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. With a Classic Wood Pool you can cut down your
chances greatly of ice damage occurring. Remember
our pools do not bend. Ice damage is generally
considered to be an act of God, and so is not
normally covered by manufacturers, or installers
warranties. Twenty years ago, most homeowner's
insurance policies would cover ice damage, but
over the years, many insurance companies have
specifically disclaimed it. Ice damage is very
rare, and there is nothing that the pool owner,
manufacturer, dealer, or installer can do to
prevent it - except to check for leaks when the
pool is closed in the fall.
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
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 pool's edge.
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 same damage.
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
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
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 won't cover!
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
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
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
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 this winter.