Rusty Above Ground Pool Walls

Rusty Above Ground Pool Wall


Here’s the scenario.  Your above ground pool has been loosing water and the liner is pretty old so it’s time to change it.  So you purchase a new liner for it and start draining down and out whatever pool water you have left.  Once its drained, you start cutting out the existing liner and discover that the pool’s wall behind the liner is quite rusty.  Now what? Well before you call to cancel that new liner you ordered and start thinking about how you’re gonna come up with the money for a whole new pool, read on. Chances are good that your pool can still be used.

First off, its worth mentioning that if you have an aluminum walled above ground swimming pool and you think this can’t happen, you’re wrong.  Aluminum pool walls corrode just as quickly and easily as steel ones given the proper conditions for metal corrosion. The only difference is that steel will corrode by turning a reddish color and begin to flake off in bigger areas whereas aluminum  corrodes by turning white and eating away many little pin holes that bore all the way through the wall severely compromising the integrity of the whole wall.  This is why I don’t recommend buying an above ground pool with a normal aluminum wall.  The aluminum wall cost much more than the steel one and there’s no benefit for the added expense. Plus the steel walls are stronger and heavier. Back to your rusty wall.

Cut your existing liner completely out of the way so you can really see the inside of the pool wall.  It’s probably a good idea to keep the top of your pool together at this point to keep it stable while there is no water in it.  Check to see how bad the rust is by first looking at the color.  Are some areas of the wall kind of a blotchy white or light brown or is it dark red or dark brown.  Feel the discolored areas with your hand.  Does it still feel smooth or is it really rough and flaking off in your hand?  As a general rule, the darker and rougher the rust, the worse it is.  Finally, take a smaller screwdriver and give some good pokes at the bad areas. If the screwdriver pokes all the way through the wall to the outside of the pool, that’s not good. Now that you’ve properly inspected the rust areas on the inside of your above ground pool and determined how bad they are, here’s what you do.  If the rust is minimal and small and feels pretty smooth, then you may want hit it with some Rustoleum type paint and and you’re good to put in a new liner.  If the rust is a little worse than that and feels a little rough but its a small area/areas, then clean and dry the area and apply duck tape over it.  Doing this will prevent the rough textured areas from making contact with your new replacement liner and taking life off of it.  For more widespread rust thats kinda rough feeling but still pretty surfaced and certainly not rusted all the way through, your best bet is to order some pool wall foam and glue for it.  The thin layer of foam is applied to the entire inside of the pool wall using glue which protects the new liner from being damaged by the rough textured-surface, rusted wall.

So you’ve checked your pool wall and the rust is bad and you are able to poke all the way through to the outside of the pool.  You may still be O.K. if its only a couple of small areas and they’re not near the pool bottom or near the skimmer or return holes.  Get some sheet metal or roof flashing from Home Depot or Lowes and duct tape the metal over the rust holes. That should provide enough protection for the new replacement liner.  But if the rust is deep and either widespread or near the skimmer or return line or at the bottom edge of the pool, then the wall is at a greater risk of “blowing out” after you install a new liner and add all that heavy water.  In that extreme case its usually best to replace the entire wall and frame.

If you’re still not sure what condition your pool wall is in and what to do, you can always take a couple of good clear pics of the inside of the pool wall and e-mail them to us at and we’ll take a look at it and let you know.

Rusty above ground pool wall around skimmer

Rusty pool wall around skimmer


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