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How to Repair an Above-Ground Pool Wall

Here's an intensive guide to repairing an above-ground pool wall. Before replacing your pool with a new one, you might want to check these helpful fixes that can save you money.

Above ground pool with a wooden deck.

A well-maintained above-ground pool can last for many years with minor maintenance. Some repairs, such as mending a liner or replacing a pump or filter, can be done quickly and easily, while others require more work.

A corroded pool wall might cause problems, including puncturing the pool liner or making the pool dangerous. While you can fix it, removing the rust and repairing the pool wall requires some effort on your part.

You need to do some poking around.

An above ground pool in the backyard.

First, you must determine if your walls require repair against rust. The rust observed on the inside of the pool wall is usually only surface rust and does not pose a threat. If you’re dealing with surface rust, use sandpaper to smooth out the rusted areas, then apply Rust-Oleum.

What if the rust isn’t limited to the surface?

Empty above ground pool with rusty walls.

Perhaps the rust is flaking off in small chunks and appears quite severe and deep. The integrity of the wall is critical in this case. If rust has worn deep into the steel or iron, the wall of an above-ground pool may no longer be sturdy enough to contain the water.

A wall can appear in horrible shape and still be functional, but if there are areas where it has corroded all the way through, that is concerning. Poke the crust with a medium-sized screwdriver to find out. Scrape away any loose rust and poke those places hard. It’s not a good sign if the screwdriver goes all the way through the wall.

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Some holes are more dangerous than others.

Man repairing the walls of a swimming pool.

Say you prodded at the rust with a screwdriver and made it through in a couple of places. That’s never good, but you might be okay. A minor hole high up on the wall is typically fine. In this scenario, you can cut a tiny square of roofing tin or sheet metal and fix it with duct tape over the affected region. Because this repair adds no strength to the wall, though, people usually do it to safeguard a new liner from rust.

If the rust spots are nearer to the bottom wall, the situation is more serious, and it may need more than a quick fix. The water exerts more outward pressure at the bottom, which is why a hole lower down is dangerous. A rust hole towards the bottom of the wall is more likely to burst open under pressure and cause a blowout than one near the top.

Worst-Case Scenario

Close-up of a dirty swimming pool with algae.

Let’s assume your pool wall has a lot of rust around the bottom and has corroded all the way through. So, what’s next? At this point, you have three choices.

First, you can cover the rusted sections with sheet metal tape, replace the liner, refill the pool, and hope for the best. Many people choose this option because they have already acquired a new liner and do not have the funds to purchase a new pool. Often, this is the best option if the wall will hold up, and they can still use the pool. However, you might not be so lucky because if this option fails, you are out the cost of the new liner, the installation (assuming you didn’t do it yourself), and all the wasted water and chemicals.

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The second alternative is to forego the risk and replace the entire wall. But finding a new wall for an above-ground pool is difficult, mainly because manufacturers don’t want to sell them for models more than a few years old. Even if you get lucky and find a new wall, it’ll be incredibly expensive. People frequently choose to purchase a whole new pool at that stage because it costs only a little more than buying only a wall.

Repairing the wall is the third possibility. People don’t do this often, not because it’s too expensive, doesn’t look good, or isn’t durable, but because there aren’t many people who know how to fix a rusted above-ground pool wall. Through trial and error, people have discovered that there is only one genuine way to repair a wall: add a new wall from top to bottom.

The Only Way to Repair a Rusty Wall

Man repairing the pool wall.

  • Obtain a whole piece of an above-ground pool wall. For the do-it-yourselfer, this may be the most difficult part of the repair. You can get a complete pool wall in one of two ways: from an old pool that has been demolished or by purchasing from a pool manufacturer. It should be at least four feet long or long enough to conceal all of the flaws in your wall.
  • At the very least, get 30 stainless nailhead steel fasteners and four sets of steel material channels. You will use these to secure your new pool wall to the current one.
  • On the inside of the pool, insert the new wall piece against the old wall. To place the wall component perfectly against the old wall from top to bottom, take out the bottom cove in that location.
  • Make holes through the metal channels that run along the edges of the wall piece. From top to bottom, put holes through the steel channel, the wall component, and the preexisting wall inside the pool.
  • Bolt the pieces together using the drilled holes. Check to see that the nuts and bolts are securely fastened. You can look at how the pool wall was originally bolted together for guidance.
  • From top to bottom, secure the bolts using duct tape on the inside. Repeat the procedure as done with the pool’s existing wall bolts.
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You now have a piece of wall covering the problem area in the damaged wall bolted at both ends from top to bottom to prevent it from splitting open when filled.

This fix is tricky but yields excellent results when done correctly. If your pool wall has corroded badly, we recommend purchasing a new pool to replace the wall and frame. Try this repair if you’re short on money. If executed properly, it could save you a bit or at least buy you some time.