Pool leak detection methods and repair
If you suspect your pool is leaking there are several pool leak detection methods that you can do yourself to pinpoint where the leak or leaks occur. Let’s face it, water is expensive and there is only so much to go around. The last thing that you want is a leaky pool. Although you will always lose water due to evaporation, a leak can cause you to lose thousands of gallons of water a month and could even wash away your back-fill under your pool decking.
First, do you actually have a leak?
As I stated, your pool will naturally lose some water due to evaporation depending on your locale and pool layout. I would say about 1/4″ to 1/2″ per week is pretty normal water loss from evaporation. Splash out from swimming (dang kids!), frequent backwashing of your filter, and you’ll lose even more. Then add in a few good rain storms to add water back into your pool and it can become rather difficult to be sure if you even have a leak. My general rule of thumb is that if your are constantly adding more than two or three inches of water a week, you probably have a leak someplace.
Pools can leak through plumbing pipes and fittings, underwater lights, around puttied seams in skimmers, and sometimes right through the pool vessel itself. What you want to determine first though is do you actually have a leak. Onward with the task of pool leak detection!
The bucket test
If no obvious pressure leaks are found you probably have a seepage somewhere. By using this bucket test you can determine if you actually have a leak or if the water loss is due to evaporation or splash out, etc. The test is quite simple. Get a clean white 5 gallon bucket and fill it with pool water about 2/3 the way to the top. Take a permanent marker and make a small and precise mark on the bucket exactly at the waterline. Usually you can see the water through the side of the bucket and you can put your mark on the outside at the waterline. Carefully place the bucket in the pool on the second step or someplace where it is sitting in about 6 inches of pool water. Turn off all of the pumps, waterfalls, cleaners etc., for at least 24 hours. What you are trying to do is compare the evaporation rate inside the bucket to the evaporation rate in the pool itself. After 24 hours both water levels should have dropped pretty close to the same amount. If the pool level has dropped significantly more than the bucket level, you definitely have a leak.
Does the pool leak only with the pump on?
This type of leak is very easily seen as the water will spray out of the leaking area as it’s under pressure. Look closely around the equipment pad for small sprays of water or maybe just steady drips around the filter connections etc. These can usually be fixed by using a good o-ring lubricant.
Let’s get even more precise
First I want to tell you that nearly every leak I have run across has been in one particular spot, so let’s look there first. The junction between the plastic skimmer box and the concrete pool wall is a high stress area and if the ground moves just a little, this joint will crack and your water will leak out between the concrete pool wall and the skimmer box. Fortunately this can usually be fixed with some pool repair putty in the crack in about 15 minutes. More severe cases require removing the skimmer box entirely and replacing with a new skimmer and re-grouting the seam. This is best done by professionals. In about 90% of cases though you can do the repair yourself if you can see the crack.
Underwater lights are next on the list as they can leak as well. If you unscrew the light bezel ring and remove the light fixture ( power breakers off first !) there should be enough extra cord behind the bulb fixture to place the light assembly on the pool deck out of the way. The leak usually occurs underwater where the power cord goes into the light niche on the pool wall and then on into the wire conduit buried in the ground. Again some pool putty placed in this area will usually seal the leak. A good way is to check for a leak here is to get in the water and get perfectly still and squeeze a few drops of the red PH indicator solution in your test kit underwater right where the wire goes into the pool wall and see if the red drop gets sucked into the wire niche.
You can use the same PH indicator solution method to check for leaks around the pool return fittings, main drains, and any other through-wall fittings in the pool.
Lastly look for wet spots in the yard around the pool itself which may be an indicator of a vessel leak in the pool shell itself. Also look for wet spots around the equipment pad where the buried pipes come out of the ground and also check for wet spots in the ground where the pipes run to and from the pool and equipment pad.
Does your pool have a vinyl liner?
Pools with liners are more prone to leaks than a concrete pool. Fortunately these are usually pretty easy to repair with a vinyl pool repair kit too. Look for small tears or perhaps a soft spot in the sand on the bottom under a liner. Moles, Voles, Gophers and other critters can cause problems also. Look for depressions or bulges were a hole or tear might be. Also other likely spots for liner leaks are around skimmer cutouts and steps.
You found it now fix it!
After your pool leak detection process is completed you can get on with repairing it yourself. Even if you feel more comfortable calling in a professional for the repair, you will have saved considerable money by locating the leaks yourself first. Hope this helps!
Please click on the homepage icon at the top of this page for more helpful articles like this from me to help with any questions you may have. Thanks!