and drill and bolt them together

    1. Yea, I’m trying to see if there is a way to do this without draining the pool: the hole in the wall is at the very bottom of the pool.

      1. Get some JB weld for water stoppage , it’s like a tube of putty, White outside blue or gray in the middle. You take the tube and pinch off a piece mixing it together, wire brush ( by hand or with a drill ) any rust spots were you see any blisters or drainage , water my start to squirt out be ready to add the JB and rub it to hold and smooth out like flaring , will harden and give a good bond . Than paint on flex seal

  20. I’m repairing a hole in my pool wall using a piece of sheet metal, what size channels do I need and how long screws?

    1. Ones long enough to go top to bottom of the wall. And you can use bolts as long as you want but you’ll want to make sure they are long enough to go through the wall, repair metal, and channels, Duh.

  21. To fix a hole on my steel wall pool, I was able to find a wall section from another pool that I plan on bolting on to the damaged wall. Can I use stainless steel bolts with a zinc coated steel channel to secure the 2 walls together ? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  22. I have some bottom rails or tracks that are falling apart or corroded. Can they be replaced without tearing the pool down?

    1. They can. Or I should say that I could do it but it can be a tough job. I don’t think you need to though. The bottom track is needed when the pool is being built and will help keep the shape round but pools that have been up for a while are pretty set in their shape. I say if you want to change them, do it during liner change time. Otherwise, cover them up and stop thinking about it. They have little to no structural value.

      1. Thanks so much!! I have a 30+ year old pool that my dad installed and for sentimental reasons, trying to keep going. I have a total rust through spot at the bottom of the wall and will do the double wall repair as you recommend. I know the bottom channels are disintegrated so it’s great to hear they are not necessary!!

  23. Great Site! I just had a replacement 24′ round steel pool installed. I had my landscaper put stone around the pool. Some of the stones were bigger than I wanted and there are a few scratches near the bottom. Should I worry? Should I spray a clear something on the scratch?

  24. Can aluminum rivets be used for wall repair? The rivets would be used to attach the replacement wall to the old damaged wall. Thanks.

    1. Yes, but they will offer no structural value whatsoever. That’s why I just use duct tape for small wall repair. It’s smoother. If replacing a whole piece of wall, you must use bolts and nuts from top to bottom.

  25. I noticed that some posts supporting the wall of our above ground aluminium oval pool are rusted near the ground. Some have openings through the rust. Otherwise the walls themselves are OK. Is there a way to reinforced those posts ? – Thanks.

  26. Our water level has been going down and we found a whole in the side of the pool about the size of a golf ball with the liner bubbled out again about the size of a golf ball? How can we fix without draining the pool? It is not leaking fast just at a steady drip.

    1. Patch the liner using an underwater patch kit. The wall is a different story as it should be patched from the inside. So, unless the hole is closer to the top of the pool, you’ll have to drain if down to repair.

  27. This is going to be somewhat of a ridiculous question but here goes! I recently got a free pool given to me, free doesn’t always mean good… it took 4 hours to take down and looked promising at first, only one major rust spot under the skimmer! Then we dug out the 5-6 inches (in some spots) out of the earth and sand… some rust and even rusted through in a handful of spots along the bottom… you said that rust toward the top is better than the bottom, so can i take the pool wall and flip it so the part that was in the earth is now on the top? Rustolium paint it and patch it with new metal, Cut a new hole for the skimmer and patch the old one?

    1. Ok so you could do this. But I wouldn’t. You’ll need to install a piece of wall that is bolted from top to bottom over the old skimmer and return openings. Otherwise, it will burst when it fills. Then the now top of the pool(which used to be the bottom) is rusty so you may have integrity issues with keeping the top pieces of the pool together and intact. My best advice is to scrap steel there is for about thirty bucks and use it to start a new pool fund. I hear you can make some extra cash driving for Uber.

  28. Hi Dan, bought a used pool, was wondering if you can reverse a steel wall pool for the interior color on the outside.

    1. Yes, I’d say you can. I’ve never seen or done it but I could make it work. Keep in mind that the wall has a memory curve so it’s going to be extra fun getting the wall in the bottom track with the opposing curvature.

  29. i have an above ground pool and it is a JW type of pool and it needed a new liner, yes it is an old pool but in great shape no rust anywhere in or out, the place island recreation that we bought a new liner from came and inspected my pool and said we need to replace 2 panels so we did and then the came and inspected it again after and said it was perfect to go, I then asked them what they thought of my pool they said it is a great pool and it will last forever had no rust or anything. they put liner in and after 7 days ther was a piece of the liner hanging down and I went to place and told them and they said take picture and send it to them and they will let me know what they were going to do and a day later my side by where the liner was coming down blew out. we emptied pool again and called they are saying not there problem. what should I do

    1. I don’t know enough of your situation to say. Your pool has panels? Is it an above ground? Most above grounds have a single piece continuous wall so what are these panels you speak of? Some are made with aluminum panels but they would never need replacing and would never blow out. Regardless of who is at fault here, if you want to have a pool again, you’ll have to get someone over there who knows his stuff. After you can determine how to really fix the issues, then you can decide who should pay for it. One thing at a time is how its done.

  30. I have a 21 year old pool. It developed 5 pin hole size leaks. Can this pool be saved? Otherwise it is in great condition. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Leaks in the liner or the pool wall? If you mean liner, congratulations. You just set the record for oldest above ground pool liner. Install a new one. If you mean the wall, well it depends on where the holes are and how close they are together. At 21 years old though, unless you are broke, get a new pool.

  31. i have a 24 ft above ground pool the service pannel is rusted can i take out a 4ft section and bolt the wall back together and cut a new hole and get a 20ft liner

  32. One of the posts of our 27′ round above ground pool has come loose from the bottom holder into which it snaps. Should we try to shim it up to snap back in or put up a support against the post to hold it in place?

    1. You can secure it in place in any way that works. Those uprights don’t have much structural value other than keeping the two top rails that are connected to it in place.

      1. Hi Dan, If we can’t get the post to snap by in due ti pool crimping in that area where it snaps in at the bottom, is it ok to leave the post not snapped in and just make sure the top rails are in place. Any other way to secure this bottom portion of post?

  33. I have a 33 ft pool maybe 7 yrs old. The wind damaged it and caused the top panels to jump off and that cause cover problems which led to breaking a upright leg. I have noticed a small whole under the liner and sand has ran out and small section out of track. Is it possible to put back in track and push sand back under.. It is drained. I have heard never drain but only way to put liner back on??

    1. Yes you can just put the track back in place, re-cove and re-smooth the pool bottom and you are good. You’re gonna need to install a new liner though. Liners shrink when you drain the pool. They don’t like to be without water for any more than a day or so.

  34. I have a 18×39 oval shaped above ground pool which is over 20 years old..With all the snow we have had and ice, some how the liner slipped off one side of pool and all the water drained out. Now the walls are starting to lean in.. is there any way to fix this or is our pool done for? we cant get in to fix liner and refill right now..what should we do? I dont want to lose our pool…

    1. Walls don’t just lean in when the pool is empty. Did you leave out that the pool is in the ground? If it’s not in the ground, then something is seriously wrong with your 20 year old pool and it may be time for replacement. If in the ground, you can only wait until the ground thaws enough to dig the earth outside of the pool wall where it is leaning in so you can pop it back in place.

      1. Pool is about 2 ft in ground..we did that in order to meet our deck..We’ve had so much crazy, wet snow and we still have cover on, which I think stresses the one wall which is leaning…but there is so much water around pool (from all the rain, snow, etc) we cant get near it to do anything till it dries up..and to top it off the 40 mhp winds we’ve had also…hoping we can save it…Its been thru a bunch of storms and has held up…do you think once we get pool filled back up, the walls will move back?

        1. The walls most likely will not move back in place when you install a new liner and fill. I say to wait until things dry up and dig the earth away from the outside of the pool wall where it’s caving in. At that point you’ll know you are good when you can push the wall back out and in to place. Then you can fill the pool.

  35. I have a 21′ Lomart Whispering winds II that is about 15 yrs old, but in good shape. Well it was, until recently. the top 1/3 of the wall along about a 4′ section was damaged by a tree. The top rail along that section is definitely trashed, but I think I could probably straighten the dents out of the wall. I’m just not sure if it’s structurally safe to do so. Any feedback? I could send pics. I just hate to replace it if I don’t really need to.

    1. I think you are probably ok with just straightening out the damaged part of the wall since it’s at the top of the wall. Just make sure the wall isn’t split or sliced.

  36. I used logo on wood before and it worked and a lot of duct tape I guess it's not too good for it to be like not in the ground and a track when you push in from the Rost like it's gone I never had any of them collapse over it as long as the liner says:

    My pools always rust around the bottom like there is no bottm lefteven i la lahe roo and Iuse thbefore I’m getting ready to replace liner and this one when I touch it with my toe at the bottom of the outside it just moves like it’s not in the ground anymore it’s weird like it’s just a little slice it just moves right in should I replace the liner or the whole pool

  37. Hi we found our 24 foot by 54 inch round pool empty this spring with the liner all cracked on the bottom we were going to replace the liner but when we removed the old one we found the bottom of the pool wall had folded in on its self . If we straighten the bottom out is it ok to use. This is about and 2 foot area in 6 different places so about 1/2 the wall has damage but not all in one area. A large ice ring had formed and did the damage. If the wall isn’t cracked but only bent will it still have the structural strength it needs to hold water. not worried about a blow out so much as the wall bending again and losing new liner. Any advice very appreciated.

  38. I have a rough rust area about 1-2 feet round toward the bottom (from mid all the way to the bottom). It looks really bad but rust is not visible from the outside yet, nor any holes. Would it be safe to clean the area from rust, preserve it and put a strip or two of sheet metal over that area?

    1. Great read. The beginning describe me to a t when I took my old liner out….. All surface. Thank you Dan. This question may sound crazy and off topic, but frankly I cant find the answer. I am replacing my liner and stumped as to what size to buy. It’s an Oval pool an measures 15′ 5 1/4″ x 26. Wall to wall… Butress to butress its about 15′ 1″…… So do I go with a 15 wide or 16? PLEASE HELP…

  39. Hi Dan. We have an 18 year old 16×32 Doughboy oval that I’ve torn down and am restoring. Grinding off rust, new paint on all the uprights, top rails, replacing heavily rusted bottom track, etc. When I took the wall down there was what appeared to be mostly surface rust around the bottom, as it was buried about 8-10″ deep on one side. Now that I’m at the point of grinding rust off the wall for new paint, I’ve noticed quite a few perforations around the bottom. The largest individual holes are not larger than a nickel or quarter in diameter. However, in some places I have smaller holes or that run along like a dotted line, in one place several feet long. I believe all of the perforations are within 6″ of the bottom of the wall.

    Initially I planned on using 12″ wide galvanized roof flashing around the bottom, but I’ve become more concerned now that I see this dotted line, and after reading your top-to-bottom repair method I’m not sure the 12″ wide flashing will work.

    Is this wall even salvageable?

  40. I have a 24ft. Resin 52” pool 13 yrs old with a hole midway up the wall under my deck. After cleaning the rust away the hole is 12” in diameter. I read one of your earlier post about purchasing a piece of sheet metal 14GA you recommended to cover the hole. I was thinking 3 ft. Wide by ht. 50” and then slide in down in the track and bolt along the sides with wall bar. Only problem sliding into the lower track. There’s not much space, I could barely fit a kitchen knife. Any suggestions

  41. Dan,

    I am sitting here sick to my stomach at the moment. I just let the dogs outside to go to the bathroom to find my aluminum above ground pool liner had torn and pushed out under the side of my pool. It appears that there is a 6-inch tear in the bottom of the aluminum pool wall. I don’t know if it can be fixed or where to even start. 🙁

  42. We just had a custom liner installed in our above ground pool which has a hopper, 8ft deep end. Pool is 28,000 gallons 19’x39′. When they removed the older liner, there was rusting at the skimmer box and return. They put a metal panel around the skimmer and around the return bolting it. We also have new 18″ sheet metal at the bottom of the entire pool wall. I noticed today, the rust has split the wall from beneath the new return plate to the ground. The sheet metal is what is keep it stable, but there is a large area that is pushing out an inch or more. Our pool is 30 years old but the pool company we hired said the pool was strong and fine to replace the liner. Can this be repaired? I’m very worried it will burst. Liner and repairs are paid in full and have a brand new deck large deck around half of the pool. Is there anything we can do to support it from the outside until we get someone out here to look at it? Should we empty some of the water out to reduce the pressure?

  43. I know you are not in my area but what do you charge for taking down an 18 x 52 round pool, dispose of it and then install a new one, liner and new sand? TOTAL COST..

  44. We just had a custom liner installed in our above ground pool which has a hopper, 6′ deep end. The pool is a 16′ x 32′ rectangle. When they removed the older liner, there was rusting at the skimmer box and return. There is a large area that is pushing out an inch or more in the corner along the length side of the pool. Our pool is 30 years old but the pool company we hired said the pool was strong and fine to replace the liner. Can this be repaired? I’m very worried it will burst. Liner and repairs are paid in full and have a large deck around the pool that is also pulling away. Is there anything we can do to support it from the outside until we get someone out here to look at it? Should we empty some of the water out to reduce the pressure?

  45. Can I paint an approximately 12 or 13 year old above ground pool. The pool wall, supports, and top rail are metal the brackets on the top rail are resin. We are putting a new liner in this Spring and I was thinking of repainting to give it a fresher look. The pool appears to be structurally fine with no noteable rust. The walls are faded and stained. Any advice is appreciated!

  46. I have a 24×54 8n above ground pool . Water somehow got in between the pool wall and the liner and rusted a hole smaller then a penny , not to mention my air pillow somehow popped and the pool froze over completely. This is only the first year I have a pool ( came with the house I moved into ) should I be concerned can it be repaired or is the pool shot ?

  47. Hi Dan,
    loved the article on how to fix the pool wall and saw one person mentioned getting steel wall sheets from an hvac place – and i want to bolt in a piece as suggested – top to bottom both sides – but i cant. That side of the 24 foot round pool that rusted is dug down maybe two feet into the ground and the deck is over that area of ground with not enough working area under the deck to remove the dirt and tighten the bolts. My pool was placed on a sloping lot so the far side is not in the ground or covered by deck. The length of compromised wall is roughly 5 ft. i have not yet seen the rust but I have felt it thru the liner that it pricked tiny holes in – i patched those just to hobble thru last summer) If i could get an extra long piece – a piece much longer than needed – perhaps 8 ft for a five foot rust spot – would massive amounts of gorilla glue and duct tape work if I need to use something other than bolts? it would not blow out because the earth holds it in place but i worry the rust could continue upward on the wall? There are no leaks or holes or rust that I can feel above the ground level of 2 ft.,

    1. Your thinking is good in that the pool won’t blow out due to it being in the ground 2 feet. So in that case, just putting something on the rusted area is all that is needed because you only need to protect the new liner from the rusty wall. I would probably duck tape a nice sized piece of sheet metal to the inside of the wall and install the new liner.

  48. I am tempted to do this repair. I’ve watched a video by you or someone else using the shoe string pattern the same way you’re describing. My next move is material, possibly from a salvage yard for wall section and trimming it to fit the rusted split skimmer panel. I’ll keep you posted. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
    Have a good day.

    1. Just make sure the metal you use is as strong as the existing pool wall. And don’t forget to bolt it top to bottom on both ends of the new piece to the existing wall. Bolt it like the existing pool wall is bolted together and it will hold.

  49. Dan,
    I have a 7 year old 24′ round above ground pool. 2 years ago I had a rust through spot on the wall repaired. It was done by a local pool service. They were able to insert a 10 inch by 12 inch rigid patch (not sure if it was metal or plastic) between the liner and the inside wall. Well now this spot is leaking again (not sure if tape around patch has failed or what) and I have another rust through spot 10 feet away! Holes are pretty small and half way or higher up on the wall. Would this type of damage be a candidate for a metal patch held with duct tape if I try to repair them myself (I have photos if that helps) ?

    1. I would have to see pics but my concern is that a patched hole in the metal wall shouldn’t cause a hole in the liner. You’ll want to see why the liner is leaking first and then deal with the metal wall.

  50. Dan,
    My pool walls are completely damaged and are off the pool I’m looking for new walls and bottom track I’m not getting no help anywhere the pool structure is in good shape and any help?

  51. Thank you Dan. Your new name is The Pool Doctor! Very informative! We are working on our pool tomorrow. I read this in preparation for taking the liner out tomorrow. Pool draining out today! Wish me luck!

  52. Hi Dan, I have a big problem. I have a 27ft above ground. While installing a new sand filter we noticed there is a hole at the bottom of the pool that has rusted though, sadly my pool is filled with approximately 18,000 gallons of water. The liner is also coming through the hole. I’m sure the pool is beyond repair at this point. Is there any way to save the pool or am I having to look to replace it.

  53. My Pool is an 18 foot round and I have 4 panels that have rusted completely out of the track on the ground. I was going to try some reinforcement ideas but my concern is a blowout since its the bottom of the pool and its out of the track.

    1. I would be concerned too. The only way to know if you can do a wall repair is to see the inside of the pool’s wall. You may want to wait until it’s liner change time because you’ll need a new liner after you inspect the inside of the wall.

  54. I have a 6 year old 27’ft pool and got a 1/2 hole about 3 inches from the bottom and leaked the water out, it is at a vacation home so it was too late when I found it. I ended up taking the walls down so it didn’t blow down and found 3 other areas of rust on the bottom of the wall. I am thinking of screwing a stainless panel with bolts and metal bracing over the skimmer similar to the joint for wall or finding a stainless skimmer panel bolting that on, flipping the wall over and fixing the 3 rust spots. My thinking is that at least the bad areas would be at the top where I could access them. Is this a bad idea

    1. My liner is literally breaking off the frame in 3 places
      I think it must be dry rotten. Is there any kind of materials to glue to it and make it stick back to the frame before the whole thing gives way😬

  55. My pool has bent at the top of the wall, it kinked and bent inward about 8 inches down. I believe the sand under the pool settled and the liner pulled down the wall as it filled. It’s a 26 ft. round pool. i’m draining it and plan to redo the sand or install styrofoam. Can the wall be repaired?

  56. I noticed small holes (bubbles on outside of pool wall) in different places recently. Does that mean my liner has holes in it in those places? I am constantly fighting algae as well and cannot for the life of me keep it clean lately. I am tired of wasting chemicals. We plan to replace liner next year just don’t know what to do to finish out this year.. Please help..

  57. Had new liner installed along with rust repair. Noticed crack in bottom wall of pool and it’s bluging Pool guy said he can fix this.. what do you think. Right now I duck taped it.

  58. We just got a 27 foot round above ground pool. Can we put the top of the pool in the bottom track repair the small rust areas. So basically flip it

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