Pool Stairs Leak Repair
The stairs in a vinyl pool are much different than the stairs in a concrete pool. Concrete pool stairs ore pured in place using a large amount of concrete. It is not uncommon to have one yard of concrete or more in the corner of the pool which has been hand carved into a set of stairs. Vinyl pool stairs are either a ladder, outside perimiter steps or inside perimter steps.
Vinyl pool leaks around the stairs are more complicated than concrete pool leaks around the stairs. Cracks in concrete pools can develop around the stairs due to the immense weight and volume of concrete used. Cracks that appear soon after building are a result of shrinkage in the curing concrete while cracks that develop later or over time are likely a result of settling soil conditions under the weight of the stairs.
Both of these repairs require an epoxy injection system, hydraulic water stopping concrete, or preferably both. Cracks that continue to migrate may need a tieback system installed to prevent the crack from migating further.
Vinyl pools will leak for a variety of reasons around the stairs. The in-wall variety of stairs that is permanently installed in place of one wall panel of the pool are the most prone to leaking.
All other types of stairs, including drop in stairs and ladders, have a tendancy to leak due to wear on the liner in the places that they rest against it. A ladder without the ladder bumpers on the bottom will certainly puncture the liner.
Most pool leaks around the stairs will be a result of the gasket and screw system used to install in wall stairs. This process requires over 30 stainless steel screws to be installed between two flanges which puts pressure on the flange gasket and creates a water seal. Any stripped or loose screws will certainly cause a leak. Improper gasket installation or a lack of a gasket can also cause leaks in this location.
When retrofitting gaskets on vinyl pool stairs (typically when you are changing the pool liner) be sure to mark how the existing flanges were removed by marking them as top and bottom as well as left and right. This will help to ensure that they go back on in the same way that you removed them. If not the screw holes in the flanges might not align and you do not want to encounter this problem when installing the new liner.
Less commonly pool stairs will crack themselves. Replacement of the entire pool stairs would be cost prohibitive so epoxy repair is recommended for all but the most damaged stairs. Cosmetically the epoxy will show as discoloured however it is preferable as opposed to spending thousands on digging up and replacing the pool steps