Stair Gasket / Flange Removal

Task

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 18, 2013
238
West Grove, PA
I've got a persistent leak around my in wall stairs. During the colder months when my pool is winterized, my water level drops to the lower, horizontal flange of my stairs. At that point, it stops leaking so I know that the leak is at that level. The only break in the liner at this level is the stair flange. I've had some luck in the past caulking with pool rated silicone; however, this hasn't produced a permanent fix for the leak. The liner is 6 years old and in great condition so I'd hate to have to replace the liner at this point.

I'd like to remove the flanges (one side at a time) and replace the gasket under the liner in an attempt to fix the leak. I'm hesitant to do this because obviously if the liner shifts and I can't get it back into place its probably going to turn into a liner replacement. Would it be better to attempt to seal around the edge of the flange/liner with one of these product from Anderson Manufacturing (Flexible Sealer 4 oz. Tube - White , https://www.leaktools.com/leakmaster-pool-glue-5400.html)?

Does anyone have any experience in removing and replacing this gasket and if so, how did you make the repair? Did you run into any unforeseen problems while attempting this repair? What gasket material did you use?

I'd like to make this repair now during the winter months so that I can refill the pool and allow it to sit until spring so I can see if it still leaks, which may also be problematic since the liner will be less pliable in the colder temperatures. Any thoughts, concerns or recommendations are much appreciated.
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,699
Morris Cnty NJ
You really dont want to attempt this in the cold weather. I would first confirm this is definitely the source of the leak. I've seen a few that homeowner swears it's a fitting or otherwise only to find a small hole or tear elsewhere on liner. If it leaks pretty good a dye test may find it. Usually newer stairs are gasket free. They simply pinch the liner between ribs and squeeze it shut. Older flat flange stairs had gaskets and were leak prone. What I have done is made a brace with a 2x4 covered in foam and wedged it across the pool to hold liner right next to flange so it didnt move and then repair. It's a hard fix as you need the same holes if possible or a little extra stretch into new holes pulling old ones to inside edge. Depending on the type you have you may ne able to tape off an 1/8" strip and caulk it with marine sealer.
 

Task

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 18, 2013
238
West Grove, PA
Thanks for the response @jimmythegreek . Do you have any experience using any of Anderson Manufacturing's products, specifically the Flexible sealer or the pool glue that I listed above? I was considering trying one of these products and running it along the entire length of the flange and pressing the bead down into the joint as much as possible in an attempt to seal it up. Since the water level is down, I could let it cure for a few days before I bring the water level back up.

I have not had any luck with pool dye up to this point. In fact, the builder of the pool had a leak detection company out to look at the pool on multiple occasions trying to find this leak years ago. I've never been able to definitively locate this leak, I just know in the winter time, it leaks down to that lower flange of the steps and no further. Luckily it hasn't cause any damage to the liner up to this point which has always been a concern considering there is only a few inches of water in the shallow end of the pool throughout the winter. It has however take a toll on my pool cover as there is no water under the cover to support the weight of rain water and snow.
 

Task

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 18, 2013
238
West Grove, PA
Here are the pics. The water level is a bit higher than it was because I ran the hose in it when I found the water so low. Initially I wanted to get it back up to support the pool cover, but decided to shut it off and try to repair the leak before bringing the water level all the way up. It was originally right at that horizontal flange.
 

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jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
1,699
Morris Cnty NJ
I've never used any if those products so I cant recommend it. In the cold nothing sets up well. Those stairs look like bead locks pop the top cap off and remove the cover strip on the next warm day of 50s or so. I have seen many liners leak near fittings only to find a small hole from a screwdriver tip that jumped off and punctured liner. Stairs are usually problem free and especially down low. The water weight is greater and keeps it tight naturally. How are the steps structurally do you have any hollow spots underneath? Losing that much water year after year in one spot would definitely cause some erosion even if minor. How fast a leak are we talking out?
 

Task

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 18, 2013
238
West Grove, PA
Structurally they seem sound. There is a bit of flex around the top where they meet the concrete if you step on that top lip. I don't really notice any spots that feel hollow or unsupported. Its difficult to tell the rate at which the water is lost because I'm not watching it as closely when its covered. Once the warm weather breaks, I open it up and between evaporation and the kids splashing, its tough to tell. I've performed multiple bucket tests over the years, the most recent being last summer and by my estimates, I'd feel safe saying that its losing somewhere around 1-2 inches per week.

I closed this year in mid September and lowered the water down just below the skimmer line. I'd say the water line in these pictures is probably about 24-30 inches below my closing depth.
 
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