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 drained.
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 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 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 won't cover!

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.

Insurance Estimates

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 installed.


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 this winter.

Updated:01/21/06 10:08 AM