About Ice Damage
Winter ice damage can happen to any vinyl-lined pool,
though it is more commonly found in above-ground and
on-ground pools than in-ground pools.
How does it happen?
Water expands about a degree above freezing, so that ice
is lighter than water. That's why most bodies of water
freeze from the top down. It's also why life survives in
rivers and lakes during the winter they normally do not
freeze solid. Most in-ground pools freeze the same way,
because the pool walls are insulated by the earth around
them, and the deck above that. Above-ground and on-ground
pools are different. The walls are exposed to the same
winter air as the water. These pools freeze like an ice
cube tray or a glass of water in your freezer: first
across the top, then down the side.
Here's the first danger as the pool freezes down the
side, from the top down, it forms a giant icicle. The top
(where the freezing started) is thick. The bottom (as it
starts to form down there) is thin - even sharp! This
happens every year, to every pool, with no problem -
because no one moves the ice. In particularly cold
winters, an above-ground pool will freeze completely
solid with absolutely no harm to the pool.
For the next danger, we need a very particular set of
weather patterns: fairly cold weather, followed by a
quick rise in temperature with bright sun, followed by
high winds. Imagine this: Your pool has
a giant wall-icicle that just happens to have its pointed
end touching the bottom of the pool. The ice is a foot
thick at the top, and stuck to the liner everywhere. So
far, no problem - the ice can't move. In a normal spring,
the wall-icicle thaws out before the ice at the top. But,
what if the temperature goes from 20 to 60 degrees in one
day, and the sun is beating down on only one side of the
pool? The ice is going to melt off one side, while it's
still stuck to the other. So far, still no problem,
though you have a 24,000 pound iceberg floating in your
pool. That's how much a foot of ice in a 24' round pool
weighs. It's not going to move by itself, but a 40 mph
wind could move it a little. That's the kind of wind you
could get as a cold front moved in before a storm.
Next, we need the icicle that was touching the bottom, to
cut the liner as the ice shifts. Not too much - just
enough to cause even the smallest leak. That 24,000 pound
iceberg was no problem while the water was holding it up,
and it would be no problem if it was completely floating
free. It would just sink to the bottom as the pool
Eventually, though, enough water leaks out from under the
ice, and it's only held up by being stuck to the wall and
liner. Pool walls aren't designed to handle nearly that
much weight, and eventually the ice either rips the liner
off the wall, the wall crushes, or the iceberg crashes
down, splitting the wall like a giant hammer.
After the pool melts, you'll see the evidence:
A buckled wall, about 6" - 12" from
the bottom, generally on the cold side.
Slashes in the liner from the wall-icicle, at the
intersection of wall and bottom, anywhere along the
The original liner cut, generally on the sunny side of
the pool (though often it's too small to find without
lots of work).
Sometimes a split in the wall where the ice was heaviest,
or the wall was weakest.
Upon occasion, a ground heave will push the liner up into
the ice, causing a cut in the bottom, and then all of the
Repairs generally include replacing the wall, liner,
skimmer, and a vertical support or two.
What Do You Do?
If you think that you have ice damage, immediately
check your winter cover. If it's starting to fall in
because there's no longer enough water in thepool; drain
and remove it (if there is no ice on the cover), or
release the cable or tubes, and let it fall in.
Don't allow the weight of water and snow on the cover to
causeany damage to the pool's top rails or coping.
Next, contact your insurance company, and see what they
need to process a claim. If they want an estimate to
repair, we'll be happy to help. Be advised, though, that
pool manufacturers can only provide replacement walls for
their own pools. It's a long story why, and it's caused
by insurance companies.
The point is that some pool parts (like liners) are
easily interchanged, and many brackets and posts can be
jury-rigged to fit, but you can only get a new wall from
the original manufacturer. Even if you could find someone
to sell you a different brand, they generally don't fit.
Every inch difference in diameter is 3.145 inches
difference in wall-length. There are plenty of 24' pools
out there that are only 23 1/2' across!
Be careful when initially talking to your insurance
company. Many of them have dropped ice damage from
homeowner insurance, while retaining snow or wind damage
coverage. Almost all of them cover vandalism, and many
will cover a tree falling on the pool. If you're not
entirely sure what happened, discuss it with them before
you arbitrarily decide that it was something that they
Next, contact us, and/or the dealer where you originally
purchased the pool. If you wish to pursue a warranty
claim we will be happy to help. Be advised, though, that
we have been in business for twenty two years. We are not
going to do anything dishonest in order to help anyone.
We provide insurance estimates at a charge of
$35.00 that is refundable if we do the work. Please call
518-587-7887 to schedule an appointment.
We usually will know who manufactured your pool
and what type of pool you have and will be able to get
all the parts if your pool has not been discontinued.
Will be quoted closely and we will give
consideration to those whose pool we originally
Can be worked out at a special price, especially if
you don't need everything in our usual package.
Your best bet would be to make an appointment to work
directly with us on a custom pool package.
We wish you luck, if you've had any pool damages